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Eizan Dentetsu (叡山電鉄) Kirara 900 Decoder Install

I'd bought both the Maple Red and Maple Orange versions of this EMU back in 2006 when I first went to Japan and have always loved the quality and performance.


Since the latest trend has been to DCC all my gear, I had decided that what better candidate next than to do one of these up. It was all quite simple too. The 'power rails' run down each side (internally) of the chassis and after isolating these from the engine I soldered the decoder in.


Firstly I took the thing to bits... I love Kato and their use of clips... everything snaps apart, but you really need to be careful! I nearly broke one clip underneath as you have to squeeze them with a fair bit of force.


After disembowing the engine I soldered it directly to the Decoder as I could easily put it back without having to worry about where the wires ran.


Putting it back in was easy and the next step was to wire up the main power to the copper rails.


There's a pair of LEDs (Red/Orange) at either end and they're wired up in parallel where one is reversed to allow them to switch between reverse/forward marker lights. This of course, wont work with DCC as you now have one common (single polarity) wire and then two rev/fwd wires... so I ripped one LED out of the board, flipped it around and then had my common.

I then used some very fine-gauge 'winding wire' (used for transformers/magnets) to connect the LEDs up (there was already a resistor in the circuit) since the thicker decoder wiring wouldn't fit under the light shield. To get the lights in the rear trailer working I ran this wire all the way between the trailers and to the other board, resoldering it in the same way.


I also ran an extra two wires from the 'power rails' in the trailer to the rails in the motor car. Therefore ALL 4 bogies were wired for power pickup and the thing ran like a dream (initially it was a bit sloppy with only the 2 power car bogies picking up the power.)


After programming it to use address 12, it was set to go. Next is to do my Maple Orange. ...actually, I'll get back to the programming first... I want to have my app able to at least set the addresses on decoders.

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  1. Very cool. Which decoder did you use? I’m new to model railroading (as an adult) and purchased the kirara 900 right off the bat as my first engine along with Kato’s M1 starter set. I quickly decided to go digital and have gone the Digitrax route. But now I need to install a decoder in the 900 and am running into probelms. Perhaps you could help…?

    • Peter, am happy to help as much as I can…
      I used the Hornby 8215 at the time, as it was cheap on eBay. The Hornby 8249 has superceeded this model.

      For this task, I’d recommend starting with the motor cab and installing the headlight and motor decoder. I’d also recommend using a smaller function decoder for the trailer. The wiring I used in between probably wasn’t flexible enough.

      I’d also recommend starting a thread in the JNS Forums ( as there is a good community there for assistance too.

  2. I know this is many many years later since you posted this, but I totally appreciated find this. I just got this train a few days ago a could not figure out how to get the shell off. Your photos clued me into where *specifically* the shell clips were and was finally able to open it up!

    I am in the process of changing it to DCC like you did, so that is my next task, to find a DCC controller from the current selection of stuff on the market.

    • Marc, am glad to be able to help!
      Wiring up the rear carriage isn’t fun and, in hindsight, I’d just buy a secondary decoder for the rear lights.
      The Eizan Dentetsu is still one of my favourite railways in Japan and I hope you’ve had the chance to ride it!

      • Yes, I think a second decoder for the rear lights will be simpler in this case as long as I can find a basic function only controller that will play nice with DCC-EX.

        I live in California and haven’t had a chance to ride the real thing, but I did see and enjoy your photos of it. And the monkey slowing things down a bit. Thanks for sharing.

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