Brian’s logging locomotive

“Here is the reason for lots of power, double headers to push equipment through the snow.

I will send details later on how the double headers are set up on DCC as well as a video of more scenery.

Thanks Al



“Hi Al, as requested – an explanation on DCC double headed locomotives.

It is not easy to explain how to do a double header with a DCC system as there are many different makes available and each has its own way of setting it up.

I use the Lenz DCC system and have 3 hand held tethered controllers. One with a keypad and two with knob control all with display. I use the keypad one for setting up double headers.

With most DCC systems, one can run two different locomotives as double headers. (You will have to set the speed steps in both locomotives to be the same). You can also set it up the same way and have a lead locomotive and a tail end helper locomotive.

1 – Prerequisites for creating a double header are:-

# each of the two locomotives to be double headed must be called up on the same hand held controller.
# each locomotive must have a given command (that is changing speed, direction or turning on or off one of the functions)
# the speed step of both locomotives must be 0 when they are joined as a double header.

2 – Configuring two locomotives as a double header:-

First, call up the first locomotive (say number 2) and move it to where you want to couple it together with the second locomotive on your layout.

Then call up the second locomotive (say number 3) and move it up to the first locomotive.

In doing this, you make sure that both locomotives called up on your hand held controller has been given an operating command.

NB. Make sure that both locomotives are set to run in the same direction.

Control of the double header can be from either address (locomotive 2 or 3). When running a double header, the operation keys work on both locomotives at the same time. The keys that turn functions on and off work only on the locomotive whose address is shown in the display.

In the display of my hand held controller, an ‘E’ in front of the address is a single locomotive and ‘D’ is a double header with the address of the locomotive shown.

I say again that the explanation for double heading shown here is for a Lenz DCC system that I use on my layout using Tsunami decoders in my locomotives from Blackstone models in the USA.

This is a very basic description of setting up double headers. It took me a couple of tries at getting this right and eventually enlisted the help of a very good model railroad friend and expert at DCC installation and running to help me get mine right. He also gave me a “hands on” on how to do future double headers. But if some of you are like me, it will take me quite a few more tries to get it right.

I hope that the above will be of some help on how to set up double headed locomotives.



“Hi Al

A short video clip of my double headed Heisler logging locomotives running on my layout.
An experiment that worked out. Was not sure how to get double headers on my DCC system until a friend helped me out.

Many thanks and all the best.


A fantastic triple bill from Brian – I always look forward to his mails. And what a layout!

That’s all this time.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you grab the bull by the horns, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

10 Responses to Brian’s logging locomotive

  1. Duncan Galbraith says:

    Superb ! I must have a look at this system sometime, but I think N gge is getting a bit small to do conversions.Most of my locos are 20 year old models from Yugoslavia and one from former East Germany- still running very well too. Thanks , D/

  2. mike luhouse says:

    What a great layout. Love the detail and the imagination that went into its creation! It feels as if you are watching life size operations on your video.
    Thanks for all the great information.

  3. Rod Mackay says:

    Am I missing something? I would have thought there had to be an extra step between coupling on the second loco and trying to drive away, where you tell the computer you want to drive them both as a pair from one address?

  4. Brian Carroll says:

    Please could someone give me Brian’s contact details as I stay in South Africa and would like to make contact with Brian as I am new comer to the Model Railroad fraternity.

    Brian Carroll

  5. Two or more engines (have seen as many as 10) on in a train using DCC has a few requirements. The engines should be speed matched, if not speed matched the whole consist (that is the correct term for multiple engines) will be slowed by the slowest engine in the set.. the train will be jerky, particularly between engines.

    Setting up is simple, there are too methods simple and advanced consists. The simple just requires all engines be on the same address, with the direction bit set to properly run any that are to backward. The other method is advanced consists where each engine in the consist is specified as to position in the consist and direction. Simple is easiest unless you want to run the engines separately. Advanced is best if you want to break up the consist or insert another engine.

    Refer to your system manual on consisting as each do it differently. Do to a Google search on Speed Matching to learn to speed match. It does not require JMRI but can be tedious without if engines are from different manufacturers and/or have different decoders.

  6. Roland Aldridge says:

    The Digitrax system makes double heading – what they call “Consists” very easy. The only downside of the cheaper Zephyr system is that it only remembers 25 locos at once, which is apparently never enough!

  7. Hemi says:

    Those 2 Heislers, 2 truck Rivarossi loco’s? THAT is SWEET to “HEAR” those chug along! I’ve got a Rivarossi 3 Truck Heisler, thats DC only, and runs GREAT! Its GREAT to see ’em double headed tho! In DCC it be easy to just make both engines have the same address……. But thats just me, (I’m NOT DCC) so…. To many loco’s to go DCC. literally. I got 2 at the moment thats dual mode so….. (I wanted to have at least one or two to have sound so….. Bachmann Spectrum EM’1’s!

    SWEET layout too man! NICE work! ~Hemi

  8. Will in NM says:

    Brian, Thank you for the photos of your snow removal equipment and your two Heisler locomoives. Did you install the DCC and sound in them yourself? If so, I’m wondering how hard it was since I’ve got several Rivarossi Heislers I’d like to convert to DCC and sound. Best of all, I loved your video: seeing and HEARING the Heislers in action was a real treat.

  9. Martin Gliddon says:

    The Gaugemaster Prodigy two system also makes the programming of consists simple. It covers both engines under a single consist number of your choosing. Just remember to ‘unconsist’ them if you want to return to single engine operation.
    Hard wiring for DCC is relatively simple. You must follow the golden rule of pickup wires and wires from the motor terminals MUST not be connected directly to each other. This is totally opposite to what DC is, but you have to remember to track voltage runs at a constant 15/18volts. That is the current picked up at the wheels. The track also carries specific signals from the controller that feed directly into the decoder, which, depending on how much throttle you give the engine, relates to the amount of volts that are sent to the motor. These signals, and there are many, also decide which sound or lights you use. If you want lights, there is a specific way to wire the lighting up and this will be found in many manuals and diagrams online. If you want sounds, then order a decoder that has the correct sound programmed into it. The cost of this will be a lot more than a standard decoder. Quite often a speaker is attached, although is the USA, you can buy a decoder buddy, which is basically a plug in motherboard for your decoder with solder tabs for the wiring. In the UK, there are numerous adapter boards for different decoders.
    Your choice of 8 or 21 pins, or even smaller than that is up to you. I model 0 gauge and find that a 8 or 21 pin decoder designed for HO scale works ok with single motors. For those with twin motors, I would suggest a higher amp decoder to allow for the two electric motors.

  10. William says:

    Any tips for getting a DCC with sound decoder / speaker in a Rivarossi Hysler?

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