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This is my first Vision Line purchase and finally got a day off to try her out...purchased the Green boiler D&RGW Version with the plan to re-letter to Polar Railroad or similar, an awesome machine it is. The main double smoke stacks and dynamo smoke work good, however I cannot see any whistle smoke. The instructions state that there are 3 smoke generators and the double smoke stacks and whistle share the same reservoirs (filling via the double stacks). I tried reprogramming though I knew that wasn't the problem. No diagnostic cab blinking, either (2 blinks would be for whistle I recall).

Also, I noted good smoke blow-down feature...though the instructions don't mention that. I suppose this is getting smoke fluid from the dynamo smoke reservoir.

Item No. 10931210250

Last edited by Paul Kallus
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Actually, for most normal sized smoke units, 20 drops is frequently somewhat marginal.  There have been many threads on this topic here in the past.

I rebuild a lot of smoke units, which means they're starting out totally dry after replacing the wick.  I have to add enough fluid to get them properly soaked and running from the dry state, I can easily add more than 40 drops to make that happen.  I'm adding the fluid with the top off the smoke unit, so there's no doubt where it's going, or if there's too much fluid in the bowl.  After adding the smoke fluid to soak the wick, I can turn the smoke unit upside down and nothing drops out, it's all soaked up in the wick.

Holy smokers, John, that is good to know.

I know next to nothing about smoke units...taking a boiler shell off is about the extent of my confidence. It would be so useful if the units could be designed to register full, half empty, etc, and maybe an overflow pan to drain out towards tracks instead of the electronics as both Lionel and MTH warn against happening due to overfills.

Now that I thought about this copious volume of fluid needed...is there damage done to the whistle smoke unit if it doesn't get fluid, in this case the whistle smoke generator which obtains fluid from the stack fill? I test ran the Challenger for about 45 minutes so far and it smoked up my basement - rather small overall size - ostensibly with the stacks using up the fluid before any could reach the whistle unit...hoggers.

Last edited by Paul Kallus
@Paul Kallus posted:

Now that I thought about this copious volume of fluid needed...is there damage done to the whistle smoke unit if it doesn't get fluid, in this case the whistle smoke generator which obtains fluid from the stack fill? I test ran the Challenger for about 45 minutes so far and it smoked up my basement - rather small overall size - ostensibly with the stacks using up the fluid before any could reach the whistle unit...hoggers.

Some while back, as in what is now about 6 years, there were reports of the first versions of dual chamber smoke units being damaged by heat from the whistle smoke resistor keeping hot when the whistle was not operated. Essentially the impeller (part 10 below) melted on the side facing the resistor. But I have yet to see that happen on any of my Legacy models with two chambers, including one that dates from that time.

I think that this is the parts diagram for the particular smoke unit that is in the 2019 DRG&W Challenger:

0325AA56-194B-47D5-A892-65D8C5920093

In these more recent units, there are thermistors next to both resistors, which as I understand it should prevent resistors overheating if there is enough fluid in the wicking to ensure heat is conducted between the parts. But passing fluid from the main stack chamber to the whistle smoke chamber depends on capillary action with fluid going under the divider marked 2 above. Frankly, I fill these units very slowly, putting in 20 drops at a time and allowing that to soak the wicking, and then another dose of 10-20 depending on how dry I think the wicking is. With a unit that is bone dry I would do 30-40 drops.

I have had a few of these units open for routine service and saturated both chambers with something like 40+ drops - I didn’t actually count because I was doing it by sight; you know by sight when ordinary wicking is saturated. Opening them up is the only way to be sure the wicking is fully soaked.

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Last edited by Hancock52
@superwarp1 posted:

Those dual smoke units like to spit fluid.   No matter how much you blow down the stack.  Not a big fan of those units.

It’s funny, that hasn’t been my experience although I can see how it could happen. I am not sure how many versions of these Lionel has produced although I believe there’s a difference between early and much more recent, at least in terms of the code used and, as a result, the overall smoke output. Spitting might also be the result of how smoke is passed to the output of a specific model - long vs.short runs of tubing, elbow joints or the resistor sitting squarely under the stack.

