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A two year old Lionel Polar Express Lionchief set sound volume has diminished to the point that sound is very faint.  There does not seem to be a volume control on either the tender or the locomotive.  The set is only in operation during the holiday season and packed away for the rest of the year.  The sound volume was loud ( a normal audible volume ) the first two holiday seasons.  This holiday season  ( upon initial start up for the season and continuing to this day ) sound is barely audible.  Any ideas on how to increase the volume will be greatly appreciated.   Thanks so much in advance!

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#1 does the set have bluetooth- an obvious bluetooth logo on the bottom of the engine? If it has bluetooth, then you can use the Lionchief app to adjust volume. No bluetooth, then you have to use the remote.

Lionel made a video describing BOTH methods.

#2 I've talked about the most common failures walking into the local shop for repair and this happens EVERY year.

  • Lionchief drawbar wiring failing from flexing. The speaker wiring is soldered to the specialized Lionchief drawbar connection. The problem is, the thin wire used with very few strands and the heatshrink over the connection is NOT good strain relief. The wires are often tied up short in the loco leading to it pulling and ripping on the wires as the drawbar swings when going between straight track and curved track. But the real killer here is that many of the 0-8-0 locos also use the tender axles for outer rail pickup because the engine has traction tires on the drive rear axle, and thus the blind sets may not even touch the rails leaving only the front wheels for pickup in the engine. So, the drawbar carries 3 wires, 2 for speaker, 1 for pickup from the tender truck wheels to outer rail. The problem is, that same broken wire event can cause a short between AC track power and either of the 2 speaker wires instantly blowing the amplifier and sometimes the entire Lionchief control board.
  • Also inspect your typical Polar Express or other steam engine eccentric cranks for looseness BEFORE running the engine. If you run with them loose, they will beat and shear off the indexing tabs or little pips, and then the linkage rotates and jams. Again, catching it loose before running, you can prevent damage. If it gets run loose, it almost always destroys the parts.  Below is a loosened one that has swung out making a huge and thus binding stroke for the linkage.
  • The pivot point should be just to the side of the center of the axle.
  • Ignore the wire pin fix, but the position should be as such
  • mceclip1


Images (2)
  • mceclip0
  • mceclip1
Last edited by Vernon Barry

Again folks, in less than 7 days, I saw 2 of the new Christmas Lights Express engines fail because of damaged drawbar wiring. The wiring in the engine was pulled up tight and wrapped and held by a clear rubber band in the engine around the board. So much so, the instant that drawbar tries to swing it damaged and pulls the wiring in maybe the first turn. Luckily in that engine, it was not a fatal error and somewhat easily fixed locally as there is no 3rd wire in the 4 pin drawbar system to short to- again, specific to that engine and yes, it's a Berkshire- same chassis as the Polar.

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