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Old 02-24-2017, 06:17 AM   #1
Magic's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Reno Nv.
Posts: 1,996
Scales Modeled: HO 1950s Southern Pacific in So. California.
I'm just about to give up!

It's a long story so sorry for the long post.
If you don't want to hear a tail of woe, stop right here.

The DCC gods have not smiled on me lately.

Started with my 6 Athearn Genesis GP9 sound locos, problem is intermittent power pickup.
The cause might be loose wires but I'm not so sure.
These locos are all from the same time frame, about 5 years ago, and seem to all have the same problem.
What happens is they will lose power on turnouts and sometimes on turns but not all that often.
A GP9 8 wheel pickup should not do this ever.

After I bought these I read something on Tony's Train Exchange about a problem with the drive axle lengths causing intermittent power
The fix was to replace the wheels with some from Northwest Short Lines.
Well one by one they all keep getting worse and now all 6 are dead, won't run worth a darn.
I too POed about this to even look at them much less repair them.
What makes me think that the wheels are the problem is if I lift one set of drivers off the track the other will power the sound
until I wiggle the loco and than it looses power, wiggle it more and power comes back.

I did take the shell off of one and found all the wiring is black, no color coding at all and
I can't see any way to take the bottom cover off the trucks to remove them to get at the wiring on that end.

The way I feel about them right now is if I try to fix them they will on doubt see the business end of an 8 pound hammer.
I have a fairly long fuse but when it hits the dynamite out comes the 8 pounder.
It's happened before. The more expensive the item the longer the fuse and with these it's getting close.

So unless I can find someone to repair them they are dead and gathering dust on the bad order track.
I might just give them away to anyone here that wants them, I want them running or out of the house.

If anyone is interested what I'll do is send you all 6 locos and if I can get two back in good running order you can keep the other 4
and I'll pay shipping both ways and a good amount for your labor and parts.
It's over $1,200.00 worth of junk as it is so I'm willing to pay a fair price to get something running.
I'm not looking for something for nothing but someone to fix the darn things.

I have the right wheels to repair one loco.
The wiring will need to be hard wired as well, this is the part I don't think I can do,
my soldering skills on small wires is non existent. I'll screw it up for sure.
It's 2 Southern Pacific in bloody noise and 4 Black Widows.

But wait there is more.

About three weeks ago one of my Bachmann F7Bs fried the decoder.
Haven't sent it in to Bachmann yet but maybe I will soon if I don't give up on this whole thing first.
So it's on the BO track with the 6 GP9s.

Still more.

Just after the F7 died my Bachmann GE 70 ton switcher died as well. It's on the BO track with 6 Athearn and 1 Bachmann.

More yet.

Went to hook up my little used Digitrax 402D radio throttle, Yep dead as well.
Can't do anything with it as far as running locos is concerned.
Won't fit on the BO track so it's on the work bench.
This is the one and only problem I've had with my Digitrax system.

I'm not done yet.

I needed to have something for yard switching and short line work,
that's what the now dead GP9 were for, so I ordered an Atlas Gold RS11 with Loc sound decoder from Yankee Dabbler.
From what I've heard a good dealer.

It arrived today. Fast shipping, good price and well packaged, I was happy.
Looked everything over very carefully and all was good, brand new in box as stated.

After a quick read of the manual I put it on the tracks and it sounded great and ran good as well. FOR ABOUT 150 FEET.
It died on the third lap.
The start up sequence is just fine, lights work but as soon as you put it into run 1 it dies. Nothing, no lights, no sounds and no runs.
Three decoder resets had no affect. DEAD.
I bought this off E Bay but I'm going to call Yankee Dabbler tomorrow and see what is up. Don't want to deal with E Bay unless I have to.

I do not believe that this is in anyway Yankee Dabbler's fault, I just want to check in with them to see how to proceed with this.
It might be as simple as a loose wire but I don't want to open it up and void the warranty.

I have no idea why I'm loosing decoders, I've checked the track etc. and can see no problems at all.
I have an even 14.8 volts around the entire layout, I've checked every inch with a RRamp meter.
0.04 amps with no trains running. That's what it takes to run the meter.

