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This year I purchased two MTH TurboTrain sets, VIA Rail and an Amtrak (later scheme), and 4 extra coaches for the VIA Rail, 3 extra coaches for the Amtrak set.  The VIA Rail set arrived first, in February.   I took it home and read the manual, began to put the train together as prescribed, and planned to run it on my all O-72 Fastrack layout.  Immediately I noticed one of the connecting "forks" had one finger bent upward and the other bent downward.  I gently reshaped these to their intended position.  I then started putting the set together and noticed that the forks were all bent slightly up or down causing the cars to connect irregularly.  Not only were they bent, but then when I tried to take it around one lap the train derailed because the cars were too close together in the O72 curves.  I first tried calling MTH service, and after several attempts calling and many hours on hold, I got a service tech.  He said he was unaware of any problems with the TurboTrains and offered no solution to my problem.  I also emailed MTH at this time, no response.  I then turned to the OGR Forum to search for info and found Marty Fitzhenry's fix for the close connecting cars from the first batch of these TurboTrains a year or so earlier.  I then adjusted the angles of these connecting forks as suggested by Marty. I would have thought that if MTH was aware of this issue and Mike Wolf himself communicated the fix to Marty Fitzhenry that MTH service techs would also be aware of this by the time a second production run was distributed.  Beyond that, the problem should have been adjusted by MTH on the second run of these trains.  Okay, connecting problems solved thanks to this forum, and no thanks to my call to MTH, I went on to start running my new VIA Rail gem.  It did not take long for one of the coaches to start blinking its lights on and off constantly.  Around that time the Amtrak set delivered, and I debated canceling its purchase.  However, my love of this prototype and my mostly operational VIA Train working minus one coach, I decided to go through with buying the Amtrak set as well a couple months after the VIA set.  When I started putting this Amtrak set together I was thrilled to find no bent fork issues and fewer adjustments needed to the closeness of the cars connecting.  However, the train soon abruptly stopped with the rear power car acting irregularly and stopping operation of the train.  Rechecked tethers, and still a dead rear powercar.  The calling to MTH started.  I spent untold hours trying to reach MTH by phone.  And then, nearly two months after my email I had a reply from Kirstin who apologized for the email problem and that they had some problems with their email at MTH.  I had frequent and nearly instant communications with Kirstin and a return authorization for the Amtrak power cars and the blinking VIA Rail coach took place.  It took about 6 weeks for the products to get returned and were repaired.   I sent a letter to Mike Wolf with my concerns about their quality control and customer service, giving Kirstin glowing reviews for her help, albiet months later.  I had NO response.  Amazing how you can spend $800 on a Maytag and if theres a problem they come to your house to fix it, but buy $5000.00 or more of MTH products in a year and you cant get an answer or a response without GREAT efforts.

  A few months of trouble free operation restored my confidence in these models, but that soon ended.  By October I have a total of 5 turbocoach cars that either blink their lights or also affect operation of the train.  One Amtrak coach completely shorts out the train stopping it after a few blinks of the coach lights.  With all of these bad cars I at least had one or two working cars and could run short TurboTrain consists.  But not for long.  The VIA Rail set now is totally out of service with its rear power car dead in the same way the Amtrak one had gone before it was sent back to MTH.  Kirstin disappeared and I get no responses from email once again.  

  I have condensed this saga and left out much of the detail of the severe amounts of time, effort, shipping, and frustration.  I have remained friendly to MTH and not presented any of this with any anger but simply the desire to get these trains working properly and reliably.   I am not looking forward to the effort I will have to take to get MTH to fix the latest round of TurboTroubles.  The dealer where I bought these has offered to take on that effort and deal with MTH.  In the midst of a very busy year in life from all angles, dealing with a model train issue to this extent becomes an added burden rather than fun diversion.  A customer should not have to endure such efforts to try to get support for a product.  Things go wrong, but its how a company takes care of that problem is what counts.  The TurboTrain by MTH is a spectacular model, it is a shame that such effort to create a gem is tarnished by quality control and perhaps design flaws.  

  In spite of these issues, I have a plethora of MTH locomotives that work fine from 1997 through to newest releases.  They make a lot of tremendous products and I have always appreciated that things like the TurboTrain would have never been made without MTH on the market.  I was thrilled with the old ads by MTH for the C&O steam locomotive that we would not have to wait 48 years for a locomotive to be produced.  I am an MTH supporter, I just wish in times like the Turbo troubles, they would return the favor.  

  My last resort will be to re-wire this train and equip it with conventional boards.  Before that happens I will try to get these fixed before the warranty runs out. I have communicated with several other TurboTrain owners who I met through their youtube videos.  They were having the same malfunctions that I am experiencing and same frustration.  

Last edited by VistaDomeScott
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I have to believe that stuff like shorting out and the like can be fixed.

