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Are Broadway Limited Imports decoders reliable?

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Posted by mdmack75 on Friday, January 31, 2020 3:27 PM

You're awesome Ed! Worked like a charm. Not hard to do, just hoping to not have to do it again. 

Matt

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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, January 31, 2020 5:01 PM

mdmack75
Worked like a charm.

Glad to hear that, Matt! BLI used to design some of their engines where you could actually access the button without taking everything apart. Why they don't do that is beyond my reasoning.

Hope your engine keeps running well for you —

Regards, Ed

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Posted by NYC H10b on Friday, February 7, 2020 5:23 PM

Harrison

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.

 

What you have described is not normal.  You might want to contact BLI about your problem.  My experience with BLI from their beginnings is that whatever the problem they will make it right.

I have several BLI Paragon3 Sharks and PRR Boxcabs.  I had to return 4 of 5 decoders due to erratic operation especially in consist.  BLI sent replacement decoders and motors and now the engines operate flawlessly.

 

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Posted by wolf10851 on Monday, April 27, 2020 4:38 AM
I have 3 paragon 3 Diesels and a paragon 2 diesel. I also have 2 Athearn locos that I added TCS WOW sounds to as well as a Kato and an Atlas both with ESU Loksounds in them. out of all of them my BLI locos are the most reliable and easiest to adjust CVs on them. They also are almost perfectly speed matched right out of the box to each other. I did have 1 of my BLI paragon 3 locos go south and their customer support has been completely top notch so far.n (they have received my locomotive and I am waiting for them to replace/repair it). honestly at this point though if I am looking for another locomotive I will be looking for another BLI locomotive. I realize this is an old thread but I thought I would throw my .02 out there anyways
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Posted by tommymr on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 11:33 AM

Received a Paragon 3 diesel as a gift.  Trying to run it through its paces on a dedicated programming track with a DCS50 and powerpax booster.  Can't read back any of the CVs with or without the 1K resistor across the track.  Oh well; I know readback is iffy.  Trying to see how the back EMF works, so tried resetting CV10 to 0. After doing that, nothing works; dead on the tracks.  have to reset CV8 to 8 to get it to work again.  Of course that resets every other CV.  I can change other CVs (like sound volume) and they work fine.  Trying to change CV10 just makes it 'hang' though.  Since its a gift, i have no receipt, and have no idea what they might charge or how long it would take for them to look at it.  At the moment, I can't say I'm a fan......

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Posted by wolf10851 on Thursday, May 7, 2020 4:08 AM

tommymr

Received a Paragon 3 diesel as a gift.  Trying to run it through its paces on a dedicated programming track with a DCS50 and powerpax booster.  Can't read back any of the CVs with or without the 1K resistor across the track.  Oh well; I know readback is iffy.  Trying to see how the back EMF works, so tried resetting CV10 to 0. After doing that, nothing works; dead on the tracks.  have to reset CV8 to 8 to get it to work again.  Of course that resets every other CV.  I can change other CVs (like sound volume) and they work fine.  Trying to change CV10 just makes it 'hang' though.  Since its a gift, i have no receipt, and have no idea what they might charge or how long it would take for them to look at it.  At the moment, I can't say I'm a fan......

 

reach out to them.  I had to send one back and they did not ask for any receipt at all.  They did ask when I bought it and I just punched in the date

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Posted by wolf10851 on Thursday, March 4, 2021 9:29 PM

well I need to update this post unfortunately.  since this post I have had all of my paragon 3 locomotives go into BLI now for repair.  Aside from shipping costs it has cost me nothing in repairs however their turnaround time has become rediculous 3 months!  the locomotives have become very unreliable and I am in the process of swapping out the paragon 3 decoder for an ESU v5 decoder.  With the ammount of failures that I have had with them I will now be buying scaletrains from now on out

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, March 5, 2021 5:02 AM

wolf10851

well I need to update this post unfortunately.  since this post I have had all of my paragon 3 locomotives go into BLI now for repair.  Aside from shipping costs it has cost me nothing in repairs however their turnaround time has become rediculous 3 months!  the locomotives have become very unreliable and I am in the process of swapping out the paragon 3 decoder for an ESU v5 decoder.  With the ammount of failures that I have had with them I will now be buying scaletrains from now on out 

