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I wondered what my train hobby looks like from the train's point of view?

Lionel has fitted a camera (and WiFi node) to a Caboose, called the CupolaCam Caboose. There are several road names out there.

Over Christmas I got one. It didn't work well. I contacted Lionel service and they agreed to repair it under warranty. Great, they even sent a pre-paid UPS label.

Being impatient I bought a second CupolaCam Caboose (different road name, but the same idea) and it worked perfectly right out of the box.

A month went by and Lionel contacted me to say they believe the WiFi module "was bad" and a new one would be installed, the unit would be shipped back. No Charge. Yipee!

When it did arrive I quickly discovered that it was DOA. Total disappointment. Now what do i do??

I noticed that the returned unit rattled, so I took it apart (they're not made to easily come apart..)

Well, an electrical connector was unplugged. IMG_2890   

I put it back where it should go and everything works. I tried to unplug the same connector and it's really difficult, so I doubt it was shaken loose in transit.

Once I had linked the newly repaired Caboose to my iPhone I noticed it had a different SSID (to when I first got this unit), which tells us it was indeed a replacement WiFi module.

The electronics inside the Caboose were loose, the soldering of poor quality, and a single cable tie holding the WiFi module just flopped around. The cable tie mount was there but not being used.

IMG_2884No wonder it was unreliable. Also the WiFi Antenna was tied to a wire bundle, and it should have been in free-space to work well. I adjusted it and used electrical tape to hold it in position.

All is well! Did I get fair treatment form Lionel? Did this item escape from the factory this way? Was a five week turn-around at Lionel typical?



Images (5)
  • IMG_2890: The smoking gun - unplugged
  • IMG_2884: Unused cable tie mount
  • IMG_2883: First Impressions (not good...)
  • IMG_2893: probably a blob of RTV Use unknown
  • IMG_2892: Not the neatest soldering, and missing heatshrink
Original Post

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Lets not turn this into another long complaint thread...we have plenty of those.  It appears that Lionel responded, paid to fix your caboose and so regardless of the electrical connector being unplugged (who knows how that happened), it is now working.  Yeah, you should not have had to open it up and make the connection but no one can prove how it got unplugged.  And yes, the turn around time is longer than we would like but what isn't these days.  The questions you ask can be subjective so what is the point?  Enough said.

Last edited by OGR CEO-PUBLISHER

Well what the OP did not do, was give Lionel the opportunity to correct an arguably mis- handled repair and make good on it.  Looks like he took it upon himself instead to self correct the repair ( with full commentary and pictures yet!) and air it out on the Forum.

So , I guess you're right, Lionel did not have the opportunity to know "they have a problem". It was posted here publicly instead, although I can't imagine what the OP thought that would accomplish?   Tough crowd.


Last edited by John Meyncke

By sharing my experience I thought I might hear a counter point (this failure was rare, construction quality is usually much better)

On the other hand the first follow up stated “another long complaint thread...we have plenty of those.” I’m new here, I would not have any forum history to know how customers are treated by vendors.

Also, I pride myself on finding and fixing this one (without any documentation)

I did consider telling Lionel it was DOA, possibly returning it (for another month?)

I would certainly be interested in other stories of how build or design defects were handled.

The PIX are from my journey in repairing it. a couple of weeks ago. I’m curious to learn how these products are mass produced.


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