I need some advice about my LionMaster Challenger 6-82694. I'm having a sound issue. It cuts out after it has gone through a left curve. I have installed a Y-L-B from Henning's trains.

Let me give some history on this issue, This is the second one of these engines that I purchased. I bought one last year and it had sound issues after only a week, I run my trains about one hour a day seven days a week. It was under warranty so I contacted Lionel about it and sent it in for repair, once I got it back it worked for about a week and then the sound issues came back. I contacted them again and sent it in again for repair, got it back and it work for less than a week. This occurred four more times and then they started to accuse me of breaking the engine. I paid the last time for the repair and got it back and it worked for 2 days and was then completely dead, not just the sound the entire engine. I asked Lionel for a replacement but they informed me that since it's a BTO they don't have any replacements.

I should note here that every time I got the engine back it was just a little bit beat up then when I last saw it, The bell was missing once, the Grab irons on the pilot truck were off when I opened the box, shipping 14 times in less than six months was taking its toll. I then contacted the vendor and they accepted a return.

I wasn't sure if I had received a lemon or if it was in issue with that model. I read up on the forms looking for people with this kind of issue. I didn't see anything about it. So about a year after that I purchased the same engine new old stock from a reputable vendor. It has worked for two and half months with no issues, then the sound thing started the other day. I know it's covered under warranty but because of when happened with the last one I very afraid to send it back to Lionel for repair.

I should note here that I also own a LionMaster Big Boy 6-11208. That engine is well out of warranty and I have done extensive repairs involving the draw bar with replacing the part 6108056082 Draw Bar with I.R. Transmitter / Engine (2 Wire). I replaced draw bar with IR and the wire was too short for my curves (my tightest curve is O36, both engines are rated for O31) To solve that issue I soldered in a longer wire to give it enough slack to fix that issue.

I live in Northern Virginia and there are only two dealers near me with less than an hour drive. The close one does't like to do warranty repair work for items they didn't sell, I'm not confident in repair work with that kind of attitude. I don't know anything about the other one other then trains is not their main focus. So I'm basically left with two options. Repair it myself or drive it to a reputable repair shop over an hour away. Which is the better option?

Final info about my layout in case anyone has those kind of questions. I'm running Legacy v1.5 with a ZW-L power supply. My one other Legacy engine has no issues (after my repair) and my 2 converted TMCC engines with ERR boards work as well.

Thanks in advance for any sound advice.

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

Last edited by Davety
Original Post

Dave, I have been in your position, maybe a little bit worse. As I live in the UK with only one Lionel dealer for the entire country. They don't really repair the modern stuff. 

So out of necessity I have had to fix my own stuff. Thanks to lots of patience and advice from the likes of Jon Z at Lionel and Gunrunner John and others on the the forum I have managed to fix everything (so far...).

So I'd be inclined to try and fix it or see if Guns or one of the other tech guys on the forum would take on the repair?

Nick

Thanks for the reply Nick. I'm pretty confident in fixing the current issue. As I have fixed this issue on a different but very similar engine, a lot of the replacement parts are the same for both my Lionmasters. I guess I was more worried about voiding my warranty. Say I fix the sound issue everything works great and then sometime later within the warranty period the entire engine just dies, have I already voided my warranty? That is my concern with doing the repair myself.

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

Dave,

Question about the problem. When the "issue" occurs do the sounds just cut out completely? If yes, do they start up again when you press AUX1 + 0 on the remote? If the answer is yes, they do start up again, it could be a very simple fix with a software upgrade on the RSL board. Please let me know about the problem, if it is the sounds just turn off or not. Or tell me what exactly happens when it enters this type of curve. It is difficult to help when you don't have all the details about the problem.

As far as mechanically, there really isn't a lot that can change. Like I said, let me know what's actually occurring when the problem occurs and I can try to help you rectify the issue once and for all.

Thanks,

Mike

Thank you,
Mike Reagan

TW Trainworx

Thanks for the reply Mike,

I didn't try to AUX1 + 0 when the issue occurs. I'll give that a shot tonight. The sound cuts out right after a left curve when the engine has just left the curve. It cuts out for only a second or two and then continues on as normal until the next left curve. I was able to stop the engine in this position and the whistle and bell didn't work. I'll try and take a video of the issue and post it.

