I'm thinking about upgrading my Lionel D&H RS-11 and SPSF SD40T-2 diesels from TMCC to DCS due to their TMCC operating capabilities being very bad as of late (they crawl to a stop or they stall on the same spots of track no matter what I do).

How much would it cost me to upgrade?

Does anyone know of any good model train mechanics that I could be referred to that could do the upgrades?

I'm okay with electrical wiring in general but I have a feeling doing something like this myself right away is a bit too advanced and I don't want to mess something up more than it already is. 

Any kind or amount of information helps.

 

Original Post

Couldn't really recommend the "upgrade" to DCS/PS-X. The stalling is almost certainly a continuity issue, not a TMCC issue, as TMCC is only the command portion of the system - not the power portion.

There may be a signal issue. That is very rare in TMCC, but does happen.

I would recommend trying some other (a friend's, maybe?) TMCC/Legacy/ERR-equipped locos under the same circumstances.

DCS is not a bad system, but has its own baggage and complexities to carry around, most of it worse than TMCC's occasional hiccup. Personally, I wouldn't do it. 

Are you using TMCC or Legacy? Are the Engines TMCC or Legacy? People tend to use the term TMCC fairly loosely?  Do you have 3 or more tracks running side be side or tracks running over top of the others where they stall? If they are stalling at the same location it seems as though you have a TMCC signal issue with the track. I am under the impression Legacy cured a lot of the signal issues that TMCC encountered.  Do you have other TMCC engines that run over the same section without this problem? What track are you using. If you are using Gargraves track do you have both outside rails grounded? Is the house recepticle 2 or 3 prong. You need to be thorough when describing which system you are using and the configuration of your layout where these signal issues occur. Are you using DCS now? The Proto3 upgrade kit sells for $199.99. Less  for MTH club members. Expect to pay $100.00 to $150.00 for Labor plus the cost of the kit. 

Forest. 

Forest posted:

Are you using TMCC or Legacy? Are the Engines TMCC or Legacy? People tend to use the term TMCC fairly loosely?  Do you have 3 or more tracks running side be side or tracks running over top of the others where they stall? If they are stalling at the same location it seems as though you have a TMCC signal issue with the track. I am under the impression Legacy cured a lot of the signal issues that TMCC encountered.  Do you have other TMCC engines that run over the same section without this problem? What track are you using. If you are using Gargraves track do you have both outside rails grounded? Is the house recepticle 2 or 3 prong. You need to be thorough when describing which system you are using and the configuration of your layout where these signal issues occur. Are you using DCS now? The Proto3 upgrade kit sells for $199.99. Less  for MTH club members. Expect to pay $100.00 to $150.00 for Labor plus the cost of the kit. 

Forest. 

The engines and system that I use are TMCC and are not legacy models/systems. I have one loop of track that is conventional while the rest of the trackage on the layout is DCS and TMCC compatible for command operation. I run both DCS and TMCC on my layout.

The RS-11 won't run on the tracks period without crawling for a few feet and stopping. It doesn't matter what part of the layout it is on it just won't run.

The SD40T-2 runs fine except for a certain area of track next to my control panel. Every time it hits two certain spots, it will stall. I had one day where it managed to run around the layout in reverse with no problems but since then it continues to show the same issue. 

The area of track in question in the case of the tunnel motor is two switches that are close to a diamond crossover I have. (see photo for reference). The left track in the image is connected by the turnouts of two MTH Realtrax 0-31 switches that help create a perimeter loop around the layout. In this section of track, my tunnel motor will stall in between those switches. The track where the DT&I coal drag is running in this photo (center) leading up to the diamond crossover is the other spot where I am having issues. The tunnel motor will also stall to a stop on the curve or just after the curve almost immediately. 

My control panel is directly next to this part of the layout and my TMCC command base and DCS TIU is located directly under the control panel and this part of the layout. All of my other Lionel engines (NYC Lionmaster Hudson, NYC Jr. Mikado from the Hot Box Reefer Set, SP JC Penny MU Interurban, UP GP-9, Century Club 671 Turbine) are TMCC non-legacy equipped engines and they do not display these problems whenever they are out running on the layout (most especially in the above mentioned location in regards to my tunnel motor). On a very rare occasion, the NYC Hudson will stall in that same area. 

The tracks that I use are all MTH Realtrax and both outside rails are grounded all the way around. The house receptacle is 3 pronged. 

