Hello all, 
So I still have that MTH Premier FEF-3 that I am pretty sure the Proto Board burned out as the locomotive has no response when on powered track. No lights, no indication the locomotive works. I plan on making this an ERR project. Before start this project though I want to a few things.

1. What should I be getting for this locomotive to make it run with TMCC? I saw on the ERR website they have some recommendations for upgrading Lionel Models but not MTH models.

2. Is there anything I should be aware of when "stripping" the old MTH parts out.

3. Is this actually worth the effort? I am not sure if I burned the board out or if I also somehow fired the locomotive motor?

Any thoughts and opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Greg R.

Lone Star Hi Railers

Metal Fabricator

Original Post

If you like the loco, I would say it's worth it.  I doubt you fried the motor.  You'll need to buy a full suite of circuit boards, including some kind of steam sound board.  I would leave all of your LED's, the smoke generator, speaker, etc., in place for now.  You will have to insulate the tender shell from the frame, as this loco has no TMCC "antenna."  Honestly if you haven't done an upgrade like this, I would consider letting one of the experts handle it.  If you're not careful, you could "zap" the ERR board, and then you'd be out another $100-$150.  My $.02.

Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

Greg, this is totally doable to TMCC/RS from ERR.  Highly recommend preparing a check list of what is entailed.  Is it worth the effort?  Its your call; have done about 10 of these MTH to TMCC as MTH are nicely made.  Issues: the antenna cannot be grounded so I use the tender shell for an antenna and isolate it from chassis with kapton tape and nylon screws.  The smoke unit; you can use the MTH unit; just replace the element with about a 25 OHM element powered by the R2LC; the fan motor needs about 5V DC.  Gunrunner John on this forum has two neat products that will enhance smoke output and chuff control.  The boards from ERR are compact, robust and pretty straight forward to install.  I think the manual uses a reed switch for chuff generation but but GJ's chuff generator is cool.  You also will need to keep the tether from MTH to connect the electronics in the tender to the loco; all lighting will have to be swapped out; coupler will work fine.  The above are the major players I can think of.  Be advised you are going to receive all sorts of input; the forum has some great info under the Control System Thread under Lionel TMCC/Legacy/ERR; it is doable and you will enjoy it; there is a learning curve; just be patient and keep it simple.  Good Luck; Falcon70

superwarp1 posted:

While I’m a tmcc guy it will be cheaper to put a PS3/2 board in it and keep it DCS.  Easier and less expensive 

Agreed, almost double in fact if you want the same smoke performance. PS3 kits can be had for around $180 from a few train shops. It will have everything you need for motion with cruise control, sound, lights with rule 17, couplers and realistic smoke.

To duplicate that with TMCC you would need a Cruise Commander, Railsounds kit, a replacement coupler, and if you want 4 synchronized chuffs John's chuff generator, and super Chuffer. Add them all up.



superwarp1 posted:

While I’m a tmcc guy it will be cheaper to put a PS3/2 board in it and keep it DCS.  Easier and less expensive 

I agree. If it's a PS2 5V board that has died the PS3/2 replacement board set is pretty much drop in. Install it, upload the correct sound file, and you have the exact same functions you had with the original PS2 5V boards.

Santa Fe, All the Way

If you have never done a PS2/3 upgrade, it can be interesting.  Have done about 20 of these and the wire management (28 to 30 gauge) is not fun for me; personally for me, these are not a drop in upgrade.  It is work for me.  In addition, I believe there are three boards required for a steam conversion to PS3; then one has to download files to the board; be careful about the ground also.  But I agree, for me I would go to PS3 as I have been there and the cost will be less; but if I upgrade any conventional loco, I go TMCC; no files to load; let GRJ make the sound and smoke good.   Depends how much time and patience you have; personally I like the simplicity of ERR and the good sound of railsounds.  Good luck either way; Falcon70

That early FEF was prone to failure.  The appropriate way to repair this is with a PS-32 5V board that is installed in the engine as original.  If you go the TMCC route you loose the full functionality of the integrated smoke and all those lights.  Or you go with GRJ tach and super chuffer which greatly adds to the cost and labor.

I have done plenty of these engines if you want it repaired with PS-32; and my cost for this engine will be less than the TMCC parts to you.  E-mail in profile. G

MTH Authorized Service Center

Authorized ERR Dealer

Lionel Independent Repair Tech

Virginia Train Collectors Member

Although I happen to sell the stuff to properly do TMCC with these with chuffing smoke, etc, I have to agree with the cost analysis of going with the PS32 board.  It'll be significantly cheaper and easier to repair staying with PS2/3.

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