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TCS KAT12 Decoder Problem

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TCS KAT12 Decoder Problem
Posted by wobblinwheel on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 9:51 PM

Sometime in the last two years, I purchased and installed two TCS KAT 12 decoders into two Hornby A4 Class OO scale locomotives. Both of these engines needed the "Keep Alive" features of these decoders, as neither of these locos had power pickup from the tenders, and they would stall on insulated-frog turnouts. These decoders worked great, and the A4'S would coast with ease through turnouts at the slowest speeds. Well, not anymore. I have had to fabricate pickups in both tenders to get through the points at slow speed. After emailing TCS about the problem, they pretty much let me in on the fact that the "keep alive" in these decoders is pretty much crap, and I need to "upgrade" to their "newest" hardware, AND that my two decoders were clearly out of warranty, so sorry.... what I think is "sorry" is the fact they KNOW the "keep alive" in these decoders is doomed to failure, and they're not very willing to do anything about it. Have any of you guys had issues with these decoders? Oh, I forgot to mention that one of the so-equipped has begun to just "die" periodically, and after sitting on the track, with power applied, for an extended period of time, would suddenly "come back to life", and run just fine! "Keep alive" possibly the culprit here too (according to TCS)... do you suppose the capacitors can just be cut out of the circuit, and the decoders might at least stop cutting out on me? These decoders perform GREAT, by the way, except for that....

 

Mike C.

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Posted by tstage on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 10:09 PM

Mike,

It's possible they had some bad caps with those particular decoders.  It happens and you don't know until things start going wrong.

If you're handy with a soldering iron and know what cap is used then you might be able to replace them.  My guess though is that TCS won't disseminate that information.  It's worth asking them, nonetheless.

Tom

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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 10:34 PM

wobblinwheel
Have any of you guys had issues with these decoders?

Yes.

I installed one in a Life-Like Proto 0-8-0 that lacked tender pickup (later models did have tender truck pickups) and recently ran the engine after it had sat for a few months. Similar to your Hornbys, it sputtered and inched along as if it had dirty wheels, and NO keep alive.

I had to look at my records since I was pretty sure it did have a KAT 12 in it. After doing a little internet digging I found out about the early demise of these decoders.

I have three other engines with them which are on the "RIP track" for decoder replacement. I'm pretty sure I have a bunch of KAT22s in my stock so it should be an easy swap.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by wobblinwheel on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 10:46 PM

Does it make sense that bad caps would kill the track power to the decoder? The only lighting used on these is "firebox flicker" (British steamers ain't got headlights). When the loco "dies", the flicker dies as well. No response to anything. Red and black wires to decoder have power. If I just remove the caps, would the decoder still work?

Mike C.

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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 10:50 PM

wobblinwheel
Does it make sense that bad caps would kill the track power to the decoder?

I think that's certainly possible. I'm curious myself and when I get time I'm going to cut the shrink-wrap off and see if I can wire in a separate KA-2, 3 or 4 in place of the on-board caps. 

Still, a KA2 is $30+ and the whole KAT-22 decoder is only $15 more. Is it worth messing with?

Good Luck, Ed

 

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Posted by wobblinwheel on Thursday, January 04, 2018 12:44 AM

I really don't have the cash right now to spend on two new decoders, and since I've corrected the pick-up problem, I'd kinda like to see if I can fix these. Curiosity is killin'me too! Funny thing is, it seems the more I run the one that cuts out, the LESS it fails! I guarantee though, if it sits long enough, I'll play **** getting it started without some wait time, and one day that won't work. Kinda like my car....

Mike C.

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Posted by wobblinwheel on Thursday, January 04, 2018 1:09 AM

Well, I'll be! I just got an email from Tech Support, and they say they will replace/upgrade my decoders UNDER WARRANTY! Kinda hard to complain about that....! It is a bit of a dawg to replace these things, as they are in the loco and not the tender, and due to lack of room, I had to eliminate the socket and hardwire them in...oh well, still can't ask for more on their part. Good service, I'd say...! Edit: By the way, does anyone know if the Kat2 decoder is going to be BIGGER??

Mike C.

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, January 04, 2018 6:58 AM

The specs on their page say the KAT22 is the same size as the KAT12. 

                      --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by Geared Steam on Thursday, January 04, 2018 6:45 PM

Good to hear, I did have an issue with a KAT22 where the Keep Alive simply stopped working. I sent it in and recieved a brand new model a week later.

TCS has always been good in supporting the customer, maybe it was a misunderstanding that they quickly corrected.

All in all, I have had a good experience with TCS.

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."-Albert Einstein

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Posted by wobblinwheel on Thursday, January 04, 2018 8:22 PM

My "dilemma" now is I'm not all that sure I want to tear into these engines to fix something that might not REALLY need fixing! Both of these locos have "linkages" that attach to the eccentrics on the drivers, AND the loco bodies. One side is the speedometer drive, and the other is the lubricator. Very tedious to say the least, and they're hardwired in... and they're working ok. Right now... decisions, decisions...

Mike C.

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Posted by wobblinwheel on Friday, January 05, 2018 7:02 PM

Any suggestions? Think these things might get WORSE if I don't replace them now?

Mike C.

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Posted by wobblinwheel on Sunday, January 07, 2018 11:45 PM

Well, all is not as well as I thought. After running the troublesome loco (the one that would "die" periodically), for several hours, off and on for two days, it died again last night. I had been running it off and on all day yesterday, and it ran PERFECTLY! I came in late last night and attempted to run it again before I went to bed. No luck...dead! I left power on it for about an hour... nothing. This morning, turned the power on... guess what, runs perfectly! Been running off and on ALL DAY! Can anybody explain this? What in the world can cause such "random" behavior?? Can the Keep Alive capacitors be this FINICKY? I guess I'll have to send it back for replacement. I've printed out the form already. By the way, nobody has said what might happen if cut out the caps?

Mike C.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, January 08, 2018 6:56 AM

 It should be fine if you disconnect the caps. Then you'd have a basic T1 decoder. There's nothing special about the KAT series other than they incorporated the keep alive in the package instead of having a seperate unit. 

                                    --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by wobblinwheel on Monday, January 08, 2018 2:10 PM

You know, if I'm gonna tear into the loco to cut out the caps, I guess I should just send it back for replacement, JUST IN CASE the caps aren't the whole problem with the decoder dying. I hate to be so indecisive about this, but I've always hated sending stuff back as opposed to trying to fix it myself. This is how I learn things. Sometimes it works. Sometimes....

Mike C.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, January 08, 2018 3:10 PM

 Well, if you are going to go to the trouble of opening the loco, just send the decoders back, don't alter them. Since TCS will honor the warranty, there's no sense in messing around. They stopped sellign that version and only sell the KAT22 version, so there had to be a reason for that. I suspect that the idea was for the KAT12 to be smaller, and as such the capacitors are lower voltage, the grouping of them just barely above common HO DCC voltage, as in it wouldn't take much to go above the rating (which other than the keep alive capacitors, would be no problem at all for the decoder or the locos).  No idea for sure without examining one, and I doubt TCS would tell you that, so instead they honor the warranty long after the time is up and replace those that fail. Just take advantage of it and don't mess around wth them any longer, in the long run you will be happier.

                           --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by wobblinwheel on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 6:59 PM

I agree 100%. 

Mike C.

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