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Are Broadway Limited Imports decoders reliable?

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Are Broadway Limited Imports decoders reliable?
Posted by nemesys on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 10:19 AM

I'm asking because I own 5 Paragon3 steam locomotives and 3 diesels (2 Paragon3 and 1 Paragon2). I've been having many issues with the steam locomotives. It seems their decoders are very sensitive to sudden voltage variations on the tracks. I'm still building and improving my layout and I am using an MRC Prodigy Advanced "Squared" system. From time to time, a car will jump a switch and cause a short. I have seen a few times that a BLI steam locomotive sitting on the layout will somehow sometimes be affected. For example, I have a PRR T1 sitting there. I didn't run it for a few days, during which there were, unfortunately, a few problems causing shorts. When I tried to run it, the sound and the light features would work but the locomotive would not move, either forward or backward. Resetting the decoder didn't help. I just had the same issue with a MILW S3 that was coming back from repair. I ran it a few times around my layout by itself to check if everything was working. Then, I stopped it and attached the cars that it was pulling before the repair. When I tried to move it, it would not move anymore. Same as the T1. I just don't understand. The 3 diesels have never been affected by this problem. I also own 3 Rapido diesel locomotives and 1 MTH steam locomotive and didn't have this problem with those either. Strangely, I also have a BLI PRR S2 for several months which I run from time to time and this one too hasn't been affected. The problem has been affecting the Big Boy, the Challenger, the PRR T1 and the MILW S3.

Anyone has seen this? Even though Broadway Limited Imports service has been incredible, it's getting a little tiring having to pack a locomotive back to them now and then...

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Posted by Harrison on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 11:04 AM

I run a BLI Shark, and it is very unreliable. It will sometimes not respond to my commands, and will overheat/stop running after less than an hour. The lights still work, but it doesn't move. The sound cuts out randomly too.

Harrison

Homeschooler living In upstate NY a.k.a Northern NY.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 11:21 AM

I don't have any BLI steam but I have read a lot of comments about issues with BLI engines recently in several forums, mostly problems with the decoders.  Some have ripped them out and replaced with something from one of the major DCC decoder manufacturers.

I have two broadway RSD15s but haven't ran them yet since I bought them while finishing the basement and between layouts.  Fingers crossed.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by Shopcat on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 11:21 AM

We have had identical problems with BLI engines at our club. I don't own any BLI, and at this point, based on our club experience, I probably won't. The guys with the BLIs don't bring them around the club anymore.

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 11:40 AM

Are Broadway Limited Imports decoders reliable?

Great question.

I own several BLI Paragon steamers and several BLI Paragon diesels. I have never had any decoder problems whatsoever with any of them. It should be noted that the decoder in the Paragon series was the QSI.

I own two BLI Paragon 2 steamers and no BLI Paragon 2 diesels. Those two Paragon 2 steamers perform flawlessly, including the BLI proprietary decoder used in the Paragon 2 series.

I do not own any BLI Paragon 3 locomotives, and I fear purchasing any based upon all of the negative comments that I hear about the Paragon 3 series, in particular the so-called Roling Thunder proprietary decoder. 

I find this discussion interesting in that user experience seems to suggest that the problem is perhaps limited to the Paragon 3 steamers and less so, if at all, to the Paragon 3 diesels. Has anyone who owns a Paragon 3 diesel had decoder issues?

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 5:52 PM

To the OP, I have several original Paragon and P2 versions of steamers.  They all work flawlessly.  However, if I have a peeve with BLI, it is that their tethering system between tender and locomotive sucks.  They aren't fragile, at least I haven't been able to destroy one (I'm careful), but inserting them on some models is a pain where the sun don't shine.

Whenever I have some effects, but no movement, I have found that I need to remove the plug, inspect for bent pins (never seen any), and then make a more determined effort at fully seating the plug in the receptacle.  That, invariably, seems to cure the movement problem.

It seems, though, that BLI must have a heapload of bad decoders shipping out because suddenly there are complaints all over the internet about the latest batches of P3 models. BLI has a very strong and commendable history with most users of making things right.  If you need to send it to BLI for repair, it will take three months or so, but it should come back fixed. 

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 6:09 PM

This is discouraging to hear as I own a number of BLI locos, both steam and diesel. I haven't had a layout for some long time now, so have not been running them.

