Aristo RDC-1 Experiences

DCC Decoder Install, On-Board Battery & Radio Control, LED Lights, Lowering the RDC

By Ted Doskaris

June 11, 2022

Rev A  Initial Release

Aristo-Craft Southern Pacific RDC1 shown above as modified to be lower to track and selectable to operate on either track DC/DCC or radio control DCC with on-board battery - seen through Cab windows



This vignette (article) is presented with the idea that folks themselves (without needing to get or hire a "professional" who might needlessly rip out the factory electronics) will be able to install a QSI Solutions DCC decoder in an Aristo-Craft RDC1 having DCC ready "Plug'n'Play" sockets, and if wanting to, install radio control with on-board battery, and/or lower the RDC1 to a more realistic height from the railhead. Accordingly, choices and extensive "how to" examples will be presented, accompanied by about 80 illustrations. Because of so many illustrations, this article is very large - noticeable when scrolling through it.




Aristo RDC1 Modifications


Parts & Tools Used

Important Issues & Experiences

Battery & Charger for RDC1

TASKS & "How To's"

Example - QSIS DCC Decoder Install

Example -NCE Radio Control Install

Example - Tenergy Battery Install

RDC1 Disassembly

Example - Incandescent to LED Lamp Replacement

Example - Lowering RDC1


Operating NCE GWire CAB







The prototype RDC was first introduced around 1949-1950 being most prominent though the 1960s as a low cost alternative to maintain declining passenger train service required by the then regulatory agency, Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Some RDCs survived in operation through the 1990s and maybe beyond, particularly in Canada. It was powered by two separate GM Detroit Diesel model 6-110, 6 cylinder diesel engines - each initially rated at 275 horsepower and later at 300.

The engines were hung on the underbody in somewhat of a flat position on a slide-in/out apparatus with each engine powering only one axle with integral gear box through a lockup hydraulic torque converter via drive shaft for each truck - so when "locked-up" at 53 to 56 mph, the transmissions were in mechanical direct drive. (The transmissions would un-lock at 44 to 47 mph, apparently avoiding "hunting") The torque converter's hydraulic torsional buffering with the 1 /1 gear train and one axle drive also allowed the two independent drive trains to operate together.

The transmission includes an up to 3.6/1 multiplication variable ratio multi element torque converter and disc clutch packs for forward / reverse and direct drive engagement / disengagement. (Consequently, the sound characteristics of the diesel hydraulic RDC was unlike that of a diesel electric locomotive - important to consider when looking for the right sound to be used in the Aristo-Craft RDC.)

Radiators were housed in a top blister dome on the car's roof where exhaust was also routed. The manual brake was in the #2, aka"B", end Cab - considered to the front, albeit dual Cab end controlled. The RDC trucks have relatively small 33 inch diameter wheels.


SAE Technical Paper #500-141, Title: "New Budd Diesel Railroad Car RDC with Torque Converter Transmission - The Car" by Benjamin Labaree, The Budd Company

SAE Technical Paper #500-142, Title: "New Budd Diesel Railroad Car RDC-1 with Torque Converter Transmission - The Torque Converter and Transmission" by R.M. Schaefer, Allison Division of General Motors Corporation



Aristo-Craft's 1/29 scale model RDC

Aristo-Craft's Diesel Rail Cars (RDC) have been around for many years. Because Aristo-Craft is out business they are no longer produced but can be obtained on the used market. Aristo made the RDC1 first and then the RDC3 version at a later date.

This vignette (article) is about the RDC1, which is the full passenger version. The Aristo RDC1 has two internal "ball bearing" newer type motor blocks with no axle tips - each originally having had factory traction tires on wheels of one axle on my Southern Pacific unit that I had purchased new some years ago. This seems bewildering as Aristo-Craft always "preached" against such tires. The body being mostly metal, it also weighs 9 pounds.

As to traction tires, they are totally unnecessary on the RDC because it typically would not be pulling a train which would not need added traction! Moreover, for track power users, the traction tires negate power pickup for that axle on each truck. Consequently, I had replaced them with standard wheels (ART-29130) around the time I got the RDC1.


Aristo's RDC1 Factory Assembly Possibilities

It's to be appreciated how the body shell, chassis, and interior Printed Wiring Boards (PWBs) relate to one-another. With respect to my as received then new example Southern Pacific RDC1 as shown below, it's possible the body shell and/or Cabs could be reversed and mounted on the chassis on other factory assembled RDC1s!