Wow, I guess that the operative word is "all".  All of your Paragon 3 locomotives have gone back to BLI now for repair. Yikes.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by wolf10851 on Friday, March 5, 2021 6:08 AM

ya sadly all of the paragon 3 locomotives have all gone back some of them have gone back multiple times :(  the old paragon 2 sd 40 though is still running strong but that one hardly gets used

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Posted by angelob6660 on Friday, March 5, 2021 9:08 AM

My recent F3 locomotives don't run on DC just DCC. I think when it does fail or anything I'll pull the decoder out. Since my entire NYC roster is DC. Probably easier to do than upgrading every locomotive to DCC.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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Posted by micktropolis on Friday, March 5, 2021 11:17 AM

That's a shame about the decoder failures! I only have 3 BLI locomotives, one Blueline, one Paragon2 and one Paragon3. The Paragon3 hasn't given me any issues at least not yet. The Blueline was also fine for the last decade or so, but I pulled it out and replaced it with a TCS Wowsound because I wanted more sound options.

The Paragon2 equipped locomotive was purchased used recently and so far sounds okay, with two exceptions: The smoke unit squeaks. I thought it was the gears or motor or something but the squeak goes away when I remove the boiler and the subsequent light and smoke unit connections. Not a decoder issue but still something to note (and the smoke unit is off but it still squeaks).

The other issue is that when the locomotive is sitting idle, with or without sound, there is a very slight but audible ticking noise. I believe its the signal from the DCC controller to the decoder becoming audible for some reason but I don't know how to stop it. It ticks as long as there is signal going through the rails, whether or not the locomotive is the one currently selected for operation. 

That being said, I buy BLI locomotives because they have the look and details I want. I purchase them with the intention of replacing the decoders eventually anyway but I know that may not be in the cards for many others who just want something that runs and sounds good. All that said applies to steam for me - as for diesels I think there are many great manufacturers out there that I might look at first.

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Posted by wolf10851 on Saturday, March 6, 2021 12:30 AM

I love the looks of the BLI locos as well which is why I was getting them too. What I noticed with all of my locos is if I put them on a programming track that is when there was issues with the decoders and they would fail If I programmed them on the main then they would work fine.  Unfortunately of course programming on the main you cannot see what the CV values are.  I had a choice program on the main and hope I didn't screw up or read the CVs on the programming track and risk having the decoders not work at all and have to wait 3 months to get the loco repaired.  Not much of a choice so that's why I am doing the ESU decoder swap

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, March 6, 2021 9:20 AM

MOST of the early Paragon 3 decoders are absolute junk as well as some of the motors used with them, and they MUST be replaced with the NEW version of each.

Seneca at Train Service Depot (a former BLI technician located in close proximity to BLI) fixed my son's new UP 3985 challenger and NOW it runs great.

The P3 early decoders draw over 2 amps from a crappy motor.  This fries the motor control circuit of the decoder in a few hours of run time.  BLI will replace it for free but then the motor is crap and may require replacement also, requiring a second trip back to BLI with their many weeks of turnaround time.

Seneca tested my motor, found it was bad, too, replaced it with NEW BLI motor, and had model back in my hands in 2 weeks flat.  However, it costs more than $100 to do.  Now the engine is easily the best running steamer we ever had in 45 years.  It pulls 80 cars on my slight 0.4% grade with several being Tangent 9 ounce 86' boxcars and also heavy autoracks.

The engine is a beast and can roll the train too.

John Mock

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Posted by BumpyJack68 on Sunday, September 12, 2021 8:55 PM

Arto

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."

 What he said! I'm super anal about my trackage Kato Unitrack never fails! For me anyway. I have several BLI P3 locos and 2 Centipede P2s. Had 1 small issue with a P3 and it turned out to be cockpit eror :(
BlI's response was fast enough and put me on the right track. I love me some Rolling Thunder! Sounds like you are standing next to a 1 to 1 scale diesel! Hopefully BLI will get P4 correct and perhaps regain some consumer confidence? This company ( TrainServiceDepot ) does Blue Line,P2 and P3 upgrades to P4 for around? US$125? Including shipping. $.02 I am not affiliated with any of the afore mentioned companies :D

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Posted by CSX Robert on Monday, September 13, 2021 9:21 AM

PRR8259
The P3 early decoders draw over 2 amps from a crappy motor.  This fries the motor control circuit of the decoder in a few hours of run time.  BLI will replace it for free but then the motor is crap and may require replacement also, requiring a second trip back to BLI with their many weeks of turnaround time.

