Author Topic: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy  (Read 402 times)

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Teditor

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Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« on: November 01, 2019, 07:30:25 PM »
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Probably covered before, but I have been unable to find info.

Early Athearn (N Scale) Big Boy on programming track using NCE Powercab shows manufacturer as being number 130 (which I am unable to find a reference to).

The loco has lost its Big Boy sounds and reverted to some sort of Generic steam sound.

I am unable to find references as to how to reset to default and/or tune the CV's.

Any help appreciated.
Ted (Teditor) Freeman
From The Land Down Under.

peteski

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2019, 07:43:51 PM »
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I'm pretty sure that the early run of Big Boy had MRC decoders (the ones which often fried and melted the tender shells).   I think they came with remote controls to control the sound when running on DC.

I did a quick DuckDuckGo search and found  https://www.nmra.org/sites/default/files/standards/sandrp/pdf/appendix_a_s-9.2.2.pdf

It shows ID 130 belonging to cmOS Engineering (in Australia).  Could someone have replaced the factory decoder?
I never heard of cmOS Engineering, but I'm in USA.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

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Teditor

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2019, 07:55:28 PM »
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Peteski,

Interesting, as this loco was donated to the club I'm in and as far as is known is all original, the headlight appears to have stopped working around the same time as the sounds changed (possibly during a short circuit on the layout).

I am unable to get the loco to respond to resets (tried CV 8 to 8 and CV30 to 2), it runs alright except for fine motor control, sounds exist through the NCE controllers (just all the wrong sounds, ie; non-articulated chuff, shrill whistle).

Ted (Teditor) Freeman
From The Land Down Under.

C855B

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2019, 08:42:44 PM »
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Stock decoder should have mfr. ID = 143; I cannot explain the 130. IF it's the stock decoder, to reset, set CV125 = 1.

I take it you do not have the remote, because there is also a reset procedure on DC (must be on DC): Throttle up until hearing sounds, turn power off (leaving throttle untouched), then hold STP button while turning power back on. The decoder will speak "program". Release button, it will say "program" again. Wait 2 seconds, press STP again, then repeat the 2 second wait plus STP four more times. After the fifth button release, it will make a steam release sound, which is confirmation of a full reset to factory defaults. Then put back on DCC, and it should then run on address = 3 with the default sounds.

It has to be said I was never able to get it to reset with CV125 = 1. DC reset with remote worked fine. Hope you can find that remote.  :|
« Last Edit: November 01, 2019, 08:46:37 PM by C855B »
...mike

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C855B

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2019, 09:10:54 PM »
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cmOS Engineering is currently active in LCC: http://www.cmoseng.com.au/ModelRailway.html. That is likely why they have an assigned mfr. #.  I can find no traces of them as a DCC decoder supplier.
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

Teditor

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2019, 10:01:25 PM »
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Thanks for the help guys, I do in fact have the remote so hopefully can do something successful, the 130 as a manufacturers number is as stated, their manufacture of other DCC components, but not decoders, has Halloween acted on this loco in a demonic manner?

I will be trying the suggestions at the club today, will keep posted.

Ted (Teditor) Freeman
From The Land Down Under.

conrad

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2019, 10:05:21 PM »
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Was going to suggest using JMRI to find decoder but a search of https://www.jmri.org/xml/decoders/ does not show cmOS Engineering listed.

bty almost positive headlights on older Athearn "MRC" Big Boys and Challengers are incandescent.  They eventually blow.

Conrad

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2019, 10:11:58 PM »
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Thanks for the help guys, I do in fact have the remote so hopefully can do something successful, the 130 as a manufacturers number is as stated, their manufacture of other DCC components, but not decoders, has Halloween acted on this loco in a demonic manner?

I will be trying the suggestions at the club today, will keep posted.

Ted (Teditor) Freeman
From The Land Down Under.

Do you have the Athearn manual?  If not I have the Challenger "MRC" manual from 2007.

Conrad

Teditor

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2019, 07:11:46 AM »
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Thanks everyone, problem solved, by resetting the incorrect 130 to 143, I was able to get everything back into order.

The loco is now running great, still no headlight and sound a bit muffled, but it is the early MRC equipped model.

Ted (Teditor) Freeman
From The Land Down Under.

peteski

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2019, 09:56:32 AM »
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Thanks everyone, problem solved, by resetting the incorrect 130 to 143, I was able to get everything back into order.

The loco is now running great, still no headlight and sound a bit muffled, but it is the early MRC equipped model.


The manufacturer's ID is stored in CV8.  That is a read-only CV (in all the decoders I have ever worked with).  It is also usually used as a CV for resetting the decoder.  When you write to it, the decoder accepts the data, but it should not change its readable contents.

