I think I am screwed. 

I bought 6  50-1911 upgrade kits and have been installing them since Christmas.

5 have gone perfect.  no issues.  5 Locos running great.  I bench tested each board before installing.

I am on the 6th and wouldn't you know it, It wont power up on the bench.

I am not an authorized MTH Service Tech.... Yet.... hopefully in the near future.  Washington only has one place that will service MTH.

So does this mean I am out 200 bucks?

Anyone have any stats on their quality?  Is 5 out of 6 working boards par for them? That might sway my decision to continue this hobby.

Thanks for the feedback.


Original Post

I don’t know. I bought 4 kits. I installed two of them and both were perfect. I hope it is more like one out of 100 is bad than one out of 6 but because someone could theoretically blow the board (and I am not saying you did that) I don’t think MTH or anyone else has real stats on this. 

I would contact MTH and explain the situation and maybe they will work with you and possibly you won’t be out the entire $200. I don’t know but it’s just a suggestion. 

Last edited by Hudson J1e

Phil, Thanks for the reply. Not saying i didnt blow the board, but i come from a long line of computer hardware and data communications guys.  Plus all the Navy training... I have been building electronic components since I was 5. I have built , troubleshot and repaired hundreds of computers and in my experience the number of times I have had DOA motherboards, cards or RAM has greatly out numbered the couple of times In my younger years where I had inadvertently zapped a componnent.

I guess my point here is that I don't quite understand how MTH is getting away with this policy.  It assumes 100 percent trust in their quality and puts 100 percent of the liability on the customer and that is not right.

I would say that kind of business model has a dim future with my generation and younger....

Going to see what they say and will let you guys know.


Robb, have you tried contacting MTH? It was posted here not long after the release of the PS3 kits that MTH recognized there was a problem with some of them.



Thanks for the reply.  No I haven't yet.  Was planning to get ahold of MTH tonight.  I didn't know they had issues. I must have missed the thread.  Thanks for the info.  Do you have any specifics on what the problems are?


I don't Robb. I am not an MTH tech but have done a few installs on my own stuff and recall  the problem was posted here. I still have PS2 kits so haven't had to deal with PS3 yet.


What is the symptom?  Did you make sure the top board is fully seated and the bracket latched to hold in place? G

G,  Yes, top board is secure,  and bracket is in place.

I have the headlight, Tender light, speaker, red markers, motor, tac, volume pot, smoke switch, smoke unit, smoke fan and rear coupler all wired up on the bench.  Good ground, both on the PS3 board and on the boiler harness.  Good VCC.  (I am going right from power supply to the board leads, no track, no loco chassis)

I powered it up and I have 12 volts DC to the board. (measured across the supply leads) It draws 300mah at first power and settles out to 100mah draw after a few seconds.  And nothing.  No headlight, no sound. nothing.

I thought maybe its in conventional, so I tried pulsing the power to change direction hoping the motor would engage.  Nothing.

I have tried disconnecting one component at a time and re powering up after each . Same symptoms, same current draw. 

I don't know the board well enough yet to trouble shoot and without a schematic I'm hopeless at this point.



Are you following the instructions on  page 32 of the instruction manual? 

What do you mean by 'bench testing' - not using a PS3 board test assembly I assume?

Are you waiting approximately 30 seconds for the super caps to power up?

Are you using a wrist strap and anti-static mat?

If no response check the individual wiring  on the engine tether and  connector to the tether.

Do you have another tether you can use?

Disconnect the smoke unit - try again.

If no go, and depending on response from MTH, you may have to send the board to an MTH Certified Tech to test on the PS3 board test assembly.




Bruce, This is PS-32 so it is tested on a PS-2 fixture.

Not much a schematic will help on this type of issue.  I would carefully remove bracket and pull top board off bottom and inspect 8 pin and 40 pin header ensuring no bent pins.  Reassemble and push in place.  Readd bracket ensuring it latches and try again.  If still nothing, I would try to address it with DCS loader and see if you can read the serial data or load a sound file.  If not recognized there is a board problem.

I will say this, if your test setup has exposed wires and you some how allow AC current to get onto the DC + or - side via shorting a smoke unit fan, speaker lead, etc...  You can toast the electronics pretty fast.  G

Doublekick, If the capacitors have been bent over, wiggle them to see if a solder connection hasn't broken loose.

Update.  OK so I am getting arch when connecting power... so much that the positive lead feels a little sticky to the board leads like its being welded by the arch....  so that tells me there is a short some where.  Or a massive current draw.  Continuity checks with the board disconnected tell me there is no direct ground to vcc short in the harness.  So, I'm going component by component now and checking resistance.  Anyone know what a good smoke unit should show for resistance?

