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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Friends,
Charles in the United Kingdom here!
I am looking for some help from you knowledgeable guys. I recently purchased a NEWLionel VL Challenger and have a couple of questions:
1. The three red lights and reversing light are all inop. They worked fine for a few days initially and suddenly quit. I have done all I can but no luck. Being this side of "the pond" it's not possible to return under guarentee [mailing/customs costs and hassle]. There is an occasional flash of red lights when travelling forward round a 092 left hand curve [fasttrack] which is near where the power is connected. Have checked voltage all good everywhere. I think I might undo the four screws and see if there is a wiring problem. Also the coupling between the loco and tender appear very slightly bent could that affect the wireless connection between the two? if so would that affect the lights?

2. Dynamo powers up OK but only smoked once, any ideas please? [smoke fluid added]

3. Main smoke is fine but practical help please. I have watched a video where guy was showing even 80 drops didnt overfill the wicks and reservoir. But when do you know when to refill? If you wait until there's no smoke presumably you will fry the heating elements on the other hand if you keep putting in a little from time to time you really could overfill.

Help would be greatly appreciated.
Charles
 

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Are running in conventional or command with a Cab1 or Cab2. Is this a Legacy engine? There's so many I forget which is which when it comes to VL challengers SKU number of your engine would help also

Smoke units I typically top off when the smoke fluid begins to smell bad or turns an off white color. Good indications that you are almost out. New Legacy engine have electronic circuits to prevent overheating so no worry about burning out the wick.
 

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Hello Charlie,

I sympathize with being across The Pond and having service issues. Regarding the rear tender lights, if you are having occasional flashes of operation depending on track position that suggests to me a wiring problem. All of the relevant boards and connections are in the tender, it’s fairly easy to open and you can then trace connections back from the lights themselves. You might simply have a loose connection somewhere, possibly where the lighting feeds into a PCB or a connection to the main board.

Addendum: Since I mentioned looking around for previous postings in the text that follows I may as well give you a head start. Go here for a two page thread that discusses lighting and dynamo smoke output issues: https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/new-union-pacific-vision-line-challenger-help?page=1. As forum postings sometimes do this one goes off on some tangents but you can glean some helpful input on both of your issues.

The dynamo smoke feature was an issue with the first run of VL Challengers that was also present in the second run I assume you have (knowing the Lionel SKU would help) and more people complained about it. The funnel that connects the smoke outlet under the dynamo piece itself to the auxiliary smoke unit is an elaborate contraption that doesn’t ensure a free flow of smoke fluid into the smoke unit. People have reported being told by Lionel that the whole engine needs to be tipped forward when refilling the unit so that the fluid runs into it. There are numerous posts on O Gauge Forums about this if you search. I’d also recommend looking at the replacement parts illustrations on the Lionel Support website to see what the relevant parts inside these engines actually look like and work out from that how they fit together. (The thread linked above has some of the relevant images.)

Refilling smoke units generally is another topic that comes up regularly. It’s what Gary says about when to refill and how much to use. I always use a needle dropper and blow down the outlet to clear any bubble or other blockage.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hello Gary and HarborBelt,
Both posts are really appreciated and a terrific help...thanks so much!!

The number is: SKU: 1931250 I have only had it three weeks. bought from a US dealer.

I have had a look at the links and the one about dynamo smoke covers the topic pretty well so I will investigate. After reading various posts about Lionel build quality I suppose I have to expect anything!

I will take a look "under the hood" of the tender, also forgot to say the rear light on my Aux water tender has quit working but maybe thats something I am not doing right with my #990 LEGACY Command Set SKU: 6-14295.

The fact that there is a circuit breaker if the smoke runs dry is a comfort, is that definitely on my #1931250 Challenger please?
Message to harborbelt: I think I may only be able to see the first part of your message for some reason; perhaps you could re-post it or email to: [email protected].

Personal note! My wife Susan is retired US Air Force and she is now living here in the UK. Her speciality was B-52's; they have recently returned to the UK to RAF Fairford which has the longest flight line in the UK...they NEED it! Some of them will be over 80 years old before they are retired. The military have a saying: "Join the Air Force: fly the plane your grandad flew"!
Every year she spends time with friends near Cheyenne so she has orders to ride 4014 if this ghastly Coronaviris goes away in time.

I have ordered a 4014 from Lionel but who knows when it will arrive now?

Generally speaking your Lionel stuff is pretty awesome; I started over here as a kid with Hornby and Basset-Lowke clockwork!!

Thanks again you guys!
Charlie
 

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Well, not sure about why the rest of my post isn't showing up on your screen (I can see it) but I'll email you the text.

These VL smoke units (such as yours, which is a second run VL Challenger) have a thermistor, which may function in much the same way as a circuit breaker. Reading around the subject a bit, and in particular comments by the guy who designed these units (Jon Z. formerly of Lionel), I learned that the thermistors respond to the heat level in the unit by sensing temperature through the fluid in the wadding. So if the wadding is not sufficiently soaked they will not function properly and may shut the heat down.