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

I had a similar issue with the 6-11208 LionMaster Big Boy. After going back and forth from Lionel. I finally noticed that the spring between the frame of the Tender and the draw bar was smashed flat. Don't quote me on the placement of the spring exactly but it was flat. I finally got Lionel to send a replacement spring and I have never had an issue since reguarding the sound cutting out through the curve. 

Like Zachariah says, this is almost surely a wireless drawbar issue.  If the drawbar is fully engaged and not lifted out of alignment, the top suspect is a broken wire under the heatshrink on one side or the other.  I've personally had more broken wires under the tender heatshrink, but it can happen on either side.

Just tug on each wire where it comes out from under the heatshrink, if the wire comes out, you have found your problem.  In that case, cut away the heatshrink, fix the wire, and install a new piece of heatshrink.

Thanks for all the hints. I've make sure I try the AUX1 + 0, check the spring and tug on the IR wires. I'll update with anything that I find.

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

I took a video of what's happening before doing anything else. Since it only occurs for a second or so I had trouble stopping the engine with the issue occurring while stopped. Once I was able to do that entering AUX1 + 0 did bring the sound back on while stopped. I checked the draw bar and both IR sensors were in correct alignment. Once I started running again the issue continued as before. I then checked the springs on the trailing truck and the tender truck and both appear normal and have good compression. I then tugged at the IR wires and none of them came out. However after tugging on the wires and running the engine again the sound issue was less frequent and occurred while coming out of left and right curves. I'm thinking loose IR wire, but I can't argue against needing a firmware update.

 

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

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3989BeforeWireTug

Before I decided on firmware upgrades, I'd look under the heatshrink on both ends and make sure nothing is amiss.  I'd also be looking VERY closely while it navigates the corners where the issue is occurring and see if the drawbar is lifting even slightly.  My experience with sound issues just on curves has largely been the wiring of the drawbars or the drawbar lifting and bringing the sensor and IR LED out of alignment.

I'm not sure how you get the firmware upgrade that Mike mentions, I'd like to hear more about that.

I'll try and check for the draw bar lifting our of alignment, only problem with that is the issue only occurs when the engine is at speed. When I run it slowly it doesn't occur at all. I'm thinking the wires may be the issue and will be able to delve more deeply into it this weekend. Unfortunately I don't have time during the week to make repairs properly and I don't rush my repairs.

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

Now that I have seen the video, the issue seems to be more of a skipped chuff trigger than anything. The markers on the tender do not even flicker when the skip occurs so that rules out an electric issue (what I was referring to with my mechanical comment). The soundboard in the tender should already have the "chuff on" firmware update embedded in the code (it fixes the issue earlier locos had where the power would drop out and the sounds would shut off, requiring an AUX1 0 reset to bring them back to life. I believe that is aleady there, so a firmware update is off the table) 

 

I agree with GRJ, you are having a momentary drawbar alignment issue where the IR Receiver is not seeing that chuff command. There is no mechanical switch in the loco to chase after, all the chuff triggers are generated by the RCMC/Flywheel encoder, sent through the IR Transmitter to the tender,and then played in the tender/speaker. 

Good news is, there is no mechanical / electrical issue. Bad news is, you're gonna chase your tail on this for a while, trying to figure out what the "perfect combination" of drawbar alignment needs to be! 

Good luck, let me know if I can be of any assistance in your "discovery process". Gotta love toy trains!

Thanks,
Mike

Thank you,
Mike Reagan

TW Trainworx

I find that sometimes I have to do a little bending of the drawbars to make sure there's a bit of tension on them.  Also, forming the tongue slightly toward the locomotive (the operative word being slightly) as well will help keep the drawbar in alignment.  Just a couple of degrees of bend is usually all it takes to keep them from walking up if they already have some tension on them.

I'll try and adjust the draw bar so that it doesn't ride up in the slot. I hope it's that simple!

