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Good afternoon forum members:

I would like someone to explain to me what the functions are for three (3) different circuit boards found in an O Gauge RailKing 4-6-6-4 "Challenger" (30-1818-1)

I have gone onto the new MTH parts site and located the electronics for my "Challenger", and the site lists three (3) different boards:

1) PS3 Boiler FET Board - EMI Compliant (#18 on the parts list)

2) PS3 Boiler Relay Board - Non EMI Compliant (#19 on the parts list)

3) PS3 / O GAUGE STEAM / TENDER (UNIVERSAL) / W/SUPER CAPS / EMI COMPLIANT (#20 on the parts list)

I think I have a "dodgy" main board (see my post on trying to do a factory reset on my PS3 Challenger using my Z 750 transformer) and I have ordered one from MTH and put it on my "wish list", as it is out of stock at the moment. Thanks for the tip Mike!!!

Question: Should I purchase all three (3) circuit boards, or should replacing just the main board fix all of my problems? I purchased this loco through the Cabin Fever MTH Warehouse Auction - see handwritten note on the box.

Peter  (Buco Australia)

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Original Post

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@Buco posted:
I have gone onto the new MTH parts site and located the electronics for my "Challenger", and the site lists three (3) different boards:

1) PS3 Boiler FET Board - EMI Compliant (#18 on the parts list)

2) PS3 Boiler Relay Board - Non EMI Compliant (#19 on the parts list)

3) PS3 / O GAUGE STEAM / TENDER (UNIVERSAL) / W/SUPER CAPS / EMI COMPLIANT (#20 on the parts list)

I think I have a "dodgy" main board (see my post on trying to do a factory reset on my PS3 Challenger using my Z 750 transformer) and I have ordered one from MTH and put it on my "wish list", as it is out of stock at the moment. Thanks for the tip Mike!!!

Question: Should I purchase all three (3) circuit boards, or should replacing just the main board fix all of my problems? I purchased this loco through the Cabin Fever MTH Warehouse Auction - see handwritten note on the box.

Peter  (Buco Australia)

First off, the relay boiler board has been discontinued, all of the locomotives are using the FET board.  You only use one boiler board, and going forward that will be the FET boiler board.

A functional factory PS/3 steam installation has one boiler board and one tender board.

From your description, you are probably looking at the tender board as the probably replacement, but that's just a guess based on limited information.  It would be best if you could have the boards tested before spending the money on buying a replacement that you may not need.

Thank you so much for your input Gunrunner John. I was hoping you would read my post.

Can I ask, have you read my current thread about the running problems I am having with this loco? (Can I do a factory reset using my Z 750?)

As far as I am aware, there is no one in Australia that I can send the board to for testing. I'm all on my own here, "down under". That is why I figured it will be much simpler to just buy a new PS3 board (if that's all I need) and install it myself, but GGG said in the other thread I may be waiting another year before a new board becomes available to me.

If worst comes to worst, can I send this board over to you for testing?

Having asked that, I don't know where we would go from there if it is a bad board.

Anyway, thanks again for your help/advice with my problem....I really appreciate it.

Peter  (Buco Australia)

While MTH moved to the Fet boiler board original Premier used the Relay.  I would still replace with appropriate board because the plastic brackets that retain it are different.  Sure you could zip tie it, but....  Once a relay board is no longer available you can use the FET board.

You are going to have to match Emi non emi FET and Tender boards, and hopefully MTH has this Baked in when they program boards.  Early stuff was non emi and there is a motor function issue unless upgraded software used. This is for PS-3 Steam, not diesel or PS-32 thought the lastest are EMI compatable.

You really need to do the trouble shooting I discussed.  I routinely have gotten packages from overseas.  Shipping is more expensive and takes some time, but a small package of boards should not break the bank.  BUT you issues have shown up be for on early PS-3 and drawbar, and wiring were culprits.  G

Last edited by GGG

I'm in the same state as all the other folks doing MTH repairs, none of the electronics parts are currently available.  From what I'm hearing, it may be well into 2022 before we'll see PS/3 tender boards again.  Fortunately, I have some PS/3 diesel boards and the PS32 boards. so I'm in better shape there.  However, that doesn't help in your situation since you have a PS/3 factory steam installation.

Your description of partial operation really sounds like you need to go over the wiring with a fine tooth comb before you start plunking out several hundred dollars for a new tender board.