(References in illustration below to front and tail are arbitrary to distinguish ends of the unit.)


Aristo's RDC1 Under frame Components

The Aristo RDC1 under frame components locations (e.g. Emulated Engine Covers, Equipment/Battery Box, Reservoirs) are in the mirrored positions of the prototype RDC1!

(Noteworthy, the Aristo RDC3 components are in the correct locations! Apparently, Aristo was made aware of this but too late to correct the RDC1 at that time. Interestingly, Aristo's own images of the RDC1 on the box that it comes in shows the components in the correct locations.)

And the enclosed "RAIL DIESEL CAR INSTRUCTION MANUAL" show the components in the correct locations, too!

While there are ways to correct the component locations, such as flipping over both chassis and weight plate with some minor trimming, problems with trying to re-mount the interior circuit boards must be overcome. Currently, a solution is yet to be adopted and described in this vignette.




Aristo RDC1 Modifications

Electrical modifications done for Aristo-Craft RDC1 operational capabilities include both Radio Control with On-Board Battery as well as Track Power DC/DCC (Dual Mode Selectable) with "Plug'n'Play" QSI Solutions DCC Decoder having programmed RDC sound.


Mechanical modifications for the Aristo RDC1 utilizing 3-D printed cutout template and 2 truck mounting plates was done to lower it to be more realistic. (This modification is done on the chassis assembly - comprised of a thick steel weight plate and thinner aluminum chassis - factory fastened together at each end with only one screw and nut. Other round holes in the weight plate are enlarged clearance holes so underbody components only can fasten to the aluminum chassis.)

The cutouts allow the trucks to be recessed within the chassis. The cutout template and truck mounting plates were designed by me (Ted Doskaris) and implemented by Colin Camarillo. If interested in obtaining them, contact Colin Camarillo via his website.



Modifications in General:

Note: When performing modifications, disassembly is typically needed - so when doing things, see RDC1 Disassembly that describes and illustrates how a particular item of interest can be taken apart.

Also, when doing wiring connections, refer to "Aristo-Craft RDC1 Configuration Diagram"
(Because its a big picture to see detail, it will open in a new browser tab.)

As to parts and tools that may be needed, see Parts& Tools Used

The following illustrations encapsulate what can be and was done to the RDC1:

Emulated Engine Covers and Equipment Box (the prototype Battery Box) accessibility is shown below.

Inclusion of switch controls was done with least impact on the RDC hardware with only one large hole to be drilled into the chassis for wires to go through, so the equipment box nearest the factory slide switches is used to house all switches and battery recharge jack.

Comment: The toggle switch control orientation (handle direction) was chosen to avoid inadvertently actuating radio control battery mode when lifting up the RDC because there is a likelihood of throwing the switch handle in the up position. If the switch were to be thrown to activate radio control battery mode, it would start up power to the RDC. In this regard, the operational instructions for the hand held GWire Cab controller is to power it up first before powering up the loco (RDC) in radio receiver battery mode. (If only powering up RDC in radio receiver battery mode by the toggle switch, what can happen is the lights come on, then the wheels will turn slowly, and eventually increase to maximum speed with no control other than to set the toggle switch to center off! The audio engine sounds from the RDC speaker will be heard in concert.





This vignette will describe 4 options - each of which, or any combination of, or all - can be done as to user preference (I eventually did all 4):

(1) Track Power DC/DCC Installation of a QSI Solutions (QSIS) DCC decoder in the "DCC READY" RDC1. (This decoder, albeit currently out of production, was chosen to my knowledge as being the only brand decoder that is programmable with unique RDC sound. Also, the sound circuitry is included in the single Decoder board, so no need for a separate stand-alone sound board)

See Example - QSIS DCC Decoder Install


(2) Radio Control with on-Board Battery Installation of NCE GWire Radio Control board and on-board Tenergy 5200 ma hour battery in conjunction with the QSIS decoder

(Comment: As an alternative to the NCE GWire Cab hand held controller (aka Throttle), a physically smaller AirWire 900 Mhz throttle control can be used with the GWire radio receiver board.)