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

I adjusted the draw bar tongue to be slightly towards the locomotive and the sound issue disappeared by 90%  so the issue must be the draw bar riding up on the slot putting the IR tether out of alignment. I'm sure this is exasperated by the fact that my track is setup in a table top manner and not secured. Interesting that my LM Big Boy doesn't have this issue. Thanks for helping my out guys. Please excuse the slightly blurry photo it's hard to take a picture of a draw bar, this is one of it in my cradle on my workbench after the "tweak".

DrawBar

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

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Photos (1)

Any chance it's your track alignment?  Some engines can be more sensitive than others.  I notice in your video, you use fastrack and I can see joints that are not level and sort of bump up at the joint.  That could be enough to misalign the drawbar when it hits those non level spots.  I have 2 legacy Lionmasters and neither has ever had a sound issue.

Sean

Last edited by SandJam

Busy weekend so i didn't have a lot of times for trains, but here what I was able to do. I don't have a rubber grommet to put on the bottom of the draw bar (suggestions on where to get one?) so I used A small Rubber Band that I had on hand. I use these mostly on stubborn couplers that want to keep opening up. They put just enough tension on there to keep it closed but not so much that the will not uncouple when you need them to, even with a uncoupling track. That fixed the sound issue even more and now all I get is just a stray missed break in the sound.

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

Last edited by Davety

This no longer appear to be an issue with the IR alignment or related wiring. The sound continues to cut out, however if I'm holding the horn down and the sound cuts out only the chuffing cuts out and the horn continues to blow. Sometimes the chuffing intensity will increase or decrease all by iteslf, as if I moved the train brake slider. Moving the slider will correct it back to the intensity that I want. The electrocoupler on the rear of the tender has also opened up on me, but just one time. These issues occurs even if I'm addressing a different engine, so I don't think it's the legacy system sending signals all by itself. I'm thinking the issue now lies with the PCB 691RCMC657 RCMC / RECEIVER / DRIVER / 4-6-6-4 / UP 682694*.

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

Good news I fixed the issue. It turned out to be a bad wire from the IR on the draw bar to the RCMC board in the engine. After fiddling with it again and testing using my cell phone I was able see the IR cutting out. I then pulled and tested the wire resistance and found one of them was loosely making contact somewhere under the sheath causing an open circuit. I then replaced both wires and tested again and the sound works correctly now, no cutting out at all!

I'd like to thank everyone for their help on this issue. These things can sometimes be a pain to figure out.

To anyone else reading this, don't be discouraged about this or other Lionmaster engines. If you have tight curves there really is no better engines if you're into big steam locomotives. I have had issue with the wires on my other Lionmaster big boy and it required the same fix. I guess the engine can only take so many turns twisting the wires this way and that before it breaks. I used some Flexable wire that I found on Amazon. Hopefully this will last for a while before needing replaced.

If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

My Challenger has been running great for a couple of years, now it cuts out on left turns also. Took it for repairs $38 still not fixed and now I I’ve broken the drawbar trying to bend it to align the IR bulbs. Anyone got an extra drawbar Lionel is out (680-2695-088) if I can get a new drawbar I’m going to change to a wired drawbar and bypass the IR bulbs will this work?

The alignment isn't typically that critical.  I've found a number of times that there was a broken solder joint under the heatshrink that causes the link to die at times in turns.  Before hacking the locomotive up, I'd check for the obvious solutions.  There are literally tens of thousands of these wireless drawbars in use, generally they're quite reliable.

You could bypass the wireless drawbar, but you'll need to do some internal wiring.  The RS-Lite board in the tender would receive the serial data on different pins than the IR receiver is connected to.

I believe the brown wire is broken, according to my meter. So I pulled slightly on both and lost continuity in the black wire as well. Pulled just slightly harder and both had clean breaks about an inch up. I’ve got another IR bulb with harness on the way. Just wish drawbar did not have a headline crack half way through but I think it will hold for now.

Dave, couple of questions: to determine the loose connection to the RCMC, did you have to pull the shell to verify that the wire was loose there?  How did you test the IR with your cell phone?

RickM46

And now it starts.

E-UNIT-79 posted:

And tv remotes

How does a TV remote indicate a good connection?

RickM46

And now it starts.

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