A Sound Improvement
Many modellers would agree that a sound-equipped locomotive is much more pleasing to operate than the alternative. That is probably why most of us reserve or purchase locomotives having factory installed DCC with sound.
However, although manufacturers may strive to produce high quality models, factory-equipped DCC and sound doesn’t always mean you are getting the best sound.
A case in point is the recently released Rapido Trains FPA-4 with factory-equipped ESU DCC and sound. I must admit that I was favourably impressed with the sound and performance of this model when I first operated it on my model railway. However, after I attended an ESU Loksound workshop in Scranton, PA., I learned about how to make a simple improvement in the sound produced by this model.
At that conference, one of the attendees, Roger Eicher, asked if I had purchased any of the Rapido Trains FPA-4 locomotives with DCC/sound, to which I confessed that I had. After I told him how happy I was with my model, he indicated that he improved the sound simply by changing out the OEM speaker and installing an ESU Loksound 28mm speaker (PN 50333). Since the decoder in the Rapido FPA-4 is an ESU product, the 4-ohm ESU Loksound speaker is compatible.
After Roger completed his installation, he turned on the sound and blew the
windows out of his basement! (His words.) Of course he was exaggerating, but
after he explained how easy it was to do the modification and the impressive
results, I thought I’d give it a try.
first step is to remove the shell. The instructions in the manual state that all you need to do is to remove the couplers, and then wiggle the shell off the chassis. It’s that easy, so says Rapido.
The next step is to remove the original speaker, which is installed on top of the chassis next to the decoder assembly. The speaker is held in place by a bracket that is screwed into the chassis. Remove the two screws and lift out the assembly. Next, remove the speaker from the assembly, slide the two insulation tubes back and cut the wires from the speaker terminals. Set aside the speaker assembly for future use in another project.
prepare the ESU 28mm replacement speaker for installation, first remove it from
the baffle. Then solder short wires to the terminals on the speaker.
I used brown 36ga ESU Loksound wire (PN51948). Before placing the speaker back into the sound baffle, cut off the lugs from the side of the baffle and sand the exterior surface until smooth.
First cut 4 pieces of Evergreen 0.080” x 0.080” styrene strip (Evergreen PN164).
Each piece should measure about 1 ¼” in length.
After the speaker is solidly in place, then only a few steps remain.
Cut the speaker wires to length and solder them together. Then, slide those two insulation tubes over the solder joints and heat them with your soldering iron until they are melted in place. Finally, tuck the wires down to the top of the chassis
where the original speaker had been located.
all you have to do is wiggle the shell back onto the chassis and install your
couplers. Just don’t forget to reinstall those side railings!
It’s that easy.