I'll follow this subject thread

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Thursday, December 5, 2019 1:01 AM

I have two BLI Cab forwards from the first run - remember the BEMF disabled QSI decoders? Ancient history now, but a big deal at the time. These locos have been run on the layout for the last 14 years without any issues (once I figured out how to reliably program long addresses).

I hear lots of complaints about blueline BLI locos (they came after the QSI decoders) and more recent decoders, but my locos still run great.

 

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, December 5, 2019 4:59 AM

trainnut1250

I hear lots of complaints about blueline BLI locos (they came after the QSI decoders) and more recent decoders, but my locos still run great.

I have four Blueline locos. They run fine, but the problem with the Blueline locos is that BLI chose to factory equip them with only a DC-compatible sound decoder with a DCC plug. To run a Blueline loco on a DCC layout, you either need to add a DCC motor decoder, creating a two decoder loco, or toss the factory equipped sound decoder and add a DCC sound decoder.

The two-decoder setup works, but it is not without its own issues. My biggest problem with the two decoder setup is consisting. Synchronizing the two decoders in a consist is neither easy nor entirely reliable.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by gdelmoro on Thursday, December 5, 2019 7:07 AM

I have sent my Paragon 3 SD7 back 2x and they sent me a decoder once. So 3x !

I also posted asking about reliability of the Paragon 3 decoders because I was thinking of getting a brass hybrid 4-8-4. Great looking and very expensive. Not worth it if I'll have decoder problems. 

I emailed BLI 2x asking if they have resolved the Paragon 3 decoder problems and they haven't answered. 

Gary

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Posted by Trainman440 on Thursday, December 5, 2019 9:19 AM

I have 6 Paragon 2 steamers, 3 paragon steamers, and 1 paragon 3 steamer(PRR L1s).

I've had no issues with neither paragon 2 nor paragon (besides one faulty paragon 2 decoder, not accepting CV change...loco was bought used). 

The paragon 3 decoder engine has been buggy, once it just factory resetted itself, sometimes, sometimes the dynamo sound repeates itself, but as far as motor controls go, it has been fine. L1s was the first engine BLI released with Paragon 3, so it's not the "latest" in line. 

Personally, I greatly dislike paragon and paragon 3 sound, and absolutly love paragon 2 sound(seconded only to TCS WOWsound)!

Seems like I'm going to avoid paragon 3 as much as possible, until they finally release the Santa Fe 2-8-2!

Charles

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Modeling the Santa Fe & Pennsylvania in HO

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, December 5, 2019 9:19 AM

gdelmoro

 

I emailed BLI 2x asking if they have resolved the Paragon 3 decoder problems and they haven't answered.  

I sent an email to BLI a week before Thanksgiving with some general questions about a Paragon 3 diesel. I just got a reply yesterday. The gentleman who replied was apologetic and said that he had just returned from a 2-week vacation. So, hang in there for an eventual answer.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, December 5, 2019 9:29 AM

railandsail

This is discouraging to hear as I own a number of BLI locos, both steam and diesel. I haven't had a layout for some long time now, so have not been running them.

I'll follow this subject thread

 

I freelance.  I don't have a particular "need" for any specific type of loco or (if I had steam) any particular wheel arrangement.  Some folks need that precision and if BLI is the only company that offers a specific loco, well, then that goes into the decision.

I've gotten to the point where I refuse to fiddle with locos that don't operate well.  Sending them back to the factory for replacement is one thing, but trying to resolve a problem with a loco that may be due to a less than great design or assembly quality is not worth the trouble.  Since I freelance with no particular need, I stay away from any loco model that has any hint of reliability history.

Sell them at a loss on ebay if I have to.  Disclose the problems I had.  Its a hobby I engage in for enjoyment.  Fiddling with and troubleshooting is not enjoyable time spent, but the buyer may enjoy it or know the solution.

- Douglas

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, December 5, 2019 9:31 AM

My Paragon 2  SW7 seems to be doing ok but,I don't think it has more then 32 hours on it maybe less. 

If it starts acting up,I'll convert it to DC by having  the decoder removed and hard wiring the drive and lights.

Larry

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Summerset Ry.


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Posted by Medina1128 on Thursday, December 5, 2019 9:52 AM

One of the problems I had was with one of my favorite locomotives; BLI Blue Line Big Boy. One of the wires in the connector that connects to the circuit inside the tender was broken. They're not very robust! Once I repaired that wire, it runs flawlessly. I have some other Blue Line locomotives, but those are diesel, and have never had any issues with them.

