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Once I finished changing the battery on the 20-3038 steamer, I decided to change the blue battery in my 30-1432 0-6-0 switcher, since it's almost 10 years old.  My LHS didn't have the battery in stock, but had a tiny BCR with a wired plug hanging off it.  Another simple job done in the tender.  So now I'm on both sides of the discussion.  When I first turned it on, the engine sat there for about a minute b4 coming to life.  The BCR held a charge while I shut down power for lunch.  So basically I'm happy with both so far.  Thanks again guys.

Hot Water posted:
JohnGaltLine posted:
Jim 1939 posted:

It is also 8 hours of unnecessary use of the electronic boards.

At this point I have to believe that folks simply do not read what I write.  The point was that the battery is charged in normal operation, and does not require additional charge time in normal service.  


EXACTLY!!!!!    Not only that but, most of the various MTH PS2 models have an external charging port, whether 5 volt or 3 volt, thus the model doesn't have to "sit in powered track" overnight. That MTH battery charging assembly is one of the best items I've ever purchased, as soon as it came out, many years ago.

The only reason that I charged the battery on the track for 8 hours was that I installed a NEW GREEN MTH battery in my year 2000 steamer.  The bottom of the tender does NOT have a charging port  My more recent PS2 engines do have the charging port.  I did read the advice given by Marty F, my LHS and others b4 I made the change.  

I just added a BCR to a 2006 PS2 engine as well.  I guess time will tell.

Jim 1939 posted:

Being anti BCR is your choice but in case you haven't noticed that is exactly what MTH has built into their PS3s.

I'm not anti-BCR.  If you take the time to read each post in this discussion I have stated that I think the BCR is a just fine product.  As stated throughout, I also believe LSD NiMH batteries are also a just fine product.  The only point I've been concerned with is the cost effectiveness, which I've already discussed at length.  If the money is less valuable than the time, the BCR wins...Maybe:

Jim, I do not believe, however, that the points you've made are selling points for a BCR over a battery.  

If you are concerned about waiting for a battery to charge, I expect having to wait, any amount of time, every time your engine has sat overnight would be equally annoying.  For me it would be annoying to the point of marking it up as a point against the BCR, however not knowing how others feel on the subject I have not counted it as such.  It is just something to consider, just like considering that a NiMH battery may need 10-20 minutes power before the engine will be useable if it has been stored well over a year.  

As to the 'stress' on the electronics, if this is actually a concern for you, I would look carefully into exactly what stress is placed on the charge circuit with a NiMH battery versus with a BCR, both each time the engine is used, and after long term storage.  The information I have on the BCR, both the real, name brand product, and the options for home-brewed super-cap solutions involve 2 parts;  super capacitors and zener diodes to limit voltage to the caps.  With this arrangement the device will draw maximum current from the charge circuit until fully charged each and every time power is applied.  I have not seen reports of damaged charge circuits from this, but I would expect it is the primary concern for the gentleman that advises against their use in posts above.  Quite honestly, if you are concerned about the stress on the electronics, a battery is the way to go, as they only draw max current when drained to a level that would not be expected in a model train engine unless stored for several years.  For a locomotive that sees use even a few times a year the battery will never draw a high load on the charging circuit.  

In the end, I stand by my initial point only, namely that there is nothing wrong with using a LSD NiMH battery.  The BCR seems like a good option as well, but it does have faults, like any method of power storage.  


My experience with the battery issue was nothing but bad. I put BCRs in my engines and stopped buying MTH engines. That was before the green battery. I did buy 1 engine(RK CP Royal Hudson) that had the new flat blue battery and it did work much better than the old type.  However I replaced that one as well with a BCR. I have had no further battery issues with my 6 MTH engines since tossing the batteries.


JohnGaltLine posted:
Jim 1939 posted:

12V for 8 hour. A BCR charges in 1 minute.

1 minute every time you haven't run the engine for an hour or two vs 8 hours once, if the engine has been in storage for more than a year.  8 hours of run time over a week or two will do fine to charge the battery in cases where it was charged less than a year before.  ( using a year as a nice simple amount of time, the actual time will vary based on the capacity of the battery, but in the case of all major brands will be somewhere in the 14-20 month range.  Also note that even in the case that the engine has been stored long enough to fully discharge the battery, a useable charge will only take 10-20 minutes to allow the engine to operate normally and the remaining charge can be applied while running.  