@GGG posted:

You are going to have to match Emi non emi FET and Tender boards, and hopefully MTH has this Baked in when they program boards.

Actually, you don't have to match the boards as long as you make sure you load the proper version of the chain files.  I've mixed them several times without issue.

This is from the service bulletin about the EMI boards.

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John you know I know that.  I think I told you early on when you missed the bulletin.    But he is not a tech and MTH is now preloading boards as part of the process of a known working board.  Now that the public has access to boards and probably will be changing sf and flash code more often folks are going to have to understand what they are looking at.  Simple things we know are not obvious to the public like relay versus fet boiler board.  One or the other not both.

Much of this depends on MTH having gone through every early Sound File and updated the flash code for early non emi engines.  Otherwise a potential problem exsist when you buy one.

The biggest issue will be an early engine with damaged boiler board.  Customer buys it an installs the now emi compliant boiler board. But his still good non emi tender board has the wrong code.  It will start up but once put in motion the engine will not move, draw high motor current and probably smoke the new boiler board.  The fact that you and I know and can do things, does rectify to the consumer that has no idea that the board just bought may not be compatible with his/her engine with out a software change that he or her may not know where to get it.  G

George, I knew you knew that.

I don't see how limiting the consumer to not loading chain files is going to be a workable solution, they're just making more work for themselves and potentially more confusion.  I have a bad feeling that here will be more problems and not less coming down the road.  It would be a better solution to make sure all the chain files on the web were updated to be compatible with a mix of EMI and non-EMI boards so that when you loaded the new chain/sound files, you automatically got compatible files.  I'm pretty sure that with a little programming work that the process of updating all the chain files to current versions could be accomplished en masse so that any downloaded files would not pose a problem.  The board replacement instructions could then be to simply load a current version of the chain and sound files, job done.

Thanks John and George for sharing your wisdom and knowledge on these circuit boards.

Unfortunately what your guys are saying is WAY OVER MY HEAD, and well beyond my pay grade and expertise.

I had this silly notion that I would just buy a new tender board, pull the old one out, install the new one, and off we would go, and all live happily ever after.

Don't know anything about "loading chain and sound files".

John......can I send my tender board over to you for testing???  Like you said, let's find out if infact the board has "disgraced" itself before spending money on a new replacement board.

Peter  (Buco Australia)

@Buco posted:
John......can I send my tender board over to you for testing???  Like you said, let's find out if infact the board has "disgraced" itself before spending money on a new replacement board.

You could, but the shipping both ways may be expensive.  I can't believe there are no MTH ASC's in Australia.  Another point is the fact that new tender boards are unobtainium right now, they simply don't exist anywhere in the supply chain.

If you can't load chain files, you would have to send both the tender and locomotive board to insure they work together with the new chain and sound files loaded.

I would first exhaust all the possibilities of wiring and tether issues.

Thanks Gunrunner John:

I will put the multi meter on each wire and pin connection on the draw bar to see if there is any problems there.

I'm not super confident of finding anything amiss because of the way the loco will run at normal speeds (when I delete the "speed control" feature) using the throttle on my Z 750 transformer, and all the other features work (freight yard sounds, whistle, bell, rear coupler, direction etc) using the respective buttons and sequences on the transformer.

Let me get back to you after I have gone over the draw bar wiring.

Peter  (Buco Australia)

UPDATE:

Gunrunner John....went over all of the micro connections on each end of the draw bar (under a magnifying glass) with the multi meter, and everyone checked out perfectly. No "dead" pins or wire connections to any of the pins. I am still inclined to pack-up the circuit board and send it on its merry way to visit to your workshop for testing......hang the expense!!!!

GGG.......just for your edification......we have a 240V electricity supply here in Australia that will kill you in a heart beat!!!! I have to use a step-down transformer to drop our 240V to 110V to power my MTH transformers, remotes, and "bricks" when I get them sent out from America.

I'm still of the opinion the tender circuit board is the problem, and is not receiving some of the signals from either the transformer or hand-held remote.

GGG.....you also mentioned earlier on that I need to disarm the smoke feature on the remote to stop it coming on when the loco is under the control of the remote.

I have attached a couple of photos showing my transformer set-up (each transformer/remote is independently isolated with on-off toggle switches - I only have one main line to run trains on), the MTH DCS remote I am using, the step-down transformer (please overlook the rats nest wiring), and Z 1000 and Z 750 bricks that power the MTH transformer and hand-held remote.