Shown below is the NCE GWire Cab (obtained used, no longer made), GWire Radio Receiver PWB, and GWire System Reference Manual

For operation experiences, see Operating NCE GWire CAB

For installation, see Example -NCE Radio Control Install

Battery charge is with equipment box newly added charge jack & toggle switch, set to up (track position). Charging will be from the Tenergy compatible charger, not from the track - illustrated below.

See Example - Tenergy Battery Install

(3) RDC1 Lamp Replacements

Replacing, one for one, interior and Cabs' headlight incandescent lamps with 5mm LEDs (Its red marker lights already are LEDs). This was done to not only reduce current draw but to mitigate a discovered motor surging problem owing to the Aristo PIC processor DC to DC converter design & program that powers the lamps. (Problem is Incandescent lamps have a high inrush current when powered cold that LEDs don't.)

See Example - Incandescent to LED Lamp Replacement

(4) Lowering the RDC1

Lowering the RDC1 is done to make it closer to the railhead for a somewhat more prototypical appearance. A compromise lowering of about 5/32 inch (0.160 inch) was chosen for practical reasons combined with consideration given to prototype photograph.

Also, what it looks like when compared to USA Trains Streamliner passenger car height from the railhead - illustrated below


Height from Railhead Measurements:

With respect to above measurements:

Prototype example RDC1 height from railhead is 13 feet & 0, 3/4 inch = 13.0625 feet x 12inch/foot = 156.75 inches x 1/29 scale = 5.405 inches scaled down from railhead. Therefore, to be truly prototypical, the Aristo RDC1 would have to be lowered an additional 5.548-5.405 = 0.143 inch!

Because the Aristo RDC has wheels which scale up to 40 inch, and the prototype RDC has 33 inch wheels, then 1/2 difference (scaled down 1/29) is 40-33 = 7 inch x 1/29 = 0.241 inch x 1/2 = 0.121 inch.

So if the wheels could be replaced with 33 inch scaled down wheels, the "lowered RDC1" would be further lowered to almost prototypical height (0.143-0.121 = 0.022 inch needed to be lowered more for prototypical - hardly noticeable).

Comment: The horizontal centerline of the Aristo RDC sideframes' emulated bearing caps are lower than the motor block axle centers (wheels have no axle tips going into sideframes). Perhaps Aristo did this purposely to hide their oversized wheels. Thus, if changing wheels to the more prototypical 33 inch, the sideframes should be raised up some where they attach to the motor block "A" frame.

To lower the Aristo RDC1 5/32 (0.160 inch), See Method Example - Lowering RDC1




Parts & Tools Used

Flexible wires for interconnections better withstand movement and are easy to work with. These wires are to be soldered on the 4 pole toggle switch terminals. (The toggle switch supplants the factory 2 pole POWER slide switch.)

Click on PDF document, Aristo RDC1 Project Parts & Sources for DCC Decoder & Battery

Other tools include a hand held drill motor, bench top drill press, jig saw, hacksaw blade in hand holder, vise to hold items, files, Phillips screwdrivers, small sockets, brush and towel for cleaning.




Important Issues & Experiences


(1) Aristo POWER Slide Switch & Battery

A factory feature of the Aristo RDC1 is that it can be powered via battery car when connected to a dangling cable jack at either end of the unit. On the RDC1 underside is a factory slide switch, "POWER", which selects TRACK or BATT (battery), but as designed and wired by Aristo it's an AND function rather than an OR function! This could be dangerous if inadvertently set to TRACK position when using a battery because various layouts' track work could have (or be made with) a short circuit across the rails (like at turnout frogs) or could be powered.

When implementing the installation of the DCC decoder and on-board battery, the factory POWER slide switch is supplanted with a toggle switch wired having an OR function (selects Track OR Battery, not Track AND Battery). The switch also has an Off position. For example "how to", click on Supplanting POWER Slide Switch

(2) RDC1 Body Shell Cardboard Light Reflector

Within the body shell is a "V" shaped white cardboard assembly that serves to reflect / diffuse illuminated lamps (or replacement LEDs) that are mounted on the chassis's Printed Wiring Boards (PWBs).

In my example, the cardboard assembly was poorly assembled with gaps at its end bulkheads and excess globs of glue that had to be fixed so not to interfere when battery added. After repairs, the reflector assembly is allowed to "float" within the body shell so it can be later "adjusted" against the installed battery.

