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I have limited myself to a few less expensive 'loco-sound', '-0' trolleys  and  locomotives, when purchasing  MTH at train shows in the past; as I have the general ( maybe misguided) notion that simpler is better, and I am only interested in running conventional.  I figure that since there is no battery, I can't harm them on a test track. How do you handle PS-1 and PS-2 on the test track at a train show? A lot of times the seller has no personal knowledge as to the battery condition or if it has a bcr installed. Do you try it out briefly on a test track with the sellers permission, and in reality how much risk is there to the locomotive. Thanks for you input, Jeff.

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With PS1 and PS2, and not knowing precisely what's inside (white battery, BCR, green battery, other) before you try to get them to move on the test track, and without being able to remove the shell to check, the only way to proceed before testing them is to make sure you charge them for a good amount of time, either on a track, or via the charging jack if they have one.

How much time?  Based on experience with both at least 20 mins if you want to attempt to have it move.  You could get away with 5 mins if you don't mind not testing movement.

This second situation is simply a test to see that the sounds come on and, after the 5 mins, how long it takes for them to turn off after you remove power.  If the sounds die immediately then the battery, or BCR if present, is bad and needs to be replaced before doing anything else.

If they take 7 to 10 seconds to die out then you're now good to try the drive test, after 15 more minutes of additional charging of course.

Finally, to be totally safe, and for extended running on that track, that 20 mins should extend to a couple of hours at least.  In the extreme I believe that MTH in the past has recommended something like 10 or 12 hours for a full charge if the engine has been sitting for longer than a couple of months, which is of course seriously impractical for a quick test at a train show.


Last edited by Mellow Hudson Mike

For PS2, PS3, TMCC, and Legacy, there is no risk to the loco if battery is old or absent.  There is a small risk of scrambling the chip on a PS1 engine with a bad battery (generally these can be fixed with a re-programming chip).  At most shows, you only have the option of testing in conventional mode, but that is usually sufficient.  Some PS2 engines with dead batteries may be difficult to get moving as they start in neutral, and the power interruption caused by the direction button on the transformer keeps restarting the engine.

I always test locos at train shows after negotiating a price.  (I offer to leave my driver's license with the seller while I am walking off with his loco).

I have found more that one DOA loco, and the seller is always surprised.  The sale is usually dead at that point, since the seller is not likely to lower the price by the hundreds of dollars that board replacement might cost.  

I never buy a loco if the seller refuses a test run, unless it is a "fire sale" price and I intend to spend the time and money if it needs a repair.


Last edited by RRDOC

You won't scramble a PS1 engine with a dead/weak battery if you don't leave reset mode. Fire the engine up and let it charge for a couple of minutes then kill the track voltage and make sure the shutdown sound sequence completes in its entirety.  Get you ear right up to the speaker and listen for three taps after the sounds stop. If you hear that, the battery is has some capacity to it yet and should hold enough charge for your test. Now restart the engine and let charge for a couple more minutes and then begin the moving test. Also, make sure the smoke (if equipped) is switched off before you start any of this.

If you PS1 engine has been sitting for long while, I've seen the batteries get so dead that they reverse polarity which can cause magic smoke so while you are charging it, also keep an eye on it.

As for PS2, just go to town. If the battery is dead and you try to move, it will just shutdown and turn back on without moving. MTH learned from the PS1 design flaw and made sure dead/weak batteries won't cause major problems.

Also with PS2, if the test track does have DCS, you can ask for an odometer and hour meter reading to give some idea how much runtime the engine has had.

Last thing, I'd avoid buying the early 5 volt PS2 engines, they suffer premature failure due to defective capacitors used in the early 2000's. They can be identified by the Round charging port (or no charging port) on the bottom of the locomotive. I stick to later 3 volt PS2 engines with a two pin square charging port.

Last edited by H1000

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