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Discussion Starter #1
I could see pics and explainer if you don't mind cloning your posts from someplace else.
 

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I actually didn't post any pictures, it was such a trivial exercise that I just dove in and converted it. I used a 9.6V NiMH battery pack from Amazon. This was a $30 exercise and an hour of time to see for myself how it worked out. I'll probably get to use it to do a test run on dead track on my layout build before I get the power wired.

The Upgrade: I repurposed the chuff on/off switch (who turns off the chuff?) to be BAT/TRK so it's a dual-power locomotive. I ran a 2-wire tether back to the tender and added a charging jack for the battery pack.

The good: It run, has plenty of speed, pulling power, and sound works fine.

The bad: The electrocoupler doesn't work on 9.6V, and the smoke also doesn't work.
The coupler needs around 14 VDC on the track to fire, and the smoke needs 17-18 VDC on the track to operate.

Obviously, if I did another one, I'd probably shoot for a lithium battery with 17-18 VDC output to get full function.
 

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You would need a 5-Cell LiFePO4 battery pack. Fully charged that would give you 21 V (4.2 V per cell). Fully discharged 15 V (3 V per cell), though many LiFePO4 battery management systems may cut off power at slightly higher voltages (3.2 V, etc.). Standard battery sizes are 16650 (max capacity of ~3,200 mAh) and 26650 (max capacity 5,000 maH). The 18650's diameter is a bit wider (1.5 mm) than a AA while the 26650 is a hair thinner than a C cell. Both cells are approximately the same length as their alkaline cousins.

After that, measuring the current draw on the intended loco with features engaged and that will allow you to approximate run time between charges.

Or you could go the RC route. RC airplane batteries are Li-Ion and provide 22.2 V fully charged. But they require an external, computer controlled battery charging system. The computer charger measures and manages the charge on each individual cell. And the charge connections require the power inut and a connector with some 7 leads. The pack is intended to be removed from the RC airplane for charging. A 5,000 maH pack and the associated charger will set you back some $200.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've got several original lionchief and a couple of full scale o diesels. I want to try it in something. I think I'd make a battery box car. In fact I recall sometime back hooking up ryobi tool battery to one just to play around with it.
 

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I'm pretty "hard over" on NOT having batteries being dragged around in a car. That really limits what you can do with the locomotive. Typically, Lionel stuff likes 18VAC maximum, not sure what the maximum DC voltage would be, but I would feel a little nervous about putting a lot more than 18V on it. From my testing, with DC on the LC+ locomotive, I need to be close to 18VDC in order to have all features work. The maximum current draw with smoke and a modest load on the locomotive is still under an amp, so there's plenty of runtime in even a 2AH supply I suspect. The key is fitting it into the space allotted, in my test case, that would be the Camelback Tender. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Aesthetically agree but it's convenient and you can take the car off and charge it by itself. In fact the more I think about the more I like the idea or "ryobi car"... it's too bad the things aren't a little more compact.
 

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Gents, I was just trying to illuminate what to expect in terms of pertinent battery technology.

John, you know that the 18 VAC peaks at ~25.5 V. And I presume all the newer electronics rectify the track AC and provide DC voltages for the various functions (though maybe just a relay for smoke, etc.). In any event, I would think 22-23 V DC would be within limits. Then again, they're not my expensive loco.'s :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Little off topic now, but the dewalt and other "real contractor" tools offer batteries in the 20v range... Just looking at the pics, I notice the dewalt at least doesn't have that long stem sticking out ... good excuse to get a new drill maybe! (& then maybe make "dewalt battery car" for kicks)
 

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Gents, I was just trying to illuminate what to expect in terms of pertinent battery technology.
I know what exists, I'm trying to do this without spending a ton of money, it's just a research project.

