January 1, 2017

Osceola has a split personality

The complete Aquia Line locomotive fleet - soon to be all sound and DCC equipped.


The new year is starting with a wimper. Alicia and I are still suffering from nasty colds. This has been day 15 for me. In order to salvage something from the day, I decided to install a Stanton Battery DCC system in engine Osceola. This is the newest SMR locomotive I have. It is the only one in my fleet that has the motor and gear box in the boiler. It is also a very small locomotive. 

Planning the installation
If you recall, the Stanton Battery System has 5 main pieces. The first is the decoder, a standard Tsunami decoder that has been modified by NWSL (the Stanton distributor) to include a radio receiver. The two systems are housed in a single piece of heat shrink insulation. This is too wide for the boiler

There is also a LiPo battery and an additional circuit card for the Battery Power Supply (BPS). The BPS takes care of charging the battery safely and providing clean power to the decoder. The final component is a speaker. 

Since the boiler tube on this loco is too small to house the decoder and radio subassembly, I decided to put all the electronics in the tender. The battery just fit in the back of the tender. The BPS and radio/decoder will go in the opening for the wood pile. I'll put the speaker in the wood pile also. Unfortunately, I don't have a small speaker on hand, so I will use a temporary speaker for now. 

This loco was a bit tricky to disassemble, but after about an hour I had it sufficiently apart to start the installation. I removed the existing wiring harness and created a new one. There is one pick-up wire from the port side pilot truck. The starboard side of the loco is shorted to the frame and the wheels on that side are the starboard pick ups. 

All wires connected
The tender has pickups on the port side only and they short  to the tender frame. This means if the metal drawbar touches the tender frame, the loco shorts. All of the SMR locos I have do this. It can be a problem is the insulation on the tender drawbar post comes loose, which it often does when handling the locos. I use glue to hold the insulation in place, but a plastic drawbar would also solve the issue.

Once I had the track power wires routed to the tender, I ran two output wires from the decoder to the motor. I also ran two wires to the headlight.  These go though black heat shrink insulation to create a protective harness. I did not use plugs. The plugs are a pain in the petunias when you handle the locos. This loco will be hard wired.

I then used electrical tape to wrap the remaining wires into bundles and got it all crammed into the tender.  The BPS and radio/decoder are in the wood pile opening  and are easily accessible for maintenance. This is going to prove very useful in a few paragraphs.

Then I got the loco reassembled. I had to solder back some of the fine detail that broke during disassembly. But the nice thing about brass is that it is usually easy to fix and repairs can be strong. 
A quick test run without a speaker showed that all was wired correctly and it ran. The radio location creates a strong reception. I can control the loco from the far side of the basement.

I hooked up a spare speaker I had on hand and was surprised to hear the sounds of a diesel. I checked the paper work that came with the decoder, and sure enough it was a Tsunami T1000 Diesel decoder. Then I recalled, I got this decoder in a trade. I never verified that it was a steamer.  So now I have a steam engine that thinks its a diesel. This sounds like an episode of Thomas the Tank engine.

Nonetheless, the engine runs very smoothly with  nice slow speed and a bright headlight. So that was encouraging. However, it doesn't have a lot of pulling capacity. Three-five cars is fine on the flat, but up a grade or around a sharp curve it has trouble with three cars. Adding weight helps, but it will need some more tuning to work out.

In the meantime, I am going to order a Stanton steam decoder and new BPS.  Since I last got a Stanton system, they have improved the BPS design. It can now take the power off the rails and route directly to the decoder if the rail power is of sufficient voltage. If the rail power drops out, the battery takes over. Meantime the system is keeping the battery charged up. Essentially, it becomes a keep  alive with a massive battery. It is possible to retrofit the current BPS with two diodes. But I plan to leave well enough alone on my other locos for now.

So until the new decoder arrives, Osceola is one very confused, wimpy, but fine running loco.  

No comments:

Post a Comment