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BLI trackmobile stalling

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BLI trackmobile stalling
Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 9:43 PM

I would like to hear from owners of Broadway Ltd trackmobiles, about any stalling problems they have experienced??

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Posted by G Paine on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 10:38 PM

Do you own one and am having problems or are you thinking of buying one? The short wheelbase could result in stalling.

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, January 23, 2020 8:16 AM

I've kinda'sorta wanted one to, but I'm staying away from BLI.  Too many threads in here on BLI locomotives.

Mike.

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, January 23, 2020 8:23 AM

mbinsewi

I've kinda'sorta wanted one to, but I'm staying away from BLI.  Too many threads in here on BLI locomotives.

Mike. 

Nah, the only real issues with BLI are associated with their proprietary decoder on their Paragon 3 steam engines.

I don't own a Trackmobile, but the wheelbase is so short that a powered frog would seem mandatory.

Rich

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, January 23, 2020 8:28 AM

I sometimes wonder why some manufacturers are able to make smooth running, tiny HOn30 0-4-0s, that do not stall on a turnout with plastic frogs, and some have issues with much larger and heavier engines.

The BLI Trackmobile should have enough space to incorporate a keep-alive system.

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, January 23, 2020 10:14 AM

 If Wolfgang could fit a SOUND decoder and speaker in one of those Grandt Line boxcabs (and an even smaller one) AND not have the cab filled up with a speaker, it should be doable for sound in a Trackmobile. 

 Certainly room for a keep alive of some sort. The little Walthers Plymouth loco has enough keep alive for a dozen locos, so a cut down one with less duration should work for a Trackmobile.

                                  --Randy


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Posted by nealknows on Thursday, January 23, 2020 8:44 PM

I have 3 of them; 2 DC one DCC. The only thing you want to check to see if there is some build-up of dirt on the wheels, which can happen. Track needs to be cleaned very well. I have a dioramma which uses a trackmobile as a demo and it runs flawlessly. If it stalls, I clean the track and it goes on its way!

Neal

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Posted by blackpowder1956 on Thursday, January 23, 2020 9:16 PM

I have a five year old BLI Trackmobile in UP livery. It zips around my Digitraxx  10x17 foot layout with no problem what so ever. I have Peco code 83 track with Peco insulfrog switches. Your problem may be dirty track or dirty wheels. Hard to say.

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, January 24, 2020 7:27 AM

 Brian, thank you for providing me an opportunity to rant about a peeve:

A trackmobile will be moving a car, at best, at speed step 4.  It should be designed with this use in mind....just like any other short wheebased loco, IOW ALL switchers move slowly over frogs...like in a yard.

If it, or others, can't negotiate an unpowered frog at creeping speeds, it is a design flaw and is worth about 20% of MSRP.  Yes, switchers being unable to negotiate unpowered frogs at switching speeds is a peeve of mine.  Maybe they should all have keep-alive's from the factory?

Its why I generally only have the best switcher ever made to handle these duties, the Atlas S2.  Never a stall, ever. (and many modern businesses will have an old alco on the premises just for switching, so it is prototypical for a modern era scene)

Brian, after that rant, I would say that if the BLI does not come equipped with keep alive technology, you should expect it to stall over unpowered frogs upon the first attempt to run it at creeping speed, regardless of your trackwork.

Of course, an answer about slow creeping speeds over frogs by actual BLI users would be better than my expectations given what I've seen from short wheelbased (IOW, slow moving) locos over the past decade.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, January 24, 2020 7:38 AM

 It is in no way a design flaw if it can't go over unpowered frogs. It's a model train. It relies on electricity from the rails for power, not on-board power like the real thing. If there is no way to get power, there's no way it can move. To design a Trackmobile with the wheelbase of an S2 would be to make the most unrealistic looking Trackmobile ever produced. A Trackmobile can sit entirely on a #8 frog, probably almost all the way on a #6 frog as well - without electricity, it isn't going anywhere.

 Pretty much applie to anything that short (the EMD Model 40 from Roundhouse/Athearn comes to mind as well). No four axle, 2 truck loco should stall - but these things are much much smaller. Even a #8 is pushing it for shorter 4 axle power. And people with the spare outbuilding size layouts, they might even use #12's. Good luck with anything shorter than modern 6 axle power there.

