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On November 6 of this year I purchase an Imperial Empire State Express Steam Engine from my sort LHS (Indiana Pa, where I have some property).

The chuff is intermittently dropped regardless of the chuff rate setting or if it is labored chuff or not and regardless of locomotive speed.  It go chuff, chuff, chuff, no chuff, chuff, chuff, no chuff no chuff, no chuff, chuff.  The pattern is random and occurs regardless of the track or transformer.  In conventional mode and in command mode.  With 2 different Z4000s and 2 different TIUs.  It has not improved or degraded in its 1st 60 minutes of operation.

I have reset the engine to factory setting twice and a feature reset twice.

I live in Columbus Oh area.  Before I call the LHS and arrange an RMA, I figured I would poll this august group.

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I've had a couple of PS3 steamers do this. It's a problem with the tender connection at the wireless drawbar. My missed chuffs were mostly occurring when rounding a curve.  One I fixed it by opening the tender and swapping the 6 pin wire connector from the tender board to the post connector where the drawbar connects. I cut the zip tie on that wire connection and left it off to give the swivel on the tender a little more free motion. Another had a bad solder on the wireless drawbar.

Everything else worked great on these two engines except missing the occasional chuff sound (when the chuff missed the smoke unit also didn't puff).

GRJ,

Here is my report to MTH Support (Does this help your thinking?):



All,



After ~4 hours of running in the test stand - half with the short tether and half  with the long tether, and not being able to replicate the behaviors, it occurred on my layout.

Note the performance on the test stand, as well as the consistency of speed on the layout indicated that the dropped chuff is not related to the tach reader.  I should see variation in locomotive speed over ground coincident with the dropped chuff if it was tach related.  Especially in the instanced where I have multiple dropped chuffs in sequence.  This of course assumes that the duration of the dropped chuff interval is long enough to counter the tendency for the flywheel to maintain speed/momentum.

For reference I have attached a SCARM file to document the layout.  From that SCARM file your can see that my ruling curve is R31 and the most common curve is R36 and I have R54 and R72 in play. My switches are Lionel 6-14-62s ( their R36 equivalent).

The locomotive repeated the drop chuffs on my R31, R36 and intermittently on the R54 radius curves.  It does not reliably operated as advertised on curves tighter that R36 even with the longer tether.

Please advise as to next steps.

Thank you

You've eliminated some variables:

Fine on test stand. That means everything is fine in a straight line.

Problems on layout = curves are probably causing some issue. That would point to the drawbar connection.

I bet the drawbar connector on either the locomotive or tender side doesn't have enough slack. That is probably causing either side to lose connection and then come back. Pop the shells off the locomotive and tender to make sure the wire harness has enough slack to move with the drawbar. I bet that solves the issue.

@H1000 posted:

I've had a couple of PS3 steamers do this. It's a problem with the tender connection at the wireless drawbar. My missed chuffs were mostly occurring when rounding a curve.  One I fixed it by opening the tender and swapping the 6 pin wire connector from the tender board to the post connector where the drawbar connects. I cut the zip tie on that wire connection and left it off to give the swivel on the tender a little more free motion. Another had a bad solder on the wireless drawbar.

Everything else worked great on these two engines except missing the occasional chuff sound (when the chuff missed the smoke unit also didn't puff).

We saw this occasionally at MTH.  Repeated connecting/disconnecting of the drawbar enlarges connections inside the 6-pin harness.  Swapping end for end sometimes fixes it because the harness connection in the board doesn’t move.  I used to disassemble the harness wire by wire and tighten the  “clamp” that grips the pins on the drawbar.

GRJ,

Yeah - if I had a timing strobe I would have used it be able to watch the driver wheels to see if I could detect any change in the rotational speed of the wheel. but I don't have anything on hand to make more precise observations.  With just my eyes, I could not perceive any change. As I told the MTH Tech in my e-mail, a tach misread could be causing the missed chuff, and momentum obscuring the speed variance.