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That's all good information. Looks like a nice layout. I'll try to explain what might be goin on. I have never used the MTH Realtrax switches. If one rail is insulated for the non-derailing feature, most likely the frog rail, with the 2 switches back to back you have created a short section where only one outside rail is transmitting the TMCC signal. With that the SD40t-2 may have a poor antenna connection and the signal is too week for it to read. I think Some TMCC engines had an issue with frequency match being slightly off that could cause problems also. There is a fix for the track issue using a small value capacitor across the insulated gaps on the switches. I will have too look up the value unless someone chimes in with it. The capacitor is too small to carry any current across it but will carry the signal. It is something like a 1mfd or .1mfd capaictor. Mike Reagan explained this is his service class several years ago. I have never done this modification on our layout at the club or at home. 

As for the RS-11, does it run in conventional mode with the command base turned off? Has it ever worked on your layout? Will it work on someone else's layout? I would assume not but when TMCC is not working right it can be real troublesome to diagnose.

DCS has its own issues. We do not need a purple vs. orange box debate.

Forest

 

Forest posted:

That's all good information. Looks like a nice layout. I'll try to explain what might be goin on. I have never used the MTH Realtrax switches. If one rail is insulated for the non-derailing feature, most likely the frog rail, with the 2 switches back to back you have created a short section where only one outside rail is transmitting the TMCC signal. With that the SD40t-2 may have a poor antenna connection and the signal is too week for it to read. I think Some TMCC engines had an issue with frequency match being slightly off that could cause problems also. There is a fix for the track issue using a small value capacitor across the insulated gaps on the switches. I will have too look up the value unless someone chimes in with it. The capacitor is too small to carry any current across it but will carry the signal. It is something like a 1mfd or .1mfd capaictor. Mike Reagan explained this is his service class several years ago. I have never done this modification on our layout at the club or at home. 

As for the RS-11, does it run in conventional mode with the command base turned off? Has it ever worked on your layout? Will it work on someone else's layout? I would assume not but when TMCC is not working right it can be real troublesome to diagnose.

DCS has its own issues. We do not need a purple vs. orange box debate.

Forest

 

I would like to learn more about the 1mfd capacitor if it helps solve the issue with my two lionel diesels. My MTH engines work fine with no issues such as this and my Lionel engines (except the rs-11 and tunnel motor) run fine on TMCC through the DCS remote.

The RS-11 ran fine conventionally (this was before I had TMCC). When I began using TMCC on my layout with my Lionel roster, the rs-11 began acting the way it has been described. Plus once a TMCC Command equipped engine gets power from command equipped track, it will stay in command mode because it senses it. I have looked for a possible reset option to get the engine back to running conventionally but I have yet to find or hear about a reset solution. The engine has only run on my layout since I bought it back in 2017 and it was running conventionally well before then.

TMCC locomotives will default to conventional mode if they don't see a TMCC carrier on the rails.  Bringing them back to conventional is as simple as unplugging the command base and cycling power to the locomotive.

As for the capacitor, I'm not sure what is being attempted.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

TMCC locomotives will default to conventional mode if they don't see a TMCC carrier on the rails.  Bringing them back to conventional is as simple as unplugging the command base and cycling power to the locomotive.

As for the capacitor, I'm not sure what is being attempted.

I will have to go try this out. I never knew it was that simple! Thanks for the clarification on that end! 

As per my notes from the Lionel service class, Placing a .01uf capacitor from the grounded outside rail across to the non grounded insulated rail will give you back full TMCC signal through the area where the insulated outside rail is located. This is what was explained by Mike Reagan during the class. As I stated above I have never done this personally. This is done to boast the signal where one outside rail is insulated as is the case with the non-derailing feature of the switches. 

This will do nothing to help the RS11 since it will not run in TMCC mode at all. If the RS11 will run conventionally but not in TMCC the first thing I would do is test the R2LC Radio board to determine if it is working. I do this on a test board that was purchased during the class. If the board test ok then next you need to test for continuity from the antenna back to the R2LC and to make sure the antenna is not grounded to the frame of the loco. 