Are you saying that you wrote 143 to CV8 and it accepted it?!  And that make the decoder work properly?  I'm  puzzled, but happy for you.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

-"Look at me, I'm satirical!!!"
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C855B

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2019, 10:12:43 AM »
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... Are you saying that you wrote 143 to CV8 and it accepted it?!  And that make the decoder work properly?  I'm  puzzled, but happy for you.

Ditto.
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

robert3985

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2019, 11:48:55 PM »
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How to solve all of the early, remote equipped Athearn Big Boy and Challenger models DCC problems:

(1) Open up tender
(2) Remove MRC POS decoder
(3) Strike removed MRC POS decoder at least three strong blows with Stanley Roofing Hammer after placing it on a scrap piece of 2X4
(4) Throw destroyed MRC POS decoder into trash
(5) Install Soundtrax Tsunami2 #TSU-1100 pt# 884006 decoder
(6) Program
(7) Run
( 8 ) Problem solved

Soundtraxx Tsunami2 steam decoders sound much better than ESU Loksound, so I recommend them for every steam install where they'll fit.  For diesels, ESU Loksound all the way.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
« Last Edit: November 02, 2019, 11:51:21 PM by robert3985 »

conrad

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2019, 10:56:31 AM »
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Yes, I recommend this BEFORE the MRC decoder melts the top of the tender.  Ask me how I know.

Conrad

jdcolombo

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2019, 11:07:15 AM »
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Generally agree with Bob.

However, SOME ESU steam files sound great - for example, the Select files for the SP 4-8-4 Daylight; the UP FEF (4-8-4); the Soo Line Mikado; and the Big Boy/Challenger.  All these files were updated in 2017.

Biggest problem right now is that ESU hasn't updated these files for the new series 5 DCC decoders; hope they are working on it.

My experience has been that matching driver rotation to chuff sounds is easier with the ESU decoder than the Tsunami 2, but YMMV. 

John C.

robert3985

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Re: Early N Scale Athearn Big Boy
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2019, 05:11:43 PM »
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Generally agree with Bob.

However, SOME ESU steam files sound great - for example, the Select files for the SP 4-8-4 Daylight; the UP FEF (4-8-4); the Soo Line Mikado; and the Big Boy/Challenger.  All these files were updated in 2017.

Biggest problem right now is that ESU hasn't updated these files for the new series 5 DCC decoders; hope they are working on it.

My experience has been that matching driver rotation to chuff sounds is easier with the ESU decoder than the Tsunami 2, but YMMV. 

John C.

Thanks John for the ESU update.  I'm pretty happy with my old Tsunami's...especially the whistle and being able to turn off lower frequency sounds. Since my intent is also to have Challengers on the rear of some Big Boy pulled freights, it's probably important the decoders are the same.  Smaller helpers attached at the front won't be a problem, but pushing/pulling a train might be problematic.

Just for anybody who might be thinking of replacing the original first-run MRC decoders in their Athearn Big Boy or Challenger, be aware that they don't sound very good using the factory presets.  John C., who is the guru of N-scale sound DCC installs, took a lot of time to put together what he does to make his Tsunami sound decoders in the Athearn models sound better, so I'm copying his settings here for your convenience:

Here is John Colombo's post where he messes with the Sountraxx equipped Athearn Big Boy back in April of 2013.  This is where I started when messing with mine and many of the setting I left as John recommends. Here's the quote:

"I did some more tweaking, and here's where I ended up CV-wise (anything not on this list is factory default)

CV2 - 0
CV3 - 40
CV4 - 20
CV112 - 83 (sets articulated sound mode with "slow slip" to make the engines go in and out of sync slowly)
CV115 - 1 (different whistle; the "steamboat" whistle just doesn't do it for me with the small speaker in this engine)
CV116 - 122 (chuff rate)
CV128 - 192 (master volume; factory default)
CV129 - 225 (whistle volume)
CV130 - 30 (bell volume)
CV131 - 25 (exhaust volume)
CV132 - 48 (air pump volume; factory default)
CV133 - 8 (dynamo volume)
CV153 - 7 (enables user eq curve)
CV154 - 0
CV155 - 0
CV156 - 230
CV157 - 220
CV158 - 220
CV159 - 128 (factory default)
CV160 - 128 (factory default)
CV209 - 50
CV210 - 25

I haven't played around with the DDE sound effects yet, but probably will at some point.  I don't know why Athearn used such a dinky speaker given the size of the tender; I can't believe that engineering this to use a 14 x 25 or 16 x 30mm oval in an internal sealed enclosure would have been that difficult.  Speaker replacement is on my to-do list, but the sound is good enough now that such a project can be put off.  Still, it drives me nuts.  Doesn't anyone in the model train industry have a home stereo?  Bigger really is better on this front, and sealed boxes, folks, unless you're going to engineer a bass-reflex system, which would be mostly useless for the size of speakers we deal with (not so useless in HO).

John C. "

Especially important for proper "Big Boy" sound is changing the whistle to "1" as the factory set whistle (or "steamboat whistle" ) is totally incorrect.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore