Author Topic: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!  (Read 9720 times)

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Cajonpassfan

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #30 on: October 19, 2017, 12:03:06 PM »
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Richie, and anyone else interested in such minutia, I would point you to the excellent Utahrails.net site by Don Strack.
The pics below are an excerpt dealing with the TTG scheme as applied to Challenger locomotives in some detail. UP only had 10 (or possibly nine, because I don't believe the 3981 ever got repainted) TTG challengers, 3975-3984, those assigned primarily to the Nortwestern District passenger trains. The all black photo of the 3977 was taken in mid-51, after new diesels started misplacing the challengers in passenger service, per Don's notes.
Fun stuff...
Otto K.

Cajonpassfan

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #31 on: October 19, 2017, 07:05:48 PM »
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... It wouldn't be too unheard of for a Challenger to roll through the LA Division after 1951 since all the facilities were there for an oil fired steam engine, but it'd be in a "white" TTG scheme.
...
Anyways, looks like you're okay with your "yellow" TTG Challengers for your "early" period.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

Sorry Bob, selfishly I wish you were right, but it is/was unheard of; the Challengers were gone by then, relegated to the distant and lightly populated Wyoming Division :D Unfortunately, UP dieselized the Southwestern District early, bad water, good PR, (LA is/was all about PR) and by 1950 rebuilt their East LA steam facilities and removed the big turntable. I'm afraid the only UP steam in the LA basin after 1949 (other than the Cajon helpers I previously mentioned) was small local power (2-8-2 and 2-8-0's, maybe a switcher or two).
My loss, your gain...
Otto
« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 07:11:49 PM by Cajonpassfan »

robert3985

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #32 on: October 20, 2017, 08:12:52 PM »
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Sorry Bob, selfishly I wish you were right, but it is/was unheard of; the Challengers were gone by then, relegated to the distant and lightly populated Wyoming Division :D Unfortunately, UP dieselized the Southwestern District early, bad water, good PR, (LA is/was all about PR) and by 1950 rebuilt their East LA steam facilities and removed the big turntable. I'm afraid the only UP steam in the LA basin after 1949 (other than the Cajon helpers I previously mentioned) was small local power (2-8-2 and 2-8-0's, maybe a switcher or two).
My loss, your gain...
Otto

Welll...I was just trying to find a logic train that would allow the possibility to run a Challenger as late as 1951 in the LA Division on your layout!  But, with the facilities removed, I agree it probably never happened. 

Yup, for big U.P. steam, the Wyoming Division is "it", even though after March of 1954, only oil-fired steam was running from Ogden to Green River...eliminating all of the Big Boys from running on the grade they had been designed for.  Big Boys had been moved to Cheyenne in that month....leaving all the 3700 class oil-fired Challengers (and any other oil-fired steam engines) to work the Weber Canyon/Echo Canyon Wasatch Grade, along with Geep, F-Unit diesel power, with Baby and Veranda Turbines taking the place of the absent Big Boys. 

It wasn't unusual to see east-bound trains pulling out of Riverdale Yard that had a Challenger on the head-end, and another Challenger pushing on the rear to the top of the grade at Wahsatch, and before March 1954, sometimes it was a coal-fired engine on the front with the usual 3700 class oil-fired Challenger on the rear, with the equally usual yellow wood CA-1 caboose behind the helper.  Of course, before 1954 steam helpers could also be coal-fired, but from the photos I've seen, most of them were oil-fired...and didn't need to be refueled at Echo as ALL of the coal-fired prime movers were.  It appears that coal-fired helpers were placed on the front of a coal-fired prime-mover which made getting coal mid-grade at Echo for both helper and prime mover much easier. Oil-fired helpers were on the rear of the train in front of the caboose.  Gotta remember that I have only verified this operational protocol on the Wasatch Grade

Oil-fired helpers would cut off the back of the train 68 miles east at Wahsatch, accelerating the caboose towards the end of the waiting train, moving to the center siding to the Wahsatch Wye, and be headed light back to Ogden before the train it had been helping had started to continue eastward.  Helpers heading down-grade towards Ogden were classed as a train, and had marker lamps on the rear of the tenders. They were commonly seen every day drifting down both scenic Echo and Weber Canyons to Ogden, where they would be turned and be ready to shove on the rear of another 8000+ ton east-bound train with a yellow turbine on the head-end.