                          --Randy


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Posted by Doughless on Friday, January 24, 2020 7:46 AM

rrinker

 It is in no way a design flaw if it can't go over unpowered frogs. It's a model train. It relies on electricity from the rails for power, not on-board power like the real thing. If there is no way to get power, there's no way it can move. To design a Trackmobile with the wheelbase of an S2 would be to make the most unrealistic looking Trackmobile ever produced. A Trackmobile can sit entirely on a #8 frog, probably almost all the way on a #6 frog as well - without electricity, it isn't going anywhere.

 Pretty much applie to anything that short (the EMD Model 40 from Roundhouse/Athearn comes to mind as well). No four axle, 2 truck loco should stall - but these things are much much smaller. Even a #8 is pushing it for shorter 4 axle power. And people with the spare outbuilding size layouts, they might even use #12's. Good luck with anything shorter than modern 6 axle power there.

                          --Randy

 

In modern times, yes, its a design flaw.  Back in the day of train set docksiders, things were just physically not possible.  Which is why they invented powered frogs, for the most part.

Powerd frogs are going away...less popular....dcc is emerging.  The technology exists for manufacturers to make short wheelbased locos negotiate dcc friendly frogs right from the box, without the customer than having to pop the shell and fiddle with the loco or the trackwork to make a slow moving loco actually work.

Its their job to make it work.  Not mine.  Or else, sell it to me at the price of a TYCO docksider, what, 20 bucks?  JMO

 

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Friday, January 24, 2020 7:49 AM

I see no reason why the BLI Trackmobile should not perform like this Minitrains Gmeinder 2-axle Diesel, shown running over Peco Insulfrog 9mm switches.

 The loco runs on DC, no keep alive or whatever, just as comes out of the box.

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, January 24, 2020 8:04 AM

Tinplate Toddler

I see no reason why the BLI Trackmobile should not perform like this Minitrains Gmeinder 2-axle Diesel, shown running over Peco Insulfrog 9mm switches.

 The loco runs on DC, no keep alive or whatever, just as comes out of the box.

 

That's an excellent example of what I'm talking about.  They should run that way right from the box.  No special wiring to the turnout, I suppose.

My rant stems from certain locos not performing.  No, its not my trackwork, since the Atlas S2 performs just fine.  Its the design, or maybe the assembly.  

I'm currently frustrated over all of my Tsunami equipped Athearn GP15s stalling on a Walthers #7.5 curved turnout.  Longer loco, longer frog, I get it. 

But the Intermountain GP10s and u18bs sail over them, even at speed step 1.  Atlas MP15s no problem.  Atlas S2s no problem.  Its not the turnout or the wheelbase, its the truck design of the GP15, or the signal sensitivity of the Tsunami relative to the Loksound/QSIs. 

Relatively speaking, the Athearn Tsunami equipped GP15 has a design flaw compared to the others. 

I'm not fiddling with them, or my trackwork.  I'm selling them immediately at probably a loss of $40 each, and will tell the tale on internet forums whenever the opportunity arises.  MSRP $279.  But golly, thanks for those proto specific applied details, LOL.

- Douglas

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Friday, January 24, 2020 8:29 AM

Douglas - DC engines are much more "forgiving" when it comes to a momentary loss of power - you know, that split second moment. However, a loss of the DCC signal for the same length of time results in the stalling of the engine.

2-axle engines require a little more care, when it comes to keeping the track clean, as well as the wheels and the pickups!

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, January 24, 2020 9:00 AM

Agreed.  I'm well aware.

Running different locos over the same track, dirty, mimimally wired, whatever, tells us which locos are the weak sisters relative to others.  If one loco can do it, all locos of the same wheelbase and same dc/dcc system should do it.  The fact that they can't, means the manufacturer of that loco simply didn't put enough thought into it as the others.   

For me, I don't tolerate that and don't try to resolve their QC issues on my time.  They don't pay me to be the final QC guy, so I just sell the locos and describe them as "operates to factory specs" and move on.  Its a hobby, an alotment of time.  Dealing with inferior designs is just not worth it anymore for me.