My latest acquisition was the BLI Santa Fe Northern 4-8-4. Its only issue is that it's very sensitive to dirty track. I run on DC. Keep the track clean, and it's a gem!

 I had a Santa Fe Northern 4-8-4 with a Quantum QSI decoder and it's turned into such a pain, that it's back in the box. I know from BLI's website that there's a guy that will update the decoder to the new Paragon 3. I just haven't sent it in, yet.

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, December 5, 2019 11:12 AM

I had a Santa Fe Northern 4-8-4 with a Quantum QSI decoder and it's turned into such a pain, that it's back in the box. I know from BLI's website that there's a guy that will update the decoder to the new Paragon 3. I just haven't sent it in, yet.

I have one of those as well, but from the sounds of things paragon 3 is questionable??

 

I'm hoping not as I bought a paragon 3, B-unit diesel loco, to run behind my Santa Fe DL 109 until I finished with a kitbash I'm working on,...and the eventual dcc/sound installation in that pair

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, December 5, 2019 11:15 AM

One of the problems I had was with one of my favorite locomotives; BLI Blue Line Big Boy. One of the wires in the connector that connects to the circuit inside the tender was broken. They're not very robust! Once I repaired that wire, it runs flawlessly. I have some other Blue Line locomotives, but those are diesel, and have never had any issues with them.

I also have one of those blue-line big boys that I hope runs good,...but on DCC, rather then the DC mode you are using?

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, December 5, 2019 11:34 AM

Another BLI story.  I have nothing from BLI and I never will.  Forums are filled with threads about having problems.

They must have a loyal following, as they keep going.  I don't get what the attraction is.  Confused

Mike.

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, December 5, 2019 8:02 PM

 They make may in-demand PRR locos that previously were only available in brass. And some others, too. That's why people buy them. They were fine before they went with their own decoders, 99% of the problems are the decoders, which leads me to believe they aren't properly babysitting their Chinese factory in making sure they put these things together properly.

 They seem to stand behind the product and repair or replace, but with the number of issues posted everywhere, you have to wonder how long they can continue just shipping the broken stuff and then taking it back and repairing or replacing it, that's got to be hurting the bottom line.

                                   --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 MisterBeasley on Friday, December 6, 2019 12:12 PM

My only BLI engine is an older steamer, a Hudson.  It came with a QSI decoder.  It has been fine for over 10 years.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by Motley on Friday, December 6, 2019 4:56 PM

I really like the offerings BLI has for steam. I sure hope I don't have issues with my new BLI S2 4-8-4 GN. Havent been able to run it yet, but I'll know in a couple weeks.

There just isn't any other manufactureres that have what BLI offers. Or am I missing something?

Michael


CEO-
Mile-HI-Railroad
Prototype: D&RGW Moffat Line 1989

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, December 6, 2019 5:44 PM

 Pretty much just BLI, if you want those specific prototypes. Some of their more generic locos may be available from others. 

 It would be really nice of they offerened them plain DC, no DC sound, nothing, just plain DC power, so you could put in whatever sound decoder you preferred.

I've had no real issues with mine, but they are PCM, with ESU decoders.

                                    --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 cudaken on Friday, December 6, 2019 6:00 PM

 Funny this topic just caught my eye. I just mailed my Pargon 3 PRR I1sa back for repairs. It was not the decoder but the chuff sensor that stopped working.

 Had to send back my Bessimer SD 7 Pargon 3 I think it was last year. New decoder works great.

 BLI is a company I love, and hate.

 I do love there Rolling Thunder. But I am using a audiophile grade NHT subwoofler.

 Cuda Ken

I hate Rust

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Posted by Medina1128 on Sunday, December 8, 2019 8:20 AM

railandsail

 

 
One of the problems I had was with one of my favorite locomotives; BLI Blue Line Big Boy. One of the wires in the connector that connects to the circuit inside the tender was broken. They're not very robust! Once I repaired that wire, it runs flawlessly. I have some other Blue Line locomotives, but those are diesel, and have never had any issues with them.

 

I also have one of those blue-line big boys that I hope runs good,...but on DCC, rather then the DC mode you are using?

