Sunday, June 3, 2012

44 tonner finally in service - sort of

Looks like it was poor electrical pickup in the long-running saga of the Bachmann 44t (single motor). To get to this conclusion, I have dealt with 2 decoders and multiple install/re-installs of each, plus multiple disassembly/re-assembly events. While each one of these events has taken its toll on man and machine, it has led to some new understandings of micro-decoders and Bachmann locomotives. 

First, the .75 micro Tsunami and .5 micro LokSound amperage ratings seems to be plenty for the small switchers in my roster. At first I thought the hard re-starts were due to an overloading limitation. Not so. 

I've also learned that the design of the power pick-ups on the 44t doesn't work for sound decoders - I guess it isn't consistent enough? What gets me, though, is that I haven't heard this from anyone on the Intertubes. There have been a few references to difficulties, but nowhere have I found that modification was necessary. Modelers such as Wolfgang and Rich seem to have no problem in there decoder installs. I must mention that the factory installed decoder works fine, which is why I thought it was an amperage problem with the micros.

During the time I was working on the 44t, I installed the LokSound in a Roundhouse cab (Erie no.20) that was re-motored by Ron Lafever as a way to narrow the possible problems. It works just fine - letting me know it was the 44t and not the decoder - but if the boxcab gets going more than about 10 mph, the sound of the gearing drowns out the decoder sound. (I'm close to buying a Stanton drive from North West Short Line for the boxcabs in my roster. BTW, the 3D printed HBS boxcab shell should show up Monday evening. More on that as it develops.)

The fix for the 44t was simple using some spring wire donated by Tom Pearson. A touch of solder and bending into place, and the pickup problem was gone. The locomotive, however, still has a problem.

A truck on the Bachmann 44 tonner getting a wiper pick up wire to help supply constant current to the decoder.
Now the problem is apparently the well documented overheating of the micro Tsunami. After about 10 minutes of running, the locomotive came to a dead stop. The decoder light was still on, but no sound nor motor control. Lifting and replacing the locomotive on the rails reset the decoder, but it shut off after a few seconds again. So next move is to find some metal to make myself a heat sink. 

Definitely not a productive way to spend my modeling time, nor worth the headspace that this problem has occupied for the past couple of years. I think I probably could have scratch built all the structures at Harlem Station in the time I have wasted on this project. *sigh* I have learned quite a bit along the way, however, about decoders, motors and finally solving a pick up problem. I call this collateral knowledge, which I do appreciate, but I still can't help but feel cheated out of a lot of quality modeling time.

No comments:

Post a Comment