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SDS Models 81 Class Diesel Locomotives
DCC Sound Installation with Light Modifications

Now available with our NEW Remastered Custom Sound Project

including “Full Throttle – Drive Hold” feature

About the NSW 81 Class

The 81 class are diesel locomotives built by Clyde Engineering, Kelso for the State Rail Authority of NSW, with a total of 80 locomotive built between September 1982 and February 1986. They were to replace the ageing 1950s vintage 42 and 44 class locomotives, as well as provide additional capacity. The 81 Class locomotive commenced service on 29th October 1982.


The first 40 were based at Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot to operate Hunter Valley coal trains, while the remaining 40 were concentrated on the Main South line between Sydney and Albury, hauling both passenger and freight trains. The final 15 of this batch were also equipped with V/Line radios, and from July 1986 operated in Victoria through to Melbourne.

In 1991 a further four locos were built for the then Freight Rail by Clyde Engineering, Kelso to handle their growing freight business by using spare diesel engines, alternators and other parts held in storage plus reconditioned traction motors from the withdrawn Clyde –GM421 Class Locomotives.

In 1994 saw the delivery of the 90 Class Locomotive and from then the Broadmeadow based units were released to replace older locomotives on other freight duties. This saw their operation extended up to Brisbane and Broken Hill.

In the mid-1990s, some later locomotives were leased to National Rail. These were later exchanged for 13 of the earlier locomotives, which were permanently transferred to National Rail for use as high-powered shunters around Australia.

In February 2002, all these locos were reunited when National Rail and FreightCorp were both sold to form Pacific National.

In February 1999, the 81 Class began operating in South Australia when FreightCorp won a contract to haul brown coal from Leigh Creek to the Northern Power Station in Port Augusta.


As at February 2013, Pacific National still operated 83 locos, primarily in New South Wales.

On the 11th March 2007, one loco was written off following a derailment near Forbes and remains the only loco to be scrapped.

DCC with Sound and Light Modifications

In 2022, SDS Models will release their model of the NSW 81 Class Locomotive from retooling the Austrains Model.

This new release included a 21 Pin socket for fitting a DCC decoder plus 2×23 round speakers making it a DCC Sound Ready.


For this DCC installation, we recommend the ESU LokSound 5 (Sound) with our remastered Custom Sound Project for the NSW 81 Class or the LokPilot 5 (No Sound) for those not wishing sound.


We offer a light modification for the SDS Models 81 Class to separate the lights for a more prototypical operation

Standard factory lighting has all lights “ON” in the direction of travel, requiring just 2 function lighting outputs in DCC.

Upgrade from the factory standard 2 to 10 Function lighting outputs with the DCC Solutions light modification and our 81 Class Custom Sound Project. This allows you individual control of the front/rear white marker lights, front/rear red marker lights, front/rear headlights, front/rear numberboards and front/rear ditch lights using the function buttons on your DCC throttle.

Directional light control will still be available. 

Unlike ESU/SDS Model's factory sound which uses 2 sound slots to operate the lights. Our light modification does not use any sound slots for lighting, so all the 10 sound processing channels are available to play sounds when using all the lighting, so you will get the full sound experience all the time.

The DCC Solutions NSW 81 Class Custom Sound Project

is packed with sounds and features not found on other sound decoders,

especially factory fitted sound

Factory Fitted Sound only offers you the very basic sound 

So why not get fully featured sound from DCC Solutions

Our Custom Sound Project now includes these fantastic features:

And includes all these great features to make your SDS 81 Class model drive and sound impressive

  • NSW 81 Class EMD 16-645E3B Turbo Custom Built Sound Project

  • NSW Nathan P5 Short Blast and Playable Horn

  • Random Start-up sequences, including Automatic Hot or Cold Engine Start

  • Air and Brake Release Sounds when loco moves off and stops, including Brake Squeal

  • When the loco stops after braking, the compressor cuts in to fill the reservoir and will turn off when the tanks are full

  • Speed sensitive Wheel Squeal and Rail Noise when the loco moves off

  • Full Throttle Drive Hold – Lock the loco speed, control the sound independently to simulate a heavy loaded or empty train

  • Coasting On Demand

  • Working Brake to bring your locomotive to a stop even when Full Throttle Drive Hold is active, unlike other ESU sound files

  • Proper Working Dynamic Brakes: When activated, automatically slows down with Dynamic braking, cooling fans operate 

  • Directional Coupling and Release with brake line release plus auto active shunting mode to reduce the speed of the loco

  • Stop & Drive Random Sounds including fans, compressor, rail noise, track wheel squeal, air releases and more!

