Can anyone provide information about where to physically attach the AC commander from ERR in a Lionel Sante Fe F3   #2343 (1950's) -- has 2 motors.   I have taken everything out except the 2 motors.

Appreciate any help and pictures if possible.  The electrical part seems straight forward but the actual placement of the AC commander (and then the railrsounds) eludes me.   Thank you. 

 

Original Post

I added an AC Commander to a 2343 F3 earlier this year. I don't have any pictures of the installation but what I did was make a mount out of sheet aluminum for the AC Commander. Basically cut a piece of sheet aluminum to cover the fuel tank area. In the front make it long enough so it goes over the holes where the horn battery bracket mounted, drill holes in the aluminum sheet and secure it using the factory horn bracket screws. In the rear have the sheet overhang the rear of the fuel tank, bend the corner up around the E-unit bracket in the chassis, and use the old E-unit screw to secure it. 

I did not add Railsounds, as I have a Railsounds 2.5 B unit to run behind the locomotive. I can pop the shell off in the next day ot two if you want to see the bracket I made to mount the AC Commander. 

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Santa Fe, All the Way

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Check the link: Improving the Lionel Phantom Locomotive

, this is the AC Commander in a dual-motored locomotive with a much larger two-board RS solution.

As a safety factor. After I mount the commander board to the metal engine frame, I glue a piece of styrene to the frame under the commander board so if the screw that is holding the board to the metal frame comes loose. So the end of the board's bottom metal pins will not contact the metal frame of the engine and short out the board. But DO NOT have the styrene between the board metal heat sink and the metal engine frame.

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I also use styrene between all the boards that I use the ERR two sided tape to attach to the frame. Note the styrene on the right of the board will be the location of the railsound board that will be attached with two sided tape.  

Keith Johnson

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All of the locos in these pics have a stamped steel frame.  The 2343 has a thick die-cast frame, that's a different animal.  Especially if the original poster is intending to do a cut-out for a speaker.  Maybe better off starting with an LTI-era frame that already has the cut-out for sound.  @Lou1985  I would like to see a pic of what you did.  Also, how many speed steps?  How does it run?

Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

Ted, the speaker can go in the tank, you won't be using the battery any more.  You'll just have to cover the top of the tank hole with a platform, 1/16" Styrene is a good choice.

The real question is if there's room between the horizontal motors for the electronics.  Obviously, the battery box, horn relay, E-Unit, and horn will all be gone for the upgrade.

Interesting that both of the A-A units are powered, must have sucked a lot of power!

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Here it is. I don't remember what gauge aluminum sheet I used but it was thick enough to support the AC Commander, but thin enough to cut with tin snips. Since I have a Railsounds 2.5 B unit to run behind the 2343 I didn't use the battery hole in the frame for a speaker (but you could, and mount the speaker below the plate the hold the AC Commander). Instead I used the hole to house the program/run switch. 

As far as how it runs, well it runs great. In 100 speed step mode it will pull a Railsounds 2.5 B unit, another dummy B unit, a dummy A unit, and 6 15 inch aluminum passenger cars at 15-20 scale mph around a 072 loop without stalling. It'll go even slower, down to 10  scale mph or so, on straight sections. 

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Santa Fe, All the Way

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If you only have a single A-Unit, I'd use the tank for the speaker, and you can stick the RS Commander to the roof of the shell.  I'd obviously also remove the battery cover and screw from the tank!

The aluminum plate would be a simple idea that makes it easy to attach the AC Commander.  If you also cover the whole tank cavity, it makes a passable speaker baffle, double duty.

I think a way to make even more room for the speaker in the tank (if you are not worried about returning the locomotive to stock) is to grind the "lip" around the battery compartment flush with the bottom of the fuel tank on the inside of the fuel tank. Another option could be to raise the plate up higher, as there is vertical clearance in the shell. With the plate set up as on my 2343 there is not enough room for the speaker ERR includes in their kit to fit in the fuel tank. The battery compartment "lip" gets in the way.