Photo (1) - Oil Fired Challenger Helper at Petersen Headed Light to Ogden, 1951:


This means that anybody with an oil-fired black Athearn U.P. Challenger could conceivably run it light on their layout and be prototypically correct...   :D ...but only westbound!

Challengers in this time period (late '40's, through 1956 or so) were not relegated to only helper service and were often used as primary power on various freights in U.P. Districts that retained appropriate service facilities.  Some interesting combinations of motive power and helpers was often seen, such as a in these two photos...

Photo (2) - Coal-fired Challenger 3992 (with no smoke deflectors) on the front of a reefer block in Weber Canyon Aug. 1953:


Photo (3) - Oil-fired FEF-1 #813 in helper service on the rear of the same train being pulled by Challenger 3992, wearing her return designation as Extra Train X-813 on her numberboards:


To finish this post, thought I'd attach a color photo of 3700 Class Challenger 3710 as a perfect reference for weathering and proper paint for the late, black Challengers. Notice the barely discernible silver journal covers on the tender, trailing truck and axle centers of the lead truck wheels, indicating roller bearings.

Photo (4) - Challenger 3710 in 1958 still working on the Wasatch Grade pushing tonnage 68 miles east to Wahsatch twice a day:



U.P. modelers in N-scale who model the late 1940's through the '50's are blessed by the model railroad Fates to have many of their famous engines available for inclusion on our layouts, the Athearn Challengers, Big Boys and Kato FEF-3's being prime examples of the largest and most memorable of N-scale U.P. steam.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

« Last Edit: November 02, 2017, 03:11:38 AM by robert3985 »

up1950s

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2017, 08:51:42 PM »
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Maybe one of those experts will write a book that shows the repaint dates of all the greyhound challengers . Or at least amend Utah rails to include the major overhaul month and year of them . Kind of odd that such a unique paint job , all 3 and then back to black is not in print . I think the UP takes photos of all repainted locos for insurance purposes . I for one would pay big bucks for the book that resolves the greyhound challenger actual paint what , when mystery . Minutia to some but not to all , especially at the cost of plastic today . Maybe if the manufactures could rely on facts they would come out with all 3 greyhound paint schemes . Buyers informed would also tend to fill the gaps if there were facts they would be able to quote .
« Last Edit: January 12, 2020, 08:01:49 AM by up1950s »

Cajonpassfan

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2017, 09:44:01 PM »
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Welll...I was just trying to find a logic train that would allow the possibility to run a Challenger as late as 1951 in the LA Division on your layout!  But, with the facilities removed, I agree it probably never happened. 

NICE TRY, BOB, :D
...
To finish this post, thought I'd attach a color photo of 3700 Class Challenger 3710 as a perfect reference for weathering and proper paint for the late, black Challengers. Notice the barely discernible silver journal covers on the tender, trailing truck and axle centers of the lead truck wheels, indicating roller bearings.

Photo (4) - Challenger 3710 in 1958 still working on the Wasatch Grade pushing tonnage 68 miles east to Wahsatch twice a day:




U.P. modelers in N-scale who model the late 1940's through the '50's are blessed...
Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

That's a great shot of the 3710... (it's the old renumbered passenger TTG 3977).
Otto

Jbub

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #35 on: October 20, 2017, 10:53:24 PM »
+1


Photo (4) - Challenger 3710 in 1958 still working on the Wasatch Grade pushing tonnage 68 miles east to Wahsatch twice a day:



U.P. modelers in N-scale who model the late 1940's through the '50's are blessed by the model railroad Fates to have many of their famous engines available for inclusion on our layouts, the Athearn Challengers, Big Boys and Kato FEF-3's being prime examples of the largest and most memorable of N-scale U.P. steam.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
So to give you some props @robert3985 , I was looking at this photo (before reading the caption above it) and thinking " Wow, he's got those tufts of grass looking real, and how did he get the fade on the tender lettering?" Then I saw the engineer and I was  :facepalm: that's a real photo dork. Just so you know, that's how good your stuff looks to me  :D
"Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!"

