Here’s the Life-Like N scale C425 with an Aztec-modified frame and a Digitrax DZ143 decoder installed (the DZ163 has taken its place in the line). The unmodified frame in the foreground shows the big difference on the back porch where some was cut away to make room for the decoder.
Is your N scale Life-Like loco not ready for a decoder?
by John Sipple
The following is a excerpt from the February 2004 edition of Model Railroad News. Copyright 2004 by LampLight Publishing.
… an interesting item from Aztec Manufacturing Co. As it happens, Life-Like N scale locos come with a solid die-cast frame that isn’t milled to receive a decoder. Some folks throw up their hands in despair, a few resort to a Dremel, while others order an aftermarket cast frame. None of these solutions are optimal. The aftermarket frames sometimes don’t fit properly, a slip of the Dremel ruins the frame. If your frame becomes unusable because of your surgery, Life-Like doesn’t sell them separately; you have to buy the entire power unit. But don't give up here.
John Claudino has the machine shop (you wish you had) in Carson City, Nevada where he’ll take your loco’s frame (which, by definition, does fit) and mills it properly (guaranteed) to accept the appropriate Digitrax decoder. The cost is $10 for the service. All you do is send him your frame; he’ll mill it to exact specs and send it right back to you.
On his web site is a considerable list of the locos he can mill for you; you need to check it out if you want to enable your stable for DCC. His most recent release is the frame of Life-Like’s new C424/C425 Alco hood units. This new loco is sure to be popular with Alco fans, so the Aztec product should prove useful for N scale DCC operators. While you’re investigating the Aztec offerings, check out their track cleaner products, which we have found to work well in maintaining our lab layouts. Clean track solves a lot of problems!