This photo shows the stock model. It has a non-operating front coupler, and a truck-mounted Rapido coupler.
The tender coupler is the easier of the two to replace, so I'll start with that one. The first task is to simply remove the truck. This is done by undoing the screw that holds the truck to the tender frame.
The next photo shows the truck disassembled.
The whole arm that holds the coupler can be cut off. No need to keep it clean, because that is not really visible once the engine is back on the track. The important thing to note is the position of the wheel. One tender truck picks up power from one rail and the other tender truck picks up power from the other rail. The wheelsets have one insulated wheel. When the wheel is repositioned in the truck later on, it must be placed in the correct position, otherwise a short or a fried decoder results.
After I installed the tender truck again, I verified that I got the wheel positioned correctly. Next, off to the height gauge we go! The tender's frame sits a bit too high, so a 0.010" piece of styrene is needed to fill the gap.
There is a small indent at the bottom of the tender floor. I cut and fitted a piece of styrene and glued it in that indent with Testor's plastic glue.
I then painted it with Floquil's "Engine Black".
After the paint dried, I drilled and tapped a hole for the Micro-Trains Z-scale coupler screw.
Double-check the position of the coupler. Perfect!
And now the front coupler. It is significantly more difficult. This is not a trivial project, so only tackle it if you feel like you have to have an operating front coupler. I do, so here we go. The original coupler is not operational, but it does swing from left to right.
The first step is to remove the leading truck of the engine. It is held in place with a long screw. Be careful because there is a spring under the truck that keeps it on the track. With the screw removed, you can pull the truck away from the body.
The next photo shows the cow catcher and front platform removed from the engine. The part can be lifted off of the engine now that the truck screw has been removed. All the work is going to be done to that piece, so the engine can be put aside.
The highlighted section of the cow catcher's part is where the new Micro-Trains Z-scale coupler will be mounted. The hard part is figuring out how to get it in there. The open space is way too small for the coupler, and modifying the coupler is out of place.
After trying to widen the area for the coupler, I gave up and decided to cut off the cow catcher altogether. The next photo shows where I cut off the cow catcher, but the knife slipped and cut off the vertical front step part also. I will have to glue it back in place later on. The trim lines shows the amount of space that needs to be filed away to make room for the coupler.
The next photo shows the view of the cow catcher platform with the coupler installed. Ideally, the underside of the platform needed to be filed down a bit more because the coupler sits a bit too low. I did as much as I could, and then drilled and tapped the hole for the screw.
And this is the view of the whole assembly installed. The cow catcher has not yet been installed (nor the step that I accidentally cut off).
The coupler of the hopper car is too low, because the Pacific's front coupler is a perfect match with the Micro-Trains coupler gauge. I am happy with the conversion, because now I have an operating front coupler.
Converting this wonderful engine turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The conversion was the easiest one I have done. The engine was definitely designed for DCC (the marketing hype was actually true). While not a plug-n-play conversion, it is rather straightforward. All the work is done in the tender, so we will start with disassembling it first. Removing the tender body from the frame is very easy. On the bottom near the front are two small screws (indicated in the photo below). These need to be removed.
Flip the engine over and the tender body can be lifted up. It still clips in on the back, but with a bit of wiggling it comes off.
This photo shows the entire tender disassembled. The metal weight lifts off the tender frame. The wiring is now exposed.
As shown in the photo above, the wires are covered with black shrink tubing. Slip those off to reveal the wires. Unsolder the wires. And this is where the easy part of the conversion starts. The wires have the same color as the DCC standard decoder wiring. It is a simple matter of soldering the same color wires together. To verify that everything indeed works as intended, I soldered the decoder to the wires and covered the exposed areas with new shrink tubing (as shown below). I then took the whole assembly to the layout and carefully tested whether or not the engine worked. It did!
My only concern was the headlight. It turns out that, unless you want control over the headlight (i.e ON or OFF), you're set. The headlight is ON automatically. It simply gets its electricity from the rails. The bulb is soldered to two contact strips that rub on the top of the flanges of the front drivers. I prefer to have the headlight on all the time, so there was no extra work for me to do. If headlight control is desired, then the white and blue wires of the decoder have to be routed through the drawbar and through the engine. So, now that the conversion worked, I shortened the decoder wires as shown in the photo below.
I re-soldered the wires, covered the joints with liquid electrical tape, and glued the decoder to the tender frame with Walthers Goo. After replacing the tender body, I tested the engine again. It worked fine. I programmed the decoder to work like a road switcher.
The next photo shows the engine at work on my Bear Creek & Eastern layout (my last N-scale layout). The Pacific runs great on code 40 rail.