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My Lionel Santa Fe Warbonnet ABA set didn’t come with engineers. It also doesn’t have any command control so directional lighting is a non-starter currently. On the powered A unit I’ve managed to put in people in the spots, but not optimally due to the motor.  It’s kinda blah looking IMHO. For the dummy A unit I bought a F3 interior cab for the MTH version, did some nip/tucks to it to get it to fit, added engineers, and LEDs throughout, and it looks great.  I plan on putting the dummy A in the lead.  Other than having to always change direction when I start up and after a pause, will there be any operational issues when running the powered unit behind 2 dummy units?

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Actually, running with the dummy A unit in front is not a bad idea. Often with older engines, kids only ran with the powered unit first, and seldom went in reverse. So  the gears ended up wearing in one direction. Running powered unit last in the consist and in reverse evens out the wear. Plus it is less strain on the coupler, as you are pushing 1-3 units that otherwise would be pulled. As long as the motors and layout can handle it, you can run a longer train.

Chris

LVHR

@texgeekboy posted:

My Lionel Santa Fe Warbonnet ABA set didn’t come with engineers. It also doesn’t have any command control so directional lighting is a non-starter currently. On the powered A unit I’ve managed to put in people in the spots, but not optimally due to the motor.  It’s kinda blah looking IMHO. For the dummy A unit I bought a F3 interior cab for the MTH version, did some nip/tucks to it to get it to fit, added engineers, and LEDs throughout, and it looks great.  I plan on putting the dummy A in the lead.  Other than having to always change direction when I start up and after a pause, will there be any operational issues when running the powered unit behind 2 dummy units?

Post some photos of the dummy A unit.  I'd love to see the mods and lighting!

The only drawback -- and it's not much of one unless this is a particular burr under your saddle -- is that an unpowered unit in the leading position has the coupler between it and the second unit compressed instead of in draft.  This shoving mode allows a little bit of truck hunting, which you may not have even noticed until it was pointed out.

The same is true of isolated diesel units in the leading position, on real trains.

@Number 90,

I just looked at the front & back couplers on the dummy and powered units.  They look exactly the same between the two.  I also visually measured the swing of the front and back between the two, and they seem to be identical.  The model I have is 38312, apparently made in 2009?  The bottom has a Made in China stamp so maybe it's newer?  Is the issue you stated perhaps something with older models?  In any case, thanks for the note.

@gunrunnerjohn,

I had hoped as much.  I'll look into that over the next couple of days.

@lehighline,

Actually, these are brand new units, so no wear on any of them other than some laps around my test track.

I'll be posting some pics in the next couple of days.  Thanks for the comments.

I remember being told (or reading) decades ago that you run the dummy ahead of the powered unit, in A -A configurations, but I don't recall why. I do it occasionally with my F units, at least, including my original 2353 Santa Fe units. A practical reason with my 2353s is that the powered unit was involved with so many "grade crossing accidents" and was (mis)handled so much (by me as a kid) that the dummy unit is in much better shape cosmetically, and it just "looks better".

Well, I just confirmed the proverb that as you get older your memory is the second thing to go.

It turns out that I had upgraded my powered A unit with a nice cab and some engineers.  I forgot I had did that.  When I did that upgrade (my first) I had no experience with installing LED lighting so I left in the factory bulb.  The newly installed cab blocked the light from everything except the headlight and number boards so nothing reached the engineers or the portholes.  I replaced the single incandescent bulb with 7 LEDs, and it looks much better.

In any case, the pictures of the dummy and powered A unit are below.  The powered unit has a bright white headlight and the dummy unit has a warm white one.  There's an exposed wire in the powered unit I need to hide better.

The problem is that the lights in the powered A do not turn on with minimal power to the track.  I have to have it at a fast speed for the lights to come on.  The power to the lights comes from direct track power from the front AND back pickups, it's not connected to the circuit board.  I have the LED lights installed in series, but I put a resistor in front of each one.  Do I need to do that, or just put a resistor before the first one?  I didn't put a full compliment of lights for the port hole windows because I could tell it was getting too dim.  The lights in the dummy unit are from an LED strip, but that would have been harder to do with the motors taking up so much space.



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@texgeekboy posted:
The problem is that the lights in the powered A do not turn on with minimal power to the track.  I have to have it at a fast speed for the lights to come on.  The power to the lights comes from direct track power from the front AND back pickups, it's not connected to the circuit board.  I have the LED lights installed in series, but I put a resistor in front of each one.  Do I need to do that, or just put a resistor before the first one?  I didn't put a full compliment of lights for the port hole windows because I could tell it was getting too dim.  The lights in the dummy unit are from an LED strip, but that would have been harder to do with the motors taking up so much space.

For lower voltage operation, put them in parallel with a resistor for each LED.  Series LED's add the operating voltage requirement, parallel LED's work independently.

yep. my old Lionel stuff... the powered A unit often winds up pushing the dummy A...seemed like it got better traction..but probably just my imagination.

for my MTH,  obviously the directional/lighting setup leaves me just running the A in the lead.



last Christmas was the exception - had an older MTH diesel that was binding in forward.. thanks to a member here for the repair work...but for the christmas holiday kid's play time I had to simply put the dummy in the lead and cycle the direction so i could at least run the train around the track..albeit, the primary engine was always going in reverse..course on that old set, both engines have dual motors.

I agree with jay jay and others about "pushing" the unpowered A/B units.  Somewhere in this old man's brain, he remembers some discussions about this ( not sure if on the old aol live train chats or more recent forums)-and there was some evidence of better pulling when AAs, ABs, ABAs, etc. were run this way. I'll look again to see if I can find the particulars.  Enjoy, P Hering.  PS  Living in the western suburbs of Chicago, I "see" 8-10 commuter cars being so pushed by one or two powered units all the time !!

My earliest recollection was when I was about 4 or 5 back about 1957 or 58 My dad bought me a Kusan Kannon Ball set at I think EJ Korvette's. It was a 0 Gauge 027 set intended to be a push toy. I had a small 3'x4' 027 layout in my bedroom and my little Lionel 520 pushed the non powered FA around the oval.

Last edited by Gene H

To close this out, look at the video below.  As I stated above, I had previously upgraded my powered A unit with people and LEDs.  I had a problem with the LEDs since my banana fingers couldn't thread a LED strip in the small spaces.  I did use individual LEDs, and as per @gunrunnerjohn, after wiring them in parallel I was able to light up the powered A unit to my liking.  For the headlight I used a cool white, not warm white LED.  This was done to be closer, I think, to current engines.  In Houston, there's a road called the Hardy Toll Road.  UPR has several tracks between the north and south bound lanes.  If a train is coming in your direction at night, the light is amazingly white and bright, hence my choice.

The people in the dummy A unit are higher end Arttista people, which I didn't have when I populated the powered A.  I appreciate the comments about putting the dummy unit first, but I ended up putting the powered unit first since it had better lighting.  I also added people to all the cars.

I need to thank my son who's visiting me from NYC for helping me expand my on-the-floor layout to more than double its original size.  If he weren't here, my better half would have nixed the idea.

Interestingly, the total track on this layout is powered by a single fastrack power connector using a postwar 275 watt ZW.  That seemed to have plenty of power.  All the lighting in the cars is LED.

This train does not have command control.  Is there a simple way to install directional lighting in both A units?  I think the answer to that is 'no'.

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Last edited by texgeekboy

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