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.
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…