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Discussion Starter #1
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.



Magic
 

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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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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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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.
 

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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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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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Stop.

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.
 

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I'm willing to get some of them going as well ..
whatever you send you will get back .. maybe not real quick, but working and tested..
but can't do much after they've been adjusted with an 8lb :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
One two three four five six seven eight nine ten. Nope they still won't run.

First off I would like to thank everybody for the comments, suggestions and offers to help.
It's great to have some support in time of need.

mopac get ready to laugh some more, my new smart cell phone is having the
same DCC problems as everything else. It just does whatever it wants, when ever it wants, just dropped two calls to Atlas.
I just E Mailed them, don't trust the phone. Yankee Dabbler suggested I send the RS11 back and not mess with it.

Part of the reason I haven't done anything with Digitrax or Bachmann problems is that stupid phone.

I do have 6 more locos that run just fine, MTH F3s in ABB lash up.
Way more amp draw than a single GP9. It's not a track or command station problem. The system is on a surge protection power strip.

I also have three more Bachmann locos that run just fine as well.
I think the Bachmann is a one of a kind of thing.

There are no train hobby shops in Reno, nor any other layouts I can try these on. I'm a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

As for the Athearn I'm just afraid to work on them the frustration level is high.
I do have one Athearn a SD70ACe the runs OK. Fits right in with my '50s layout.
The Athearn doesn't use wheel wipers but the axle bearings for power.
I have tried cleaning as good as possible but no go.
Even some conductive grease.

I think I may have picked the wrong hobby.
I spent my entire working life repairing BIG stuff, heavy equipment, trucks etc.
That 8 pound hammer is the smallest I have. If it don't go, get a bigger hammer.
This does not bode well in HO scale. I was at one time a certified high pressure pipeline welder yet
I can't solder these tiny wires to anything, you wouldn't believe some of my wire solders.
Can do track feeders no problem but not 28 gauge wires??????

Dirty Harry once said "A man should know his limitations."
Well mine are 28 gauge wires and tiny parts.

mopac, crusader and wvgca I think I'll take another look at the Athearns and see if I can do anything with them
besides the 8 pounder. But I'll keep you guys in mind if things don't go well. Thanks for the offers. I no doubt will take you up on this.

Magic
 

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My FIL has issues electrical with three brass ATSF ABA set up. Two sound one not. MR decoders. Swapped them out with all Soundtraxx. Same issue. Found shorts occuring in the body and chassis of the locomotive. All fixed now. Took me about four days to figure it out, as it would only happen on curves, but not at the same spot. At first I thought it was bad decoders or a poor install. It was a poor install, places that needed insulation were not insulated.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It passes the quarter test with flying sparks Jake.

I've tested track voltage and amp draw with and without trains running.
I could see the voltage and amps react to different loads, up to 6 MTH locos running and they have super caps.
My PSX 1 circuit breakers wouldn't handle the start up load and I had to remove the breakers. Power does not seem to be the problem.

I really don't think it's a power or track issue.
Only the Athearn Genesis do this intermittent power loss both as a single or AA lash up.
The 13 other locos run just fine.
I did a little research and there are others that have had the same issue and fixed it the same way, NWSL wheels.
But this was some time ago and the wheels they were replacing were steel and mine appear to be nickle silver.

I just now got one of the bottom covers off and could replace the wheels. Won't do much good however as the cover came off in three pieces. So one loco is now a parts loco. I did learn two things, first how the cover is held on and second that the wires are soldered to the side frame so no soldering there.

BINGO I just got the second cover off with no problem.
Pulled the side frames and found two broken wires. I knew that this loco had this problem so was not surprised.

So this project is doable after all and it only cost one loco.
Looks like my 8 pounder will have to wait for another day.

I'll decide what I'll do later for now I'm calling it quits.

Magic
 

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"I (we) get by with a little help from my (our) friends"...Ringo Starr
 

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See, I knew you could find the problem. You just have to take them apart. You really get to know them then. Probably the same problem in all the athearns. The others will repair
much quicker once you learn that first one.

Ya gotta love the Babe.

Watch what way the wheels are installed. The insulated wheel has to be on a certain side.
 
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