My track work is good enough that I'm not getting any derails or things like that to cause shorts so I don't think that is the problem.

I'm really getting discouraged and don't know if I'll continue or not.
I closed the door to the train barn and don't know if I'll open it again except to tear down the layout. I'm that discussed, at least I am tonight.

There's even more.
Just to put frosting on the cake the DCC in my washing machine is acting up and didn't want to wash cloths this morning.

The Magic RR build thread.
New layout starts at page 7.
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Old 02-24-2017, 10:01 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 2,078
Scales Modeled: HO
Is it possible that you are getting intermittent power spikes? I have not seen this with trains but with other electronics. Is it possible that you are getting a momentary higher spike on the line that fries sensitive stuff. I run all electronics of any value from a surge protector in my home just for this reason. I have lost a PC before to just this issue.

Have you verified that the power supply to your track is putting out a consistent / proper number of amps? You state you have verified the number of volts but people often forget that amps can kill too.
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Old 02-24-2017, 10:42 AM   #3
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Location: Missouri
Posts: 4,873
Scales Modeled: HO mainly, N, S, O, G
Magic, I am so sorry to admit you had me laughing at all your problems. Its not right
but I was. When it rains it pours. You are experiencing it. Do not get this discouraged.
It all can be fixed. Remember that. Just think about how happy and proud of yourself when you fix it all. Walk away from the railroad for a couple days. You have a stack
of problems. And can't fix them all at once. Start with one engine. Take the shell off.
Start looking at the works and see how it works. You can do this. Look for the path of
power from track to motor. Somewhere between the wheels and the motor is the problem.
You are having the same problem with some of your engines. Once you fix one of them the rest will be easy. If it were me I would take it apart. All of it. It might be broken wires,
that's possible, it might be dirty contacts, Not much else. Go slow and lay out parts on your work table in order of disassemble. These model trains are not all that high tech. I will say again, you can do this. Do not force or break any plastic parts. If you try and still
can't get the first one running right, you can send me one of the dead engines. Just one.
And I will give it my best. If I (and I will) get it running right we will talk about the others.
I hate to see anybody this disgusted.
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:12 AM   #4
D&J Railroad
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: King George, VA
Posts: 2,735
Scales Modeled: HO only and some G scale stuff for display
If you mentioned your connection from your command station to the track, I missed it.
Anything less than solid soldered connections is asking for problems as you are describing sooner or later. You may be able to measure voltage at all track points but that doesn't mean you are delivering the amps that are needed to run the locos.
Chief Operator and creator of the D&J Railroad
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:29 AM   #5
Station Master
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Missouri
Posts: 4,873
Scales Modeled: HO mainly, N, S, O, G
Do you have someone elses layout to try your engines on? That would eliminate any
command station or wiring problem. Maybe a local train shop's layout.
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:53 AM   #6
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Location: Accra
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Good suggestion from Mopac. Does rather sound like the track or command station, you need to eliminate those.
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:59 AM   #7
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Scales Modeled: HO mainly, N, S, O, G
Do you have any locomotives that run right on your layout?
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:59 AM   #8
Station Master
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: NE Wyoming, USA
Posts: 4,128
Scales Modeled: N-Scale.
I am very inexperienced in problems like this. But, since it is happening to so many of your power units, I tend to think there's something amiss in the layout wiring...perhaps some cold solder joints, corroded joints, or just plain poor connections.

I agree with Mopac, though, this can be solved. It's just a matter of tracing it down. Unfortunately I don't have any suggestions on how to do that.
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Old 02-24-2017, 12:08 PM   #9
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I'll give it a try to fix your locos.....how do you want to do this???
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Old 02-24-2017, 12:30 PM   #10
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Nw In
Posts: 538
Scales Modeled: HO

Count to ten.

Walk away.

Come back after a thorough calming down.

I will second 50% of my Athearn Genesis' are pieces of crap, I can relate.

I can see one or two things wrong, but everything means you are missing something.

Calm down, hit the local hobby shop or club up and talk to some folks.

Then assess things 1 at a time starting with power.
I call it like I see it, don't take it as anything more
Lake Shore Model Railroad Association Chicago, IL
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