(3) Optional, Conflagration Mitigation Battery Barrier

Should some mishap occur, like excessive heat from improperly charging the battery, it could be of concern having an installed battery that will be touching the body shell cardboard light reflector. An example method to isolated the battery is later described.

See Conflagration Mitigation Battery Barrier

(4) RDC1, as received, Bent Chassis

My particularly RDC1 had a bend at one end of its aluminum chassis that needed fixing as shown below.

(5) NCE GWire Cab Control - used problem

The NCE GWire hand held Cab Control was obtained used and had leaking batteries, so corrosion had to be cleaned and treated.


(6) RDC1 Center of Gravity with Modifications

Adding the on-board nearly 1 pound battery with retaining bracket mostly affects the center of gravity of the RDC1. The battery can be placed at either end of the RDC. The battery is hidden from view being shrouded by the end of body shell having no side widows. (The body shell can also be turned around and still fit on the chassis.)

The first attempt was to place both the battery and GWire radio receiver board at the same end nearest the Main PWB within the RDC - keeps interconnecting wiring lengths the shortest. The battery is mounted at the end extremity of the chassis and the radio receiver board with its antenna pigtail vertically position is mounted within the Cab. Though this would provide a common access to both (with Cab detached) it's crowded. So I chose to move only the battery to the opposite end of the RDC with requiring slightly longer cable wiring.

The radio receiver board is best to be in the Cab near the end closest to the Main PWB to keep its more critical signal cable lengths shortest possible. Without the battery here, its RF reception should be improved, too. As it turned out, the center of gravity is also better. See below illustration.

 The RDC1 center of gravity differences did not affect operational performance when tested on the layout.

As to RF reception, the aluminum body shell, and the chromed plated top blister with metal screens, and chromed plated Cabs - all of which can be expected to degrade signal reception. That said, the Cab was chosen because of all its plastic widow surrounds being the least worst location for the radio receiver with vertically polarized pigtail antenna.


(7) RDC Weight Comparisons Factory

Weight Before Modifications

Weight with DCC Decoder, Radio Receiver and Battery


And then lightened Weight with Lowering - having cutout chassis metal

The RDC1 before and after weight differences did not affect operational performance when tested on the layout.




Battery & Charger for RDC1

The Tenergy Brand #31892 Li-Ion 5200 ma hour battery with built in protection and Tenergy approved Smart Charger model F148-015-D were chosen for prolonged operation and safety.  Both battery and charger are to have common plugs / sockets installed so the battery can be charged when its either mounted within the RDC or by itself and bench charged.

The battery is diagrammatically connected within the RDC1 as illustrated below.

Because of the compactness of the equipment box to also house switches, the charge jack is first to be installed - relationship shown below.

For complete wiring connections, click on "Aristo-Craft RDC1 Configuration Diagram" (Because its a big picture, it will open in a new browser tab.)


As to the equipment box, it's the source point of all wiring and will be subsequently described and illustrated.

The battery is to be mounted near one end of the RDC1 chassis (where the body shell end having no side windows is used to hide it). An example bent "T" bracket is used to retain the battery with a Zip tie.

For battery mounting, See Example - Tenergy Battery Install




TASKS & "How To's"


Equipment Box

The prototype battery box is identified in this article as the Equipment Box so not to confuse it with the added on-board battery. There are two identical plastic ones mounted on the RDC1 underbody. The one adjacent to the factory slide switches is used to house all added switches and battery charge jack.

The Equipment Box is focal point of all wiring having switches and battery jack all concentrated therein with its interconnecting wires and any connectors to pass through only one large hole to be drilled in the chassis. So it's best to first beginning working on the Equipment Box.

Holes to be drilled in plastic box With the box removed, holes are to be drilled as illustrated below.

Shown below is what it looks like after holes drilled.

Comment: The back of the box has a factory thin black covering with sticky adhesive. Be careful when handling it.


Installing Battery Jack & Switches in Equipment Box:

Battery Jack The first item to be installed in the box is the battery charged jack. It's to be prepared as shown below.

Then the charge jack is to be mounted in the box as it relates to other items as shown below.


Toggle Switch

The next item to be installed is the 4 pole toggle switch (which supplants the original factory POWER slide switch), but it's to have its hardware first arranged as shown below.

