Add a keep alive to your Bachmann Heisler

Back around 2004 I had brief love affair with On30 and wrote a series of articles for Model Railroading on the subject. I recently dug out my old Bachmann On30 locos just to see them run again. Bachmann has for several  years been selling On30 locos with a sound decoder option but all mine had decoders I had installed my self. However they barely ran for me. I had worked diligently many years ago to get the to run but they haven’t held up–so much for the idea of a garden railroad unless I decide to go with a dead rail system.

Anyway the other day I got an email from David Popp at MR Video Plus wanting to know whether I knew how to install a keep alive of any kind in a Bachmann On30 loco with a factory installed decoder. Bachmann has for several years been selling On30 locos with a sound decoder option–usually Soundtraxx. Their On30 locomotives look great but can be difficult to get to operate reliably and that was the case with David’s locos. Since I had never worked with one of these factory installed Soundtraxx decoders I punted and suggested he contact Justin at Soundtraxx tech support. As always Justin came through with the following answer and photos of the solder points on the circuit board for attaching a CurrentKeeper. It is likely that other Bachmann factory sound decoders have a similar solution but it would still be a good idea to ask Justin if you run into a similar issue.

Justin’s comments:

The sheer space limitations of those On30 Heisler type locomotives might not allow for the fitment of a CurrentKeeper. A separate outboard capacitor could be added. You would be safe with a 25v capacitor with a microfared value up to 1000uf without the need for any charge limiting resistors inline with the part. I’ve attached two pictures showing the solder points located on the motherboard of this design. If you have any other questions or require further assistance, please feel free to contact us at any time.

One comment

  • to be honest I would replace with a wow steam sound decoder (v4) with their built in current keeper, it is costlier but I find the smooth running on my HO with my Shay 3 truck (also Bachman)