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The smoke unit on my Lionel Legacy 6-85021 SW7 had been working fine. Now, however, when I turn the smoke on, the fan starts but then quickly stops as the cab light flashes two blinks, which the owner's manual says is the diagnostic code for a smoke element problem.

Everything looks fine inside the smoke unit--for whatever that's worth--other than a small amount of charring on the batting. I cut the charring off, repacked the batting, and, I'm not sure why, the smoke unit began to work for a minute or two--but then went back to the two blinks.

Would the problem definitely be the element, as indicated by the diagnostic code? How would I test that to be sure? Could the issue possibly be with the fan motor instead of the element?

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I "fixed" it using the mess around with it until somehow--who knows why really--it works.

The resistor was OK--read 8 ohms. I did clean the smoke unit some more. Perhaps I had put in too much smoke fluid and that had caused an excess load on the fan motor. Also, I noticed a few wires routed under the fan motor that seemed to be pressing against the leads to the fan motor. I couldn't really see--the wires are fine and my eyes are not--if the normal heat in the fan motor leads might possibly have melted just enough insulation to short a motor lead against one of the three other wires. Just to be safe, I moved the wires apart.

Anyhow, not sure why, but we're smoking again. Thank you, Zachariah, Sean, and John, for pointing me in some useful directions.

Check that...not really fixed.

Ran the engine a bit more today to confirm that things were definitely OK. Yes, it did smoke normally—but only for a few minutes; then the dreaded two blinks began again. Each time I reset, the interval between smoke and two blinks was shorter.

I’m at a loss. How can it smoke great—both volume and height—then need to shut off? Is it possible there’s not enough smoke fluid and the resistor is getting too hot because it doesn’t have enough fluid to draw off it’s heat? The area of the hood by the smoke unit does feel very warm. Could the smoke unit need more fluid even when the unit is producing good smoke?

How much fluid should actually be in the bowl? Should all the fluid be in the batting, or should there be some fluid sitting under the batting? When I put the smoke unit back together, I arranged the batting so that the resister pressed against it, but was not surrounded by it. Was that the right way to do it?

Other ideas?

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