Darth Vader

Cajonpassfan

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #36 on: October 20, 2017, 11:34:36 PM »
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Well, the vegetation looks kind of scruffy... Bob's looks more prototypical :facepalm:
Otto K.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 11:43:12 PM by Cajonpassfan »

Jbub

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #37 on: October 21, 2017, 12:12:49 AM »
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Well, the vegetation looks kind of scruffy... Bob's looks more prototypical :facepalm:
Otto K.
Otto, yours is up there also. :D
"Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!"

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nkalanaga

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #38 on: October 21, 2017, 02:18:10 AM »
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OK, since I have the SP&S version, what do I do with the "wood" tender deck in the small cutout  in the foam?  Install it, throw it away, or find something to kitbash from it?
N Kalanaga
Be well

nkalanaga

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #39 on: October 23, 2017, 12:52:56 AM »
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Well, I took mine out of the box and ran it today.  The good news is that, unlike another member, mine seems to be mechanically fine.  The bad news is that I can't run it on my railroad.

Unpacked, unwrapped, and upside down in the box, it ran smoothly with test leads touched to the tender wheels.  Manually turning both engine trucks to their limits didn't have any noticeable effect.  I didn't like the sound, as it was loud enough to terrorize the cats, but with a DC layout there's not much I can do about that.  If they'd offered a straight DC version that's what I would have bought.  But, so far so good, and I won't be running it very often on my BN.

Cleaned a section of track, including using a toothbrush to remove dust and any loose ballast, and put the engine on it.  Went on the rails surprisingly well, much easier than my Kato "4-6-6-4" electrics.

Turned on the power, got a bunch of clicks (whatever THOSE represent, then the bells and whistles.  And it just sat there.  Gave it a nudge, and it still sat there.  Turned the power off, reversed it, and tried again.  Sound, but it didn't move. 
I was trying it in my mining town, which does have voltage drop issues, although everything else runs fine there.  N scale trains run too fast anyway, and Nn3 doesn't need 12V, so losing a few volts in the wiring isn't a problem.  Obviously, this loco needs more, so I tried it on a section very close to the power pack connection.  Same results.

Back in the box, and connect the test leads.  Ran fine.  Now, my layout runs on an MRC "Cab Control 55", output 12.5 volts, powered by AC from an ancient Lionel HO powerpack, bought at the Pasco Goodwill store in the 70s.   The test leads are nothing more than two pieces of computer cable wire connected to the DC terminals of the same powerpack, which is rated for 14V.  So, I disconnected the MRC from the layout, and connected the Lionel pack directly to the track power wires.

Now the loco ran, although slowly, and it started at about half throttle.  Apparently my 12.5 volts wasn't enough.  The speed range wasn't much, probably because the rheostat was giving full voltage at the half throttle position, although I don't have a meter to measure it.

The instructions say use pure, filtered DC, from an electronic controller.  The Lionel pack is a very basic rectifier and rheostat, no filters, no electronics, nothing.   Rheostats aren't noted for good speed control, especially with low-current motors, but if that's what it takes to make the thing go.

Very disappointing, especially since my early 70s MRC 2-8-8-2 runs beautifully at all speed ranges, starts smoothly, pulls well, and doesn't scare the cats.  I guess this can join the Overland Little Joes as a display model.

N Kalanaga
Be well

Point353

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #40 on: October 23, 2017, 02:05:36 AM »
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Well, I took mine out of the box and ran it today.  The good news is that, unlike another member, mine seems to be mechanically fine.  The bad news is that I can't run it on my railroad.

Back in the box, and connect the test leads.  Ran fine.  Now, my layout runs on an MRC "Cab Control 55", output 12.5 volts, powered by AC from an ancient Lionel HO powerpack, bought at the Pasco Goodwill store in the 70s.   The test leads are nothing more than two pieces of computer cable wire connected to the DC terminals of the same powerpack, which is rated for 14V.  So, I disconnected the MRC from the layout, and connected the Lionel pack directly to the track power wires.

