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Gunny (and others) - do you know the 'vintage' of your six Berks?  Were they all in the same release period?  It looks to me like - based on a very quick scan of the 2019 version of Greenberg's pocket guide - there were two 'release' periods for the FlyerChief versions (not counting the Polar Express versions):  2015-16, with three locos - 6-47921, -22, and -23, which were Pere Marquette, Erie and Southern road names, respectively; and 2016-17, with seven locos 6-44020 and -21 (Nickle Plate Road), -22 and -23 (Pere Marquette), -24 to -26 (Eire, C&O, Southern respectively).  This latter group, in addition to having FlyerChief, are also bluetooth enabled, so they can use the LionChief app.  The recent Trainworld offering was the 6-44023.

For the sake of completeness here, the more recent Legacy versions are 6-44123 to -28 (NPR, PM, C&O, Eire, American Railroads and RF&P, respectively).

Gunny - thanks for the 'problem list' (geez not exactly a good QA record) - since I've plunked down my hard earned plastic, I'll have some idea what to look for...



I bought because I wanted to! why did I buy 8 Flyerchief Geeps? (which have been trouble free) same reason.Very easy with the geeps to double or triple head. I can safely say unless the quality improves those were my last Lionel. I really like American Models product and life time warranty plus the owner answers the phone personally and the bulk of what he advertises is in stock.

Ron is great to deal with and an American owned small business.


As I noted earlier up-thread, I did order one of the S-gauge Berks from Trainworld (the Pere Marquette version).  I think it shipped on 5/3 and I got it today (5/10) -- UPS ground, not bad for going all the way cross country from Brooklyn to the SF Bay Area.  I unpacked it, put it on the rails and it ran fine under conventional transformer control.  I downloaded the LionChief control app onto my iPhone and it also ran the engine well.  The one thing I noticed is that the icon for the electrocoupler was grayed out -- I'm wondering if that's because my old Gilbert 30B transformer probably isn't putting out 18 VAC, which is what the instruction manual sez is needed to run using the remote control systems.  I'll measure the output voltage tomorrow and see, but I'll bet it's closer to 15 - 16 VAC. Not quite sure what to do if the 30B is putting out ~16 VAC - anyone know of a way to squeeze an extra coupla volts out of one of these??!   I'll also put batteries in the Flyer Chief controller and try that.

One other things I noticed is that the backup light in the tender doesn't seem to go on in reverse?

It really is a nice looking loco - true that it would be better if the hand rails weren't cast, but still, its nicely detailed and certainly fun to drive with the bluetooth capability.

The FlyerChief steam engines use a 4 conductor drawbar connector. There is no rear tender LED in the Berkshire because 4 conductors do not allow both a backup light and an electrocoupler. The FlyerChief Polar Express engine does not have an electrocoupler so it has a working backup light. Carl Tuveson developed a multiplexer to put both the light and the electrocoupler on one wire.

All my electrocouplers work reliably at 14.8V to 15V on the track. The difference could be that I am using a ZW-L which outputs a non-sinusoidal "sharktooth" waveform at reduced voltages. The couplers may respond better to this output.

According to the Gilbert Service Manual the 30B outputs 18V. Try using the fixed 18V output terminals rather than the variable. With FlyerChief engines and the App there is no need to have the variable rollers in the circuit, it may work better.

Tom -- thanks.  Indeed, the 30B does put out 18VAC - I just checked mine and at the terminals, it's 18.4 variable to base and 19 VAC fixed to base.  That may not be what the engine sees on the track, of course (especially since I haven't cleaned the track in a while).  My electrocoupler button on the iPhone app has not been grayed out the last couple of times I've run the engine.  The opening of the coupler seems to be a bit sporadic - it doesn't always open even though the engine goes through the 'sound cycle'.  I haven't looked at it very carefully yet to see if its triggering but just not opening far enough or something else.

Without taking the shell off the tender, there does appear to be an LED in the backup light (or maybe what I'm seeing is just the lens).  So what is in the tender - presumably the speaker and the electrocoupler - so that accounts for the four conductors??  I'd be interested in Carl T's solution -- I'll take a look at his website.  Is there a backup light output on the control board for the non-Polar Express Berks?  Does anyone have a circuit diagram for that board?

What I've found impressive so far about using the LionChief app on my iPhone is the slow speed control - you can make the engine really crawl.  I also like the fact that you can 'tune' the whistle sound - I set it a bit lower than the mid-point, giving it a 'throatier' sound to my ears.  I'm going to be very tempted to buy another Bluetooth-enabled engine (maybe a geep?) - the LionChief is a nice and pretty intuitive control system (I did cheat and watch a Youtube video about the controller before the engine arrived).

Last edited by richs09

Carl has good pictures of the FlyerChief Berk internals on his website. Since I use the Legacy control system I had Carl convert my FlyerChief Berk to TMCC and am very happy with it. I subsequently added two Legacy Berks. The FlyerChief GP7 is a good running diesel, I have one in UP livery. Pulls 15 Gilbert freight cars up a 2.2% grade with no slipping.

Tom - does the conversion to TMCC add features or did you have it done mainly so you wouldn't have more than one control system to mess with?  I might take a look at other FlyerChief offerings.  I hadn't told my spouse about buying another engine until the UPS delivery person was walking up to us while we were standing outside trying to figure out what my next gardening project (one of many) was gonna be.  So once the engine was up and running (with all the bells and whistles...!), she loved it.  "you should buy more" -- sounds like a green light to me...

The conversion provides higher fidelity sound, 100 speed steps, both a backup light and electrocoupler. Most important to me was having a single control system. I had the conversion done the day after Lionel announced the cancellation of the Legacy Berkshires. Lionel subsequently recataloged the Legacy Berks at a higher price so now I have both. I also had my Lionel AF Northern converted from FlyerChief to TMCC. I doubt Lionel will ever do a Legacy of the Northern. I left my GP7 and Docksider as FlyerChief for running on a conventional layout.

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