10-wheeler enhancements

 photo PtR-1560-Throat-Reverse-01_zps8a98cf74.jpg
(CNR 4-6-0 1560 in the yard throat at Port Rowan. It’s nice to have the 10-wheelers back in service – operating and sounding better than ever)

As noted previously, my friend Simon Parent had my CNR 10-wheelers for a couple of months to do some repairs and upgrades. I picked them up from Simon last week.

There were two issues to address.

The first issue was, the suspensions on the locomotives weren’t working as well as they should. The horn blocks (those things that the axles pass through) were not riding smoothly in the horn block guides. Some of them were jammed. The result of this was only some of the drivers were making reliable contact with the rails, which means the locomotives had very little pulling power.

An undignified position photo Bullfrog-Snot-Install_zps3ba2c697.jpg
(Before identifying the source of the problem, I tried – unsuccessfully – to use Bullfrog Snot to improve pulling power. Click on the image to read more.)

Simon was able to free up the suspensions. He also gave the drivers and horn blocks a good cleaning. They run much better now – and pull much better, too!

The second issue was that the chuff synchronization cams were becoming unreliable. Sometimes, I’d get a double-chuff – other times, I get a missed chuff. These are fiddly, mechanical things. To fix the issue, Simon suggested – and I agreed – that we try a different decoder.

I’ve been using Soundtraxx Tsunami decoders in my steam engines and I’ve been generally happy with them. But they really needed the chuff cam because I’ve never been successful at synchronizing the sound to the drivers (four chuffs per revolution) using the automatic feature on many sound decoders. But, decoders have improved over time and Simon has been very impressed with the TCS WOWSound decoders. These include a pretty awesome Back EMF system to enhance smoothness at low speeds and help synchronize chuffs.

I heard one of these in a mogul when Simon and I took part in the North Shore Train Show in October, and Simon convinced me to give them a try. While he had the 10-wheelers apart to address the suspension issues, Simon installed the WOW101 Steam-KA decoders (which include an awesome keep-alive module). The chuff is easy to synch with these decoders, which use audio prompts from the decoder itself to help set up sounds.

Programming WOWSound decoders is partially traditional, with CVs and Values – and partly like working one’s way through an Interactive Voice Response menu (“Push 1 for sales, Push 2 for service”, and so on) when calling a company. (The big difference, of course, is that using an IVR to program a decoder is far more enjoyable.)

I’ve now played with my two 10-wheelers and I’m very pleased with the switch. I will run them in service and may make minor tweaks as I see fit, but I’m really impressed.

But then, I knew I would be – so I’ve also swapped out the decoders in my three 2-6-0s. More on that in the next post

2 thoughts on “10-wheeler enhancements

  1. Hi,
    Are you able to have the generator and blower on at the same time? I liked your function mapping as it let me us the blower easy. Then I realized it was shutting off the generator noise when I turned on the blower effect.

    • It’s a good question, David.
      I do have problems with the generator staying on – it sometimes will disappear. But I haven’t paid enough attention to figure out if that’s because of a specific key I’m pressing (e.g.: the blower) or whether it happens with more than one key.
      Has anybody else run into problems with this?
      I do like the TCS WOW decoders, but I have also found a couple of problems with them – growing pains, I’d say. Hopefully, TCS will correct these in future software updates. If not, there’s always Loksound! 🙂

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