Worth noting that if the new battery is a Low Self-Discharge(Pre-Charged) type as all name brand NiMH batteries are these days, you'll do more harm than good by applying a full charge out of the package.  These batteries, when installed before the date marked on the package, come ready to use.  



It is true that NiCD batteries are perfectly good when used, and charged, correctly... Sadly train engines do neither.

While LSD type NiMH batteries suffer from some of the same issues as NiCD, most notably the issue of voltage depression, they do so to a much lesser extent.  In addition, NiMH do not suffer from crystallization which damages the battery.  

There ARE two issues with using NiCD batteries in train engines with the charge design that is in use.  One of these also affects NiMH, but not to the extent that it does NiCD.  First you have voltage depression.  This occurs when you routinely charge/over-charge the cell when it still has a good charge.  with the small amount of actual discharge that the engines use, they will never become significantly depleted in use in a model train engine.  The charge circuit then applied constant over-charge while the engine is running.  over time this will cause the battery to report a lower voltage even when fully charged.  While it will hold this voltage for just as long, a circuit designed to require 8.4V... Mostly likely, actually 6.7V on the input side of a 5 volt regulator... will not run correctly with a battery that only provides less than 1v per cell, even if that battery will provide that 1V for a significant time.  NiMH batteries also suffer from voltage depression, however, depending on what study you look at they appear to be between 5 and 25 times more resistant to it.  

Voltage depression is a non issue for NiCD/NiMH batteries given proper exercise, meaning they are fully depleted and recharged at least once a month, and it can often be repaired by a heavy depletion well below the normal "dead" level, then a re-charge.  Unfortunately, in train engines they do not see proper maintenance and usage like this.  

The second thing that effects NiCD batteries is crystallization.  When NiCD batteries are over-charged, AND when they are not charged for long periods of time crystals of cadmium form in the cell.  These crystals reduce the surface area of the plates and thus reduce the total capacity of the battery.  In addition, as the crystals grow they can puncture the film between layers and cause a short between them. This will drain the battery just as shorting it externally would.  Once the battery has been damages in this way, if it is not repaired, it will continue to damage it's self further with every charge cycle.  

When NiMH was first introduced, NiCD still held one advantage over it:  High current discharge.  For use in RC cars and Airplanes NiCD could deliver higher current, even if it could so so for only a short amount of time. ( Even in the early days, NiMH had 2-3 times the capacity of NiCD)  As NiMH batteries have improved, however they have relegated this deficiency to the history books.  With Li-Ion batteries providing even better current drain, and lighter weight, however, Li-Ion has replaced NiMH for many folks into the RC cars and planes.  

Quite honestly there is only one thing NiCD batteries still do better than NiMH.  They have a longer lifespan, when charged and discharged correctly, than NiMH.  NiHM typically are rated for 350-500 full discharge cycles, and similar NiCD are rated for 750-1500 cycles.  So, if you are building something with a proper charge circuit designed to exercise the battery properly, and it is going to be a pain to replace the battery, NiCD may be the way to go... For most things, however, NiMH does everything better than NiCD.  



How many MTH PS-1 engines do you own?  How many do you repair?  Just yesterday I worked on 4 PS-1/PS-2 5V engine from 1998 to 2000.  Pulled 4 original white NiCad batteries out of the engines that still have voltage and did NO harm to the engines.  I have one still on my desk holding 8V under load.

So clarify why NiCad is not used or charged correctly for our trains?

Anyone can go to various websites and gather information and misapply it to any circumstance. 

Everything has a pro and con, but just because a con exist doesn't mean it is a factor under all operating conditions.

Our trains do not use the battery to operate it, they only use it for sound backup and processor operations when power is turned off.  Motor, smoke, light functions all turn off and only the microprocessor and audio amp function for 7 to 15 seconds depending on model.  You could probably get away with a alkaline battery for about a year if the charging circuit was disabled.  Folks still buy off brand NiCad batteries for their engines.  2.4V NiCad is still a standard. 