Now the loco ran, although slowly, and it started at about half throttle.  Apparently my 12.5 volts wasn't enough.  The speed range wasn't much, probably because the rheostat was giving full voltage at the half throttle position, although I don't have a meter to measure it.

The instructions say use pure, filtered DC, from an electronic controller.  The Lionel pack is a very basic rectifier and rheostat, no filters, no electronics, nothing.   Rheostats aren't noted for good speed control, especially with low-current motors, but if that's what it takes to make the thing go.
Perhaps you should invest in one of these: http://www.modelrectifier.com/product-p/0001200.htm

robert3985

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #41 on: October 23, 2017, 08:55:47 AM »
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Well, I took mine out of the box and ran it today.  The good news is that, unlike another member, mine seems to be mechanically fine.  The bad news is that I can't run it on my railroad.

Unpacked, unwrapped, and upside down in the box, it ran smoothly with test leads touched to the tender wheels.  Manually turning both engine trucks to their limits didn't have any noticeable effect.  I didn't like the sound, as it was loud enough to terrorize the cats, but with a DC layout there's not much I can do about that.  If they'd offered a straight DC version that's what I would have bought.  But, so far so good, and I won't be running it very often on my BN.

Cleaned a section of track, including using a toothbrush to remove dust and any loose ballast, and put the engine on it.  Went on the rails surprisingly well, much easier than my Kato "4-6-6-4" electrics.

Turned on the power, got a bunch of clicks (whatever THOSE represent, then the bells and whistles.  And it just sat there.  Gave it a nudge, and it still sat there.  Turned the power off, reversed it, and tried again.  Sound, but it didn't move. 
I was trying it in my mining town, which does have voltage drop issues, although everything else runs fine there.  N scale trains run too fast anyway, and Nn3 doesn't need 12V, so losing a few volts in the wiring isn't a problem.  Obviously, this loco needs more, so I tried it on a section very close to the power pack connection.  Same results.

Back in the box, and connect the test leads.  Ran fine.  Now, my layout runs on an MRC "Cab Control 55", output 12.5 volts, powered by AC from an ancient Lionel HO powerpack, bought at the Pasco Goodwill store in the 70s.   The test leads are nothing more than two pieces of computer cable wire connected to the DC terminals of the same powerpack, which is rated for 14V.  So, I disconnected the MRC from the layout, and connected the Lionel pack directly to the track power wires.

Now the loco ran, although slowly, and it started at about half throttle.  Apparently my 12.5 volts wasn't enough.  The speed range wasn't much, probably because the rheostat was giving full voltage at the half throttle position, although I don't have a meter to measure it.

The instructions say use pure, filtered DC, from an electronic controller.  The Lionel pack is a very basic rectifier and rheostat, no filters, no electronics, nothing.   Rheostats aren't noted for good speed control, especially with low-current motors, but if that's what it takes to make the thing go.

Very disappointing, especially since my early 70s MRC 2-8-8-2 runs beautifully at all speed ranges, starts smoothly, pulls well, and doesn't scare the cats.  I guess this can join the Overland Little Joes as a display model.

I used to frequent the Pasco Goodwill store.  Still have a wool army jacket I found there...but that was in 1972.

I think the handwriting has been on the wall for a long while that if you don't have DCC, you're not going to be able to run factory stock engines on your layouts any longer in a satisfactory manner.  Yeah, believe me, I know what yer thinkin' since I was thinkin' the same things just a few years ago...but, I finally bit the DCC bullet when Athearn Challengers came out and I couldn't run only one of 'em on my DC layout with that little radio controller because all of 'em would start up and respond to the single controller simultaneously...which was pretty comical the first time I did that. 