I was just running my 2019 Vision Challenger today and I have always found that the whistle smoke and dynamo smoke are very hard to see, even when not working, compared to its own stack smoke and compared to whistle steam on other lionel Locos.   The stack smoke is fine, but I often need to shine my iPhone flashlight on the whistle and dynamo to see that they are working.  They work, it's just very faint.  Is the answer more smoke fluid?   Like others, I'm always afraid to "overfill" beyond the 10 drops (post startup) that both MTH and Lionel warn you is the limit.   40 drops would scare me, but if its' ok I will try it!

Also, I've heard the dynamo smoke won't really flow unless you fill up and tip the engine forward to a 45 degree angle to saturate the wick.   Does that work?  

Yes, tilting helps.    

Like yourselves I was hesitant to add too much fluid to ANY of my Legacy engines especially VisionLine.     Consequently, I under delivered in Smoke Fluid and over delivered in Smoke Unit failures.      After being educated on Smoke Fluid application by Mike Reagan,  I ‘drown’ my smoke units and rewarded with lots of smoke and zero failures.     Search YOUTUBE where a guy  applies 100 drops of smoke fluid, and talks about evaporation.    

@zhubl posted:

The dynamo on the 2019 challengers has always been tricky for me. It always seems to spit fluid that then travels down the side of the boiler. But yes it’s best to raise the locomotive so that the fluid goes down the funnel where it belongs. As for the main stack I rarely count drops. Just fill up a dropper and dump it in.

You're right - there's a specific issue about these that militates in favor of tilting the engine to get the fluid into the chamber that holds the wicking. I might have inadvertently avoided this by using compressed air (an airbrush) to push the fluid right down. You shouldn't have to do this without being told that it might be necessary, which the relevant manuals do not do.

P.S. The "120 drops of smoke fluid" video is here: https://youtu.be/1asUWbJtfok

He's absolutely right. There's another one from @Laidoffsick on the dual chamber smoke unit in the cab forwards from 2013 that is also accurate.

Last edited by Hancock52

I agree with the tilting method for this engine. I have a separate 30" piece of Lionel Fastrack that I place the engine on and angle when I fill the dynamo/aux smoke generator. Not the most enjoyable process when you are trying to keep the engine from moving while also protecting it and filling the smoke generator all at the same time! The dynamo smoke works like a champ for me using the tilt method.

Chris

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After reading this helpful thread I put 30 drops of fluid in my Challenger and tilted it forward for 20 minutes on a spare piece of track.  OMG!  It's a new engine.  The dynamo smoke output is as strong as the stack output.   It's such an easy fix Lionel should absolutely put it the manual.  Thanks for this advice!   The poor smoke performance was a complaint I had about the engine ever since I got it.   That and the synced drive wheels and chuff...but I won't start that debate again here!  LOL

Thanks for the great info

- Alec

I recently had the shell off of my LionChief Plus SOO Line engine.  This engine needs plenty of smoke fluid to smoke properly.  Since I could see how the wick was absorbing, I kept putting in drops and counting...counting...counting.  I got up to 85 drops and the wick was still absorbing.  I tipped it upside down next nothing came back out.  Put the shell back on and did a test run.  Talk about smoke...lots of smoke!!!  When the smoke finally disapated after a couple of run sessions, I put in 40 drops. Not enough.  I had to put 40 more in to make it smoke properly.  The amount of smoke fluid needed varies by engine.

I recently had the shell off of my LionChief Plus SOO Line engine.  This engine needs plenty of smoke fluid to smoke properly.  Since I could see how the wick was absorbing, I kept putting in drops and counting...counting...counting.  I got up to 85 drops and the wick was still absorbing.  I tipped it upside down next nothing came back out.  Put the shell back on and did a test run.  Talk about smoke...lots of smoke!!!  When the smoke finally disapated after a couple of run sessions, I put in 40 drops. Not enough.  I had to put 40 more in to make it smoke properly.  The amount of smoke fluid needed varies by engine.

The only other things I would add is that (1) it also depends on Legacy settings, like EFX, and good voltage to the track, and (2) there's a kind of Rubicon at the time Lionel issued the Legacy AC-9 steamers (whenever that was), when they reportedly changed the code to up smoke unit output on Legacy steamers (if not other engines as well).

Over the longer term, there have been so many varieties of Lionel smoke units that it is hard for a mere mortal such as yours truly, without an EE degree, to keep track - let alone understand.

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