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Well, it looks like I am now the owner of one of these babies. I had only a mild interest in one of these - more curiosity than anything - and threw in a REALLY lowball bid on one and won the darn thing! I must admit I was (pleasantly) shocked! What I find strange is the number of these that are for sale. They are supposed to be so limited but there are MANY out there for sale and my purchase of an unused one for a record breaking low price has me wondering. Is this thing a lemon? I tend to shy away from this electronic stuff that seems to be the cause of all sorts of issues. 

I also recently purchased the 1964 version of the Lionel 773. I guess its going to be interesting comparing the two! I never had either one so this is a first for me (better late than never!) They will both be here this week. I am just starting to design a small permanent layout and am clearly going to need to use 042 curves! Unfortunately I also have a few MTH items designed for 072 curves that will either have to wait for a larger layout or become display pieces. 

Opinions and comments are welcome and desired! Thanks! - AL

Original Post

They are good for what they are, which is TMCC electronics in a classic Postwar style engine.  (though it will of course run in conventional as well, if you don't have TMCC or Legacy)

So they are not whiz bang details up the wazoo scale pieces, as you obviously know since you know it's based on a PW engine.

At the time CCI came out, while there certainly were scale pieces being offered, it was no where near the bulk quantities of different items being offered each year across multiple catalogs like we have now. (well, some scale pieces were offered long before that, probably late 80's onward, but it blew up a lot to rise to the amount of product we see now probably between 2000 and 2010)

If you look over catalogs from around when CCI came out(1997-2000 for all 5 engines, IIRC), there was far less product.  A lot of people were still thinking (incorrectly, it turned out) of these being true collectables and possibly worth a fair amount of money in the future if they stashed them away.  As a result, many are available, a lot un-run.  People who truly bought them for what they are and like that level of detail, probably will still speak well of them.  But anyone who bought them all on speculation of future value are letting them go for a lot less than they sold for (or they are coming out if estate sales, etc).

So electronics wise, they will never creep around a layout the way a Legacy or DCS engine will with many more speed steps, but they are a decent improvement to a PW classic.  There are a few markings that identify it as CCI (gold bell/whislte, and it also says Century in small gold letters on the rear of the tender).  If those will bug you, then that's maybe a negative.

Unless there turns out to be something wrong with the one you bought, If you go in with the knowledge of what it is and what it is not, I believe you will be happy when you get yours and play with it a bit.  (of course at this point it's very close to 20 years old, so a thorough lube and oil is a necessity before regular running)

-Dave

Last edited by Dave45681

They run, look and sound nice. I don't recall hearing any common electronics issues. Many mechanical parts are shared with older 773s. Personally, I would have preferred if they would have done the silver "773" and Lionel Lines on the tender rather than the rare 60s NYC lettering applied to the 50s tender. None of the Century items has held value.  My opinion, trends have changed away from the traditional Lionel Pulmor equipped product making these less desirable. Couple that with more Century product coming available in the market due to people selling because of "lack" of features, downsizing and even death. They are 20 years old (hard to believe) but are still a solid, quality piece. 

I have this loco and run fairly often. I have never heard these (or any of the Century Club offerings) were limited, rare, or otherwise special other then how they were sold (direct). I understand the way it was marketed might be viewed as "limited" but in reality, these was never a limit, implied or printed.

As far a actual numbers, we, the general hobbyist will never know, but I am sure a few people and one in particular who views this board has the answer. However, I don't think he needs or feels he has any reason to provide this information.

As far as this specific loco, the sound package, although old and dated by todays standards, is still impressive especially the whistle. The "chuf" is very good, deep sounding, but only two per revolution.

In my case, I have been spoiled by cruise control "Odyssey" in Lionel speak, and honestly, this is the main reason I find I am running these engines less and less. That might be the reason you see more of these on the market... that as well as people dying and the widows selling stuff just to get rid of it.

Enjoy your engine, it is a pretty good runner for a non-cruise control locomotive.

Charlie

Bill S. posted:

They run, look and sound nice. I don't recall hearing any common electronics issues. Many mechanical parts are shared with older 773s. Personally, I would have preferred if they would have done the silver "773" and Lionel Lines on the tender rather than the rare 60s NYC lettering applied to the 50s tender. None of the Century items has held value.  My opinion, trends have changed away from the traditional Lionel Pulmor equipped product making these less desirable. Couple that with more Century product coming available in the market due to people selling because of "lack" of features, downsizing and even death. They are 20 years old (hard to believe) but are still a solid, quality piece. 