I did it the hard way and replaced all of my old DC rat's nest wiring (which looked ugly, but worked great in DC) with high speed/low drag DCC wiring using (even if it might not be really necessary) 12AWG black/red zip speaker wire (high purity/low ox, fine multi-strand), 14 AWG sub-feeders of the same top quality and 22 AWG solid core feeders on EVERY STINKING PIECE OF RAIL.   All of it neatly done, color coded and consistent and I only had one phantom short which took me a day to figure out (it was a broken switch point that I mangled setting my modules up on their front edges to strip and re-wire them in a much more convenient way than laying on my back).

I remember well the first time I ran a DCC engine on my newly DCC-ized layout, running it over four power blocks (three crossovers) without having to stop, change throttles, flip any toggle switches...with two more Big Boys parked on the center siding making their parked-engine sounds.  I thought "What the Hell took me so long to finally do this????"

My total expenditure for a top-of-the-line Digitrax wireless starter set, eight LocoNet/ throttle plug-in terminals, three wireless utility throttles, several non-sound decoders, all my wire, 3M connectors, and Anderson Power Poles was about the same as what I'd spent on my fourth brass GTEL turbine...one engine.  At the time, I had five Athearn Big Boys and three Athearn Challengers that had decoders...I was going to have to put decoders in every other engine I had.

I didn't like the stock sound settings on my Athearn engines either, but following @jdcolombo 's settings, I was able to get them exactly where I wanted them for running at both shows and at home.

Soooo...just as an observation here, you'll spend several hundred dollars on engines (each), but yet you're adamant about running everything using components you picked up at the Pasco Goodwill store??? ...and using some power components that are 20, 30 years old or more??? Rheostats?????

Having been in your shoes (but at least I'd made my Ntrak throttles from more recent electrical components)...I don't have sympathy, and absolutely no nostalgia about how well everything ran on my own modular layout when it was DC.  I admit, it DID run well, but only within the limits that straight DC imposed on me.  Things like helpers, different brands of diesel power running all speed-matched together are just everyday things I do now, and were virtually impossible when I was stuck in the DC universe.  Doing tasks such as coupling up ABBA sets of F-units before coupling them up to an extra train waiting in the yard is easy without ever touching the engines with my big, fat fingers...something that was cumbersome at best to do on my DC sidings gapped in their centers, powered by how the turnouts were thrown on either end.

In only eight years, we'll be into the second quarter of the 21st century, and by that time I'm betting you are going to find that manufacturers won't be providing DC engines any longer.  You are going to have to increase the size of your display shelf!

Just sayin' that you need to read that handwriting on the wall, and start to at least seriously consider DCC.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

« Last Edit: November 02, 2017, 03:15:27 AM by robert3985 »

arbomambo

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #42 on: October 23, 2017, 09:59:36 AM »
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I used to frequent the Pasco Goodwill store.  Still have a wool army jacket I found there...but that was in 1972.

I think the handwriting has been on the wall for a long while that if you don't have DCC, you're not going to be able to run factory stock engines on your layouts any longer in a satisfactory manner.  Yeah, believe me, I know what yer thinkin' since I was thinkin' the same things just a few years ago...but, I finally bit the DCC bullet when Athearn Challengers came out and I couldn't run only one of 'em on my DC layout with that little radio controller because all of 'em would start up and respond to the single controller simultaneously...which was pretty comical the first time I did that. 

I did it the hard way and replaced all of my old DC rat's nest wiring (which looked ugly, but worked great in DC) with high speed/low drag DCC wiring using (even if it might not be really necessary) 12AWG black/red zip speaker wire (high purity/low ox, fine multi-strand), 14 AWG sub-feeders of the same top quality and 22 AWG solid core feeders on EVERY STINKING PIECE OF RAIL.   All of it neatly done, color coded and consistent and I only had one phantom short which took me a day to figure out (it was a broken switch point that I mangled setting my modules up on their front edges to strip and re-wire them in a much more convenient way than laying on my back).

I remember well the first time I ran a DCC engine on my newly DCC-ized layout, running it over four power blocks (three crossovers) without having to stop, change throttles, flip any toggle switches...with two more Big Boys parked on the center siding making their parked-engine sounds.  I thought "What the Hell took me so long to finally do this????"