 

Before you gut them, I'd suggest you try an independent repair person to go over one of the sets in detail and see if they can resolve the issues.  Blinking lights, shorts, and totally dead power units should all be pretty straight-forward problems. 

 

Your story is very disappointing, that's for sure!

I will exhaust all other efforts before these become gut jobs.  That will be a future last resort to keep these running.  But I do intend to keep them running.  Right now I have a short Amtrak TurboTrain that is working well since MTH repaired it.  The VIA Rail is totally dead as are two Amtrak coaches.

 

I was going to buy a silver/blue New Haven version as well, and planned to recreate it into a current Amtrak paint scheme.  Purely fictional of course, but a model train operators ability to rewrite history in our 1/48 scale worlds.  Needless to say I spared myself that added nightmare.  

The TurboTrains are really sharp looking models, wish I had one. However, it seems that MTH at one point was forcing hobbyists to make a choice between them and Lionel, electronically anyway, in my opinion. So I went Lionel motive power exclusively.  The BIG difference is service, Lionel's great, MTH dismal. At my age service is very important so I stay away from MTH. It's too bad because they make some great looking models like the Turbos.

Sorry to hear about all these problems I run on very wide loops so no problem with the tight track. However I did have a problem with my trailing engine Was running my CN Turbo train set and going to take it to run at the local CN days had to have the CN Turbo to run at the CN railway yards event.

 

So as I ran the train around to get it ready to load for the show the rear engine stalled out in a tunnel over the furnace and could not fish it out.

I got another big engine set and while controlling the lead Turbo unit used another controller to get the pusher set to push on the back of the train to get it out of the tunnel.

With the train show next day I checked the engine over perhaps the board blew on it.

Disconnected the dead engine and took it apart removed the motor from the trucks and it then rolled freely.

Ran the engine set with the full train the next day at CN days the front engine pulled the train fine all day with sounds etc.

MTH was able to get them on the phone at that time no problem and returned the engine for repair and got it back within about a month no problem has run just fine ever since.

 

I was wondering if you have checked your dead engine for the rollers perhaps if you have extra sets of rollers replace them it is easy to have them clog up and not pickup the power or drop out easy.

 

I was wondering if it is the tight curves that are pinching or pulling out the wires on the joints between cars? is it possible to check to see if the wires are getting pulled out between cars?

 

Should be built better from the factory in general though I have had far more Lionel engines die on me  then MTH. MTH has been in general very reliable.

Sorry to hear about your issues.

I know the feeling!!

 

My CN Turbo was problematic as well.

The major issue were the small wires used to connect the cars and engines.

The constant tugging broke many of mine.

You may want to look for broken wires in these areas.

 

When all the wires are in place, soldered back on ect.....seal them in glue at the area where they meet the plug and about half an inch down the grouping of wires.

 

The tethers are weak spots on these engines and too short.

 

Since this fix (and a return to MTH for a bad board) I have been problem free....so far.

 

Best of luck........I know how frustrating these issues can be.

 

I've had better luck, generally, with MTH than the Big L.

 

Soo Line

Scott
After exhausting your efforts with MTH for the warranty, try an independent like John suggests. I have had some luck with repairs J and W Electronics, Contact Wayne Renga there with an e-mail or phone call first.
 
BTW Loved the videos and the level of detail in your layout!!!!  outstanding work!!
 
 
Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn:

I have to believe that stuff like shorting out and the like can be fixed.

 

Before you gut them, I'd suggest you try an independent repair person to go over one of the sets in detail and see if they can resolve the issues.  Blinking lights, shorts, and totally dead power units should all be pretty straight-forward problems. 

 

Your story is very disappointing, that's for sure!

 

Thanks for the great replies and ideas.  Soo Line, I think you're right.  I decided to open up one of the faulty Amtrak turbocoach cars.  This car was causing all cars behind it and the rear power car to lose power.  I found sandwiched between the floor of the car and the interior floor a maze of wires and a board.  The wiring was contorted and bent just about every which way.  I saw no wires unattached.  However I gave a wire connector an added twist, carefully moved wires into less contorted positions, and reassembled.  That coach now only loses power to its own lighting and no longer affects the rest of the train...an improvement.  I will revisit this coach this week suspecting the wire connector as culprit.  The wiring seems very frail and complex.

 

Kj356..  you are correct on this train doing better on wider curves.  I have only ran this on the prescribed O72 and is all I use on my layout.  But even O72 seems tight for this set.  

 

L.I. TRAIN, thanks for the good word on the layout.  I have lots more plans of things to do with it, but I do enjoy where it has gone so far.  

