Hello, looking for suggestions on an issue I'm having with the background sound of steam on a railsounds tender. I noticed a crackling issue where the sound quality of the background steam cuts out randomly during operation. I thought it could be dirty tracks or wheels/rollers, so I cleaned everything even though the engine is 2 weeks old. Then I did a test while the train was stationary but powered up with the background steam going. If I gently wiggle the drawbar connector to the tender then I get the same crackling like there's a bad connection. I don't really want to send in a brand new loco for warranty repair on something like this if I can just handle it with a simple solution. Would it hurt to try a drop of rail zip or oil in the drawbar connector to see if that improves the quality of the connection? Or any other suggestions to get a better electrical connection in the drawbar? This problem only started a couple of days ago, after the engine had some run time around the track. Thanks!

Original Post

In my opinion, there's a good probability that a wire has rubbed through the insulation somewhere in or near the drawbar area, and is intermittently shorting out against a frame or some other protuberance.  Pop the shell off the tender, and visually investigate all the wiring from the drawbar to the board.  If that fails to turn up any damaged insulation, pop the shell off the loco and look for any problems with its wiring.

That's where I would start.  I have had several similar problems in the past, and in most cases it ended up being a wire shorting out due to abraded insulation.

I think if it was a drawbar problem there would be no sound at all. Anytime I hear a scratching sound that usually results in a bad speaker. 

The drawbar could indeed be the issue because...

This is an "all new 8 pin magnetic wireless drawbar".

( Why did Lionel not use the bullet proof I.R. drawbar??? Is it not compatible with the Lionchief electronics?)

Go to the 3:00 mark on Daves Lionchief plus 2.0 video:

This is a  new $1000  locomotive. I'd  get Lionel to repair it when this virus thing is over.

 

RickO posted:

The drawbar could indeed be the issue because...

This is an "all new 8 pin magnetic wireless drawbar".

( Why did Lionel not use the bullet proof I.R. drawbar??? Is it not compatible with the Lionchief electronics?)

That's an easy question.  They're drawing power through this drawbar, it's a two-way street.  The IR tether is bulletproof, but it's strictly a one-way street and it's only for data, not for power.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

That's an easy question.  They're drawing power through this drawbar, it's a two-way street.  

What would be the purpose for that John?  Erics demo video shows pickup rollers on the tender.

I don't know if power dropouts have been that big of an issue on these models over the years to engineer an new drawbar just to link pickup rollers.

Or is it something to do with the way Lionchief plus 2.0 operates?

My last ( Dumb)question is. How many wires are going to an "8 pin tether"? Four on each side, or eight.

As compared to the newer I.R. drawbars that only have two on each side of the coupling.

 

Last edited by RickO

I suspect there are eight total wires in the tether based on the pictures.  As far as why they send power over, how many times have you had a smaller locomotive with two rollers stop on a switch?  If you share the power between the tender and the locomotive, you have more rollers spaced farther apart.  I've even done it to a bunch of mine and customer's locomotives!  Here's just one of many...

MTH Switcher Reliability Upgrade

 Thanks for your input John.

8 wires on the drawbar of a 29" locomotive engineered to negotiate 0-36. What could possibly go wrong?

I would think, your mod or the small tether Lionel used on the B6 would have been a better option.

I guess we"ll see if there are any more of these issues posted as these bigboys hit layouts.

I don't want to sound like I'm bashing this product at all. In fact, I'm extremely pleased with how smooth it runs at all speeds. The slow end is especially impressive. Fan driven smoke is great, as are the sound effects. There is never any interruption of power, which I've noticed on some of my shorter lion chief locos on slow speeds. I'm going to try to clean up the pins on the draw bar and see if that helps, maybe some clipper oil on them as well. All other sound effects work flawlessly, just the channel of the background steam is intermittent. Maybe bad pin connection? I'll report back, thanks for the feedback. Love this train! 

Here's the pin connector on the engine side. I'm wondering if the fact that the spacing between the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pin from the left is creating the issue.

Screenshot_20200401-161409_Gallery

I've dug into the issue a little deeper with testing. Here's what I've come up with:

When the train is making a right-handed turn, if I apply a slight bit of pressure on the drawbar connector towards the inside of the turn the problem instantly disappears. 

Also, if I turn the master volume down to a very low setting the problem is even more evident than at max volume, and at that point even the louder sounds are cutting out (chuff, bell, voice). This can explain why I only was noticing it with the "background" steam noise at the highest volume, since that's the most subtle of the sound effects. 

So, even though this tender has it's own rollers, I'm guessing like mentioned before it's getting some power from the loco as well. And perhaps a poor connection with a pin or loose fit in the drawbar is the culprit of weak throughput at low amplifications? I'll mess around a little with the pins to see if that could be the issue, and if not I'll see if Lionel can take a look I guess. Until then, I'll just keep the volume cranked and the train moving fast! 

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Last edited by Maxforwardspeed

Found the problem! Wire harness is being pinched as it passes through a hole in the rear truck assembly. No issue with the draw bar after all. 

That's actually good news, I like the idea of that one much better than the MTH design.  It looks like it is much easier to mate the tender with the locomotive. 

With the MTH "wireless" drawbar, I typically lay the engine/tender on it's side to mate them and then plop them on the track.  Depending on the tender design and the length of the drawbar, it's difficult to close to impossible to connect them already on the tracks!

Yeah, this one can be easily coupled together while both the engine and tender are on the tracks. It's not the same drawbar that's featured on Dave's Lionchief video posted earlier on this thread, but definitely seems to click and hold nicely with a heavy load in tow. 

You guys have any opinions on sending something of this nature to Lionel for a warranty repair? I know this is probably a relatively easy fix to open the wire harness and repair the wire that's being pinched, but out of principal since it's brand new I'm inclined to have them do it. I don't have much experience with Lionel service specifically, but I know that sometimes sending something in for warranty service can result in more problems than you had originally (or a product that takes on damage in the shipping process).

Well, you'll have to wait a month or so for Lionel service, they're closed right now.  I'd consider finding a local service station and having them take a look.  I certainly wouldn't run it with a wire exposed as it must be to be causing static.

Maxforwardspeed posted:

Found the problem! Wire harness is being pinched as it passes through a hole in the rear truck assembly. No issue with the draw bar after all. 

Well, technically its still a "drawbar issue" as all the extra wires in the design may have led to the "pinching".

Something also tells me we'll be seeing these pins break off or lose contact over time.

Screenshot_20200401-161409_Gallery

Last edited by RickO

Here's a photo of the trouble spot... I'll check into local service centers to see what they can do after the state of michigan reopens.20200404_110658

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I think that harness insulation could use a little extra reinforcement on that 90 bend and a slightly larger diameter hole wouldn't hurt either. Might be a mod project for me in the near future.

Well, if that's causing crackling, there is probably an issue with the wiring inside that insulating sleeve.

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