The LH Airport Express EMU - 2 head cars, 2 coaches
The BR403 “Lufthansa Airport Express” is not very well known, but would deserve to be a legendary train. Those 3 EMUs built in the ’70s were the ancestor of German ICE high speed trains. I stumbled upon an N-scale model on Ebay and couldn’t resist; but now, a conversion to DCC is in order!
I will divide this conversion in 3 small blog posts. This part 1 is a quick presentation of the model; part 2 will be about improving power contacts and installing interior lighting; and part 3 will show the installation of the DCC decoder…maybe with sound. This is my most ambitious conversion until now, so let’s hope it all works as planned!
The LH Airport Express EMU – 2 head cars, 2 coaches
Class 403 (BR403) is a fascinating train:
These EMUs served Frankfurt International Airport as the “Lufthansa Airport Express”, with a Lufthansa color scheme (grey/yellow). They were later used by the Deutsche Bahn (with a dark grey livery).
[important]Edit 2012-12-06 I should have double checked my story about the 403. Misha (in the comments below) was kind enough to correct them. Thanks![/important]
The LH Airport Express(copyright Benedikt Dohmen, Wikipedia Creative Commons license)
The BR403’s original design earned him the nickname “Donald Duck”. I actually think it could be mistaken for a modern ICE or Shinkansen: its “nose” looks much more modern than the early ICE 1 or TGV Sud-Est of the 1980s.
The N-Scale model (163902G) is from Lima, an Italian manufacturer, now property of Hornby (with a limited range of HO only products). I couldn’t find exactly when this model was released.
One thing was sure: DCC conversion was going to be a bit tricky. I avoid buying very old trains. Not that I am afraid of DCC conversions – I now have a little experience – but because some models were technically limited. Fortunately, this is an EMU, and there will be plenty of room for installing a decoder and even maybe a loudspeaker:
The power car
The power car has one light bulb, it won’t be too hard to replace it with a set of 2 yellow/red SMD leds. There is a big problem however: the power car has one motor bogie (all wheels with rubber bands), and the other bogie gets power from the tracks from all 4 wheels. This is a recipe for getting stuck on switches:
Overview of bogies under the power car
The 3 other cars have no function whatsoever, there is not even a light bulb or track power feeders in the unpowered head car.
This time, I will try to do things right. Here is my plan:
This is a lot to do. Linking cars electrically is something I haven’t done yet, but there are many valuable tips on the Internet. Let’s hope at the end, this unit will run smoothly…after all, the main advantage of early 90s models is that they have an easy and solid built !
I’ll be seeing a totally different scenery next week, as I’ll be in San Francisco and Seattle for a few days. I will maybe get to see some “exotic” US trains; but in the meantime, this conversion will have to wait.
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