I think I am going to love it! I'm not a "collector" per se, I collect but run what I have. I'm not into refusing to use something because it may hurt its "value". My most sophisticated power equipment is a ZW (No. 2 is my KW LOL) and if the engine is happy with that so am I. I'm not interested in hearing my engine speak, hiss, bark, or anything else other than smoke and maybe puff. Hopefully I can accomplish this with the ZW! Thanks for all the input I really appreciate it.

For what its worth I have the 1964 version of the 773 arriving tomorrow. The Century Club 773 will be here Weds. It will be interesting to compare!

Bill S. posted:

I would recommend a more "electronics friendly" transformer, something with fast tripping breakers. I use a ZW-C on my newer items.

Too many people keep making this incorrect assumption. Modern transformers won’t prevent damage to a locomotive’s electronics as a result of high-voltage transient spikes.

The circuit breaker is designed to protect the transformer, not the train, and do so when there is a surge in current, not a transient voltage spike.

To protect the locomotive, you need a TVS diode installed. It would be best closest to the electronics it is protecting, inside the locomotive, but for simplicity’s sake, most put the TVS between the transformer and the track connection.

Here’s a good thread from a few years ago, but this topic has been addressed often since then on the forum.

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/tvs-diode

fisherdoc posted:

 I tend to shy away from this electronic stuff that seems to be the cause of all sorts of issues. 

I also avoid the "electronic" stuff.  I occasionally might buy something if it is so cheap that after a failure, I can put a postwar e-unit in it and still feel okay. (this weekend $40 for a boxed dual motored MTH diesel that so far runs fine conventionally)

I think without the "electronic" stuff this forum would lose 50% of the threads.

However, they are impressive when they run properly.

The Century Club version might need a little break-in time on the track to smooth out.  Maybe a lot of track time!  I would inspect both locos to make sure the grease / lubricant isn't congealed.

Props for going ahead with the layout.  A working layout with O42 is much more fun than an O72 collection packed away in boxes!

There's no advantage to having just ONE command-controlled engine.  If you're not planning to run more than one loco on the same track, there's no advantage at all!  However if the electronics fail or give trouble, you can always rip them out and install a regular e-unit.

Thankfully, both of your locos have all metal wheels (although the 18058 came with an optional set of grooved wheels and tires.)  Adding to what @aussteve posted above, without the rubber tires, the forum would lose another 10% of its threads!  Then we might actually have to talk about railroading!    Thanks for sharing and I hope your Hudsons provide a lot of fun and no frustration!!

Last edited by Ted S
Jim R. posted:
Bill S. posted:

I would recommend a more "electronics friendly" transformer, something with fast tripping breakers. I use a ZW-C on my newer items.

Too many people keep making this incorrect assumption. Modern transformers won’t prevent damage to a locomotive’s electronics as a result of high-voltage transient spikes.

The circuit breaker is designed to protect the transformer, not the train, and do so when there is a surge in current, not a transient voltage spike.

To protect the locomotive, you need a TVS diode installed. It would be best closest to the electronics it is protecting, inside the locomotive, but for simplicity’s sake, most put the TVS between the transformer and the track connection.

Here’s a good thread from a few years ago, but this topic has been addressed often since then on the forum.

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/tvs-diode

I wasn't referring to voltage spikes. I am well aware of the TVS diode and have them installed in several engines.  I have a Rio Grande SD50 from 1995. It was powered by a PW ZW, I was working and running trains years ago (wow, probably 20 years ago!) before the ZW-C. I was not near the transformer when the train stopped, did not derail and the electronics sizzled for a while before the breaker tripped on the ZW and the sounds went into shut down. Had it been a fast tripping breaker, it likely would have tripped sooner, it is amazing how fast the bricks trip. The board still would have been bad but the wiring likely would have been spared. As a safer practice, if it has a circuit board, it runs with the ZW-C.

Jim R. posted:
Bill S. posted:

I would recommend a more "electronics friendly" transformer, something with fast tripping breakers. I use a ZW-C on my newer items.