The tender wiring issue is discussed on the linked thread and the problem appears to be an assembly error in that it's too tightly bound to allow the wire connectors to stay seated as they should.
 

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As long as there is some fluid in the chamber it will be cooler than if the fluid is boiled away. That will shut the unit down. You can also have too much liquid in the chamber which keeps the resistor from getting hot enough to boil it. If this was smaller engine you could turn it upside down and see if the fluid drips out. Not so easy on this engine with its size and weight.

Pete
 

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One problem with the thermistor is that if they're spaced wrong, and that's easy to do, they won't function properly. Too close to the resistor and you get little to no smoke, too far away, they don't do anything and you get heat all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for your help everyone! I tried filling when loco tilted forward and leaving for half an hour to settle, result: some dynamo smoke but still pretty pathetic! I am reluctant to start dismantling the loco but have purchased a catheter syringe with micro bore tubling so will give that a go.
Thanks again!
Charlie
 

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I got a friend of mine who owns a 2nd run. He is no longer going to use the Dynamo because it has gone back twice to Lionel and all the methods we have tried reading on the issues of this run and last run have not helped us causing the unit to die.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Brilliant and thanks for all the advice!

I think I have alot of info to work on re the dynamo.

The other problem was the tender lights which quit half an hour after the loco was put on the track for the first time. I have now taken out the four screws and had a look "under the hood". There don't appear top be any loose or disconnected wires. on reassembly I have come to the conclusion the whole tender is "dead": no sound, coupling feature u/s. Any ideas guys?

Otherwise I have got to send back to US which is no joke from the UK. I would rather send to a reliable repairer rather than Lionel as they seem to take months to do a repair which, reading your posts is not always satifactorily done anyway.

I am slightly beginning to wonder what I have got myself into!!!!

I have got a 2033590 Union Pacific Legacy SD70ACe on its way so i just hope that doesnt turn into a bad story!!!

Thanks again
Charlie
 

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I would think that the best repair people (one of whom has posted on this thread) might be glad for the work but shipping the entire loco and tender to/from the US will be a bore. On the other hand, if you could isolate the tender fault, getting the relevant parts and installing them yourself is another option.

Subject to what anyone else might think, a loss of sound as well as light functions may indicate a board component failure. This would not necessarily be obvious from physical inspection. The sound boards of the first run engine I have are separate units and all need to be seated properly in the contacts that hold them in order to function. You did not happen to take photo of your tender innards did you? I don’t know if they are the same as in my version.

I would not give up on the possibility that this can be remedied without a lot of logistical hassle.

P.S. What transformer are you using to power this? And do you have a Legacy or TMCC control system?
 

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Hello there,
Miracle!!!! I did what you suggested and removed the body of the tender and carefully unplugged and replugged-in every connection I could see and gave all the wires a little tweak.

Put it back together and: Hey Presto.......it all works: red lights/reversing light/sound etc.

Thanks to you for your advice and ideas.

I will post again when I have tried out the syringe and micro bore plastic tubing for the dynamo smoke.

Cheers
Charlie
 

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Phew, some good news for once. Very glad to hear you got a result. :smilie_daumenpos:

If you also succeed in loading up the dynamo auxiliary smoke unit with fluid, remember that it may need time to heat up and consume any excess before it produces significant output. So some running time may be called for. Hike up the EFX setting too on the CAB 2 although that will give you more labour in the sounds. That’s no bad thing with the depth of sound in these models and in any case you can adjust it to your liking.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Excellent idea, i will do just as you suggest! I am correct in thinking if the smoke fluid runs dry the heating element shuts itself off? I know you mentioned it earlier but am on a tablet with restricted viewing.
Collecting the diesel tomorrow frm DHL in Exeter...will let you know if thats been thrown around in transit!!!
Best
Charlie:D
 

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I am correct in thinking if the smoke fluid runs dry the heating element shuts itself off? I know you mentioned it earlier but am on a tablet with restricted viewing.

Collecting the diesel tomorrow frm DHL in Exeter...will let you know if thats been thrown around in transit!!!
Best
Charlie:D
People who know a lot better than me say that that is so, and my own experience with non-Lionel thermistor-equipped smoke units (Train America Studios/3rd Rail) is consistent with that. Hence I guess the problem GRJ referred to about the spacing of the thermistor relative to the heating element resistor. Anyway if you have any significant smoke output and it clearly starts to diminish, it’s probably time to refill the tank.

Good luck with that diesel.
 

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The heat is regulated by the thermistor, but if the element is totally dry, it'll still cook it, it doesn't shut it off totally. I have multiple repairs that come through that will attest to this fact. ;)
Thanks, something else for the knowledge bank. Almost without exception I only work on my own stuff and the smoke units are never allowed to go completely dry (mostly it's the other way around as in too soaked), so I have never seen what you describe - and did not know it could happen.
 
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