I've had this engine for over a year and love it. Lately though I've noticed that the smoke output seems much weaker than it used to be. I've been using JT the whole time, and a stock Lionchief transformer and bluetooth control with the iPad. I can hear and feel the smoke fan and can smell the fluid, just appears much weaker than it used to. I add about 10 drops at a time because I worry about overfilling. The stack definitely looks wet as I look down there. Any ideas? How can I tell if I'm putting in too much fluid?
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I add probably closer to 25 drops at a time in mine and it smokes a ton for a while after that. It does taper off and get weaker the longer I run it (obviously). Maybe try adding another 5-10 drops when you fill it and see if it helps?
Mine has been weak from the beginning too
Actually adding another 5 drops did help a lot, makes me wonder if I need even more. Do you wait until the smoke is almost non-existent before adding 25 drops? How do you know if you are overfilling? I'm not familiar with how these smoke units are built, but I'm sure damage will be done somewhere before you see the liquid level approaching the top of the stacks, right? I can't find any technical service guide on this engine and have no idea where to begin if I were to change (or even locate) the wick in the smoke unit.
Lionel has done some tweaking, per Dave Olson, on their smoke units. I suspect with some of the videos I have seen that the use more fluid than they have in the past. You definitely don't want to overfill but I'd say if you are getting a good 15 minutes of decent smoke and then it declines then 20-25 drops afterwards should be ok.
How do you know if you are overfilling? I'm not familiar with how these smoke units are built, but I'm sure damage will be done somewhere before you see the liquid level approaching the top of the stacks, right? I can't find any technical service guide on this engine and have no idea where to begin if I were to change (or even locate) the wick in the smoke unit.
You ask the age-old question. That is a total mystery and is only answered with experience. Once you've operated enough, and managed the smoke fluid fills many times, you start to get a feel for when you "need more", "have enough", or "have overfilled".
I have started to routinely add 30 to 40 drops of smoke fluid to my engines in order to get decent smoke production. When I have a shell off of an engine, and can watch how the wick is absorbing the fluid, I have already added up to 80 drops and the wick was still absorbing the fluid. And boy, do they smoke great! That is how I know that I'm safe with the 40 drops. I've never run into a problem and the smoke units have never been overfilled. I refill the smoke units when smoke output is less than half of "normal". Engines with smaller than normal smoke units would, of course, require less fluid.
Wow, 80 drops?! What engine is that?
One thing to keep in mind, all of these “drops” might be fine until you box up the engine for any reason and it gets set down either upside down or on end. Then all those “drops” go everywhere the train manufacturer didn’t intend it to and in most case won’t be covered by the warranty.
There would be no reason to load up a smoke unit if you are going to box it up and not run it. Running it is the reason for wanting it to smoke. As the 120 drops video shows, the wick in a smoke unit can absorb a lot of smoke fluid. For that reason, a wick will hold a "normal" amount of smoke fluid without it running out in the box. As a matter of fact, owners manuals state that you should add some smoke fluid prior to storage to prevent the wick from drying out. I usually add 10 drops before long- term storage.
My 80 drops addition was to an MTH Railking Santa Fe F-3. I do this whenever I have the shell off because the fill hole funnel in the shell likes to form a bubble where the two funnel halves come together. It's hard to get rid of the bubble. I use up to 40 drops in just about all of my engines.
Anyone know how hard it is to get to the smoke units on these? I added 30 drops today and got a lot of smoke. I'd like to experiment with how many drops I can add while watching the wicks so I can be more certain on how much these smoke boxes take. I think it's smaller than in the video because there isn't any whistle smoke. Probably just one fan also.