Too many people keep making this incorrect assumption. Modern transformers won’t prevent damage to a locomotive’s electronics as a result of high-voltage transient spikes.

The circuit breaker is designed to protect the transformer, not the train, and do so when there is a surge in current, not a transient voltage spike.

To protect the locomotive, you need a TVS diode installed. It would be best closest to the electronics it is protecting, inside the locomotive, but for simplicity’s sake, most put the TVS between the transformer and the track connection.

Here’s a good thread from a few years ago, but this topic has been addressed often since then on the forum.

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/tvs-diode

 

Well the Century Club 773 arrived today. While I am still digesting this, and I am slow, I have this to say thus far.

Firstly, consider what I paid for this thing - which incidentally is brand new never been opened - I would be an ingrate to complain one bit. From what I can tell I paid nearly $100 less than the least expensive one has ever sold for new OR used. So in this regard I did very well. I really do feel bad for these guys who thought this would be an investment. This seller had this thing for 20 years - in fact it was shipped to me in the original Lionel Box dated June 2000. And he never even saw it! That is sad I'm sorry. This is supposed to be a hobby not the stock market! And it is a wonderful hobby if one allows themselves to enjoy it. This poor guy must be ****ed as anything. I don't know what they cost new but I'll assume it was well over a grand.

Next - As I get the engine out of the box, I see the 6 drive wheels will not move. I tried with a reasonable amount of force and the wheels are frozen in position and will not move. I don't see anything obvious keeping them from moving and I don't want to force them. So I guess I'll have to take this thing apart to see what's going on. I can't believe grease would get THAT hard in 20 years to freeze this thing to this extent. I have NEVER seen anything like this. I have been pulling my Lionel stuff out that has been sitting for 30++ years and never saw anything like this. I thought there might be some lock or something but I didn't see anything in the manual. 

The handrails at the front of the engine are not bent properly on one side. From the front they symmetrically straddle the nose of the boiler and one of them on one side was almost straight. So I gently bent it but I see it is still not right. Unless it is supposed to be like this which I doubt. Photo of the front below. entire2front3

The brass whistle appears to be VERY SLIGHTLY off to one side. I do professional picture framing and have an "eye" for straightness etc. and i see it off a bit. I really don't think I will attempt to move it as it really isn't noticeable.  

So this is where I am at - it is on display in that REALLY nice display base till I can figure out why the wheels are frozen. I'll just add this to all the other train projects. My bench, which is an electronics repair bench designed for vacuum tube repairs, is starting to look like a Mini Altoona! 

Incidentally, I didn't notice any "Made in USA" anywhere on this thing but supposedly it is made here? Maybe due to some imported parts like the electronic stuff?

Attachments

Images (2)
  • entire2: The name plate is self stick you stick LOL!
  • front3: Note handrails not symmetrical

All of the below is from my memory.  I don't have time to go look at mine right now, but will tonight if no one else chimes in during the day.

I think the wheels should not be moving unless powered, totally normal.  The meshing of the worm gear on the motor with the gearbox does not translate in reverse when you try to move the wheels by hand.

I think the angle on the whistle is intentional and normal as well. 

The handrail is supposed to have that slight bend in it so the front of the boiler can be swung open to get to the headlight bulb (or LED, I forget).  Unless I mis-read your concern.  That slight bow showing on the right handrail near the hinges in the picture is intended.

You should be careful messing with the handrails, as they are the TMCC antenna (which is also why those little plastic sleeves are there), though I think you said you only operate conventionally, so maybe it doesn't matter for you.   You may end up disabling the TMCC capability though if you disturb the handrails too much.  They need to not be grounded to the shell.

-Dave

Well thank you!  For a moment there I was rather puzzled as to what was going on with the wheels - now it makes perfect sense. As far as the handrails, what I noted is that they are not symmetrical around the boiler front. I did read in the manual about them being the antenna. 

Until I get the proper track set up in the near future it is on display. I also need to get some of those transient voltage diodes before I run it anyway. I am an electronics guy so I will install these in each piece of equipment in a neat manner. I have an account with Mouser as I buy hundreds of components from them.

I guess these diodes are needed for ANY stuff with circuit boards - MTH included. I never dealt with these units that have electronics in them but these diodes make perfect sense. 

Thanks again for all the input I am always learning! Any further thoughts are most welcome! - AL

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