Not having the test equipment your other option would be to swap out the R2LC with one from a working engine to see if it fixes the problem. If the swap does not fix it then you need to determine why the antenna is not picking up the TMCC signal. Do not try this unless you are comfortable doing so. The R2LC connects to a 24 pin header. Not getting these pins lined up properly will destroy the board. Also check to make sure there is no continuity between the antenna and ground. Set your meter to ohms or continuity and put one lead on the antenna and the other to somewhere on the engine frame. It would be best if you checked the antenna before swapping any boards.

Railsounds 3 and later TMCC Engines have 3 boards in the engine that to a novice all look similar.  The R2LC board, the railsounds audio board and the railsounds audio power board. They are all on 24 pin headers and are not interchangable within the engine as in; do not put the board on the wrong pin set. 

Swapping the R2LC in the SD40T-2 might correct it over the affected area if the board frequency on the R2LC in the engine is off slightly. . .

 

OK, I missed the insulated rails, yes the .01uf cap might make a difference.

As for the R2LC being off in frequency, that's typically a problem for earlier versions with the tuneable coil.  The C08 and later versions all had ceramic filters to set the frequency, no adjustments.

Obviously, the R2LC can simply stop receiving the TMCC signal, and they do that on occasion.

Early R2LC Version with tuning coil

 

Later R2LC Version with ceramic filter

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If you have the coil, typically on R2LC versions C07 and eariler, as well as the old LCRU and LCRX boards, you can tune them.

The method is simple, you just power up the locomotive and try a command like the horn, turn about 1/8 turn and do it again.  Repeat until the horn stops working or the locomotive start powering up in conventional mode.

Mark the position.

Turn the coil the other way about 1/8 of a turn and use the horn again and mark where it stops.  Center the adjustment between those two points.

You can also tune the old TMCC command base in a similar manner using a modern locomotive with a known good R2LC or R4LC.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

If you have the coil, typically on R2LC versions C07 and eariler, as well as the old LCRU and LCRX boards, you can tune them.

The method is simple, you just power up the locomotive and try a command like the horn, turn about 1/8 turn and do it again.  Repeat until the horn stops working or the locomotive start powering up in conventional mode.

Mark the position.

Turn the coil the other way about 1/8 of a turn and use the horn again and mark where it stops.  Center the adjustment between those two points.

You can also tune the old TMCC command base in a similar manner using a modern locomotive with a known good R2LC or R4LC.

I'll be experimenting with this and hope it makes things better. If it is as simple of a fix as it seems to be then that would be a huge plus. Considering one does not want to deal with the possibility of bad TMCC boards. 

Forest posted:

Add to what John was saying about using the horn to tune it, does the horn or any of the other functions work on the RS11 when in TMCC mode?

Unfortunately not. I might get some standard diesel engine sounds for a second or two when powered up with the lights on as well but that is about it. 

I just briefly looked over the instructions for the Cruise Commander M. It appears that this is only the Motor driver board. This will do nothing in fixing the problem if it is a bad R2LC or grounded antenna.  The R2LC still needs to be diagnosed for operation of the TMCC Control. Please correct me if this is not so. 

Mark: If the engine will not respond to any TMCC commands you will have to determine if the antenna is grounded or if the R2LC Board is defective. Please try the RS11 in conventional mode as suggested above. 

I am an authorized Service station for both Lionel and MTH Trains. If you are not comfortable doing the test that were suggested I can repair these or upgrade them for you. Only problem that I can see is if the SD40T-2 is stopping due to a weak signal at the track I cannot fix that from my shop. It may work perfect for me making it hard to troubleshoot. MTH upgrade comes with a 90 day warranty. 

Forest posted:

Mark: If the engine will not respond to any TMCC commands you will have to determine if the antenna is grounded or if the R2LC Board is defective. Please try the RS11 in conventional mode as suggested above. 

I am an authorized Service station for both Lionel and MTH Trains. If you are not comfortable doing the test that were suggested I can repair these or upgrade them for you. Only problem that I can see is if the SD40T-2 is stopping due to a weak signal at the track I cannot fix that from my shop. It may work perfect for me making it hard to troubleshoot. MTH upgrade comes with a 90 day warranty. 

The RS-11 and tunnel motor both run great conventionally as I have just unplugged my TMCC command base so it might be a bad TMCC or R2LC board. 

That's possible, but to be sure I'd swap a board from a good working engine in and see if they still have issues.  You can also swap the "suspect" R2LC into one of the other locomotives.  Whenever you swap the boards, be sure to do the full reprogramming sequence to them.

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