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Pre-order just came in this afternoon from Charles Ro...

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PDcCRR1MLA

Lionel AC-12 Cab Forward #4294 from the 2021v2 catalog.  Overall, very pleased with this engine!  I debated ordering this or hunting for one from the 2014 release, and in the end, I'm glad I went with the new release.

Very short list of two small negatives, so I'll go ahead and knock them out...

1. The whistle steam still blows when blowing the two horns.  I thought I heard that it was supposed to disable when switching to the horns.

EDIT: PROBLEM FIXED.  2. The engine does not remember which horn/whistle selection it had when cycling power.

Those aside, the list of positives are much longer...

1. Same tooling as last release, as well as the original TMCC release, which is excellent and definitely one of Lionel's best efforts.  A really beautiful model.  Very nice satin paint finish, too.

2. No QC issues!  No loose pieces in the box or any problems, cosmetic or mechanical, at all.  Excellent fit and finish the engine over.  I did get it double-boxed from Charlie Ro's - I don't trust the Lionel shipping sleeve to be handled by the carrier without incurring any damage.  For a $2k engine (MSRP at least), $25 to double-box was obvious insurance in my view.

3. The two sets of drivers come out of sync from the factory.  A nice touch for realism and saves having to do it myself!

4. Excellent sounds - I love the two tones of six chime whistles and especially the new crew talk and random dialog.

5. The "drift chuff" sound effect is super cool and is probably the biggest feature setting this release apart from the last release, for my taste.

All-in-all, I'm very happy with this engine, despite the two issues mentioned, and would definitely recommend if you're on the fence!  Don't think these will last long.

Last edited by Catonsville Central Railway
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Nice video. The sounds are very nice! It's good to hear about good experiences with QC/shipping for new locomotives. My nephew really likes the cab forward steam and I've been wanting to get one as I don't have any in my collection. I sort of have my heart set on one of the earlier prototypes and maybe something in the Mallet Mogul or Articulated Mogul classes.

@texgeekboy posted:

@Catonsville Central Railway,

The 2 problems you mentioned seem like firmware issues, to me at least. I’m totally ignorant on the new electronics. Is there any way to get an update installed?

I would agree.  I have no idea if updates can be installed.  Fairly certain they couldn't be done by the end user, but perhaps Lionel could install updates if you sent the engine in.  We'll have to see what they say.

I don't know anything about the new electronics either, I just know they switched to new internals beginning with the 2020v1 catalog, coinciding with the five selectable whistles and bell tone feature (I assume the new boards have more space).

@texgeekboy posted:

@Catonsville Central Railway,

The 2 problems you mentioned seem like firmware issues, to me at least. I’m totally ignorant on the new electronics. Is there any way to get an update installed?

I would agree.  I have no idea if updates can be installed.  Fairly certain they couldn't be done by the end user, but perhaps Lionel could install updates if you sent the engine in.  We'll have to see what they say.

I don't know anything about the new electronics either, I just know they switched to new internals beginning with the 2020v1 catalog, coinciding with the five selectable whistles and bell tone feature (I assume the new boards have more space).

In the past, and I don't think anything has changed, the locomotive has to go back to Lionel to fix any firmware issues.



1. The whistle steam still blows when blowing the two horns.  I thought I heard that it was supposed to disable when switching to the horns.

2. The engine does not remember which horn/whistle selection it had when cycling power.



Sorry to hear of the issues.

For #1, I confirmed that the production run doesn't disable the whistle steam for the horns. This is because the audio file (ROM) is what disables the whistle steam in the engine. The factory did not program the ROM in the engine because the sounds are in the tender. Your engine code can be updated if you send it in to us. Going forward, we'll make sure the engine board is fully programmed.

For #2, I could not replicate this. No matter which of the 5 whistles/horns I set, it is retained through power cycling. Please try resetting your engine using the procedure in the manual. It may be that the engine PCB and the tender PCB are out of sync, and doing the reset procedure will correct this.

@Dave Olson posted:

Dave,  thanks for the reply.  Let me check about resetting the engine.  As it is, whenever I power cycle, the sounds move to the next in line of the five whistles/horns from whatever I had it on before powering down.  Same goes for the bells.  I also have a 4-6-2 Pacific from the 2021v1 catalog which does the same thing.  Maybe it needs to be reset as well...I will say the diesels I have with the latest electronics with the 5 horns + bells all retain their selections upon power cycling.

Appreciate the offer of sending the engine in for the programming update.  I think I want to play with it for a little, but I'll definitely take you up on that offer very soon!

I have received mine today and I can confirm that I have the issue of the whistle changing when power is cycled. Doing the reset procedure does indeed cure the issue, but it comes back after multiple power cycles, I think I did 6 before the issue returned again.

I have also found that pressing the reset button causes the engine to cycle through it's whistle functions. So it almost seems like the AUX1 function gets constantly sent to the sound card with the issue that we're describing (even when the AUX1 button has not been touched)

Edit:

Today I went to do a quick test of the engine, after running it all day yesterday at my local club, and I discovered that the issue of the whistle changing does appear to be board level. I didn't have the tether set up correctly when I set the engine up on my track, so I got the sounds starting up and the whistle blowing constantly (which was the whistle I had set yesterday). Upon correctly connecting the tether and starting the engine up, I found that the whistle changed as soon as I activated it. So it seems to me that the main control board is sending the sound card the command to switch the whistle/horn when using it for the first time, after a power cycle. Today I will confirm how many power cycles it take for the whistle changing bug to come back, after a hard reset.

Edit 2:

I have been able to pinpoint exactly what causes the issue of the whistles/horns changing with power cycles on the AC-12s, and it's primarily not from cycling the power.

I discovered that if you never go past the 5th whistle/horn in the selections, you will never have the issue of the whistle changing with power cycles. As soon as you go past the 5th selection, thus having it loop back to the 1st selection, the issue will happen constantly until you do a soft reset. Seems like the code for changing whistle/horn gets stuck in a loop of constantly sending a command to change the whistle/horn, after the selection menu loops around.

So if need to go back to a whistle you skipped, right now your best bet is to do a soft reset by putting the engine into program; inputting the same ID it already has; pressing set; setting the engine back to run; and then setting the whistle to what you now want. Doing a soft reset gets you back to whistle/horn selection #1, and also clears out the power cycle whistle/horn change bug.

Long term fix is to send it in for the ROM update, assuming the new ROM doesn't have this bug present. Dave, can you confirm the bug is non-existent in that ROM?

I hope my discovery of the cause of this bug/issue is helpful

Last edited by MichaelB

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