Limited movement or no movement on some of my MTH PS2 Engines

I inherited a large collection of MTH "O" gauge trains with PS2. I've got about a half a dozen that have various issues. Most all of the have working sounds. Some only go forward & some not at all. Yes I checked the switches on the bottom for forward only. I've heard rumors that the PS2 system can create havoc on the motor. What can I do or check to get these engines to work properly without sending them for service?

Original Post

The rumors you say you've heard are false.  I have some engines that have been running PS2 for 17 years, and I have never had a motor go bad.

You didn't mention their age.  The original PS2 locos used an 8.4 volt battery.  They can be identified by either no charging port underneath (under the tender if steam) or by a round charging port.  If you have any of those, do not power them up until you've opened them up and checked the battery.  If it's white, replace it before operating.  Later locos used 2 rechargeable pencells, and are more durable.  They have a rectangular charging port.  If you post the model numbers, someone will certainly tell you which category they are in.

Are you trying to run these using a DCS system, or conventionally?

They range in age from 2005 - 2010.  Some of them have the white charging port & I bought the charger. I think 1 had the round charge port, also have the charger. Some don't have any charger port. Don't know what you mean by DCS system, or conventionally, new at this. I'm using the MTH big black cube transformer & Z1000 controller that has operated many other engines I have just fine.

The DCS system is a digital control system that controls each locomotive individually, without affecting others.  Details can be found on the MTH website.  "Conventionally" means as trains have been for 70 years, the transformer sets voltage to the tracks which controls the speed, and reverse is accomplished by a momentary break in power.  PS2 locos operate either way.

By white, I referred to 8.4-volt battery color, not port color.  The round port or no port indicates the older 8.4 volt system, which is nearing the end of its reliable life.  If you have engines like that, they are older than 2005.

Probably would be best if you listed the engines individually by model number, and then described precisely the problem.  But again, do not power up an engine with a white battery.

No.  While old batteries are a problem, the old PS2 boards that used 8.4 volt batteries contain components that are failing.

As to the Tenergy batteries, I can't tell if they are 8.4 volt or 7.2 volt.  Rechargeable batteries, despite being called "9 volt" are not.  They are either 8.4 or 7.2.  In addition, several of your engines may use 2 rechargeable pencells, which yielf 2.4 volts.  So until you open each loco up, and are sure what type they use, you won't know how many to get.

On the chance that some of your locos may have failed boards, I would only buy one or two sets of each type, and try each engine.   Someone will probably recommend you buy what are called BCRs or supercapacitors to replace batteries.  But they are expensive and it is better to use a cheaper battery to test engines.

The Tenergy batteries are fine, they work just dandy in MTH applications.

Oh, the rumor about PS/2 killing motors is total Baloney, that doesn't happen!  I don't often see bad motors, and they happen pretty universally across the brand spectrum.  Sometimes there is a specific motor type that has a higher failure rate, the larger Canon motors in Lionel Legacy steamers come to mind.

Here's the batteries I use: EBL 9V Rechargeable Batteries NiMH, never had a problem, I've probably used 40-50 of these.

Do not leave an alkaline battery in there, it should only be used for bench testing.  I've found dead charging circuits with an alkaline battery in the locomotive, I tend to think the two events may be connected.

mvpfrank posted:

Even though the sounds are working?

Yes.  In PS2, the battery is not needed for sounds to operate when the track is powered.  

When you press the Z-1000 DIRECTION button to place the engine into Forward, do the sounds cut-out immediately?  The battery supplies power for sounds while the DIRECTION button is held down.  If sounds immediately stop, this is a good indicator of an issue with the battery or battery circuit.

A functional battery is also needed to cycle the engine from Neutral to Forward when you press the DIRECTION button.  If sounds immediately cut-out, you will be stuck in neutral.  

An engine can be set to Forward-only by the so-called "Direction Lock" memory setting.  This can be cleared by resetting the engine using a sequence of Bell and Whistle button presses on your Z-1000 controller.  Unfortunately you will need a functional battery for the changed setting to take hold.  So for your engines that are stuck in Forward, if the sounds continue (rather than cutting out) when pressing the DIRECTION button, the battery may be OK.  In this case, try resetting the engine which will clear a locked-in-Forward setting.  The timing of the buttons can be tricky so here's a short video which seems to have helped others.  The controller in the video is not the Z-1000, but the operation is the same.  Note that if stuck in Forward, the engine is rolling down the track as you try this reset; it's best to lower the track voltage so the engine is moving relatively slowly when sending the reset sequence. 

As an aside, it's also possible to "Direction Lock" an engine in Neutral.  So if sounds successfully play through DIRECTION button presses (but engine doesn't cycle thru Neutral-Forward-Neutral-Reverse) the engine could be locked into Neutral.  Try the reset sequence listening for the double-toot confirmation sound from the engine.


OK here's what I found so far. I have an F3 Diesel that all sounds work even while holding direction button but only goes forward. No reversing switch on bottom. And the key reset sequence doesn't seem to change anything. I also have a GP9 that needs a new battery, the 2.4v version, MTH 50-1024 but can't seem to find it anywhere for less than $14 delivered. Any tips there?