The decoder doesn't draw curernt from the motor, the motor draws it from the decoder.  If the motor is drawing 2 amps, then it sounds like the motor is the problem, not the decoder, although it will fry the decoder and both will need replacing.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, September 13, 2021 2:35 PM

Just to point something out, if the decoders are always fail, they are reliable - you can bet they're going to fail reliably.

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Posted by Trainman440 on Monday, September 13, 2021 5:45 PM

CSX Robert

The decoder doesn't draw curernt from the motor, the motor draws it from the decoder.  If the motor is drawing 2 amps, then it sounds like the motor is the problem, not the decoder, although it will fry the decoder and both will need replacing.

I thought I've posted this enough times but I guess people still dont understand the issue with paragon 3.

Trainman440

While Paragon 3 in BLI is rather infamous for having back pickups, I dont believe it is necessarily due to literal broken wires due to bad QC, although it doesnt help matters. Paragon 3 used "high torque" motors which were 3 pole NOT 5 pole which was in paragon, par2, and par4. These motors drew more current than usual, resulting in extra current draw which would either make the decoder quit working all together, or simply caused the decoder to be extra sensitive to dirty track, much more sensitive than paragon 2. (All BLI decoders had some small capacitors which would act like a 0.25 sec keep alive. The extra current draw on paragon 3 would negate this, since it would drain the caps faster.) BLI would replace these "faulty" decoders with ones that would artificially limit the current draw on the motors. 

Its indeed NOT the decoder's fault, but a poor choice of their shotty 3 pole "High torque" (high current draw) motors used in paragon 3. They went OUT of their way modifying older tooling to accept these new motors. 

Proper decoder manufacturers (soundtraxx, tcs, esu, etc) seem to have a artificial motor current draw limit, which prevent the high current draw motors from burning out their decoders...since some people might add their decoders into older locos with open frame motors or etc. BLI made an improper decoder for their inferior motors, and as a result, their reputation has plummeted even though their customer service has been excellent, offering free repair. 

Charles

PS I hate paragon 4. The sound quality is nearly identical to p3, and p2. some extra capacitors and a different decoder shouldnt cost around $100 more. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Modeling the Santa Fe & Pennsylvania in HO

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLb3FRqukolAtnD1khrb6lQ

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Posted by CSX Robert on Monday, September 13, 2021 9:05 PM

Trainman440
PS I hate paragon 4. The sound quality is nearly identical to p3, and p2. some extra capacitors and a different decoder shouldnt cost around $100 more. 

It doesn't.  

HO Paragon3 SD40-2: MSRP $299.99

HO Paragon4 SD40-2: MSRP $329.99

$30 difference, and the way just about everything has been going up lately I wouldn't be surprised if most of that increase isn't due to the change in decoder.

The Paragon2 SD40-2  was $269.99, but that was released over 7 years ago.

The N-scale models are even closer in price, in fact, the Paragon3 NW2 and Paragon4 NW2 are the same price at $229.99.

 

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Posted by Trainman440 on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 12:18 AM

CSX Robert

 

 
Trainman440
PS I hate paragon 4. The sound quality is nearly identical to p3, and p2. some extra capacitors and a different decoder shouldnt cost around $100 more. 

 

It doesn't.  

HO Paragon3 SD40-2: MSRP $299.99

HO Paragon4 SD40-2: MSRP $329.99

$30 difference, and the way just about everything has been going up lately I wouldn't be surprised if most of that increase isn't due to the change in decoder.

The Paragon2 SD40-2  was $269.99, but that was released over 7 years ago.

The N-scale models are even closer in price, in fact, the Paragon3 NW2 and Paragon4 NW2 are the same price at $229.99.

My apologies, I was implying the steam locos.

Paragon 2 Dreyfuss: MSRP $499

Paragon 3 Dreyfuss planned release (cancelled): MSRP $649(?)

Paragon 4 Dreyfuss: MSRP $749

---------

Paragon 2 ATSF 2-10-2: MSRP: $399

Paragon 3 ATSF 2-8-2 planned release (cancelled): MSRP $399

Paragon 4 ATSF 2-8-2: MSRP: $499

------------------------

both examples, these locos were originally gonna be released in paragon 3 but then BLI decided last minute to switch it to paragon 4 and jacked up the msrp by $100. 

