I need some advice/help regarding a Lionel product.


I purchased a LC+ ATSF Mikado Steamer earlier this year.


With in the first week the smoke unit quit.  I sent it back to retailer and it was returned.  In the first foot of running it died-smell of burnt electronics.  Called Lionel and got an RA, and sent it back on my dime (almost 300 dimes to be exact).  Said they replaced the board.


It was returned to Lionel and died again within a few days.   Called and got another RA, this time with a UPS label included (their dime)   Came back, said they replaced board and and ran it for an hour.   If has worked fine for the last month.


Tonight, it was running fine for about 10 minutes and then I heard a strange noise from the speaker, and all sound stopped.  No chuff, no bell, no whistle, no crew talk, no beeping when turned on without remote.  Toggled power on and off, still the same.  Moved the chuff switched back and forth.   I cleaned the draw-bar contacts just to make sure. It runs, the front light and fire light work, it smokes and the couple works, but the sound part is dead, dead.


I am using a MTH Z1000, and have it turned down to 16-17 volts (panel meter installed so I can monitor.  Played around with voltage, but no change.  I disassembled the tender to make sure speaker was still connected.  No problem there it seems.   Since it has been apart so often I also took a look at what I think is board connection to the speaker.   It wasn't loose and seems to make contact.  




1.  Am I doing something wrong?  My other Lc+ and LC RTR work just fine.


2.  I do detect a distinct electronics burn smell again, but not sure if it is a leftover from the past incidents, or whether it is something new.  If it is the board, what would cause it to fry again?


3.  At this point, would it be unreasonable to ask for complete replacement?   I guess a forth repair incident this year tells me I have a lemon?   The shipping box is slowly becoming more tape than cardboard.


4.  Maybe some of you have had similar, repeat issues on a Lionel product.  How did you handle?


Thanks in advance for you advice/suggestions.


Frustrated in Topeka, KS.















Topeka, KS

Original Post

Hi I would recommend contacting GGG George in the DCS forum section he repairs Lionel and Mth engines, also contact Marty Fitzhenry, he has contacts with Lionel and may also help you to solve your problem and put you in contact with the right tech rep in Lionel that will help you!


o gauge  trains ,music ,computer repair windows 7 and 10!

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I would contact Lionel again and explain your concerns. I have had one that went back and forth a lot and the replacement was not that great. It really pushed me away from owning that type of locomotive. Other Lionel products that I have are great runners.

Moon man, it is running through the Z-controller and I even have it dialed back some.  According to both the AC panel meter and the digital multi tester it is was only putting out about 15 volts when the latest incident occurred.  Even when I dial it up it doesn't quite get all the way to 18 volts.


Topeka, KS

Originally Posted by Bill T:

After 4 failures within a year I would say that loco needs to head to the junk pile. Lionel needs to replace it.


    Bill T.

I would have to agree with you Bill send it back for a new item from Lionel.

Or ask the person at Lionel; "Do I need to contact an attorney for help?" See what they say after that, it will usually wake up a company rep. Most of the time you don't need an attorney but the threat may help you get better service.


Lee Fritz

Philadelphia & Reading Railway, one of the first railroads in the USA, first to have a double track system in the USA.

Originally Posted by OGR Ad Man:

Carl....you know what they say about turning lemons into lemonade!!....contact Lionel again and ask for a replacement...



Well..that's why I pointed him back to item #3 in his options list-did you read the entire response? A little over the top to whack that reply. But, it's your forum... 


Arctic Railroad

Thanks to all of you for advice.


Called the mothership in NC this morning, and ... they want it back as a repair case.   I complained a little more.  She put me on hold and then talked to tech folks some more ... "Nothing like this happens with the Mikados" was the response.  The customer service rep suggested I send it back to retailer as a return.   Retailer says ten days is the return limit, so that passed in May.


So, I am drafting a detailed letter, etc., asking for a replacement.  I will include it in with package, and also send to Lionel and Mr. Reagan.




Topeka, KS

Before you pack it up, take a look at the wires going to pick-ups(collectors) on the bottom of the engine and tender. Is one loose and shorting?. They can appear to be attached, but break at the solder joint.


Just a WAG...


Arctic Railroad

I work on many of these for Charlie Ro.  I have one on the bench now where the smoke on/off switch was broken up and a short took out the board.  The smoke board is part of the main locomotive PCB.  This is the reverse of what I have seen before.  I have had some where the smoke part of the board would not work but everything else was OK.  I have found the slide switches on the back of the cab have broken up and caused disasters.  As a rule, I consider the LC+ line to be a good product.  







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Thanks again for your advice.  Well, I typed up a letter with all the details, put it in the box and dropped it off at UPS over lunch.  Also, emailed the letter to Mike Reagan at Lionel, where I ask for a replacement.   He responded pretty quickly, asked about the transformer I was using (MTHZ1000) and then we went back and forth.  He asked if I would send the transformer to them for testing.  I responded that this problem had happened with two different MTHz1000 units at different times, and didn't seem to arise with my LC and LC+ engines, so I can't believe it is the problem.   He responded that each time they have tested it after repair it worked fine using their Lionel transformers and that mine is the only one he knows of that has been back four times.


So, I guess I am willing to play along, but my questions are (apologies in advance for my ignorance):


1.  If the problem is another fried board, what physically has to happen to fry a board?   I assume exceeding the maximum voltage?  A bad motor?  ???


2.  What might cause a severe enough voltage spike to create a problem?  What transformer problems?  What track problems?   What internal engine problems?  Keep in mind none of the incidents occurred when there was a derailment, or the like.   The engine was just moving along at a slow speed each time, this time with 15-16 volts showing on the AC meter.    I have a track bus wire set under the table and have it feeding eight different points on about 80 feet total of fastrack.  All accessories and five remote control switches are wired up to a separate transformer on a separate wire bus set.


3.  I know there is some kind of difference in the AC current put out by the MTH versus the Lionel transformers?   The reason I went with MTH was that I thought if I ever wanted to get into the MTH locomotives that use the command control system I needed the MTH type of transformer (Pure sine wave vs chopped).  Is there a reason the pure sine wave AC output would create issues with Lionel electronics?


4.  Carl, I didn't do lots and lots of examination of all the wiring, especially after I smelled the odor of fried electronics.  Both your and Marty's suggestions seem plausible.


Again, thanks for your input.   



Topeka, KS

Well, UPs made a delivery last week...box was brand new, but cornre of box was shredded and missing and I could see the orange of a Lionel Box.  Wonderful...


All tied up with family over weekend, but yesterday opened the box and found a brand new ATSF Mikado.  Inner styrofoam liner was fine.  The official note said it had run three, 8 hour shifts at Lionel on a MTHz1000 and ran fine.   


With trepidation, I put it on my track and fired it up.  Joy.  Ran about an hour yesterday, with no problems.  I have dialed back the AC to 15 volts just to make sure and all seems fine.   Smoke works, and grandson loves to make the whistle blow and bell ring.


Thanks to Mike Reagan and Lionel for making this right.




Topeka, KS

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