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I recently purchased a used Empire Express set and it is beautiful and runs well, as can be seen in the video, except no chug sound and am concerned the sound board may not be working. I did twice play with the switch which I believe controls sounds and the plug, but it still does not work.   I welcome advice.  Thanks in advance.  Mike  


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Empire Express
Last edited by Mike West
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The AM Empire Express is a beautiful set. Did the set come with the box? If so it will state on a box end what the engine features are. The choices are DC High rail, DC scale, AC high rail and if AC, with or without sound. Assuming this is AC highrail with sound, a controller is needed to actuate the whistle and bell sounds. I use the remotes with the MRC AH101, but American Models also made a controller. The sound board and speaker are in the tender. The on/off switch just controls the smoke.

There is no electronic choo choo sound. The smoke/choo choo is generated from a modernized Gilbert style mechanical piston unit, two chuffs/revolution. This engine is making a squeaking sound rather than a choo choo so the orifice plate was either removed or it is installed incorrectly.

All my AM steam engines have been converted to TMCC/Railsounds and all but one was upgraded to a fan driven smoke unit. Vast improvement, well worth the cost.

Tom.  I tried to reply earlier, but now for some reason I no longer see my response.  You make several great points, which I will check out.  I do have the American Model sound controller, but I also purchased this used and not sure it works.  I did hook up as suggested and tried it with several other American Model engines, with no success.  I also did not know the chug was mechanical, and do hear a hissing sound rather than chug, so will try to check the orifice for blockage. Very helpful response and much appreciated.  Mike  

Last edited by Mike West

Mike, if you have the Dallee AC Sound Controller all track power to the layout must be wired through the controller. It is possible the Dallee controller has failed but more likely something is loose or failed in the tender. This can happen during shipping. That is why GRJ suggested reseating connectors in the tender as the first step.

The controller is passing the AC track power though it to the track because the train runs. The buttons add a DC offset to the AC power to actuate the horn or bell. A DC voltmeter should show a small DC voltage (around 4.5V) when a button is pushed. One of the downsides with this sound system is the direction an engine is running on the track determines which button actuates which sound.


I haven't run mine in a while but I seem to remember that it randomly generates a steam release sound (it sounds like spit spit).  That doesn't require a triggering device so if you aren't hearing that the sound system isn't working. Of course that doesn't narrow it down between the speaker and the board.


Craig.  Thanks for your reply.  The unit appears to mechanically be hissing, not a chug. If you play the original video loud, I believe you can hear it.  I will later check as suggested by others, to see if something might be plugging the orifice.  I also shortly will remove the tender shell and re-plug the boards to see if this might help, as also suggested by others.  Best.  Mike   

Craig.  Thanks so much for this video.  Your engine sounds terrific and what I was hoping for.  I have received many excellent suggestions, including yours, and I will try them all.  I am currently very lucky and in Florida for the winter (avoiding upstate New Your weather), and when I return will immediately work this.  Best.  Mike  

Last edited by Mike West

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