Jon G,

Keep in mind, this is brand new out of the box, never run.  Drawbars have been connected to the tender less than 10 times, to the engine less than 4 times.  I hope the material is spec'd out to exceed my usage to date.  I also took great care to insure that bar was aligned to the connector and that pressure on both attachment and disattachment in-line and avoided torque on the fitting as much as possible.  Granted there was some - didn't build a fixture but I believe I am somewhat precise with my hands and not particularly hamhanded.

Rob, I think you are missing the point. It has nothing to do how you are attaching the tether. The problem is caused by not enough slack in either the harness in the tender or the one in the engine. The symptom is when you try and move the tether in your hand you feel resistance before you reach the end of the swing. That resistance is trying to pull the harness out of the connector. The fix is to pull the shells off the tender or engine and give some more slack to that harness. Might mean cutting a wire tie.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this then send it out.

Pete

@Jon G posted:

We saw this occasionally at MTH.  Repeated connecting/disconnecting of the drawbar enlarges connections inside the 6-pin harness.  Swapping end for end sometimes fixes it because the harness connection in the board doesn’t move.  I used to disassemble the harness wire by wire and tighten the  “clamp” that grips the pins on the drawbar.

This makes sense.  The engine in the video above worked perfectly until the customer had another train crash into the back of the consist in tow behind this steamer which is when this issue started.

Another question for you Jon. MTH used to include a square plastic bushing that went on the tender post of the wireless drawbar, I've only seen this part on the earlier PS3 steamer but it seams to have disappeared around 2016 or 2017.  It seemed to help keep the load of the consist off of the the electrical connector and on that metal post.

Last edited by H1000

Let's not forget there have been runs with defective crimps at the terminals.  I have seen engine harness to drawbar defective and with too much strain. Defective solder on drawbar pins, and also defective in ability to carry current.  Good continuity but not under load.  Bad connector on tender harness, both plastic connector not holding terminal in (pushes out) and the bad crimp mentioned earlier.

Some of these later runs have had defective wiring and molex plugs too.  That run of N&W J required several fixes to get sounds, and motion right.

I have to agree with John, loss of 5V, PCB ground (definitely), or Data (probably) I would have thought would also have led to other issues beside a periodic chuff miss.  Like lights flicker, smoke off. G

Last edited by GGG

Norton,

With respect -

Your missing the point here, Jon G mentioned the ware and tear from connection/disconnection overtime caused issues.  My response was to specifically establish that the Loco was new from the store in a box and that the probability of user error in attaching the drawbar had caused the condition was small.

Now too the comments made by you and a couple others, I am comfortable and competent to do a lot on a locomotive and have stripped many a use locomotive down to the frame (sometimes with good outcomes and sometime not good outcomes), but I stress this is a brand new never run loco.  It went from MTH to the LHS to may layout w/o running anywhere after it left whatever QC was done by MTH or its manufacturing agents.  It comes with a 30 day return policy from the LHS and a 1 year warranty from MTH.  I do not want to do anything to void either.

And while 5 bills isn't much to some of us in this community, its the sum total of my hobby budget for the month of November and I would like to get maximum value and enjoyment out of that money.  I thought I was buying a 0 problem ready to run toy - not a project.  While I have many projects in my past that were more than $495, I purchased those with the expectation that I would have problems (toy train stuff, motorcycles, cars, guns - all lost in a boating accident, boats - that enabled the "accidents" and even houses).

This engine has failed to meet my expectations.  I want either the LHS or MTH to make it right.  Point in looking for advice among this community was to make sure I wasn't doing something simple stupid.  From the much appreciated advice given so far - it's not something simple stupid that I was doing in the setup or operations of the locomotive.

Pat,

Don't like the conversation, don't join it.

Join the conversation, expect a response - sorta like physics.

It has nothing to do with like or dislike…..I’m just pointing out the obvious ….you’ve made a mountain out of a mole hill,……do you like the model you bought??….then get it fixed,…and ENJOY it,…..OR go get your money back,….pretty simple economics here,….that doesn’t require a 200 word essay…..

Pat

Interesting thread to me. I just put my version of the same new (as of last January) loco on the tracks last weekend. It's running poorly....herky-jerky, lots of starting and stopping. Oiled up all the usual spots with a drop, checked the grease reservoir (full), and filled the smoke....same result.