  • NSW 81 class compressor

  • Wheel Squeal

  • Brake Squeal on deceleration and off on acceleration

  • Guard's Whistle

  • Manual Notching – manually control the notching rather than letting the decoder do it

  • And more (See below for full list)

  • Modified Lighting Option for more prototypical light operation

  • Low beam to High beam Headlight operation

  • Motor settings tuned for slow speed performance, perfect for shunting

  • Sound volumes tuned to specifically suit the SDS 81 Class Locomotive Model using the DCC Solutions speaker

  • Play 10 different sounds simultaneously

  • Individual sounds slots and master sound volumes can be adjusted by the user to suit personal requirements

  • DCC Solutions High Performance Dynamic Speaker producing fantastic sound

  • Full function button remapping to suit your personal requirements

  • This Sound Project is also suitable for other brands of 81 Class Models


Standard DCC Installation: Non-sound decoder with no lighting modifications

Premium Sound Installation: ESU LokSound 5 sound decoder with our Custom NSW 81 Class Sound Project

Premium Sound Installation and Light Modification: Upgrade to 10 Function lighting outputs with the DCC Solutions Light Modification to separate all lighting for individual function control on your DCC throttle, plus our ESU LokSound 5 Custom NSW 81 Class Sound Project

DCC Solutions SOUND and FUNCTION Labels

Premium Sound Installation and Light Modification using the ESU LokSound 5

F0    Directional Headlights

F1    Full Throttle Drive Hold

F2    NSW 81 Class Horn

F3    High Beam Headlight

F4    Dynamic Brake

F5    Coasting on Demand

F6    Brake

F7    Brake Squeal on Deceleration

F8    Prime Mover Start Up/Shut Down/Mute

F9    Front White Markers On/Off

F10  Rear Red Markers On/Off

F11  Rear White Markers On/Off

F12  Front Red Markers On/Off

F13  Directional Ditch Lights

F14  Numberboards On/Off

F15  Fan

F16  Compressor

F17  Coupling /Uncoupling + DCCS Shunting Mode

F18  Wheel Squeal

F19  Guard's Whistle

F20  Sanding Valve

F21  Volume Fader – Reduces Sound 50%

F22  Front Headlight

F23  Handbrake Ratchet / Selected Light Switch

F24  Spitter Valves

F25  Manual Notching

F26  Notch Up / Short Air Release

F27  Notch Down / Cab Door

F28  Rail Clank

Note: The above functions are for the LokSound 5 Decoder programmed with DCC Solutions Premium Custom Sound Installation with Light Modification

The functions and sounds will be different from any standard generic ESU Sound Files or other Sound Decoders.

To learn how to use these functions, see the Info & Help page.

Custom Built NSW 81 Class Sound Project

This is not just a basic factory sound project but a completely custom-built sound project by DCC Solutions that contains recorded sounds with customised sound programming plus extra features that will make your NSW 81 Class SDS model a uniquely, impressive driving sounding with prototypical lighting operation loco that will turn heads!

Full Throttle – Drive Hold

This feature allows you to simulate a hard-working loaded train by pressing the F1 function button. When the button is pressed, the motor will remain at a constant speed, while the sound can be controlled independently by adjusting the speed on the throttle, so this can simulate a hard-working locomotive. This exciting feature gives the operator the ability to have the loco crawling in notch 8 or coasting at 100 km/h along the track. Release the Drive Hold function button, and you simply go back to throttle-controlled speed, motion, and sound. Available only from DCC Solutions, our Drive Hold will stop your loco when you reduce the speed to zero, even while the function is still active. Your ESU factory sound or sound from other providers will not stop your loco at speed step 0 with the drive hold switched on, which can damage your model because you ran into something.

Coasting On Demand

This feature allows you to enter coasting mode whenever you want with a press of a button. Often, when coming to a stop, the throttle of a real locomotive is put into idle and the locomotive coasts to a stop. Another situation that occurs is that once a train is up to speed when operating over rolling countryside, the driver can coast to maintain a certain speed. By pressing the coast function button, the sound drops into coasting and remains there. Using the throttle speed control, you can now speed up or slow down the train, with the sound remaining in coasting mode. Press the function button to exit coasting, the sound will return to the speed that's set when exiting.

Working Brake

Press the Brake Function button, and your locomotive will come to a stop at a much shorter distance than if you were to bring it to a stop by reducing the throttle speed. Release the brake and your locomotive will move off again, or choose to have it remain stationary when the brake is released. The brake can also be used while driving to slow the locomotive up.

Working Dynamic Brake

Apply the Dynamic Brakes and the Prime Mover will wind down to idle and slow up, then the Dynamic Fans engage to assist with cooling. Reduce the throttle, and the decoder's dynamic braking logic will reduce your speed faster than normal. Disengage Dynamic Braking and the primer mover will return to it's notched speed and the fans will turn off.

Brake Squeal on Deceleration

Activate this function and when you reduce the throttle speed, your locomotive will begin braking and slow up quicker as you continue to lower the throttle speed, and you will hear the squeal of the brakes. Accelerating will release the brakes.

Random Start-up Sequences with Move Off and Stopping Sounds

Now, with random start-up sequences, your start-up and shut down will not always sound the same.

As your locomotive begins to move off you will hear the sounds of brakes releasing with random speed activated wheel squeal, rail noises and other sounds. Some of these sounds are random or speed sensitive that will turn on/off automatically depending on your take-off speed. When the locomotive comes to a stop you will hear the squeal of the brakes, air releases and then the compressor will cut in automatically to fill the reservoirs with air until full and will cut out.

Remastered Horn Sounds

New remastered NSW Nathan P5 playable and short blast horn.

Random Sounds

While the factory fitted sound will only offer you 1-2 random sounds, DCC Solutions will have up to 10 random sounds that will play when either the loco is stopping or moving, to create even more realism to running your model.

Manual Notching

For those who really want to drive their train and manually control the notching rather than letting the decoder do it.

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