Ok, I hope Brian gets an answer to his specific question.Smile

BTW Brian, not that this matters, but a trackmobile might be parked at the very end of a spur, where its job is to travel down the spur and grab the cars and pull them, or push them, slowly to a destination that might only be a few hundred feet away.  A trackmoblie may never have to go through a frog.  Might be unavoidable on your layout, though.

- Douglas

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, January 24, 2020 9:04 AM

Tinplate Toddler
However, a loss of the DCC signal for the same length of time results in the stalling of the engine.

That's what Keep Alive decoders do keep locomotives from stalling from hiccups in the power.

 

Larry

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Summerset Ry.


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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, January 24, 2020 3:46 PM

Loksound 'Power Pack' keep alives work beautifully with their decoders.

If you want slow speed, here is a Loksound Select Micro with a Power Pack:

The boxcab is actually too slow. The main reason is that the gear ratio in the Bull Ant drive is 60:1 which is obviously too high. The boxcab also has code 88 wheels which is why it drops into the frog gap, but it certainly proves how well the keep alive works!

This is a copy of Wolfgang Dudler's 23 ton switcher. This has the same drive as the boxcab, but with a 30:1 gear ratio:

The engine sounds were not synchronized with the throttle settings at this point so the locomotive speeds up before the engine sound does.

Bull Ant drives are no longer available unfortunately but there are other options out there from companies like NWSL.

Both switchers were made by Grandt Line. They come either powered or unpowered. The powered ones use a questionable drive system so I used the unpowered kits and provided my own drives.

Dave

 

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, January 24, 2020 6:15 PM

 I'm sure the BLI Trackmobile will handle Peco Insulfrog turnouts just fine - the dead spot int he turnout is VERY small. But in the days of Tyco Docksiders - Atlas SNap Track turnouts had plastic frogs. The locos stalled PLENTY. We seem to forgot those days of constant table thumping and giving the loco a prod - this was VERY common with train set level equipment. And those were all small turnouts, the biggest commonly used would be a #6, but those were more often than not hand laid, which menat powered frogs. Now we can get #8s prefabbed from several manufacturers. Just looking at a Peco #8 I just got, there's zero chance you could use it witht he frog isolated but not powered - the dead space is nearly the full wheelbase of a small 4 axle switcher, nearly as long as an RS3. Anything shorter woudl be sitting completely on unpowered track if the frog were isolated and not powered, and there's no way that is a design flaw in the loco. I still don;t get how you can think that - if the loco is physically smaller than the dead space on the frog, how is that the LOCO manufacturer's problem? Unless they are building the things smaller than scale size. That makes no sense at all, to blame the loco maker. I await a solution to this that can transmit power through an insulating material.

 Powered frogs going away because of DCC? Hello? Powered frog were, and still are, superior in most every way - specifically because they all but emlininate any electrically dead areas. This may be even more important for DCC, as it's not the power that is the issue, but the actual control signal. 

 As for keep alives - I now have ONE loco with one. ANd it STINKS. Sure, it keeps the loco going over the dead part of an unpowered turnout. Or the unpowered surface of my desk - running for a minuter or two like a windup toy when taken off the rails. Only the 3 wire type used my ESU and Lenz really offer a solution - because they can be configured to limit the amount of time power is supplied to a short duration, enough to get a loco past a dead spot. 

 And dead rail is a long way off before it is practical. Notwithdtanding there being no standard, there also aren;t batteries that can work in a small loco like a Trackmobile in HO, or in N scale locos. The locos best suited to being fitted with dead rail on board batteries are locos that are big enough to not have stalling issues in the first place (in HO anyway - larger scale is different).

                                                    --Randy

 


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Posted by Doughless on Friday, January 24, 2020 9:17 PM

As I said,with today's technology, not yesterdays, a "modern" docksider should be able to go through a peco #8, IMO. So should a trackmobile.

Just put keep alives in all small switchers. All brands, all models. Build it into the price.  If they're too small, put a warning label on the box, like cigarettes "Wont operate over turnouts with insulated frogs".  Simple.

Why should somebody like Brian have to BUY it first to find that out? 

When a newbie gets somethng where he wants to creep some cars over some frogs, and it doesn't work, it prompts them to leave the hobby.

 

My GP15s enter a 7.5 curved frog and stall. (As do the newly arrived GP7Us btw).  That's 4 Athearn locos.   The Atlas MP15s and S2s do not.  The InterMountain GP10s and U18Bs do not.

