Some Positive Tips From my Lionel Vision Line Niagra Experience

Here are a few tips when opening your new Lionel Vision Line Niagara.

1.  The large dome cover for access to run-program and other switches has a slot in the front of the dome to allow a regular hobby screw driver under the dome cover to lift the dome cover off. There are three powerful magnets holding it down. Approach the dome cover from the front of the engine. (I have not found this mentioned in the Owner's Manual.)  All attempts to open from the sides were futile and left finger nail residue marks on my engine.

2.  YLB - Your Last Battery is a battery that can keep the sound ON when going over long footprint switches like Atlas #5 and some Gargraves switches.  The battery draws power from the track to charge and should last the lifetime of the steam engine.  The tender has a very small pick-up roller footprint for the large size of the tender. It is probably because of the smoke units inside the tender. (My guess. Don't know for sure.)  I hope GunrunnerJohn sees this post and adds an explanation of the YLB and a link to purchase them.

3.  Wrench for Drive Rod screws is not included with my engine, and probably not in yours too.  The screws are the same as the Century Club Niagara.  They have what appears to be three different size Phillips screws that need to be removed to change traction tires.

4.  Tender magnet cover for Water Fill Effect is on right front and has a slot area behind the top for a small flat screw driver to coax it away from the magnets.  The two magnetic feet are on the bottom and will be attracted back into position. (See manual)  No kidding about add a drop, blow down fill hole, add a drop, blow down fill hole, repeating this twenty times.  Failure to do so will block the flow to the smoke unit and cause fluid to run onto tender front deck.  

5. Lift out Pop-off valves are on a pin fitting that drops down into place down the fill hole.  The pin goes back down the fill hole, sealing the unit.  Watch which way it was when you removed it, so you can place it back the same way. Twenty drops maximum, but it is not as temperamental as tender fill hole.

6. Smoke Stack and Whistle Steam share the Smoke Stack fill hole.  They are easy to fill.

I welcome more tips to be added to this thread.  These tips are provided to help new owners avoid damaging their engine.  It is really a wonderful engine. My layout is a challenge for many steam engines, big or small, with its double 90-degree cross-overs and #5 regular and #5 Double-slip Switches.

Sincerely,  John Rowlen

Original Post

Here you go John, the link to the YLB: YLB - RailSounds Battery Replacement.

The YLB is designed to replace the 9V primary battery that is used in Railsounds applications.  It requires one wire to connect to track power, usually under one of the wire nuts in the tender.  The YLB works for either conventional or command operation, it will charge down to less than 6VAC on the track.  When fully charged (about a minute with track voltage applied), it will support the typical RailSounds board for 8-10 seconds, depending on the sound volume and sounds in use.  It seems the whistle normally draws more power, so the charge doesn't last as long.

If your locomotive doesn't have the battery clip, you can buy the cable from Lionel for $3.40.  Buy a bunch to minimize the minimum shipping charge.

3870866911415129

This is the same cable that comes with the ERR RailSounds Commander products.

Gunrunner John,

Thank you for posting this information.  I really like the new Lionel Vision Line Niagara #6013 and will add this battery to help the sound system navigate across my Atlas O Double 90-degree cross-overs and #5 Double-slip Switches.

Sincerely, John Rowlen

John R, thanks a bunch for the tips on the Niagara; it is this type of info and help in fixing problems that is testimony to the helpfulness of the fellas who contribute to the sight; experienced this first hand when I had to make some repairs to my Big Boy.

John R, hopefully, you will supply pics of your endeavor to install the YLB into the tender.

RickM46

And now it starts.

I missed hearing about Niagara Trucks.  Mine were fine.  The engineer side traction tire was off when my #6013 arrived.  I had to bend the brake shoe back with a flat hobby screw driver, in order to put the traction tire back on.  The factory may never have put it on in the first place because of the tight brake shoe.