Shown below is how the wiring can be assigned to the toggle switch top & bottom terminal rows using wire colors for the different functions. This alleviates some of the consternation when doing the final interconnecting wiring - to be done & shown later as per Aristo-Craft RDC1 Configuration Diagram".


Shown below is how the toggle switch JST connector is to be prepared, given the prior shown diagram.

Shown below are the lengths of wires indicated within the diagram to be soldered to the toggle switch terminals.

Having pre-soldered wires to the toggle switch, it's mounted in the box as shown below.


Push Button Switch

The last item to be installed is the push button switch. It's to be first prepared as shown below. (This momentary contact switch takes the place of the QSIS reed type switch used to manually control sound volume.)

Finally, the push button switch is mounted in the box with wires to be arranged as shown below.

With the equipment box now populated with wired switches and charge jack, next is to drill a hole in the chassis assembly where the box is located so its wires can pass through to their destinations.



Chassis Wire Pass Thru Hole - for Equipment Box:

If not choosing to lower the RDC, only the body shell and Cabs first need to be removed to facilitate drilling the hole.

See RDC1 Disassembly

While a 3/8 inch or 10 mm diameter drill bit is about the practical limit if using a hand drill for the hole, it's only large enough for wires without subsequently soldered connectors to go through. Drill the larger 1/2 inch or 12 mm diameter hole for serviceability if wanting to remove the equipment box with once wired connectors - described later.

After the chassis hole is drilled, the equipment box wires can feed through the hole, and then the box mounted - shown below with the smaller 3/8 inch hole diameter.

Before soldering wires to their destinations, the factory POWER slide switch must be dealt with.




Supplanting POWER Slide Switch

The 4 pole toggle switch put in the equipment box takes the place of the factory 2 pole POWER slide switch, now with added features. It's preferable to remove the factory slide switch as well as the must not to be used cables with jacks Aristo put in for connecting to a trailing battery car.


POWER Slide Switch Removal

With chassis hole drilled and factory slide switch dealt with, wiring can be completed. Optional connectors for equipment box wires can be used, and a poly fuse is also to be installed.

Physical connections are illustrated below that conform to the "Aristo-Craft RDC1 Configuration Diagram"




Example - QSIS DCC Decoder Install


Connect Speaker Cable

One end of the speaker cable plugs into the QSIS DCC Decoder and the other end plugs into the 3 pin connector hidden under another emulated engine cover - so the cover has to be taken off for access.

(Comment: The area under this engine cover was intended by Aristo-Craft to house an optional stand alone sound PWB, but because the QSIS decoder includes integral sound circuitry, access is only needed to plug in the connector cable that goes to the QSIS decoder.)


QSIS DCC Decoder Installation

The process of installing the QSIS decoder is illustrated below.



Example -NCE Radio Control Install

The GWire Radio Receiver PWB is to be installed in the RDC1 Cab closest to the Main PWB so all interconnecting cables can be kept to minimum lengths. This is particularly important for the ribbon cable to assure signal integrity. The receiver frequency can be set to 8 different values (0-7).

The Ribbon cable coming from the NCE Radio Receiver PWB mounted in the Cab is 12 inches long and "snakes" beside and between the Main PWB and chassis so it will just fit.



Example - Tenergy Battery Install

The battery can be mounted on either end of the chassis assembly, but it's preferable to mount it near the cab on the opposite end of where the NCE GWire Radio Receiver board is to be in its cab.

Battery Retainer Bracket The battery requires a bracket to retain it. An example "T" bracket of about 3 & 1/4 inch or metric 80mm I used as shown below was obtained via Amazon in bulk (The high cost of just getting one is for its packaging).

The bracket needs to be bent at a couple of places and a hole drilled & countersunk in its "leg" - illustrated below.

 In the above illustration, note in one of the inset pictures with what looks like a barrier between the battery and retainer. It's an option - described next.




Optional - Conflagration Mitigation Battery Barrier (CMBB)

Given the Tenergy battery's warning label, should some mishap occur, like excessive heat from improperly charging the battery - though it's suppose to have built-in protections, it could be of concern having an installed battery that will be touching the body shell cardboard light reflector.

To insulate the battery, the barrier would be placed between the battery and "T" Bracket battery retainer. An example CMBB is made from cement backer board as illustrated below.


