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I’m having problems starting a F3 unit. Sometimes it starts up and runs great but than I think it goes into neutral mode when it stops. 3 of us our trying to get this going using a mth 500 transformer. The directions make no sense. If anybody has this unit and can help with starting it up would be much appreciated. See picture.


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This being a really old PS/1 locomotive, I suggest trying a different transformer.  As odd as it seems, the Z500 may not be totally compatible, the older PS/1 really like a pure sine wave transformer.

From the User's Manual for your locomotives.  Note the total absence of any of the MTH "Z" transformers.

ProtoSounds™ is designed to work with any “Standard” AC transformer that uses a “Pure
Sine-Wave” format. The chart below lists the many Lionel® compatible transformers, such
as the Lionel KW and ZW models. In addition, the chart details how the terminals on these
compatible transformers should be attached to your layout. Finally, we have included a list
of the latest transformers which are not compatible with ProtoSounds™. If you have any
one of these models, you will need to replace it with one of the compatible transformers
listed below if you want your ProtoSound™ equipped engine to operate..



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This is driving me crazy. I get it running and runs like a champ and as soon as it stops I have to go through the reset process again. I have to look to see if I have any of those transformers. Thanks for the reply. Looks like I’m putting this up for sale. It’s a shame it’s a beautiful Rock island F-3. Didn’t know it was such a demanding train. :-)


Have you cleaned the track and the wheels on the locomotive?

Dirty track and/or wheels frequently cause power to drop out while rolling, resulting in cycling from 'forward" to "neutral" with most conventional locomotives.

Even worse, since your loco has a Protosound control system it can be more sensitive to dirt.

While it's rolling is it dropping into "neutral"? Or is it "reset", which, unlike other conventional locos, is the startup state for Protosound?  (In other words the state it would come up in after a several-second power dropout due to dirty wheels and/or track.)


BTW -- This hobby requires patience, more so than many others.  If you think selling your problem child will solve all your troubles you'll soon find out that the next thing you buy will also have its own quirks, which could even be worse.

Last edited by Mellow Hudson Mike

No I have it running fine. The first thing I did was clean the tracks and the power contacts are spotless and so are the wheels. My problem is I don’t have the required transformer for this engine. I bought it a couple months ago and the battery was changed but I’m not buying a transformer just for the loco. I guy on YouTube said the same thing that John commented on is that they are very picky with what transformer it runs on. When I had it running it could have ran forever and everything worked on it. When I bought it to a stop it would want me to reset it into forward position. I would never sell a bum engine. Never have, never will.

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