The engine is running fine other than that and a tendency to have the sound turn off going over the large Atlas O #5 switches in my layout.  The YLB battery will solve that problem.  The rechargeable battery will use track power to charge and provide enough power to the sound system to go over hose problem areas in my layout.

I really like the new Vision Line Niagara #6013.  All the smoke features work nicely.

Sincerely, John Rowlen

Dmaxdeere87 posted:

All that money and only out a week, yet have to work on it already, I'm so tired of this. 2 Niagara this week had front trucks unglued 🤢🤢

What part(s) on the trucks are glued?? Never known this with any Lionel die cast steamer I have or have seen.

Gary, the only thing "eliminated" was the $3 cable, the audio board still supports the battery.  The VL-BB doesn't have that cable either.

Lionel 691-1415-129 2-pos Harness 9V Bat

John Rowlen posted:

I missed hearing about Niagara Trucks.  Mine were fine.  The engineer side traction tire was off when my #6013 arrived.  I had to bend the brake shoe back with a flat hobby screw driver, in order to put the traction tire back on.  The factory may never have put it on in the first place because of the tight brake shoe.

The brake shoe is attached with a screw, so you can take it off to do any "surgery".

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Hancock52 posted:
Dmaxdeere87 posted:

All that money and only out a week, yet have to work on it already, I'm so tired of this. 2 Niagara this week had front trucks unglued 🤢🤢

What part(s) on the trucks are glued?? Never known this with any Lionel die cast steamer I have or have seen.

Possibly the plastic bearing inserts?

Marty Eibeck

 

Below the Signature...

"You used up all the glue on purpose!"

 

MartyE posted:
Hancock52 posted:
Dmaxdeere87 posted:

All that money and only out a week, yet have to work on it already, I'm so tired of this. 2 Niagara this week had front trucks unglued 🤢🤢

What part(s) on the trucks are glued?? Never known this with any Lionel die cast steamer I have or have seen.

Possibly the plastic bearing inserts?

Had the same issue with the pilot truck on my Pocahontas out of the box; there was a little thin square gizmo (the bearing insert) laying under the truck in the foam container.  Had to send it back to Lionel for smoke unit repair and had them also put the bearing in place.

RickM46

And now it starts.

Not sure I saw this mentioned but for the tender water overflow effect to work well the filler port needs to be sealed. I noticed the foam "seal" on my hatch had come unglued and was not completely covering the hole. I ran the engine with the cover off and all the smoke exited the filler hole. Plugging the hole with a Q tip and smoke poured out of the drains. 

Now to find some material the will seal the hole and still allow easy removal of the cover.

Pete

Norton, regarding the tender water flow filler port, great piece of info!  Took a look at the cover and noticed the small foam seal; when Lionel gets the parts list online, maybe getting an extra cover would be a good idea or some replacement piece of foam.

RickM46

And now it starts.

Norton posted:

Not sure I saw this mentioned but for the tender water overflow effect to work well the filler port needs to be sealed. I noticed the foam "seal" on my hatch had come unglued and was not completely covering the hole. I ran the engine with the cover off and all the smoke exited the filler hole. Plugging the hole with a Q tip and smoke poured out of the drains. 

Now to find some material the will seal the hole and still allow easy removal of the cover.

Pete

Just took off the cover for the filler port on the tender and the little foam seal stayed stuck to the filler port.  Any ideas on an adhesive that will stick it to the cover?? 

RickM46

And now it starts.

I cut about 1/4" piece from the O ring and stuck it in the filler hole. Then removed all the foam from the cover. The O ring is just being used as a drain plug. I left a bit sticking out so I have something to grab to remove it. Could be a little more elegant but this what I had laying around.

Pete

Thanks, I get it.  There is a floor in the port/spout since it is bent to go inward and downward to the smoke units.  That way, there is no danger of the plug going down into the channel.  O rings are common at the hardware store; have to see if there is one .140" OD there.  My foam piece is still intact but came off; will try a glue also.  If that fails, then a piece of an O ring.