 

The Blue Line decoders are meant to be run strictly on DC. DCC uses higher voltage and it's AC from what I understand. You risk ruining your locomotive by running it on DCC. I've heard of modelers having their layouts wired for both DCC and DC.

Per BLI's website: "Broadway Limited BlueLine Series models can be operated in DC straight out-of-the-box. Place the model on the track and turn up the voltage. The "start-up" sounds will begin at 5-6 volts for Paragon2 and 7-8 volts for Paragon3. Movement will begin around 9 volts for Paragon2 and 11 volts for Paragon3. Note: the start-up sequence must be complete before the model will move in DC. To operate your BlueLine model in DCC, you must install a DCC motor decoder. The sounds will work on a BlueLine model as soon as you put it on the track. However, the BlueLine Series models do not have a motor decoder. After you plug your motor decoder of choice into the 8-pin socket on the circuit board, your model will be ready to operate on default address 3"

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, December 8, 2019 10:30 AM

 Blueline adds yet another complication - when you put a DCC decoder in one, even one of the ones they recommend, you now have 2 decoders in one loco to deal with. There's a reason this method of adding sound quickly disappeared in favor of integrated sound/motor decoders.

  Seems the best thing for these locos is, if you are happy with the appearance and running characteristics (mechanical), then trash the decoder and put a good one in it.

                                         --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 Arto on Sunday, December 8, 2019 2:16 PM

I have alot of HO BLI locomotives, both diesel and steam, mostly Paragon2, some Blueline and a few Paragon3. There are a couple QSI equipped too.

Quite honestly, I don't understand all the riff about BLI. In my experience they've stood behind their products 100%. They've even sent me replacement decoders for 10+ year old Blueline loco FOC.

That being said, there is one thing I've noticed, and I don't have an answer as to "why".

Initially (my first few BLI) I had trouble with. Then sometime later I replaced all track and turnouts with new essentially rebuilding all the track work to much better standards than I did 30 years ago. And once I had the new track thoroughly cleaned (using ACT-6006) I haven't had any more issues with BLI verses any other brands.

The other thing I've observed,  is while touring a number of layouts, I've often heard the same complaints about BLI. Interestingly, IMHO, the track work on these layouts was fairly poor. My track work, on the other hand, is more like jewelry.

So I have to wonder if for what ever reason, BLI decoders/locos are more sensitive to even the least amount of track contamination and/or less than perfect track work that cause/introduce some connectivity/conductivity issues. Now that I replaced all my track and turnouts, this time building to perfection, and keeping everything clean (that includes rolling stock wheels), I've had only one recent issue with a T-1 that was double headed pulling a long freight on my somewhat difficult layout.

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Posted by mvlandsw on Monday, December 9, 2019 1:50 AM

I test ran a new BLI Paragon 3 PRR K4 today. With the sound on it would stall on a Shinoharra double crossover and one other piece of plain track. With the sound muted it ran very well over the entire layout.

I don't have any idea why it performs this way.

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Posted by mdmack75 on Thursday, January 30, 2020 4:10 PM

I have a paragon3 diesel and am having similar problems. After what I believe was a short, there is no movement or sound, and the only Feature that works is the light. So I am just trying to figure out what to do next.

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, January 30, 2020 5:50 PM

mdmack75
So I am just trying to figure out what to do next.

With any of the recent Paragon 2 or 3 decoders a hard reset is the best way to clear the decoder and retry your locomotive on address 3.

You have to physically open the shell and press a button on the decoder itself. Sometimes (usually) the simple CV8 = 8 won't do the same thing as a hard reset.

In this example the button is located at the far right of the board.

 BLI_P2-reset by Edmund, on Flickr

You have to press and hold the button THEN apply power to the track, then release the button.

Some earlier BLI and QSI decoders used a magnetic reed switch. Sometimes these would stick closed and cause programming headaches, too.

 

Hope that helps, Ed

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, January 31, 2020 10:23 AM

 That's why their chuff sensors fail so often as well - they are just reed switches. They get activated at the speed of the motor - so if th emotor is turning 1000 rpm, they get activated 1000 times per minute. Just checking some random reed switches and their data sheets, they never seem to get a rating for number of operations they are rated for, but you can easily get a million per year for a relatively lightly used loco. Run it for several hours, several days a week, and you can get 10's of millions of operations per year. If the contacts don't get magnetized and stick just from being in the presence of a moving magnet that many time, it would be a miracle.

                                                 --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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