AristoCraft RDC-3



The product packed in the typical "coffin" type box where the yellow cardboard upper half has two tabs that engage the lower half.

Inside is molded styrofoam, the top half has a large "window" where you can see most of the car. The bottom half has no such window.

The car was not in any type of plastic sleeve to protect any paint. In my case, the Santa Fe is only painted on the end caps, the leading one is red, and the rear one is silver (different from the RDC-1 model).

Aristo put some tape inside the box on the side so as not to rub on the finish. Funny this is that you cannot figure out why the tape is where it is, it almost matches the positions of the windows, but misses one of them. There's also a high point in the box on the side that has no tape on it. Good idea, but the poor execution makes the effort worthless. You can just make out the pieces of tape in the photo below, they are the slightly darker horizontal stripes at the ends of the box.


The upper half of the 2 pieces of foam packing is open as previously mentioned, so you cannot rub the windows, but you could rub the paint on certain road names. Can't figure out the logic, but this is sort of trivial, unless the box has been handled roughly. My car had no wear markings or paint defects.

Note that the silver paint on the end cap takes fingerprints easily though!

Overall look:

The finish of the car is very nice, it is polished aluminum. The red end is well painted and detailed. The silver end, which I need to research for prototypic correnctness, fingerprints easily. I wish there was a different type of paint used. I may experiment and see if maybe some car will will help.

The next thing I noticed were the smoked windows. The windows appear to be made of 2 layers of plastic, one clear one smoked. There are air bubbles in mine between the layers, like a bad tinting job on an automobile. Many other owners have noticed the same thing. I am not impressed:


The reason I was looking the in the windows was seeing all the wire inside, and the electronics. The RDC-1 had the socket underneath in a really easy to get to place. This socket is on a circuit board in the roof and there is a huge, thick set of wires that run from the circuit board in the passenger compartment back to the "baggage" area. Why wasn't all this junk put there, where it could not be seen. In the disassembly, these wires are even more of a problem.

Very disappointing, really spoils the nice new LED lighting and having an interior. 

Adding Kadee couplers:

According to the Kadee site, the 901, 907 and 789 are recommended. There is no further information or detailed installation information.

The 901 is a centerset coupler, and the 907 is the same coupler in the 831 coupler box. These are the new "Prototype Head" couplers. The 789 is a "original style" centerset coupler in the 831 coupler box. I used the 907, you can see it is a 900 series from the picture by the"ser 900" in the casting.

Removing the stock couplers is easy, remove one screw for the long "centering spring", then remove the other screw that actually holds the coupler:

For the coupler, you need to drill a hole slightly offset in the Kadee,I "painted" the hole red in the picture below to avoid confusion. Use a drill the diameter of the original screw, about 0.1"

The coupler height comes out perfect: (well maybe a touch low, maybe I'll go back in and trim a bit from the post)



First, you want to remove the end caps. One small screw on top, and 2 below.

Be sure to get the right 2 screws, the ones that go into the cap, not the 2 that have cutouts in the end cap casting.

Now remove the single small screw on top (be careful, get the right size driver):

The end caps can now be pulled away, and left to "dangle", you cannot get them completely disconnected, since they have 3 sets of wires with plugs, but one pair that are soldered on to the boards inside.

 Next, we want to remove the end "bulkheads" at each end.

Remember those 2 screws at each end, the ones "recessed"? Remove these now and the bulkheads will come out. The are the ones the screwdriver is NOT on in the picture below: 

Now you have access to the wires and connectors inside.

As luck would have it, the wires that cannot be unplugged are to those ugly "MU" plugs. Since I am track power, I clipped them off and pulled them out of the hot glue. Be careful, this new type of hot glue is very rubbery and you are likely to pull a window loose from the end caps.

Be sure to pay attention to which plug goes where. There is a 2 wire plug and a 3 wire plug, but later you will find another plug in the same area which can cause confusion. Unplug them and remove the tape that secures them to the sides of the shell.

Now, there are 6 small screws that hold the chassis into the shell. One is shown below: Remove all 6.

You are now at a decision point. There are 2 ways to proceed.

One way is to completely pull the unit apart. The other way is to lever apart only one end to reach the socket.

If you are only wanting to get to the socket, pull open the baggage end until you can reach inside and get to the socket.

If you want to completely pull it apart, I recommend you unscrew the 2 inner bulkheads. You can yank it apart without doing this, but it takes more force, it's easier to do this with 2 people, one holding the shell and another pulling on the chassis.

You may need to spread the sides a bit.

My advice is to remove the screws in the chassis to allow these bulkheads to remain in the shell, it makes the disassembly much easier.

To get to the screws for the 2 innner bulkheads, remove the "boxes" underneath, there is one more screw under each large box, and one screw under the air tank, and one under one of the small boxes. That's 4 more screws.


Once inside you will notice a humongous twist of 10 wires, and you need to unplug it from the main board, 4 plugs total... mark the plugs and sockets so you get it back together right! There are two 2-pin sockets, and two 3-pin sockets.

The wires go into the small white sockets on the bottom edge of the main board: (you can see some black lines on them I drew with a sharpie)


The picture below shows the board at the other end of the roof. Also, the socket for the speaker is here! 18 inches away from the "Aristo socket" in the other "half" of the shell!

The 2 pin socket at the left end labelled input is for battery power. The 3 pin socket at the upper side with nothing in it is the speaker connector. (standard Aristo-Craft pins 1 and 3 used) Should have been identified with silk screen.

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