If all components are good... only thing I can think of is a failure on the board.  Maybe a bad rectifier as current is still being passed somewhere shown by the 300ma startup and 100ma draw after 30 sec or so....



Also, Bruce,  yes anti static everything. My  bench testing is done on a computer build station which even the bench is grounded. Wriststrap as well. Mat as well.   My bench test is not done with the  mth box, but this is more of a power on test before I waste the time to modify the chasis and install everything.  All leads are wire nutted or soldered and shrink wrapped.  No exposures.  I haven't checked the tether yet.  Is this an issue?  Will perform continuity checks pin for pin tonight and let you know.  

Thanks again for the responses everyone!


Using a Z-4000 you can see .7amps as the super caps charge and then drop off to .3-.4amps depending on loads.  No Smoke on.

If you want to see if your load short is a board, unplug everything but the 7 pin.  Sounds like something shorted and excessive draw if the AC input wire are getting hot.

Rectifier is easy to test for DC output, but have not seen those fail.  G

I have done 188 upgrades at this point in time.  I have never had one bad board situation.  The quality of the upgrade kit in my opinion is perfect with no issues.  Any problems are caused by the person who is working with the kit.   If an upgrade kit is properly done by the book you will not have any problems.  As a tech, we have test fixtures for all the MTH boards.   Using a test fixture is the safe way to work with upgrade kits.  

Last edited by Marty Fitzhenry

So glad to find this post and see i am not alone. I have done PS2 and PS3 upgrades for my American Flyer S Scale engines from 1950 and a couple AM Steamers to. I have fried a board when the battery case was cracked and shorted on the frame. I think the boards are pretty good and the MTH Software sure pack a lot of features. I have a friend in Aghanistan on his 4th tour there and he has sent me his Northern for an Upgrade. I had a Steam PS3 upgrade kit for two years and never opened it waiting for the right engine. I decided to offer to put this in his Northern and He agreed. He is ordered the DCS gear and hopes to be ready when this tour ends in May.  I bought a Extended Range Oil Tender from American Models which i i had used before in an TMCC Upgrade but i wanted to use it in this Tender. I worked 2 weeks routing the tether as it required some cutting in the tender chassis and a new 3D Printed Firewall.  I had hooked up the lights, coupler, new Smoke (3D Printed) and went to add power to check the tether. I had followed the manual as on the other installs. This time Nothing. Not a click, peep or a light. I took it off the test stand and started to trace power. test light light every where. Then continuity to the back side of the top board to hot and common 0 ohms. Then i inspected the boards and turned the set over. the bottom of the lower board looked contaminated with white powder. signs of corrosion and fuzz and weird markings. I plan to clean this surface to verify there is no shorts or grounds with all this crap.  If things are still DOA i will take the board to my hobby shop in Leesburg, VA, they have helped me often on this setups and he can download a sound file for me too.  I hope i can get this situation figured out in time to get it built up for GI John. I have begged MTH to allow me into training at my own expense but they have refused me for the last 5 years. Our TMCC supply is worrisome. More folks would use the PS3 kits if we could get a little training and help with S Gauge versions that include a slightly smaller speaker and S gauge Coupler.  As a retired engineer i do this to stay busy and keep my brain working. Any suggestions or help would be great. I post my work on You Tube if you wanted to see some. https://youtu.be/F6aN92Vona0

One issue I've found with the PS32 boards is the two boards are connected using a connector with a VERY SMALL pin engagement.  Any slight gap on that connector is sufficient to cause all sorts of issues, including appearing DOA.  With my new upgrades, I remove the board set from the carrier and strap around the connector with Kapton tape to insure the two boards stay firmly connected, then replace the board set in the carrier.

Another thing that can happen with the PS32 board is they will appear dead and giving them 10-20 minutes powered off and they adopt a new personality and come back to life.

I have no idea what it was but it simply woke up. It had a profile in it but i loaded a Northern .MTH in and all seems OK, Except no smoke heater and no head light. I heard they were on the same circuit and that could be a bad component???? Everything else works as it should. Always Something. Thank You for the reply, Dennis

Try loading the correct PS32 steam chain files, a couple of power cycles later and you may find all is well.

Another point.  You MUST make sure the two boards are firmly seated.  There is a VERY SMALL pin engagement between the boards, and it takes very little for them not to make contact.  IMO, this was a lousy connector selection by MTH, there are lots of more reliable board-to-board connectors that could have been used.