You will see there is no "smoke button - on/off" on my poverty-pack MTH remote, so I cannot disarm the smoke feature when the loco is in "run away train" mode, under the control of the remote.

Sorry again for the epistle, but this thing is getting bigger than Ben Hur!!!

Peter....Buco Australia

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Looking at your pictures I see one issue.  You have the DCS Remote Commander, so a lot of the stuff we're talking about for DCS doesn't actually apply to you.  Let's try one thing that wasn't mentioned, a factory reset using the DCS Remote Commander.  This is a DCS factory reset and not the same as the transformer reset.

Turn off power if on
Wait 15 seconds
Turn on power:  the engine should be dark and quiet
Press no other buttons
Press SND
Press DIR
Press "-"  (on the gray rocker in the center of the remote.  Also is the speed down button.)
The engine will give a two honk response and will be sitting on the track running
The engine has now been factory reset, and is ready to run with your DCS Remote Commander system.

Let's see if that changes it's behavior.

Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

Thanks Gunrunner John for getting back so quickly.

In my earlier response in this same thread at I had received this exact same info on a different post I had going.

And yes, I have performed this particular reset on the hand-held remote, and got the "two whistles" at the end to confirm the factory reset was successful. Now the fun begins!!!!

1) When I press the + button just once (remember that....just once), the loco starts to roll out in the forward direction, very slowly. This is strange to me, as all of my other PS2 and PS3 diesel and steam loco's take at least three or four pushes on the + button, just to get them to move. Anyway, off it goes for about 3 seconds at a slow speed, and then, all of a sudden, the fool thing takes off at warp speed, with no input from me or the + button.

2) This also is when the dry smoke unit (no fluid in it yet) starts going flat out as well, and the wick starts burning furiously. GGG advised me to turn this feature off using the remote, but as I have explained to him, this can't be done, hence the attached photos of the remote, so he could see for himself.

3) I cannot control the loco's speed using the hand-held remote, and it becomes a "run-a-way train". The only thing I can do to stop it launching itself into outer space on one of my curves is to hit the "Direction" (panic) button, which brings it to a screeching halt, with all drive wheels locked-up (great for the traction tyres). When I hit the "Direction" button again, it starts to slowly go in reverse for about the same 3 seconds, and then off it goes into "run-a-way train" mode again.

4) On the up side, the different "Crew Talk" can be accessed, so can the whistle and horn, when I hit the appropriate feature buttons. Even the rear coupler on the tender fires open, using the "Coupler" button and the "-" on the throttle button.

Summary: Some features work well on the remote, but controlling the speed is "out of control". Some features work well using the transformer, but I have to manually disengage the "speed control" feature every time. If I don't do this, the loco runs normally for about 3 seconds, then comes to a screeching stop (locking up the drivers), and then takes off again for another 3 seconds, only to do the same thing again, and again, over and over.

The only feature that has never worked is the synchronized "chuffing" sound....oh well, you can't have everything!!!!

Bottom line.....I think the tender board is "STUFFED"!!!! (but I could be wrong)

Peter  Buco Australia.

Truthfully, the symptoms of the throttle response sound like a tach reader issue and not a tender board issue.  Add to that you don't have chuffing, and I believe the issue is tach reader related in the locomotive and not the tender board.

Time to examine the tach reader and it's wiring very carefully in the locomotive.

The smoke issue is a non-issue, as you say, with the DCS-RC, you don't have control of the smoke.  If you don't want smoke, I'd unplug the smoke unit.

First, you imply not only a run away train, but also run away smoke unit too...burning furiously and dry.  I would add smoke fluid and if it heavily smoking you may have a Boiler board issue causing some of this beside a possible tach reader issue.  BUT smoke does matter as a bad (electronically noise smoke fan) can cause issues with speed control.  Additionally a ground on the motor leads can also cause a run away motor.  As can a ground on the smoke element return wire causing excessive smoke.

So now that we know what dcs system you are using, and you seem to have a run away smoke unit also; you do need to go in and unplug the wires that go to the smoke fan and smoke heater.  Now some RK are direct wired  and you might have to desolder and isolate the exposed ends to ensure they do not ground out to chassis.  If that returns control to the engine for speed, you need to examine the boiler board out of the plastic holder.  You would see damaged components if a fet is shorted.

Frankly you have a more significant issue and I would recommend you send this to a tech.  Engine wiring needs to be validated also.