Its not the frogs fault.  Its not my fault.  Its Athearn's fault.  They chinced on the design, or tsunamis are more sensitive.  Had to buy them to find that out.  Never again.

JMO, but right out of the box, a switcher should creep over any frog.  That's what switchers do.  Switch cars, at slow speeds, usually over frogs. 

Maybe Athearn doesn't know this? 

Atlas and InterMountain seem to.

BTW, been searching for years on how to make tsunamis creep at slow speeds as well as the QSIs and Loksounds.  The information went something like this: Set bit 4 of CV something to 12, unless its something else then just add 2....but index this to that first; fiddle faddle with page 1027 in the manual that refers you back to page 397.  Something about motor trim. 

After several years of trying to figure it out, I finally found a simple answer:  

Set CV 215 to somewhere around 15, depending upon how slow you want it. Bang Head

 

 

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Posted by ET44C4 and GEN SET II on Saturday, January 25, 2020 5:35 AM
So my DCC Trackmobile is also running. It can pull or push 3 '60' cars. If there are more than 4 cars, a switcher is used ...

Old profile was GM SD70ACe

BNSF MODELLBAHN  ---  EUROPEAN RAILWAY MODELS

BNSF MODELLBAHN  --- US RAILROAD

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Posted by railandsail on Saturday, January 25, 2020 12:22 PM

First off in case it was misunderstood, I do NOT own one of these yet. I am very interested in having one or 2 roaming around in several spots on my layout. I am using amost exclusively Peco code 100 insulafrog turnouts (non-powered frogs). Yes I do want them to operate in slow switching operations.

I will be using DCC. I do NOT care to have sound in this little critter. BUT I do like this flashing light installation.

https://youtu.be/dH4HfMmvvNI

 

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, January 25, 2020 12:53 PM

 If anything, the dead section in an Insulfrog is too SHORT - tometimes wheels short the two pieces of rail right near the palstic point. Otherwise, the dead area is so small, anything will run over them.

 As for the #8 - I just measured one. If you cut the gaps but DON'T power the frog, it's a 6" long dead section! What's that, almost 3 whole Trackmobiles? NOTHING would get over that without a keep alive.

 But power the frog the way you are supposed to, since it's all rail, and anything should go through, at totally creepy-crawly speed. 

                                   --Randy

 


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Posted by Doughless on Saturday, January 25, 2020 1:32 PM

railandsail

First off in case it was misunderstood, I do NOT own one of these yet. I am very interested in having one or 2 roaming around in several spots on my layout. I am using amost exclusively Peco code 100 insulafrog turnouts (non-powered frogs). Yes I do want them to operate in slow switching operations.

I will be using DCC. I do NOT care to have sound in this little critter. BUT I do like this flashing light installation.

https://youtu.be/dH4HfMmvvNI

 

 

Read the literature and see if they have a factory decoder with keep alive technology installed.  It will be prominently advertised if it does, but probably conspicuously silent if it doesn't. 

If it's dcc already but doesn't have keep alive too, you have two options:

1) Do the extra work on your layout to make that little expensive guy work like its supposed to.

2) Take out the pointless non keep alive decoder that you paid for, trash it,  and install the proper decoder for this little guy yourself, at your time and extra expense.

If it's a DC loco and you're going to install dcc yourself, you'll have to decide whether to install a keep alive too or to power all of the frogs you intend to run this over. 

- Douglas

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, January 25, 2020 8:28 PM

railandsail
I will be using DCC. I do NOT care to have sound in this little critter. BUT I do like this flashing light installation.

Hi Brian,

The flashing lights will be easy to set up if you use a Lokpilot Micro.

http://www.esu.eu/en/products/lokpilot/lokpilot-micro-v40/

The Loksound 'Power Pack' keep alive is fairly small but you would have to take a Trackmobile apart to see if there is any space. I suspect that it would have to go into the cab which might not be as bad as you might think if it was painted to match. You can do things like cut the engineer in half vertically if necessary to maintain the appearance that there is someone driving the wee beast.

http://www.esu.eu/en/products/accessories/powerpacks/powerpack-mini/

One of the members at my old club has a Trackmobile. He has run it on the portable layout. The layout suffers from locomotives stalling regularly but he had no problems that I am aware of.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, January 26, 2020 5:59 AM

rrinker
  As for keep alives - I now have ONE loco with one. ANd it STINKS. Sure, it keeps the loco going over the dead part of an unpowered turnout. Or the unpowered surface of my desk - running for a minuter or two like a windup toy when taken off the rails. Only the 3 wire type used my ESU and Lenz really offer a solution - because they can be configured to limit the amount of time power is supplied to a short duration, enough to get a loco past a dead spot.