RickM46

And now it starts.

RickM46 posted:

Thanks, I get it.  There is a floor in the port/spout since it is bent to go inward and downward to the smoke units.  That way, there is no danger of the plug going down into the channel.  O rings are common at the hardware store; have to see if there is one .140" OD there.  My foam piece is still intact but came off; will try a glue also.  If that fails, then a piece of an O ring.

Took a shot at re-attaching the foam piece to the cover.  Used isopropyl alcohol and a q-tip to remove the glue from the cover and the back of the foam piece.  Used a dab of GE Clear Silicone (blue tube Walmart) on the back of the foam piece and pressed it onto the cover; waited for 24hrs for the silicone to cure before putting the cover back on the tender.  Will see how long the foam sticks.

RickM46

And now it starts.

Some time in the future most owners will have to replace traction tires. To do that the rods have to come off. For some unexplained reason Lionel had the screws loctited in.

I am going to replace all of those screws with something that looks just a bit closer to the prototype. Last night I was able to remove them all but had to use a lot of heat and penetrating oil. I am not sure you will be able to get them out without damaging them without heat. I actually have Liquid Wrench and PB Blaster but ended up using Atlas Conducta Lube that was on my bench and had a better applicator than the other two.

For heat I used the tweezers from my homemade resistance soldering tool. They look like this.

Soldering_Tweezers

The tips were small enough to fit under the rods and clamp around the boss on the wheel that the screw threads into. I realized few have this tool so a fairly large soldering iron (100w??) may work placed on top of the screw head. The advantage of the tweezers is the heat is closer to the threads and it didn't discolor the plating at all.

For the record the screws are 2.5mm thread. Drivers 1 and 4 use a 10mm long screw, Driver 2 with the eccentric uses a 17mm long screw and driver 3 uses a 14mm long screw. Also I found my Phillips screwdrivers fit better than my JIS drivers which I found interesting.

You may not have to put on new tires for a while so you have time to come up with your own solutions. This worked for me. My replacements will not have loctite on them. I will have spares if these fall out. i doubt I will have to use them.

Pete

BTW all work was done on my Century Club Niagara. Working out the bugs before trying this on my Vision model.

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The vertical hand rail (black piece of wire) on the right rear side of the cab broke loose from its top and bottom mount while I was lifting the cab to unhitch the loco from the tender.  The attachment points are very fragile.   Looks like the bottom of it was tacked into place but there is a mounting hole for the top.

Any suggestions for a glue to re-attach the handrail???

RickM46

And now it starts.

Norton posted:

There should be a hole at the bottom too. No glue used, the wire is just bent over to keep it from pulling out. Maybe a piece of it broke off.

Pete

Thanks Pete,

The top of the handrail did not break off and there is a hole there; however, the bottom part of the rail did break off flush with the hole; so, at the bottom I will have to glue the rail to the filled hole. 

I am hoping I can find clear epoxy or some other type glue to secure both ends. 

Any glue suggestions would be appreciated.

 

RickM46

And now it starts.

Can you see the broken wire sticking out the other side? If so just pull it through. If there is not enough wire left to stick it in the hole and still have the upright section vertical I would just put a small drop of CA in the hole and stick the wire in. Epoxy will just make a mess.

Pete

Fixed the vertical handrail at the rear of the cab on the Niagara.  Used Loctite crazy glue.  It dries hard and solid quite similar to epoxy after 24 hours of curing.  Made easy to get at the attach point by putting a drop of glue on the end of a toothpick and then depositing that drop at the attach point.  I put a drop of Loctite on the left handrail attach points while I was at it.

Either the right handrail was broken at its bottom in the box OR coming out of the box OR by my fat finger trying to disengage the drawbar from the tender to get at the tender smoke fill toolbox (that thing really needs a handle on it).