My total expenditure for a top-of-the-line Digitrax wireless starter set, eight LocoNet/ throttle plug-in terminals, three wireless utility throttles, several non-sound decoders, all my wire, 3M connectors, and Anderson Power Poles was about the same as what I'd spent on my fourth brass GTEL turbine...one engine.  At the time, I had five Athearn Big Boys and three Athearn Challengers that had decoders...I was going to have to put decoders in every other engine I had.

I didn't like the stock sound settings on my Athearn engines either, but following @jdcolombo 's settings, I was able to get them exactly where I wanted them for running at both shows and at home.

Soooo...just as an observation here, you'll spend several hundred dollars on engines (each), but yet you're adamant about running everything using components you picked up at the Pasco Goodwill store??? ...and using some power components that are 20, 30 years old or more??? Rheostats?????

Having been in your shoes (but at least I'd made my Ntrak throttles from more recent electrical components)...I don't have sympathy, and absolutely no nostalgia about how well everything ran on my own modular layout when it was DC.  I admit, it DID run well, but only within the limits that straight DC imposed on me.  Things like helpers, different brands of diesel power running all speed-matched together are just everyday things I do now, and were virtually impossible when I was stuck in the the DC universe.  Doing tasks such as coupling up ABBA sets of F-units before coupling them up to an extra train waiting in the yard is easy without ever touching the engines with my big, fat fingers...something that was cumbersome at best to do on my DC sidings gapped in their centers, powered by how the turnouts were thrown on either end.

In only eight years, we'll be into the second quarter of the 21st century, and by that time I'm betting you are going to find that manufacturer's won't be providing DC engines any longer.  You are going to have to increase the size of your display shelf!

Just sayin' that you need to read that handwriting on the wall, and start to at least seriously consider DCC.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

 Unfortunately, for me, I'm slowly arriving at this same conclusion (although on board sound doesn't float my boat one little bit). I've been resisting the DCC movement for longer than I can remember;it's that 'short circuit melting trucks and units' thing that keeps me concerned. I've seen it happen on large display layouts.
 Fortunately for me, I now only have 13 units (earlier run Kato ATSF Freight F7s), that aren't 'drop in' decoder ready, so it won't be that much effort to mill those frames and install decoders. I certainly have enjoyed running/operating the few DCC equipped locos I DO have for the T-TRAK setups. The difference between operating my new Athearn Big Boy in DC mode (which I run at home on the Kingman Canyon layout), and DCC mode, has also been eye opening! 
 As for sound, I would prefer BIG sound, as in railfan trackside sound, either under the layout, or better, in headphones...even the best onboard sound (and I admit there are some OUTSTANDING installs posted here) just doesn't do a thing for me...just to tiny and 'tinny'. Yes, I understand it's a paradox; tiny trains and BIG sound...but it's just my preference. (if I could figure a way to duplicate the smells and the dust in my eyes from a passing train, I would do it!)
~Bruce
"STILL Thrilled to be in N scale!"

Bruce M. Arbo
CATT- Coastal Alabama T-TRAK
https://nationalt-traklayout.com/


[/u

mmagliaro

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #43 on: October 23, 2017, 11:31:25 AM »
+1
In the meantime....


nkalanaga : If you can run that engine with clip leads on your outputs, but there is so much voltage drop to your layout that you cannot run it on the track, I would really suggest you upgrade the wiring.    There really should not be any drop at all between the main throttle and the track - well, maybe a fraction of a volt, but that's about it.  Whether you go DCC or not, that wiring should be replaced, and more feeders added if necessary, to get rid of those drop problems.  DC or DCC, it will not be wasted effort to fix that problem.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: New Run of Athearn Challengers, Surprise!
« Reply #44 on: October 23, 2017, 01:13:53 PM »
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So to give you some props @robert3985 , I was looking at this photo (before reading the caption above it) and thinking " Wow, he's got those tufts of grass looking real, and how did he get the fade on the tender lettering?" Then I saw the engineer and I was  :facepalm: that's a real photo dork. Just so you know, that's how good your stuff looks to me  :D

Ahahahahahaha, you're not the only one! At first I just assumed it was his layout.