To be clear, when you say only goes forward... does this mean when you initially apply power, you get the engine "startup" sound and then after a couple seconds the engine starts moving Forward with speed proportional to throttle?  And while engine stops while DIRECTION button is pressed, when DIRECTION released it immediately returns to Forward (can never get engine to stay in Neutral)?

With the key reset sequence you did hear the double-horn-blast after the last button press?

The battery is just a dual AA rechargeable.  You can buy such a pack on eBay for a couple of dollars but will typically have to swap in the correct connector.  If you don't mind some DIY wiring/assembly and have basic electronic tools you should be able to roll your own for a lot less than $14 by re-using the existing connector.  Though if you have multiple PS2 engines that use that 2.4V battery you might want to swap a known-good battery to see if the problem follows the battery or the engine.

mvpfrank posted:

Yes to your questions in paragraph 1. Yes I can also get it to stay in neutral. Did not hear 2 horn blasts after last button press.

Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.  As John H correctly stated early on, batteries first.

But if the batteries are good, you absolutely need to be able to get the 2 horn blasts.  Try it again.  Try it a dozen times!  It helps to lower the throttle to slow or even stop the engine (as long as the sounds are operating).  

By getting it to "stay in neutral" was this by lowering the throttle?  You can tell if you are locked in Forward if every time you press the DIRECTION button the engine momentarily slow/stops but then immediately starts running in Forward as soon as you release the button.


The battery seems to be fine. Sounds will work with Direction button held down. The neutral status is done by the direction switch not turning the dial down. Finally got the 2 horn blasts. Now as you mentioned above each time I hit direction it stops and then moves forward each time. Still no reverse. Thanks on the Super Cap but I will stick to batteries for now.

So engine is cycling between fwd and neutral with each direction button press.  Does the engine have directional headlights that indicate it "thinks" it's in reverse?

If you listen to the chassis can you hear a faint relay click when you first apply power (before sounds start)?

And you may need to turn volume down but can you hear the same faint relay click on every 2nd direction button press? It's rare but a defective relay can keep engine in fwd only.


I apologize for the delay getting back to you. I'm going to throw you a little curve ball. Note the 2 attached photos. I have 2 F3 engines, one older than the other. The older one looks like it had the cap mod eliminating the battery & the newer one has the 2.8v battery. BOTH of them are doing the same exact thing. Both go in forward only & most of the time when I hit the direction button they DON'T go into neutral but rather just recycle and go forward again. Both of them when I hold the direction button the sounds stop so I will be replacing the battery but how about the cap? My question is after replacing the battery in theory will the newer one also go in reverse? What do I do with the older one with the cap mod?  


Photos (2)

The engine on the left is not a PS2 engine.  I believe that's what MTH called LocoSound which did not use a battery.  I don't have any LocoSound engines so can't help you with the locked-in-forward issue.

As for the PS2 engine on the right, if the sounds cut-out as soon as you press the DIRECTION button, then it's almost surely a battery issue.  If you have another PS2 engine that has either a dual-AA or dual-AAA battery I'd swap the battery to see if the locked-in-forward problem follows the engine or the battery.  A PS2 engine that is locked in forward (requiring the Bell-Whistle button reset procedure) will upon application of power behave as follows: faint relay click coming from the circuit board, then engine sounds start for a few seconds, then engine starts moving fwd proportional to throttle.  You need to solve the battery issue first.  That is, even if you successfully reset the engine (to take it out of Fwd lock), you need the battery to "save" the reset as well as to cycle the engine thru the Fwd-neutral-Rev-neutral sequence when you press the Direction button.

You know that and I know that, but apparently some of your locomotives don't know that.

Another trick is to plop a lighted passenger car or two on the track (obviously with incandescent lighting) to draw a little current and then see if they reverse properly.

Read the instructions for the engines.  The lock out procedure is the same.  So the locosound may just be locked in forward.  For PS-2 engine you apply power and let it start up.  Turn power off.  Does the engine play shutdown sounds for 5-8 seconds and complete a shut down sequence?  If not the battery is weak or dead.

Test with smoke off.  Getting to reverse is harder to do than forward.  Besides powering the processor, the battery has to power the relay for reverse.  Sometimes with weak battery that pushes it over the limit and it recycles the board.  G

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Thank you for your reply. Sorry to say I don't have instructions to read & that's why I posted here for help. I inherited a collection of MTH & am in the process of going through everything. By the way I have one new  remote control & one used remote system MTH 50-1033. I'm having the same issue with both & I've contacted Jason at MTH without a reply last week. They both ONLY put out 20 volts to the track which is full speed. Nothing I do with the remote will turn down the power. The receiver is getting the signal from the remote but nothing slows the power down.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

Here's the batteries I use: EBL 9V Rechargeable Batteries NiMH, never had a problem, I've probably used 40-50 of these.

Do not leave an alkaline battery in there, it should only be used for bench testing.  I've found dead charging circuits with an alkaline battery in the locomotive, I tend to think the two events may be connected.

I don't want to jinx myself here, but the only engine I have ever had the electronics die was my first modern engine I ever bought, a mth ps2 Railking, and I had left a 9V alkaline in it. 

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