Battery Mounting

Illustrated below is how the Tenergy battery can be mounted. The battery can be mounted on either end of the RDC1 the same way. Shown below it's on the end nearest the Main PWB, but it's preferable to mount it on the other end for less clutter.



RDC1 Disassembly

Depending on choices made, some or all of the items of the RDC1 can be removed so work can be performed for modifications or maintenance, including the following items that you can scroll down to see:
Underbody Components Removal; Body Shell Removal; Cabs Removal; Trucks Removal; Circuit Boards Removal; Chassis & Weight Plate Separation


Underbody Components Removal:

Removal Underbody components are attached to the chassis with self threading screws - illustrated below. (The equipment boxes and emulated engine covers have "U" slotted mounting ears, so screws could just be loosened rather than removed - but if left in place may get in the way when working on the unit.)


Body Shell Removal:

There are 8 total screws that hold the body shell on to the chassis assembly and Cabs. At the top of each Cab where it meets the aluminum body shell is a tiny screw needing a small jewelers screwdriver to remove. The aluminum body shell is fastened to the chassis assembly with 3 underside screws on each side. When the body shell is removed, the Cabs remain attached to the chassis assembly. See below illustration.


Cabs Removal:

There are 2 screws on the underside ends of the chassis assembly that fasten each cab - Illustrated below.

When screws are removed, the factory dangling cables with jacks intended for a battery car must be removed to free up the Cabs. They can be un-soldered from the Main PWB and withdraw. Anyway, this would need to be done when choosing to install DCC decoder with on-board battery.

(Note: The illustration below refers to factory front & rear. These are arbitrary designations so ends of the RDC1 can be distinguished from one another.)


Trucks Removal - Front & Rear :

Trucks fasten through a "kidney" pattern to the chassis assembly with spacer disks and 3 screws - illustrated below.

Note: If choosing to lower the RDC1, plastic disk spacers won't be used and trucks' wires & connectors must be pre-arranged for remounted trucks to fit with enough clearance.

See Re-Mounting Trucks on Lowered RDC1



Circuit Boards Removal:

The Main PWB and long slender Sub PWB are spaced with plastic standoffs from the aluminum chassis. (The steel weight plate has enlarged holes for clearance around the spacers.) The MAIN PWB uses 3 spacers and the Sub PWB uses 2 spacers. Metric M3 factory flathead were used on my example RDC1! Pan head screws would be more appropriated.

To free up the 2 PWBs, unfasten the nuts and withdraw the screws -spacers could fall out. Because the 2 PWBs are captive to each other with factory soldered wires, they are removed / remounted as a pair with care not to twist them and break off the wires.


Chassis & Weight Plate Separation:

The chassis assembly should be checked for weight plate centering and can be taken apart for cleaning debris between the two parts. (If drilling holes and if cutting out areas to lower the RDC1, the chassis assembly is to be fastened together during those operations and then taken apart for deburring and cleaning.)



Example - Incandescent to LED Lamp Replacement

Most of the lamps in the RDC1 are factory incandescent types, except for the red markers on the cabs which are factory LEDs. While there are more effective illumination methods for the RDC1 body interior, individual 5mm LEDs, where chosen as 1 for 1 incandescent replacements because they can be purchased cheaply in bulk, and they fit within the Cab headlight recesses much like the factory lamps; however, they need current limiting resistors.



Cab Headlights

Both Cabs are the same as to removing factory lamps and replacing them with LEDs.


Incandescent Lamp Removal

First, take out the factory lamps -example method illustrated below.


LEDs Installation

Now the LEDs can be installed -example method illustrated below.


Interior Body Lamps

LED Preparation LEDs are prepared with bent leads and current limiting resistors - example method illustrated below.

Replacing Factory Lamps with LEDs When removing factory incandescent lamps, they can be un-soldered from the top side of PWBs - example method illustrated below. (The pads and holes the lamp wires go into are overly large.)




Example - Lowering RDC1

Example Cutout Method To lower the RDC1 its chassis assembly is to have cutout openings made near both ends. The thickness of the assembly (weight plate & aluminum chassis) cutouts effectively lowers the unit by 0.170 inch when a CamPac 3-D printed truck mounting plate is used to cover over the opening. Example cutouts shown below.

