Odyssey System 4-6-6-4 Challenger

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  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Odyssey System 4-6-6-4 Challenger
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 6, 2001 2:29 PM
One of our readers offered to share his opinion of CTT's review of Lionel's UP Challenger (March 2001) in this forum. What do you think?

Jim Schulz
Associate Editor, Trains.com

"I'm glad to see you guys review the new Lionel Challenger, however, why not review this train in command control only. I think some readers might think the odyssey system is difficult to operate from your discription of its function. I recently purchased the new Canadian Pacific SD-90 mac, with the odyssey system, from Lionel. Our layout is 800+ sections of pre-war "T" rail from Lionel, powered with three "ZW's", a fourth transformer is used for lighting. Upon starting this superbly detailed, Herculean diesel, I realized for the first time what true scale model railroading was all about. This engine, powered by two can motors with momentum flywheels, peforms better than any train I've ever operated. The odyssey speed control allows this train operate to exact-scale characteristics of the giant 80 foot big-brother. It will creep at unbelieveably slow speeds and automatically maintain that speed around the entire layout with seemless perfection, and yet it will go entirely too fast for any layout, if that's your game. Any speed I want my train to go, "so let it be written, so let it be done!" You wrote in the article: "We expected a torrent of smoke from the engine.....neither engine we tested really jetted the smoke skyward." My C.P. SD-90 mac produces cataclysmic amounts of smoke if I want it too, by pressing the smoke "on" button four times or so(this heats the element up), I mean, after one lap of "turbo"smoke on, I turn it off for a while-via cab-1. You also stated: "the worst I can say is that it doesn't coast well. When this engine stops, it stops." With the momentum set to "H" on the cab-1, my C.P. slows to absolute realistic proportions, slowly with realistic "squeal-sounds"activated. The horn is the easily more impressive than any diesel I've heard, plus, the diesel motor sounds are perfect. I want everyone at your magazine to know that in my eyes, this is absolutely the most detailed, most realistic looking diesel train ever, backed up with epic performance. As far as your test of the Challenger goes, I believe using a command controlled train in the conventional mode is worse than letting your ice-cream melt before you eat it. Why would anyone do that? If your running an old train, then conventional mode is fine, but who buys a $1,700 command train for conventional use? Surely they would have the money to set themselves up with at least one track dedicated to command control which would unlock the trains' potential. I would love to see more information on the Challenger reviewed exclusively in the command environment, but I think I will review one myself.....the black Challenger that is currently under our layout in an unopened box. VIVA COMMAND CONTROL!"
  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: US
  • 440 posts
Posted by Algonquin on Tuesday, February 6, 2001 10:49 PM
Hi Jim,

I just recieved my copy of the March CTT yesterday. I read the review on the train home tonight. These are my opinions:

I believe there are a lot of us that still buy TMCC/Odyssey engines and run them in conventional mode. I did not add TMCC to my layout until this last year and I know from other forums, that there are others who have the Challanger that do not have TMCC. This and the fact that Lionel has clearly indicated that these trains can be operated in conventional mode should make testing in conventional mode during a review an important part of the review. I disagree with the above comments in this respect.

However, I do have to agree with the commenter that the description of how Odyssey is turned on and off, as written in the CTT review, was very confusing.

After reading the entire review in CTT, I got the general impression/feel that the review was rushed. With all the new fetures being added for the first time and the level of detail that is on this engine, I felt that the review should have covered many of these areas in more depth. It just felt, as I was reading it, that it was covering two much to fast.

Another issue the above commented brings up is that of the momentum controls associated with TMCC. This feature of TMCC, being buried inside the CAB-1 lower compartment, seems to get missed by reviewers and operators alike. I have about 12 TMCC engines and I have never played with the momentum controls. Other than the very first TMCC reviews, I don't recall reviewers testing engines at different momentum settings. This might be something we want to add as a standard part of TMCC engine reviews.

There are a lot of intricacies associated with these new train technologies that may need to be taken into consideration when we do reviews. Setting the stall voltages on TMCC engines before lashing them together helps them work better together (less tendancy for one to start before the other).

I would imagine that then the MTH DCS controller comes out, PS-2 locomotives will also need to have some new things taken into considration when they are reviewed. With technology changing so fast, our testing specifications much change just as fast so that product reviews can test all features the way the manufacturers designed them to function.

Does CTT have standard specifications for testing locomotives. I know for the most part the reviews tend to be consistent, so there must be something in writing that identifies what is to be done for a review. Whatever it is, it needs to be kept up to date.

Just my opinions. Thanks for asking.

CTT Subsciber from the beginning (1987)
Tim P.

A penny saved is a penny earned. But every once in a while it is good to treat yourself to a gum ball.

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