Don't most KA utilize some sort of capacitors? And can't the size and/or number of capacitors be adjusted to limit the time of KA??

I've seen several folks touting their KA's that are just toooooo long to be practical. Confused

 

 

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, January 26, 2020 6:07 AM

The buffer time of a keep alive "power pack" can usually be adjusted via CV setting to fit your needs.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, January 26, 2020 6:20 AM

I did see that 'adjustment' feature mentioned by Dave AFTER I had posted my reply....BTW, thanks Dave for that interesting posting.

I was looking into this subject BEFORE I made any decision to buy 1 of these creatures, because I thought it would be foolish to get a DCC one then have to trash that decoder in favor of one that would do specifically what one wanted.

And of course size is a big matter with installation in such a small loco. I wanted to see specically what had been tried already.

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Posted by Doughless on Sunday, January 26, 2020 7:38 AM

railandsail

 Yes I do want them to operate in slow switching operations.

 

 

Brian, since you haven't set your heart on buying one here is more info FWIW:

Trackmobiles typically are not really switching cars around a yard or multiple spurs.  They not really switchers, per se.

They are usually just taking a cut of a few cars that a loco placed on a spur, maybe even one car, and spotting it at the industry's dock or under a grain spout.  The loco may not be allowed to do that because of weight restrictions placed on the spur (many times the businesses own the spur and don't want a heavy rr loco on it, causing maintenance issues). So, in many, if not most applications, the trackmobile only traverses one track, back and forth, a few hundred feet.

If your plan is to use a trackmobile to switch over multiple tracks, buzz around the yard so to speak, most railroads or businesses would probably have an old switcher to do that.  That's where I would use an extremely reliable Atlas S2

So if you're just going to run the TM over one frog, its probably easier to follow Ransy's suggestion and power the frog you plan to run this over than maybe to install a decoder with KA that isn't already in it from the factory.   

Pretty tight quarters, IMO, but eyesights and tolerances for tedium and for modifying that which you just bought differ with individuals.

 

- Douglas

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, January 26, 2020 7:58 AM

As Douglas has pointed out, I've watched one in operation at a foundry.  The TM only moves empty coke hoppers out and positions full coke hoppers for unloading, all within the limits of the trackage owned by the foundry.

It cannot pass the switch to the siding where the CN drops off and stores full hoppers, as from that turnout on, it's CN trackage.

On a daily basis, the CN local pulls what empty hoppers the TM as sets out, and pushes in full hoppers to the unloading area.

The TM only jockies empty and full hoppers with the foundry trackage.

I've watched it move 3 full coke hoppers at a time, with in the foundry track.

Mike.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, January 26, 2020 1:27 PM

Tinplate Toddler

The buffer time of a keep alive "power pack" can usually be adjusted via CV setting to fit your needs.

 

 Only for the 3-wire kind used by Lenz and ESU, maybe a few others. The Tusnami and TCS ones are all 2 wire, there is no CV at adjust that as there is no control pin (the third wire) so they run until the capacitor is discharged.

 If you want to custome make each keep alive, then yes, you could adjust, somewhat, by carefully chosing the capacitor values. The thing is, they tend to go from your usual values and then jump up to the .5F and 1F, and larger cupercapacitor values with little in between. And remember most supercaps are fairl low voltage, so a keep alive will often have maybe 3x 5V 1F caps in series to make a .33F 15V capacitor. 

 For a loco with a low current draw, a single 470uF or so capacitor with a 15V or better rating may be no bigger than the keep alive, but give enough power to replicate the momentum of a flywheel to get the loco past a small dead spot without turning into a long duration windup toy.

 As for powering the frog, Brian said he is using Peco Insulfrog. There's nothign to power. There's only a TINY sliver of insulated section at the very point of the frog, the rest is all powered, so it should be OK.

                                  --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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