John, you know that the 18 VAC peaks at ~25.5 V. And I presume all the newer electronics rectify the track AC and provide DC voltages for the various functions (though maybe just a relay for smoke, etc.). In any event, I would think 22-23 V DC would be within limits. Then again, they're not my expensive loco.'s :)
Lionel has been pretty steady with 19 VAC as the absolute max for their stuff. You're right, there is a rectifier that comes first, at least for LionChief stuff. However, I don't want to get reckless, as you say, I'd be the one replacing the parts. ;) I did measure and found out that I can "just" cram two of the 9.6V packs in the tender if I move the charging jack, that would give me 19-20 volts DC, I could live with that. In order to get the pack to sit flat and allow two to fit, I had to attack the shell and lose the ridges half way back inside the shell. I don't know if they're there for the casting process, or what, but they're not there now! :D Since I already have the second battery, this is a very low cost option, no additional expenditure.

I have to arrange to be able to charge each pack individually as I don't have a 20V charger, but that's not a big deal. It should be interesting...
 

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Yep, no way I'm tinkering with lithium battery packs in combinations. I've seen enough real world lithium fires to know I never want to see that in my house! My daughter had the Samsung Note 7 before it was recalled, it got too hot to handle and I put it in a cooking pot and set it outside until it cooled off. Then it got returned! Of course, we all know about the laptops and iPhones catching fire. Several airplanes with lithium batteries have also had fires, the Cessna Citation CJ4 had a mass battery replacement when one of the lithium batteries caught fire, fortunately on the ground. The Boeing 787 also had major lithium battery issues with their on-board batteries and for a time were grounded until they were resolved.

If the pro's can't make these safe, what chance does an amateur like me have? :D
 

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The final chapter has been written, at least for this little experiment. I crammed two of the 9.6V NiMh battery packs into the tender. I didn't have room for the charging jack I had installed, so I moved it to the underside of the tender. The locomotive and tender are connected using a 2-pin 2.54mm Molex connector set, and I used the same style connectors in the 3-pin format for the tender internal wiring. The seemingly "extra" connector set was do I can separate the tender shell from the frame, I abhor installations where shells are hard-wired to the frame! So, I present the "finished" product. The odd hole in the frame is where my charging jack used to be, but there wasn't space for it with the two batteries.

Since there are two battery packs and only one charger, I just split the charging and will charge them one at a time when needed. I wasn't 100% sure about charging the two in series, and I don't have a charger that would do it anyway.

Tender configuration with batteries installed

548102


Relocated charging Jack

548103



Charger with dual head charging harness

548104



LionChief Plus Battery Power Conversion Schematic

548105

 

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More expensive that what I used. I got a 2000 mah 9.6V pack for $16 shipped free. I used to of those for a 19.2V supply at 2000 mah for $32. The biggest issue I see with the battery packs is finding ones that fit into the space you have. If I were doing more of these, I'd likely buy tabbed AA NiMh cells and build a custom pack. I didn't really want to go to lithium as the expense really goes up for a quality pack with the proper charge/discharge protection built in.
 

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LionChief Plus Battery Power Conversion Schematic

View attachment 548105
If it ever comes in handy ... There's a simple alternative to charging one pack at a time. Bring out both packs + & - to a 4 pin connector - isolated from each other Then the matching charging harness can charge both packs in parallel. After charging install a connector (plug) with a jumper to put the packs in series to run the loco.
 

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I could also just use a second charger at the same time, they're totally isolated. I could just plug it into the other jack. I'm not 100% sure about charging packs in parallel, though with NiMh it's probably not that risky.

This was a "seat of the pants" first cut at battery powered locomotives, all in all, it works better than I expected. :)

If I were to jump in with both feet, I'd probably consider lithium, but it takes more care in handling
 

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Mike they couldn't be sold anywhere in the country if either leg was connected directly to the 120V outlet. Given that fact, they can't help but be isolated. I'll be a bit surprised if you can turn up one that actually connects one of the outputs to the incoming AC! Remember, I'm talking about two wall warts, not a dual output charger.
 

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Mike they couldn't be sold anywhere in the country if either leg was connected directly to the 120V outlet. Given that fact, they can't help but be isolated. I'll be a bit surprised if you can turn up one that actually connects one of the outputs to the incoming AC! Remember, I'm talking about two wall warts, not a dual output charger.
I just tested the outputs of an old printer "brick" against a LED PS that looks similar to your charging PS: less than 4 ohms between the minus DC outputs. I got too many things going on today to contemplate the significance of that in your dual charging scenario :)
 
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