To obtain good accuracy for locating the template, the chassis assembly is first prepared, and then the template surrounds can be scribed - illustrated below.

If there is access to a machine shop, they could mill out the openings using the CamPac 3-D printed Cutout Template to establish the surrounds. That said, to do it yourself, tools you may have (or borrow) can be used with the template, but it may take a little time with care - have patience. Example illustrated below.

Illustrated below is an example using jig saw with metal cutting blade and Dremel (with proper cutoff wheels) to make the cutouts.

The CamPac 3-D printed Truck Mounting Plate is used as a template, too, to drill holes to be used to mount it. The Truck Mounting Plate has more holes at its periphery than needed. Illustrated below is how to place the plate and the 3 holes chosen for drilling.


CamPac Truck Mounting Plate Installation

Deburring & Cleaning Chassis Assembly Before the CamPac Truck Mounting Plates are installed, the chassis assembly must be taken apart to be deburred & cleaned, and then properly put back together.


Fastening CamPac Truck Mounting Plate

The fastening process is illustrated below.



Re-Mounting Trucks on Lowered RDC1

Because the extremities of the trucks will be closer to the chassis underside, its connector & wires must first be pre-arranged as illustrated below.

Trucks can now be mounted as illustrated below.

Note: The thin washer shown above is typically supplied when ordering the CamPac Template & Truck Mounting Plates.





The example RDC1 had its Aristo couplers replaced- being equipped body mounted Kadee centerset "G" type couplers fitted in Datum Precision metal coupler boxes when the RDC was first purchased sometime ago. I designed the boxes to fit a number of Aristo-Craft locomotive applications. The RDC application is described in the Custom Made Coupler Boxes vignette

The boxes have a hole in its tail the fits over the RDC front post on the underside of the Cab. They are available by contacting Colin Camarillo via his website.

However, because with the RDC1, lowered, some trimming modifications had to be done so couplers will again align with the Kadee track height gauge. Illustrated below is an example of how trimming is done with the Cab removed. The Cab could be left in place on the RDC, but more awkward to work with.

Illustrated below is how the Datum Precision coupler box assembly is remounted.



Operating NCE GWire CAB - with battery equipped RDC1


The example NCE GWire CAB (aka Throttle) had been obtained used - it's out of production.

Basic Loco (RDC1) operation is fairly straight forward once knowing how to do things with a few GWire CAB "normal" key functions; but, if you wish, an unfathomable level of minutia can be had to do many "tweaks" to optimize or customize using the GWire CAB in program mode or service mode, and better yet, via a QSI Solutions Programmer device.

The example RDC1 QSI Solutions decoder had been pre-programmed (including sound file based on New Haven Budd RDC version with Hancock air whistle) having "default" QSI Configuration Value (CV) settings.


CAB Power UP & Down

The CAB must be powered on before the loco (RDC1) is powered on (toggle switch is set to "Battery" position); moreover, the RDC1 should be commanded to stop (set speed to 0) before the CAB is to be powered OFF - illustrated below.

(With the CAB powered OFF, then power off the RDC1 by placing its toggle switch to center OFF position - after which, all RDC1 lights are off and no more sound will be heard.)



Radio Channel Selection

Because the example Aristo RDC1 has its installed NCE Radio Receiver PWB set to frequency 7 (had been factory set to 0), the CAB must now have it's radio frequency set to correspond. This setting (was chosen for least likely favored frequency) is used to operate the RDC1 on anyone else's layout that may have 900 Mhz radio controlled locos. Changing the CAB radio frequency is illustrated below.

Loco (RDC1) Address Number Assignment

The example NCE CAB had been obtained used; and as such, it had prior (Recall) selections that did not include the Loco default address "3" of the pre-programmed QSI Solutions DCC decoder installed in the example RDC1. The NCE CAB loco address (number to be 3) selection was implemented as Illustrated below.




During the RDC1 development process a few videos were made to memorialize issues intended to be limited to myself; however, they do show information that can be shared.

Be forewarned, the following videos admittedly were done with poor camera skills:

Aristo-Craft RDC1 Lamp Test:

Aristo RDC1 Motor Surging Mitigation:

Aristo-Craft RDC1 - Now fitted with QSI Solutions DCC Decoder:

Aristo RDC1 Lowering:






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