Still no smoke or headlight. tried to find the PS3 schematic but it is not anywhere i can find. what heater resistance is used on the MTH Smoke System. I have no smoke with a 10 Ohm heater coil. Any way to locate used PS2s for sale i could go that way if this PS3 is bad. Called MTH service 3 times and have absolutely zero confidence in anything they told me.  "On line" page says to update the firm ware to get smoke to work, but the manual doesn't mention it. Service had no idea what i was talking about. Sheesh!


hey thanks what do you mean correct PS32 Steam Chain files? I am building a new engine so i can user any PS3 Northern file. I did see the MTH site required some Upgrade consumer Files, which i fond their were 4 files listed in the down load but nothing in the PS3 manual????? The harness for front running, Cab and ditch lights would be great where do you find that info? Thank You John

Last edited by DMurf

The standard MTH smoke unit uses two sixteen ohm resistors in parallel yielding 8 ohms across the heater output.

They're correct about the firmware, it's the FLASH code for the PS32 board. 

I've attached the PS32_Steam-CPF.zip FLASH code, it's the proper code for use with a 3V PS/2 sound file with the steam upgrade kit.


DMurf posted:

 Cab and ditch lights would be great where do you find that info? Thank You John

Ditch lights?  This is a steam kit, right?

demur  the files you are dealing with are for ps3/2 board Not ps 3 your confusing yourself!

50-1911 and 50-1912 kits understand!



the engine kits are ps 3/2 board sets one for diesels and one for steam.  and you just look up engine item number on mth web sight and download the sound file for your item engine number and chain files which setup your board for the engine you installed in it! 


Last edited by Alan Mancus

Yes I have both kits but yes GI Johns Engine is a Northern Steam Engine, So Cab, firebox, front running lights.  Yes say the MTH uses two heater coils at 8 Ohms good. 

So i really need to flash that file to the TIU just like the sound file. OK i will get on it, Thank You.

The steam kit has one output for lighting for the locomotive, the headlight.  I think before you go farther, you should read over the kit to see what the capabilities of the kit are!

When I do steam with class lights, cab light, and firebox, I either power them from the headlight output or from track power.  You don't have the options you do with the diesel kit or a factory steam PS/3 installation.

Alan and John, 

I am installing these boards into 1950 American Flyer Engines both Steam and Diesel, I have done PS2 and PS3.  I load PS3 installs with PS3 sound files and they work, I never saw or picked up in PS32???

I just looked at the PS3 Diesel Kit i have to see that board is totally different shape board. All my PS2 kits looked the same. 

Now you say PS32, i have no idea what that means or what differences it implies. I have begged MTH for training on Upgrades at my expense for 4 years and they always say no. I have fried one board in the last 5 years. But my installed are working and everyone loves the results. I hate not having all the information needed. 

IF you guys can help me get smarter i would gladly reimburse you as needed. My 1948 American Flyer Hudson with PS2 pulling out with chuff and puff looks like a real train leaving the station. My 1982 American Freedom Alco Diesel has all the PFA from the MTH American Freedom O gauge in its PS2. The NYC Express from American Models is the PS3 with MTH NYC Express sounds and its my wifes train as she is a New Yorker.  Folks see my stuff and like it and some ask me to do their engines.  my local hobby store in Leesburg Bill is a great guy but he will not touch my S Gauge. He will help me program and update.  All I know i got from the book and in lone and experience. Before MTH DCS I did dozens of TMCC conversions. 

Any help would be very much appreciated. 

Sincerely, Dennis Murphey, Ashburn VA.

The PS-3 Diesel kit is a true OEM PS-3.  It runs LEDs and is the exact same board in a New MTH PS-3 Diesel.  So you load complete flash and sf for the PS-3 diesel engine you want.

Steam is NOT REALLY PS-3.  OEM MTH PS-3 is a 2 board system with one in tender and one in engine and it also uses LEDs.

The PS-3 Steam kit sold is really a PS-32 board which uses a modified board set so that original BULB are used.  Because of this the PS-32 board uses special PS-32 flash codes only.  While the bottom board is a True PS-3 diesel board, it has a special header for pins, not connectors.  The top daughter board has connectors that mimic PS-2 3V.  Do a search on this topic here and you will get all the answers you need.  G

Well thank You GGG I am missing that whole chapter some how. I will definitely search those topics here all you guys, Ray, John and you have been most helpful, i must be just missed that day in the lecture. I am a fast learner so here goes. 

Thank You,


I loaded the Firmware per GunRunner John and the PS3 manual, as listed PS32 all 4 files. I found no change, good or bad, still no headlight and no smoke (Heater coil getting no power). Tried to set chuff rate and it will only play 3 per rev. Steam Whistle is strong and bell, crew chatter clank, uncoupler etc. I will begin to explore the forum for help. Thanks DMurf aka Dennis

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