NiMH is probably more about getting Cadium out of batteries than anything else.  Unless you talking about space satellites and deep drain and recharging cycles where you need the full endurance of the battery.  At that point the memory effect matters.  

And Post War folks hate batteries no matter what, because many PW engines were ruined by wet cell batteries left in engines in the 40's and 50's.  The fact that dry cell and sealed batteries exist now will not change their opinion on batteries in trains.   G

Last edited by GGG
GGG posted:

How many MTH PS-1 engines do you own?  How many do you repair?  Just yesterday I worked on 4 PS-1/PS-2 5V engine from 1998 to 2000.  Pulled 4 original white NiCad batteries out of the engines that still have voltage and did NO harm to the engines.  I have one still on my desk holding 8V under load.

So clarify why NiCad is not used or charged correctly for our trains?

Anyone can go to various websites and gather information and misapply it to any circumstance. 

I suspect you repair quite a few PS1 engines.  In those what percentage would you say have 16-18 year old NiCD batteries in proper working order?  What percentage of these engines do you return to the customer with that same battery installed?  

When I worked as a mechanic I'd not quite often, but somewhat regularly see cars that had not had their oil changed for 10,000 plus miles.  The engines still ran fine.  Is your suggestion that something is the proper way to do something as long as it does not cause failure?  

"So clarify why NiCad is not used or charged correctly for our trains?"  
Sure.  EVERY source of information available on the use and charging of NiCD batteries offers the same information.  They should receive a full cycle discharge around once a month, and they should not be over-charged or trickle charged.  PS1 engines never give a full cycle discharge and they always trickle charge while running.  Will failing to do this ruin every battery? No, not likely, but just like the oil change, it is proper maintenance to prevent problems.  

I guess the question here is, if you have a bad battery, are you suggesting that NiCD is a better choice than LSD-NiMH for a PS1 engine.  I'll assume you have to buy a new battery either way, not that you have a stockpile of one or the other already.  It is fairly obvious that if you already own a NiCD, it makes more sense to use it than to buy something else.  

I'm not anti-NiCD.  They are perfectly fine rechargeable batteries when properly serviced.  LSD-NiMH just do everything better for the same price.  GGG, is it your position that I am wrong about this and that NiCD is superior to LSD-NiMH and is a better choice, both in general, or in use in a PS1 engine?


I am saying, for our trains don't sweat the composition of the battery, it will never matter.  Just buy a quality battery and don't get distracted by the fluff. You can go on and on about NiCad and deep cycles, memory effect and what ever.  BUT go look at your cordless phone if you have one.  NiCad, constant trickle charge and NEVER deep drained.  The last set of phones like that I replaced at 12 years old, when the batteries finally became useless.  Cheaper to by new phone set than replace those batteries.

So again how the system operates matters.  Much of what you stated while factual is not applicable for our trains and you would never know.

I see NiCad routinely still good over the 5 year period for 8.4.  I do change them since folks sending engines to me do not want to open.  I install MTH batteries when batteries called for and install Supercaps when folks want that option.

If you order batteries from MTH you will get NiMH for 8.4V and NiCad for 2.4V AA and NiMH for 2.4V AAA.  That is what they supply.  By the way the 2.4V AAA do not last nearly as long as the AA NiCad.  The capacity of the AAA is a factor, but I imagine the composition factors in too.

I would use the oil analogy a little different, do you really sweat the oil type used if you routinely change it at 3000 miles.  Walmart brand is just as good as a name brand if it meets the industry spec.  You will never see or notice the difference in engine life.   G

It is ok if a battery has a higher mAh rating than the original... for the most part. Think of the mah number as how long the battery will last.  In general bigger numbers are better here. 

Getting in to the nitty gritty, there are cases where a badly designed product can be damaged by a battery with a much higher capacity as the charging circuit is overtaxed by a dead battery, however, as far as I am aware the circuits used in mth engines are designed to protect against excessive current draw as most every quality product is. 

In short, a 200mah battery is a just fine replacement for a 170mah one, and it will last a bit longer on a charge. 

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