Yesterday, I ran my Frisco ten-wheeler for, oh, say 20 minutes, and all was well.

Today, it is behaving very erratically.  When I power up the track, the cab, firebox, and class lights burn steady, but the headlight flickers rapidly at time but burns steady at others.  It does not respond to commands in a consistent manner.  It will move a bit and then stop, move and then stop.  It might run very fast for a few feet and then crawl.  It might just move a fraction of an inch and then stop.  Sometimes, continuing to turn the wheel on the remote will make it lurch along, sometimes not.  The bell might ring when the button is pressed but the whistle won't.  Or neither will work.  Most of the time is simply ignores me.

I have verified that the pick ups are clean.

The ten-wheeler is on Track 2:  the remote is working fine controlling an engine on Track 1.

Another TMCC engine runs fine on Track 2 with no other changes (which I think pinpoints the problem as being on the engine).

I have reset the engine and also readdressed it.

I would appreciate any leads on trouble-shooting.

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

Original Post

Clearly, the issue is in the locomotive and not the tender.  Your symptoms suggest a TMCC reception issue.  I'd carefully check the handrails (TMCC antenna) to see if they're damaged/bent and touching the boiler shell.  Next, probably a swap of the R2LC is in order.

The R2LC is the TMCC receiver board, it plugs into a motherboard inside the locomotive.

I'd "borrow" one from another locomotive for testing if you don't have any spare parts.  Obviously, since I see a lot of TMCC, I have these parts available, does make it easier to swap them out for diagnostics.

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OK, here's the latest, which is good news but also a mystery.

I went to the layout tonight wondering what would happen if I switched over to conventional operation.  Well, the engine just sat there as I dialed up the power.  Hmmm.

THEN I noticed that the wire from the Command Base to the Powermaster had come loose.  Ooops.  Hooked it up, and switched back to Command, and the engine runs fine. 

Duh.

But there remains a mystery:  why did it respond to the commands somewhat/sometimes?  I guess maybe the wire was coming off but was not all the way off, but I have no idea what loosened it or knocked it off.

Anyway, thanks for all the help, guys!

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

While it works best if the wire is securely connected, it's possible for the signal to propagate to the engine without a good or any physical connection. I have run an engine on completely isolated test track on the bench while the base was on and only connected to the main layout.

Chuck TCA LCCA ARRL BMWMOA

You both certainly diagnosed the kind of problem accurately.  Again, I appreciate the help.  Even the fact that it behaved better near the control panel is explained.

I find it interesting that the other engine ran just fine.  Apparently, it receives better.

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

Correct, not all TMCC boards are equal in sensitivity.  That's a common issue, people have one or two engines that have issues on a layout, but not others.  Also, the antenna installation and proper contact with the track & wheels plays a key part in how well the TMCC signal is received.

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