Author Topic: BLI Mike initial impressions  (Read 11914 times)

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peteski

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #75 on: August 12, 2019, 03:31:11 PM »
0
Cosmetically, the non-see-through drivers would put this in the "no buy" column for me if I were looking for a Mikado.  I bristle at the sight of the Bachman 2-8-0 for the same reason.  Maybe people don't much care, but to me, solid drivers just jump right out as a toy-like feature.

Exactly.  Mark is of course also correct that the toyish looking solid-center drivers are easier and cheaper to manufacture, but IMO, this should not be considered as a cost-saving measure. I would not mind paying another $10 for a loco with see-through spokes.  I already have, dozens of times (because most of my N scale steam locos have see-through spoked drivers). Other manufacturers have been making such drivers for many decades, and when they are designed well, they will be concentric and won't wobble.  But we do all have slightly different proprieties.
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prr7161

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #76 on: August 12, 2019, 11:18:54 PM »
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On another note - I am having trouble getting the decoders to read on the programming track for both a heavy and a light.  My other BLI steamers don't have any trouble here (the T1s I believe are Paragon 3 as well).  On the main, both locos run fine and respond to address '3' and the function buttons, but on the programming track the decoder does not read or write the loco address.  I am using an elderly Lenz system which may have something to do with it.  Any thoughts?


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Cajonpassfan

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #77 on: August 12, 2019, 11:42:47 PM »
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Google and download the Paragon 3 steam manual (and technical reference). Except for addressing, the P3 decoders are meant to be programmed on the main, and I’ve been able to do it easily with the NCE system. The manual does mention that Lens systems are unable to do so and you may need a booster for your programming track (or use a different DCC system). For convenience, I have the BLI “address changer” on a dedicated “addressing track” and I swear by it.
Good luck, isn’t DCC fun?
Otto K.

prr7161

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #78 on: August 13, 2019, 12:03:13 AM »
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Thanks, Otto!  I kind of figured I had tripped over some kind of compatibility threshold, although up until now I have been able to program BLI locos with no problem (including the Paragon 3's in the T1s).  I am about 18 months out from upgrading DCC systems so will have to make do until then.


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rrjim1

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #79 on: August 13, 2019, 07:38:13 AM »
+1
On another note - I am having trouble getting the decoders to read on the programming track for both a heavy and a light.  My other BLI steamers don't have any trouble here (the T1s I believe are Paragon 3 as well).  On the main, both locos run fine and respond to address '3' and the function buttons, but on the programming track the decoder does not read or write the loco address.  I am using an elderly Lenz system which may have something to do with it.  Any thoughts?
I have one loco that I couldn't program. BLI said try CV 217 - 20 on the main in PO mode.. If that doesn't work try CV 217 - 50, this worked for me.

reinhardtjh

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #80 on: August 13, 2019, 10:03:43 AM »
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I was shocked to see they did a PRR foob if this instead of an actual L1, because I know they do the real L1 in HO.
But then I learned, they ALSO do a light Mike PRR Foob in HO.

Here's hoping they do the real L1. What we really need...the I1sa.

Pennsy had some USRA mikes, class L2, during WWI.  Don't know how many or for how long. Off to search.

Edit:  They were allocated 33 of the light mikes, and apparently got rid of most as soon as possible.

From this link:  http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/p/164453/1809843.aspx

Interesting subject for PRR fans.  The PRR did receive 32 Mikado from the USRA and sold them off after the Government control ended.   That said, the PRR took control of the GR&I which owned five USRA Mikes and they became the L2 class number 9627 to 9631 on the PRR and were not converted to the Belpair boiler type.   This little froup of PRR oddities would stay grouped together in Ohio for former GR&I lines for the rest of their service life. \

I had checked the numbers BLI used for the PRR Mikes and they fall into the set of numbers used for the L2 but due to the service location, I don't need any so I passed. 

John H. Reinhardt
PRRT&HS #8909
C&O HS #11530
N-Trak #7566

Mark5

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #81 on: August 13, 2019, 11:44:36 AM »
0
According to the Wiki (which may or may not be correct), PRR refused their USRA allotment of 33 USRA Light 2-8-2s, and 10 went to MP with the other 23 going to SLSF.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USRA_Light_Mikado

Mark

ncbqguy

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #82 on: August 13, 2019, 06:27:02 PM »
+3
All-
Frankly, I don't see the big deal of see-through driver spokes.   It looks like the BLI USRA Light and Heavy Mikados are spectacular models!!!
The pickup problems of the first run of Kato Mikado drivers were due to the contact "spiders" that could be seen through the spokes anyway.  You can see the pickups in the photo of the last run.  Any manufacturable scheme of bringing power from the driver tire / tread and flange to the axle stub is going to be visible though the spokes.
As long as we cannot reasonably expect to be able to see prototype frame detail behind the driver anyway what is the deal with see-through spokes?
I agree that the spoke disk should be as thin as possible (spokes as deep and well-defined as practical) but operationally I would prefer a Con-Cor Hudson style driver disk with the spoke disk keyed into the gear axle.  This eliminates ALL issues of driver quartering and gear mesh in factory and subsequent consumer maintenance, guarantees all driver pickup to the frame halves and contributes to the quality of the mechanism.
From the photos I don't see a lot worth seeing through the spokes....I certainly don't (and won't on a production model) see any of the equalization hangers, springing, or frame detail behind the drivers.  Since there isn't a photo of the BLI rendition, I can't comment on their execution of the USRA driver center castings.   

