NW-2 Update-Sound Systems

   The USA NW-2 is a beautiful locomotive as I stated in my previous
review.  A sound system really adds to the image of the locomotive, and
I chose the Sierra Soundtraxx EMD system with the WABCO horn.  The WABCO
is a single horn, which is quite appropriate for this 1st generation
    As usual, the NW-2 like other USA diesels was a pain to open up. The
body shell is held in place with four screws that are almost blocked by
the truck side frames.  I found the appropriate phillips screw driver,
and removed the screws with a great deal of difficulty.  They must have
a gorilla tightening the screws at the factory.  Once opened, you come
across a jumble of wiring for the motor, lights, smoke, and the USA
sound system.
    Got this tip on the internet from Dennis Paulson.  If you don't use
the smoke feature in your NW-2 diesel (I don't),  remove it and use the
stack holes for your on/off and remote volume switches that control your
sound system.  He has done this with his Sierra Sountraxx system with
excellent results.  He just removes the stacks to turn on the system or
adjust the volume, and then replaces them.  There are no holes to drill,
and the switches fit the stack holes perfectly.  There are only four
screws holding the smoke units and their circuit board in place. You
also get rid of the ugly heat sink, and the additional wiring by
removing the smoke units.
    I installed a Phoenix 2.5 inch speaker in the fuel tank after
considerable grinding and cutting.  They obviously want you to put a
speaker in this location, because they have a grill on the bottom, but
they cast it so that it is not easy to get a speaker to seat in the
bottom of the box without work.  I also installed a re-charging jack in
this box while I had it open for speaker installation.
    I installed the battery on the weight in the middle of the loco, and
the sound board on the front weight.  Both were secured with foam tape
on a plastic base that was hot glued to the weight, since the foam tape
will not stick to the weight material.
    The trickiest part of the installation was the power pickup for the
sound board.  I have found that the easiest way to pick up power on this
loco, is to take off the truck side frames (three screws) , and solder
your power leads to the power pickup leads on each side frame.  I did
not use this power pickup the first time, and had problems with the
sound system not revving up  when the throttle was increased.  Once I
changed the pickup to the trucks, everything worked out fine.  The
Sierra system was simple to option for this locomotive, since it was a
switcher and a first generation diesel.   I disabled the dynamic brake
sounds since this particular diesel did not have this feature.  I am
still playing with the throttle sensitivity option.  All my Aristo
diesels are set for high sensitivity which means that you reach "Notch
8" at a fairly low track voltage setting.  This is because the Aristo
locomotives draw very little power to get up to speed.  The USA diesels,
draw more amperage to get up to speed, and I may have cut my sensitivity
back to the medium setting, since when I am running at a moderate speed,
the sound system is running a full throttle.   It must be noted that
each sound installation that I have done presents its own set of
challenges, and many people opt for the "drop-in" sound units that plug
into existing connectors provided by the manufacturer.  This is the
easier installation, but is extremely "feature poor" and the lack of
volume with these systems has always been a major complaint.