 

 

In regard to MTH, as I said, 95% of my MTH is great fully reliable equipment.  Similar to my Lionel.  One of my regular running locos is the very first MTH Genesis with Proto-1, it runs flawlessly.  This unusual Turbotrain product obviously has issues right out of the box.  

Last edited by VistaDomeScott

Scott, Marty Fitzhenry posted a simple fix for the MTH Turbo trains. I don't have the link to the post, but it was on Feb. 22, 2013. I saved it because I bought the CN turbo. Mines still in the box. I won't get a chance to test it till later in the year. Hope this helps.

                         

                                                          John G.

Originally Posted by JGTRAINS:

Scott, Marty Fitzhenry posted a simple fix for the MTH Turbo trains. I don't have the link to the post, but it was on Feb. 22, 2013. I saved it because I bought the CN turbo. Mines still in the box. I won't get a chance to test it till later in the year. Hope this helps.

                         

                                                          John G.

John,

  I believe that is the fix that takes care of the closeness of the cars connecting, which I did do, thanks to Marty's info and NO thanks to MTH service being ignorant of the fix when I called prior to seeing Marty's fix.  My current problems are electrical and likely in the frail and compressed wiring nest that is jammed between the floor of the car and the interior floor.

   Here is one earlier thread on the topic of the TurboTrain:

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/t...88#27475135382348588

Last edited by VistaDomeScott

Scott...I talked to Marty way back when all of these problems started to become apparent and I believe he told me that the electrical problems were because of the stress that was being put on the wire connectors and also something to do with how the stress affected the wires from the connectors to the board.  It was an identified problem with a fix from what I remembered BUT I have slept since then and my memory could be faulty at this point.  Perhaps Marty will chime in and elaborate and correct me.  He is the go to guy for these kinds of things as he knows how to make the adjustments to make this set work!!

 

Alan

Hi Scott,  Beautiful layout and train.  I think part of the problem is the business model of MTH and, to some extent, Lionel, is that there are not enough service techs out there to help when a problem arises.  I had an issue with some Lionel passenger cars a few years ago,  I simply took them back to my dealer, Eastside Trains, and their tech was able to repair it while I waited (and shopped). Earlier, I had tried calling Lionel and while the wait was not as long as yours, the repair desk didn't know there was a problem.  Your issues sound much more complicated and having a coordinated group of service desks would be a better approach to quickly identify fixes and then service the engines.

 

Good Luck and keep us posted.

 

Dave

What an incredibly disappointing saga in the treatment of customers. If this were a similar issue from a major appliance manufacturer, it is likely consumer groups and the FTC would probably become involved. However, these items are viewed as "toys" by the general public. Nonetheless, as Scott points out, the cost of a nice O gauge model train such as this puts them in the class of a major appliance purchase. 

 

While desk and laptop prices continue to tumble, the price of model trains are going in the opposite direction perhaps because of the relatively small market and so few manufacturers. In this market, the lack of response to customers is severely problematic but only to customers. The apparent lack of competition in this market allows these manufacturers to offer the lowest level of customer service without any apparent effect on sales. 

 

I am glad to see OGR allow this post in that they can provide some visibility of these problems instead of ignoring them as the manufacturers want to do. The extent to which these issues are brought to light the greater the opportunity there is for one of the manufacturers to create a competitive advantage by offering high quality customer service. 

 

Bravo to Scott and OGR for bringing this industry-wide issue to light! I hope efforts like this can bring about some attention to customer service in this high priced market. 

 

Originally Posted by Larry3:

What an incredibly disappointing saga in the treatment of customers. If this were a similar issue from a major appliance manufacturer, it is likely consumer groups and the FTC would probably become involved. However, these items are viewed as "toys" by the general public. Nonetheless, as Scott points out, the cost of a nice O gauge model train such as this puts them in the class of a major appliance purchase. 

 

While desk and laptop prices continue to tumble, the price of model trains are going in the opposite direction perhaps because of the relatively small market and so few manufacturers. In this market, the lack of response to customers is severely problematic but only to customers. The apparent lack of competition in this market allows these manufacturers to offer the lowest level of customer service without any apparent effect on sales. 

 

I am glad to see OGR allow this post in that they can provide some visibility of these problems instead of ignoring them as the manufacturers want to do. The extent to which these issues are brought to light the greater the opportunity there is for one of the manufacturers to create a competitive advantage by offering high quality customer service. 

 

Bravo to Scott and OGR for bringing this industry-wide issue to light! I hope efforts like this can bring about some attention to customer service in this high priced market. 

 

I have been following this thread with great interest.  I had seen the Acela trains now and again, for sale.  I had begun contemplating purchasing one, because the look so cool.  This thread,has certainly curbed my desire for one.  Also, I has long had a suspicion that MTH was more than a little responsive to their customers.  In several attempts to contact them by telephone or email, I was never successful, and finally just gave up.  I agree, with larry3 and his opinion about these matters.  