As to the coupler, I applaud BLI for doing a closer to scale-size coupler that apparently works well.   I had shared my Railroad Model Resources coupler drawings with them but as I don't have any BLI Mikados to look at I can't determine if the coupler is derived from them.   I do not see the extended knuckle bar which is a key component to retain the "gather area" matching the normal M-T 1015 coupler.  This prevents lousy trackwork so prevalent on NTRAK and home layouts from allowing couplers to ride over each other on bad rail joints.   Hornby-Rivarossi implemented the design but as discussed here and elsewhere apparently did not test samples from the tooling to see if they would reliably couple and uncouple with M-T and other brands of knuckle couplers. 
Working on it!
Charlie Vlk
Railroad Model Resources

peteski

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #83 on: August 13, 2019, 06:44:07 PM »
0
All-
Frankly, I don't see the big deal of see-through driver spokes.
. . .
As long as we cannot reasonably expect to be able to see prototype frame detail behind the driver anyway what is the deal with see-through spokes?
Charlie Vlk
Railroad Model Resources

It is not the frame details I pine to see - it is the daylight between the frame and the rail (through the lower part of the driver).  Or sometimes (if the model has the prototypical daylight showing between the top of the frame and the boiler) I like to see the daylight through the top portion of the driver.  That is usually noticeable on locos with large diameter drivers.  Like Max said, solid drivers with solid ceners and molded-in spokes look toyish, not like a precision-made model.

 To me it makes a huge difference in the realism of a model.  Just like grossly out-of-scale board gaps on certain N scale wooden reefers.  But, as we see here, some people just aren't bothered.    :D
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jdcolombo

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #84 on: August 13, 2019, 07:56:51 PM »
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As to the coupler, I applaud BLI for doing a closer to scale-size coupler that apparently works well.   I had shared my Railroad Model Resources coupler drawings with them but as I don't have any BLI Mikados to look at I can't determine if the coupler is derived from them.   I do not see the extended knuckle bar which is a key component to retain the "gather area" matching the normal M-T 1015 coupler.  This prevents lousy trackwork so prevalent on NTRAK and home layouts from allowing couplers to ride over each other on bad rail joints.   Hornby-Rivarossi implemented the design but as discussed here and elsewhere apparently did not test samples from the tooling to see if they would reliably couple and uncouple with M-T and other brands of knuckle couplers. 
Working on it!
Charlie Vlk
Railroad Model Resources

Hi Charlie. 

The coupler seems to be a spin-off of the Accumate design, but is clearly somewhat smaller than either the Accumate or the MT 1015.  Whatever it is, it has zero problems coupling with my 1015-equipped cars, and I've been using one of the Mikes to pull a 20-car train around the layout with no uncoupling issues.  I don't know what your design is like, but whatever this one is, it works, at least on my home layout, which has pretty good trackwork.  On an NTrak layout, who knows.  But I'll get to test that when our club sets up at a local library in December.

John C.


prr7161

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #85 on: August 13, 2019, 10:57:57 PM »
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I have one loco that I couldn't program. BLI said try CV 217 - 20 on the main in PO mode.. If that doesn't work try CV 217 - 50, this worked for me.

Thanks for this idea - so I am clear, did setting the CV217 value on the main let the loco read on the programming track?

FWIW, I paged through the manual and apparently the Err 02 message comes up on these things due to a capacitor recharging at the beginning of the programming cycle.  The official manual advice is to re-enter the address info several times quickly to get in front of this recharge cycle.  It didn't work (pushing a bunch of buttons really fast in hopes something good would happen never worked for me with video game controllers either...).


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Cajonpassfan

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #86 on: August 14, 2019, 12:50:56 AM »
+1
Today, I was going to work on the layout but instead I ended up playing with my new BLI Mike toy, and ordered another one  :facepalm:
Well, it wasn’t all play, I did some testing. Uphill on the 2.2% ruling grade, she’s good for about 15 cars on a local, or in helper service, the other way, on the 1%, she handled 24 cars competently. What really impressed me was the steady, rock solid and even performance on the steep 3% downgrade where other power stumbles a bit, with resulting bouncy bouncy of the train. Very impressed still.

There are a couple of minor annoyances: the headlight is a bit bright for my taste and while it dims while standing, I wish there was a CV to adjust its brightness. Perhaps some yellow translucent gel on the LED? Thoughts/advice?
The other is my favorite peeve: why do most manufacturers insist on “directional” lighting? The headlight should stay on while backing onto its train. Stupid imho...

Still, it’s a great performer, I hope it lasts...
Pics below,
Otto K.

« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 01:04:12 AM by Cajonpassfan »

peteski

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #87 on: August 14, 2019, 01:45:35 AM »
0
There are a couple of minor annoyances: the headlight is a bit bright for my taste and while it dims while standing, I wish there was a CV to adjust its brightness. Perhaps some yellow translucent gel on the LED? Thoughts/advice?
The other is my favorite peeve: why do most manufacturers insist on “directional” lighting? The headlight should stay on while backing onto its train. Stupid imho...

Looking at Spookshow's photo, you could dim the headlight the old fashion way - splice an extra resistor into the headlight wire harness. Maybe a 3.3, 4.7, or 5.1k ohm? Or maybe even higher value?


As for why the directional headlights:  Why because these are toy trains. That is probably how most modelers use them.  I suspect that only small percentage of N scale modelers tries to emulate realistic RR operation. Not trying to put you down - just being realistic.
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rrjim1

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #88 on: August 14, 2019, 07:02:07 AM »
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Thanks for this idea - so I am clear, did setting the CV217 value on the main let the loco read on the programming track?

 
Yes.

brokemoto

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Re: BLI Mike initial impressions
« Reply #89 on: August 14, 2019, 08:14:38 AM »
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The coupler is working fine on mine.  My trackwork is mediocre.  In fact, someone cited a hump on the UniTRAM trackage on which I photographed my BLI and MP.

I have been running mine with eighteen loaded hoppers, of various manufacture, and a Fox Valley waggontop caboose for some time.  I have yet to have a breakaway.