Santa Fe, All the Way

gunrunnerjohn posted:

I didn't have one to look at, but you're doubtless right about the battery compartment fit. 

The molded in battery holder is just too tall. Ideally the best thing is to use a motor tool to cut it flush with the inside bottom of the fuel tank. Then it's a perfect place to mount a speaker.

I think a Postwar F3 frame in this case is better than the MPC or LTI frame, simply because of the battery hole which can be used as a speaker mount. The MPC and LTI F3s lack this hole, so one would have to get a little creative. 

Santa Fe, All the Way

This is a pretty in depth topic with a lot of different great ideas to take note of. I'm in the process of purchasing an Kenner-Parker era F-3 that could benefit greatly from this same kind of treatment.

Thomas

Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters

TCA Member11-66911

LCCA 30247

ERR Upgrades and Custom Artwork

gunrunnerjohn posted:

I have a drill.

I've done that for speakers. On a Williams Alco PA I converted to Cruise Commander and Railsounds I traced out the speaker and drilled holes below where it was mounted to let the sound out. That was on a sheet metal frame. I don't see why it wouldn't work on a diecast one.

Santa Fe, All the Way

Mikado 4501 posted:

This is a pretty in depth topic with a lot of different great ideas to take note of. I'm in the process of purchasing an Kenner-Parker era F-3 that could benefit greatly from this same kind of treatment.

I converted my childhood LTI Santa Fe freight ABBA F3s to AC Commander from a mechanical E-unit. The great thing is the inside of the bottom of the fuel tank is flat, since there is not battery holder. The ERR board installed with no drilling using one of the screw holes in the bottom of the fuel tank. There was even a spot for the Program/Run switch behind the front motor (originally there for the horn on/off switch if the frame was forca dummy A unit). 

I didn't add Railsounds to the A unit as I already had the Railsounds 2 B unit for the set. I ended up adding a LCRX to the B unit to make it TMCC controlled. Even though it was originally conventional the board and sound chip were TMCC compatible. So it now has TMCC control of revs as well as brake and coupler release sounds.

If you'd like I can post pictures of the upgrade. 

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Santa Fe, All the Way

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Lou,

That would be great! I know that the MPC/Kenner-Parker era F-3's used the older sheet metal frame vs. the die cast frame of the Lionel Trains, Inc. F-3's, so I'll have to see if the two frames are particularly different from each other. The one in question (The 8580 Illinois Central) has its horn in the dummy B-unit.

Thomas

Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters

TCA Member11-66911

LCCA 30247

ERR Upgrades and Custom Artwork

Mikado 4501 posted:

Lou,

That would be great! I know that the MPC/Kenner-Parker era F-3's used the older sheet metal frame vs. the die cast frame of the Lionel Trains, Inc. F-3's, so I'll have to see if the two frames are particularly different from each other. The one in question (The 8580 Illinois Central) has its horn in the dummy B-unit.

Actually all Lionel "traditional" F3 A units from 1948 till the last ones were made in 2015 had a diecast metal frame. F3 B units from 1950 till the late 90's had plastic frames with a sheet metal frame on the inside of the unit. The diecast B unit frame didn't come about till the LLC era.

If you're converting MPC era Illinois Central F3s I would put the AC commander in the powered A unit and the Railsounds Commander in the B unit, with a tether between the two. If you're not opposed to drilling holes in the fuel tank of the powered A unit you could fit everything in the powered A unit. It just depends if you would ever want to return the locomotive to stock. 

I'll try and snap some pictures tonight of the Santa Fe freight F3s "guts". 

Santa Fe, All the Way

Here you go. AC Commander in the 6-18117 A unit. I added a LCRX to the 6-18122 conventional Railsounds 2 B unit and it now has full TMCC control of the Railsounds functions. Blue Goose in the background is a PS3 upgrade project for the fall/winter, when I'm not outside tinkering with cars because it's too cold.

 

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Santa Fe, All the Way

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Thanks, Lou! Much appreciated.

