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UP ChallengerDCS Commander

Until now, my whole life has been analog trains on AC voltage.

I recently purchased a new 4-6-6-4 steam engine with Protosound 3.0 and a new DCS Commander with 100 watt brick to explore the world of digital control. It is awesome - I could not be happier exercising the cornucopia of controller options. But one option does not work - the locomotive will not steam after drops are added.

My past analog trains always had the sound of a fan whirring when smoke was enabled. My new Challenger made no such sound when the smoke button on the DCS Commander was pushed (and the smoke icon appeared on the LCD). To cover all bases, I even turned smoke ON on the tender although it is my understanding that pot only applies to analog mode.

Now there is the possibility that I drowned the smoke unit with too many drops. But shouldn't that dry up after several days? The room smells like smoke which makes me think the "smoker" is getting hot. It would be nice to see smoke coming out of the stack.

Am I missing something?




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  • UP Challenger
  • DCS Commander
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This sounds too easy, but blow down the stack to clear any bubbles or pockets. Some brand new engines are packed so that air doesn't pass thru well. You may have to move the wick around with a small screwdriver when the unit is off!

If you feel that the unit is trying to smoke, it may well have too much fluid and can't get hot. I take a piece of paper towel and wrap it tightly. I insert it in the hole to pull out any extra fluid. Again do that while it's off!

If you turn the engine sounds all the way down, you should hear the smoke unit puffing as the engine pulls out from a stop. If you don't, that maybe the problem. Of course the unit may have something else going on but lets start there.

If your track voltage is too low, the smoke unit may not be getting fully hot to burn off the extra fluid. Your brick maybe putting out the volts, but it may not be getting fully to the engine!

Last edited by Engineer-Joe

In conventional with Z-4000 turn smoke off via switch. Have tender where you can get to it easily.  Start up at 12V and read amp meter.  Should be about .3amps.  Turn smoke switch on, should jump to 1.0 amps in neutral.  If it does, but no smoke, your heater is working, but fan is not.  Or you have burned up the wick.  Time to open it up, but if new I would have fixed under warranty.  G

I checked the current in DCS mode: After startup, my ammeter measured 0.45 A. After pushing the smoke button, it jumped to 0.83 A, a difference of 0.38 A.

So the heater is working but I have never heard the fan run on this engine.

I have contacted the place I bought the train about getting an exchange for a defective product since I have had it for less than 30 days.


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