You might want to avoid stressing the handrails. 

IMG_0335

 

IMG_0341

 

RickM46

And now it starts.

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One thing I think I can usefully add to this thread is that the "Force Coupler" feature in this engine actually works and is pretty complicated/subtle. For a description I can't improve on Lionel's manual and in particular the left page in this image:

Niagara_Manual_Extract

I don't think I have heard the "crunch" sound yet. However I can say from my own experience that this feature does accurately sense the load on the engine - including that it goes up when pulling a long or particularly heavy consist around a curve. I can't say that this was a selling point of this engine for me because (1) I was more interested in the smoke features and (2) it's on by default and overrides manual EFX settings, which I have got used to adjusting myself. But it works according to the manual description.

This is the most ingenious as well as reliable VL engine Lionel has put out since the GE Evo "Green Fleet" model of several years back. Or at least IMHO it is.

Downside: The traction tires on this engine seem prone to detach when pulling any heavy load. In my case it was just four NYC Superliner passenger cars, which are aluminum and pretty weighty but roll smoothly along the track. Fortunately in my case the tire did not shred and I was able to re-seat it in the wheel without too much difficulty. I think however that I will use plastic cars behind this engine for now on.

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Hancock52 posted:

snip

Downside: The traction tires on this engine seem prone to detach when pulling any heavy load. In my case it was just four NYC Superliner passenger cars, which are aluminum and pretty weighty but roll smoothly along the track. Fortunately in my case the tire did not shred and I was able to re-seat it in the wheel without too much difficulty. I think however that I will use plastic cars behind this engine for now on.

Some folks use MTH tires which fit better on some Lionel engines.

Chuck TCA LCCA ARRL BMWMOA

cjack posted:
Hancock52 posted:

snip

Downside: The traction tires on this engine seem prone to detach when pulling any heavy load. In my case it was just four NYC Superliner passenger cars, which are aluminum and pretty weighty but roll smoothly along the track. Fortunately in my case the tire did not shred and I was able to re-seat it in the wheel without too much difficulty. I think however that I will use plastic cars behind this engine for now on.

Some folks use MTH tires which fit better on some Lionel engines.

Maybe the new ones are made of different materials but my CC Niagara has pulled 13 18" cars on its original tires. Lionel still stocks these. MTH may or may not fit correctly. Check all dimensions before ordering.

Pete

As I stated on another thread, I have had to replace the traction tires on my VL Niagara 6013 that the right side had shredded.  I had a heck of a time getting them off with the Loctite on the threads but managed to do so without boogering up the threads to much.  I did replace the traction tires with MTH traction tires and after a week of running it no ill affects, pulling 10 MTH 18inch Madison Passenger cars.   I used the DE 0000031 size and so far is going strong.  I did order some of the CCII traction tires last week from Lionel with their 50% discount.  So when these go I'll give those a try.

For those of you inyerested here is the MTH traction tire chart.

https://mthtrains.com/sites/de...ire_Chart_020414.pdf

Stay frosty my friends,

laz57

TCA 03-55991

Heat releases Loctite. Although it may discolor the screws if too much heat is applied, maybe some heat is better than no heat. Heat is absolutely required when removing certain bolts like the suspension bolts on BMW motorcycles. No heat pulls the threads out of the aluminum.

Chuck TCA LCCA ARRL BMWMOA

Another thing noted above that I have now experienced is that the foam pad or stopper on the fill hole for the tender "smoke" comes off because vaporized smoke fluid dissolves the adhesive. The pad appears to be attached using a very small piece of double sides tape, which when when I had to take the pad off the hole basically peeled away. I have reattached it using cyanoacrylate although I don't know if that is heat/oil-proof.

My only tip is to be sure you put the foam back in the right place; it goes on the top of the metal box that conceals it i.e. at the end opposite the two magnets that hold the box down. You guessed it; I put it in the wrong place to start with. 

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