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This unit is from the 2019 catalog and I received it early in 2021 from a forum sponsor.  I plan to check with Lionel  on whether it is under warranty or not but was curious on my path forward if it is not. I was running recently using the universal remote and the loco stopped. Based on the smell none of us likes, it appears to have had a failure on a board or component related to both BT and the universal remote since neither work now.  It does run in conventional.  I took the shell off and there is no visible issue but I did not take anything apart. I thought this might be an opportunity to learn something.  Here are the boards listed by the new Lionel parts system.  Is one of these the 95% probability failed item? I am guessing it is the expensive one.


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  • mceclip0
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Just thinking out loud here. The Bluetooth board is the receiver for the universal remote as well. So you have that concept right. That said, there is a wiring harness and key in that harness, there is a power switch for the bluetooth. Are you sure you checked the "BLE" switch is on first?


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  • mceclip0

Again, entirely possible you have a board failure, so just trying to check the basics first since you did not mention you checked to see if bluetooth switch was on.

Yes, if a bad smell, you probably should have someone look at why it failed before just slapping another board into it. Nothing worse than blowing up a brand new part too and not solving the problem while draining your wallet.

Last edited by Vernon Barry

@Boilermaker1: Sorry, can't test legacy,  I skipped legacy and went from conventional to BT and lionchief.  I should have been more precise but neither the BT app or the Lionchief universal remote will find / recognize the locomotive with the issue.

Vernon, good points, checked again and BT is on.  It was running using the universal remote when it died.  Apparently, that took out BT also. I agree on swapping boards, the risk is something took out the board and will take out another one. MY assumption, perhaps crazy, is that something failed on a single board that killed BT and universal remote.

BUT.....Based on the names of the boards in the Lionel parts list, one appears to be BT and one appears to be RF (universal remote) based on my guess that this is what the RCMD board does?

The RCMC is the main controller of the entire engine and functions. That's the one that is $120.

The Bluetooth board is an add on receiver board for bluetooth. Hint, the universal remote can communicate bluetooth. Again, this board plugs into the RCMC, it receives power from the RCMC and provides data commands to the RCMC received over Bluetooth. This appears to be the board not working but why did it fail? When it failed, did it damage the port of the RCMC in the process? Is the cable or wiring part of the reason it failed?

The Railsounds board is just that- the sounds of the engine. It too connects to the RCMC and that is where it gets it commands from.

"It was running using the universal remote when it died.  Apparently, that took out BT also"

The Lionchief remote uses Bluetooth to talk to this Legacy and other BT equipped engines.

It could be how you keep wording it, but I get the feeling you are missing it and do not get it. The Universal remote is capable of talking the 2 different types of Lionel protocol, proprietary Lionchief RF found mostly in previous older Lionchief engines, and then more universal Bluetooth protocol. Thus, the Lionchief Universal remote and the Lionchief phone app are using the same Bluetooth protocol when talking to this specific engine. You make it sound like they are different by different receivers or signals and in this case, they are not- there is just Bluetooth. Bluetooth was an add on function by the Bluetooth receiver board to the Legacy based RCMC.

The RCMC has a daughter card on the RCMC that is the TMCC/Legacy radio signal receiver. That's why people were asking about testing multiple ways, but I'll be honest, I do not think in this case that matters. The engine runs in conventional meaning, the core logic of the RCMC appears to be working. While sure, anything electronic can fail, again, that receiver is specifically for the TMCC/Legacy 455 KHz radio signal from a TMCC or Legacy base transmitter.

Again, what I'm getting at specifically about the wiring harness and what appears to be your bluetooth board failure.

Per the diagram PDF linked, the Bluetooth board needs and gets 5V regulated DC power from the RCMC. If The bluetooth board failed, it could be because there was a higher voltage present on the 5V indicating an RCMC fault, or conversely, when the BT board was failing and burning up and thus shorting out the 5V power or drawing excessive current, that could have also damaged the RCMC, burned traces, causing the plug to not work.