 

It remains to be seen whether MTH will take this challenge, redesign, and turn a problematic model into a stellar performer - or just pretend that the problem does not exist and market the same troublesome set to a naive group of buyers ten years down the timeline.  Evolution teaches that survivability is not so much linked to fitness as it is adaptability to change.  MTH has shown a philosophy of continuous improvement but many businesses tend to use the end consumer as beta testers rather than vetting their products to normal use testing prior to entering mass production.  With something as revolutionary as the Turbotrain, even a minimal amount of product testing under normal use scenarios should have informed redesign was needed.

Last edited by The Portland Rose

Bob - You mentioned your thoughts on buying a Lionel Acela. I ordered one when they were put in the catalog and waited and waited. I was not disappointed when Lionel finally delivered it.

 

In fact, I was astounded. What a piece of work. Everything worked great on the Acela but you have to connect the cars with great care.

 

My Acela now has one door on one car that stays open. I kinda consider that maybe normal although riding on the Acela a lot for work I don't recall witnessing that. 

 

One thing I would advise is that, to me anyway, the motors in the powered engine are just about right for the really long cars but I would never ever consider burdening the loco with the 3 additional cars, not even without any grades.

 

If I had to do it again and one door stayed open I would have bought it since virtually every other feature works and the Acela is a work of art to have on your tracks without running. 

 

Checking the prices of Acelas on eBay they are now generally selling new in the box unpacked for less than the $1999 original price. The seller usually has a 14 day return which would be important for such an item. 

 

Hence, I think the price of the Lionel Acela has been adjusted for the risk. I love my Lionel Acela whether or not all the doors close!

I had some initial problems with tether disconnects. Probably not helped by my S curves on 072 track.

MTH service repaired it three times. They ran it 8 hours the last time it was repaired.

But the fix that I invented was to remove a tether clamp insde the body.  No tether problems since. 

It has to be the neatest train that I have.

 

Very nice layout Scott.

 

I picked up the CN Turbotrain back in November, and have since ordered 2 additional cars. After looking at your VIA consist, I may go ahead and add another two; 5 cars seems to be a nice sized train.

 

I love the set, and as someone said in another thread (very '2001 A space Odyssey').  I did run into a couple of issues early on.  I have 0-72 curves, but opted for Marty's Z bend fix; however I did have some initial problems with connectors working loose, resulting in loss of lighting in the cars.  After taking some of the  strain off the tethers, and through continued use, the problem has disappeared.

 

My second problem was quite informative.  I was running at reasonably high speeds around the layout (slow for turbo, fast for freight), when the sound went out completely.  I feared the worst, and thought I had blown the PS3 board.  After checking everything out, I found a broken wire on the lead unit tether.  The Turbotrain has a speaker in each power unit, which are connected in series through the tether.  Just a good note for everyone out there running these, don't assume you have blown the electronics if you loose your sound, just follow the wiring through the tethers, the fix might be just a simple broken wire.

Last edited by rOdnEy

I have two sets with extra cars.  The first Amtrak set had a close coupling problem with the power cars.  Mike Wolf and I worked out a fix that was perfect.  I run the wheels off my set and have never had wire issues.  I did add the correct red LED to the end car.  I put my sets on the rails and leave them.  I have had no other issue.  I rode the Turbo Train back in the day and was always a fan.  I have been inside a few and they are easy to work on.  I am reading about guys with wiring issues and I have not seen that with my sets.  I do agree about the way they plug in.  I am also not a fan of that.  I might have saved the coupling post somewhere if people need it.

 

 

    I have never had to look at wiring.  My area has many people that purchased the Turbo train as it ran through our towns here. 

Last edited by Marty Fitzhenry

I just purchased the Amtrak version just a couple of weeks ago.  I did a test run on the inside loop of my layout that has O-72 curves.  There was one spot in the last curve the Turbo train was going through and the truck between the middle and end unit jumped the track.  I found running the train in reverse or in forward with the gasket removed over this spot, this truck did not jump the track.

 

When the gasket is in place, it is getting pinched between the two units.  When the gasket is removed, the two units are just touching.  This is how close these units are on O-72 curves.

 

I'm going to follow Marty's fix and see what happens.  I will post my findings later this week as to how it went.

 

This is an unique engine.  Some say it's ugly, but I love it.  I'm hoping to get it up and running permanently.

Well, I just finished performing Marty's fix and so far so good.  The truck between the middle and end unit is no longer jumping the track.  Before the fix, I noticed a crackling sound coming from between the units as if there were stress on the units when going through the curves.  That noise has been silenced since the fix.  There is also less pinching of the gaskets too. 

 

The Turbo train made over a dozen laps around the layout with no issues.  Here's hoping it will run well for a very long time. 

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