Having said that, have you run this just conventional no Remote cdr.  Do you power remote commander with brick, NOT the Z-750 controller?  If both test have similiar results you need the engine checked.  You can put brand new boards in and blow them immediately if the intial cause is not rectified.  G

Last edited by GGG

Thank you again Gunrunner John.......time to pull the loco shell off (again) and closely examine the tach reader, and its wiring. I did try to adjust the 1mm clearance between the reader and the tape by placing a rubber band around the reader board and the body of the can motor, pulling them closer together.......nothing changed.

Thank you GGG......I will disconnect the smoke unit completely (by whatever means necessary) and see if the loco speed can then be controlled by the hand-held remote. Finally, I would love to send the whole thing to an authorized MTH tech, but there aren't any (and I mean ANY) in the land down-under (Australia). I'm thousand's of miles away from you guys.....and they haven't finished building that darn bridge yet.

Once again, I will get back to both of you with my findings (and maybe some photos of the "operation") in a couple of days time, life is getting in the way AGAIN!!!

Peter (Buco Australia)

Most Recent Update!!!!

GGG:  I un-soldered the leads to the smoke unit (see photos below), and this certainly stopped the wick from burning itself into oblivion.

It did not make one once of difference to the out-of-control speed of the loco. I went as far as removing the top of the smoke unit to view the mini fan, and noticed it was not spinning, even when the loco was running, so I don't believe there is any "interference" from the smoke fan.

I traced all of the wires from the "boiler board" to the motors and the accessories, and none were found to be "pinched", "grounded", or disconnected. I even tested all of the tether wires one by one again, all the way from the draw bar to the "boiler board" pins, and every wire tested OK on my multi-meter. I now know for a fact there is no break in any of the wires between the "tender board" and the "boiler board".

I carefully disconnected the wiring harness, and then gently removed the "boiler board" from its plastic mount, and visually inspected it - both sides - but I could not see any burn marks or "distressed" components. See photos of it below.

You asked if the transformer and the hand-held remote share the same "brick". The answer is no....they each have their own dedicated Z 750 or Z 1000 "brick". I have a duplicate set-up on a "staging yard" (independent to my main layout) with exactly the same Z 750 "brick" and hand-held remote, as well as a Z 1000 "brick" and MTH hand throttle transformer, and this loco behaves exactly the same as when it is on the mainline layout.

Gunrunner John: I carefully examined the fine wires attached to the tach senser board, and found them to be OK. See photos below. I did the multi-meter test between the soldered wires on the senser board, and the plug connection to the "boiler board", and all three wires checked-out OK.....no breaks.

I removed all of the mini cable ties from the wiring harness (what a rats nest of wiring that turned out to be) to access the different connections, and the "boiler board", and to try and trace each wire for a possible fault. Result......NOTHING!!! I have used "twist-ties" to hold the harness together....not as professional, but it's a stop-gap measure at the moment.

Bottom Line.......nothing has changed after all of this!!  The loco still goes into "run-a-way train" mode if I operate it using the hand-held remote, and it must be re-set out of the "speed control" feature to get the loco to run smoothly on the hand throttle transformer.  I GIVE UP!!!!!

Gunrunner John, can I just pack-up the tether cable, the tender board, and the boiler board, and send them to you for "proper" testing????? I don't know how to remove the tach board off the motor, or I would send this as well.

Peter  (Buco Australia)

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Thanks Gunrunner John:

Please continue to watch this space.....I sent the Aus MTH tech an E-mail yesterday afternoon, and it is now 24hrs later, and no reply.

I had this same kinda trouble last year when the name of an MTH tech here in Aus. was given me, and he never responded after numerous messages. Hope it's not the same guy!!!

At least this time I also have a telephone number, so look out!!!

Peter  (Buco Australia)

Morning mdheavener & Gunrunner John:

We have success!!!!!

Bill Veale (MTH authorized service tech here in Australia) sent me an E-mail last night, and I was able to talk to him on the phone shortly there after. Great to have someone here that knows MTH back-to-front like you John.

We have arranged for me to pack-up the loco and tender, and send it to him where he lives in New South Wales (Mexican....over the boarder!!!) for him to examine it, and see if it is the tach reader. He concurs with you John on the diagnosis, after reading my post on the troubles.

HAPPY DAYS......as long as it doesn't need a new PS3 board!!

I will let you know how things pan out.

Peter....Buco Australia

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