I also am intrigued of adding the LCRU to control the RS2 in the B-unit, since I figured it was once conventional. I know that controlling RS1 is hit or miss (even if you have the ERR sound converter), but if RS2 boards can be controlled without the converter, that opens up a few more options - the Santa Fe Mikado, Conrail SD60M, and Milwaukee Road SD40 from 1994 are a few candidates I can bring up that would do wonders with the addition of TMCC to control the RS2 in them.

Thomas

Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters

TCA Member11-66911

LCCA 30247

ERR Upgrades and Custom Artwork

You will soon be able to get the ERR Mini Commander EX from 3rd Rail, it is the replacement for the LCRU.  You can also add a R4LC with a simple strip connector and wire it in to support the dummy locomotive functions.

As the “original poster” my (rather basic) questions after reading all the comments:

 For my Lionel Santa Fe 2343, I would like to put the sheet aluminum as per @Lou1985.

To put the speaker in the fuel tank, I would have to grind or otherwise remove the battery lip with a Dremel. Any particular method and attachment recommended?  Would a fiber cutoff wheel work?

 As I measure it , the black baffle that came with the RS speaker still would not fit below my self installed aluminum plate.  Is it correct that I would not need to use it, as the aluminum plate itself could act as a baffle? 

 What then would be the best way to secure the speaker in the tank over the now flush battery hole?

 Out of curiosity how is it different working with a stamped steel frame vs a die cast frame?

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If the lip is fairly thin, either the cutoff wheel or the carbide burr.  You can move a LOT of diecast material in a very short time with a carbide bit.   I have several sets of bits like this, and I've been using them for years, still as sharp as the day I bought them, amazing life they have.

Set 10 Tungsten steel Carbide Burrs For Dremel Rotary Tool Drill Bit

You can also use a fiber cutoff wheel, but depending on the diameter of the battery holder hole and the clearances, it can be tricky to use them.  If they start following the curve of the opening, it can get "interesting".

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Mikado 4501 posted:

Thanks, Lou! Much appreciated.

I also am intrigued of adding the LCRU to control the RS2 in the B-unit, since I figured it was once conventional. I know that controlling RS1 is hit or miss (even if you have the ERR sound converter), but if RS2 boards can be controlled without the converter, that opens up a few more options - the Santa Fe Mikado, Conrail SD60M, and Milwaukee Road SD40 from 1994 are a few candidates I can bring up that would do wonders with the addition of TMCC to control the RS2 in them.

The LCRX worked with the chip and board in the 6-18122 B unit because it had the chip and board used in the ACL F3 released in early 1996 which had TMCC from the factory. It was just sans LCRX, so it worked with the added LCRX.

From what I understand Railsounds 2 systems released in 1994 and early 1995 do not have the capability to be controlled by TMCC via a LCRX. Only the late 1995 and newer Railsounds 2 systems have that capability. 

Santa Fe, All the Way

OP of you have an aluminum plate covering the tank you should not need to use the baffle that came with the speaker. The plate should act as a baffle. 

I would go with John's suggestion of using carbide bits to remove the battery lip.

Santa Fe, All the Way

I'm with Lou, hot glue will do the trick.  I normally use a bit more than "a couple of dots", but I don't want any loose speakers.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

I'm with Lou, hot glue will do the trick.  I normally use a bit more than "a couple of dots", but I don't want any loose speakers.

I used 4 dots, each about the size of a pencil eraser. Hasn't come loose yet.

Santa Fe, All the Way

michaelblock posted:

There is an "insulated strip" at the horn battery bracket mount.  Is that still needed when the sheet aluminum is screwed down? If so, why?  Thank you again. 

Nah. In fact you really don't want to use insulation as the heat sink on the board will conduct heat to the aluminum sheet, which should then conduct heat to the frame of the locomotive. The insulation would prevent that from happening as easily.

As an aside I've had good luck using this thermal paste between the heat sink on the AC/DC/Cruise Commanders and what ever they are mounted to: http://www.arcticsilver.com/as5.htm

Santa Fe, All the Way

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