Dead-Rail Conversion of a Max Gray D&RGW L-131, 2-8-8-2, 2-Rail
I received this beautiful 2-Rail Max Gray D&RGW L-131 from a private seller. As an older O Scale model, it required updating for DCC-controlled lighting, motor, sound, smoke, and dead-rail operation (battery power, radio control).
This post is brief because many of the modifications are similar to those from past posts. The most significant modification was removing the open-frame motor with a more “modern” Pittman motor. DCC decoders struggle to control old, open-frame motors. Also, these older motors do not have the strong rare-earth magnets that improve efficiency – an essential consideration for battery power.
LokSound 5 XL Sound Project Settings
I selected a LokSound 5 XL because it provided plenty of power (5A) for a large locomotive. I chose #3608 based on photos of the L-131 I could find online. A heavily-modified LokSound UP “Challenger” Sound Project was selected because of its passing similarity to the L-131.
Loco and Tender Modifications
The original “open frame” was both inefficient and difficult to control by the DCC decoder, so it was replaced with a more “modern” Pittman 9433L187, 15.1 V motor used in many O Scale locomotives.
The LokSound 5 XL was mounted in the locomotive to reduce wiring between the locomotive and tender. LEDs were used for the marker light, front light, cabin light, and firebox simulation.
The boiler face plate was removed to allow smoke unit installation and access.
The tender modifications include adding a speaker (with exit holes drilled through the chassis), battery, LED tail and marker lights, and ProMini Air transmitter and Cytron amplifier.
I earned my Doctorate in Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1982, and before retiring in 2019 I worked for 37 years at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. My last position was Chief Scientist of the Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory. Like many people, my love for model railroading began at an early age, and I rekindled that interest starting in 2017.
View all posts by Darrell Lamm