The fault could be caused by anything really, bad Bluetooth board, bad RCMC voltage regulator, Wiring between the RCMC and the Bluetooth board specifically exposes this 5V connection and touching anything else would then possibly damage both boards. Just a lot of "what if" scenarios there.

Further, opening the shell and then tightening it back, you could have pinched a wire and any wiring shorting to frame is effectively injecting AC track power back into DC low voltage circuitry.

Again, we are at a scenario, the $32 Bluetooth board might have failed, but in the process, could have damaged the $120 RCMC board as well. And the bigger looming question- was it a wiring issue, failed switch, or other reason that one or both boards may have been damaged?

Last edited by Vernon Barry

Love the pdf and very helpful, I had not seen that. I had not pulled this loco apart prior to this issue but your list of possible "what if" issues illustrates how my assumption of a single cause board failure has a good chance of being too simple.  You are right, I was dated on the RF and bluetooth and did not realize how the universal remote integrated those communication methods. 

considering the fact that I did verify I am out of the warranty period, I have two choices / steps it appears:

1) Pray for a lucky break, blow $32 and get a new BT board- see if that fixes it.

2)  If the BT board does not fix it, get an RA and send it back to Lionel. It is better to let them blow the $120 board and they probably have some diagnostics equipment anyway to avoid this.

Sounds reasonable, but I think there is a catch? Lionel is doing warranty repairs. I think that also implies, they may not be taking out of warranty repairs? "Was it purchased within the last year? If not, then we recommend taking it to your local Authorized Service Station. (Locate Authorized Service Station)"

And so, I would suggest finding somebody local or close that can do the repair if you get to that point.

Also, just be aware, a few of us have been comparing notes on recent (the last 45 days or so) time between ordering parts from Lionel's website before they actually ship has been somewhat longer (reports range from say 14-30+ days) of folks waiting on parts.

Ouch, I had forgotten that situation with Lionel service and the focus on warranty work. I will start the first step today and disassemble, inspect, and order the bluetooth board if that appears appropriate. Assuming that does not solve the issue, like you suggest, plan B will entail contacting one of our forum experts and shipping to them. GGG is not too far away for example.

Thanks for the link on the service locations -it is a bit depressing to check the authorized service stations and find they are generally sales stations. 

Update: Opened up and think I found the issue in the third picture. For the benefit of others, first picture is the internals before opening up the wiring and looking around. Unless I am missing something, the RCMC board appears to be mounted using adhesive to an aluminum heat sink block.  No obvious screws.

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Here is the bluetooth board, would have been a waste to spend $32 on this.

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Aha, look what I found, not sure what this component does but this section of the board appears to be cooked and has that ugly residue on it.  It appears to be a small rectifier?  I wonder what could have cooked it or did it simply fail?

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Well, I'd have to see the "cooked" parts up close to determine if this is really the issue.  The board you are indicating is indeed the $120 RCMC, that little top board is part of the assembly and is not available as a separate part.

I'm surprised it runs in conventional if that board smoked, but again this is likely one I'd have to see.

Have you tried it with TMCC or Legacy?

The rest of the story two months later, for the record, in the event this might serve as a resource for someone:

Well, I'd have to see the "cooked" parts up close to determine if this is really the issue.  The board you are indicating is indeed the $120 RCMC, that little top board is part of the assembly and is not available as a separate part.

I'm surprised it runs in conventional if that board smoked, but again this is likely one I'd have to see.

I should have taken the GRJ hint that it should not be running in conventional if the RCMC board was cooked.  $120 later, it turned out to be the bluetooth board.  I was convinced that as bad as the smell was when it died, I would see external signs of failure, but no joy and it is what it is. What I thought I saw on the RCMC must have been some flux splatter.

The new BT board is on the right, and you can see the wires are not long enough, plus one of the wires should go to the BT on / off switch, a bit of soldering and all is good.  This is what Lionel sent as the official replacement part for my loco.  Must fit a lot of locos in this configuration and not worth carrying wire harness changes as different stock units. BTW, Lionel's parts shipment was not bad, from order to arrival for each board was about 2 weeks. I guess my parts inventory now has a RCMC board that appears to be good.



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