I'm hesitant to start breaking into it, so I'm heading back to the dealer, about 40 miles away, tomorrow. Good guys, guessing they can and will fix it. I love the loco and will likely buy the matching passenger cars as an upgrade from my O27 Lionel cars if they do. Disappointed, but not upset. My other 5 Rail Kings are running fine.

@harmonyards posted:

It has nothing to do with like or dislike…..I’m just pointing out the obvious ….you’ve made a mountain out of a mole hill,……do you like the model you bought??….then get it fixed,…and ENJOY it,…..OR go get your money back,….pretty simple economics here,….that doesn’t require a 200 word essay…..

Pat

No value in my post to you, don't read them.

There's a little button on your keyboard labeled "PgDN" - lets you scroll right past them.

@H1000 posted:

Another question for you Jon. MTH used to include a square plastic bushing that went on the tender post of the wireless drawbar, I've only seen this part on the earlier PS3 steamer but it seams to have disappeared around 2016 or 2017.  It seemed to help keep the load of the consist off of the the electrical connector and on that metal post.

They are still available.  I just ordered half a dozen.  FB0000037

I have a MTH Proto sound 3 Southern Pacific Daylight GS-4  item 20-3750-1

It runs perfect with all functionality 90%- 95% of the time,

occasionally it will stop communicating with the DCS, and continue whatever it was doing when communication was lost,...for example it will keep running at constant speed or sounding horn until I cut power.

When I try to address this locomotive, I get "engine not found"

The issue clears when I cycle power, and Locomotive become fully functional again

It appears to happen randomly but other times when I use the horn or bell.

What could cause a Protosound 3 steam engine to suddenly loose communication and become unresponsive?

Could this be a tether issue?

I did a quick inspection on locomotive side and found nothing

I also found it strange this large locomotive has only two center pick up rollers,.. wondering if this smaller electrical footprint could play a role in the communication error?

Do you use both outer rails as ground?  2R-3R engines have a limited power pickup.  Some of this sounds like DCS signal strength issue on your layout.  It could be drawbar, but if the engine still has power and making sounds then AC power is getting to the tender and so should the DCS signal.  Is the DCS DCC switch in the DCS position?  G

@GGG posted:

Do you use both outer rails as ground?  2R-3R engines have a limited power pickup.  Some of this sounds like DCS signal strength issue on your layout.  It could be drawbar, but if the engine still has power and making sounds then AC power is getting to the tender and so should the DCS signal.  Is the DCS DCC switch in the DCS position?  G

Thanks for your response triple G,

I don't have any isolated outer tracks on the main line of my layout, I know DCS can act up when there a isolated common.

Most of my layout I get 10-9 signal strength, there might be a couple of spots where I see 8-7, I am servicing the layout, so I will install some new drops.

Also, the track is not exactly pristine all the time, so I wonder if this could be a factor.

This is my only MTH steam engine, so I am not familiar with their quirks

The switch is in the DCS position, but I have read on the forum of this switch being defective

I have 15 others DCS, legacy, and TMCC diesels  that don't exhibit this unique hiccup

On maybe a related note

I have noticed the tether side drawbar post/connector swivel has lots play in it, is this desirable? or should I try to tighten up the screw??

@Cogen1981 posted:

I have a MTH Proto sound 3 Southern Pacific Daylight GS-4  item 20-3750-1

It runs perfect with all functionality 90%- 95% of the time,

occasionally it will stop communicating with the DCS, and continue whatever it was doing when communication was lost,...for example it will keep running at constant speed or sounding horn until I cut power.

When I try to address this locomotive, I get "engine not found"

The issue clears when I cycle power, and Locomotive become fully functional again

It appears to happen randomly but other times when I use the horn or bell.

What could cause a Protosound 3 steam engine to suddenly loose communication and become unresponsive?

Could this be a tether issue?

I did a quick inspection on locomotive side and found nothing

I also found it strange this large locomotive has only two center pick up rollers,.. wondering if this smaller electrical footprint could play a role in the communication error?

Drawbar is getting loose. I had a Premier PS3 Santa Fe Hudson that did the same. I Just used some rubber tubing to keep the drawbar fully seated at the tender end and it's been fine since.

Last edited by Lou1985

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