Keep in mind the loco is nearly identical. Nothing was added to the details. a PCM I1sa = paragon 2 I1sa = paragon 3 I1sa = paragon 4 I1sa. Besides electronics and motors, the only things really changed is paint and added cab figures on certain locos. 

The ATSF 2-8-2 has detail levels that are identical to the 2-10-2. Being very similar locos in real life, its easy to compare the two. I made a detailed comparison video to prove that nothing additional is present in the 2-8-2, besides for an operating red rear light. 

My point is, I can see if it was $100 to go from DCC ready to DCC sound. But instead its just $100 for a DIFFERENT decoder. These are BLI's own decoders, which sound quality hasent improved over the years. Paragon 4 still sounds just as drowned out and muddy like paragon 2. They can charge whatever they want for their own crummy* decoders, and youre forced to buy them since they no longer release locos as DCC ready.

Effectively, if we were to assume the paragon 2 decoders are worth a minimum of $50 (same price as a crummy MRC decoder), we are now paying $150 for paragon 4 decoders. (or $100 for paragon 3) That's insane!

The ONLY major things changed from paragon 2 to 4 is the keep alive (which is needed because for some reason paragon 3-4 had terrible pickup), and different sound files. 

This isnt accounting for inflation, but the prices should not be jumping by $50 every new paragon release when the loco at its core is identical. 

I'll stop ranting now.

Charles

*Im not saying BLI decoder are terrible, but I hope you can agree that a decoder from a proper decoder manufacturer has cleaner sound than BLI's...for a lower price. 

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Modeling the Santa Fe & Pennsylvania in HO

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLb3FRqukolAtnD1khrb6lQ

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 1:46 PM

No issues with the Paragon 2 series units I have. (2)

My one BlueLine is sitting off to the side, awaiting a proper sound decoder. Mechanically it's great. The BlueLine sound decoder/seperate motor control decoder combo stinks.

As does the use of a reed switch for a chuff sensor. After it blew for the third time, it got entirely ripped out. The actual decoders in her will come out next.

But the Paragon 2 steam and diesel I have both run flawlessly. 

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

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Posted by BumpyJack68 on Thursday, September 16, 2021 4:17 PM
I Just purchased a PRR BLI loco that had the electronics removed and replaced with Soundtraxx Tsunami 2. Runs fine, sounds fine but no Rolling Thunder :( Paid $125 for it so :) smiles equal out!
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Posted by CSX Robert on Thursday, September 16, 2021 11:17 PM

Trainman440
My apologies, I was implying the steam locos.

Paragon 2 Dreyfuss: MSRP $499

Paragon 3 Dreyfuss planned release (cancelled): MSRP $649(?)

Paragon 4 Dreyfuss: MSRP $749

---------

Paragon 2 ATSF 2-10-2: MSRP: $399

Paragon 3 ATSF 2-8-2 planned release (cancelled): MSRP $399

Paragon 4 ATSF 2-8-2: MSRP: $499

------------------------

Wow!  I'm glad I'm in N-scale - Paragon3 Mikado: $359, Paragon4 Mikado: $369.  I understand the reason fo ryour rant now.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, September 16, 2021 11:33 PM

My sample size with BLI locomotives is only one unit, but here is what happened.

I bought an undecorated N&W Class A 2-6-6-4 with a "dual mode" decoder, I run DC.

From the get-go, it had problems. It would only run for a few seconds, then just sit there and make noise. If I took it off the track for 30 minutes, it would work for another few seconds again.

I would have been happy just removing the decoder. I contacted BLI for assistance in decoder removal and they got quite snippy with me and told me to send the locomotive in for "free" repair. They said the decoder could not be removed and that would never be authorized.

Confused

I sent in the locomotive, then they kept it, and refunded my money.

Now they have released the 2-6-6-4 again, almost twice what I paid for it the first time, and I still do not have one.

I should have just opened it up and removed the decoder myself.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by angelob6660 on Friday, September 17, 2021 12:48 AM

I just order the paragon 3, 4-6-2 Pacific today. For my 1940s layout and almost getting their old Mikado P3. To finish off the roster. 

I hope nothing goes wrong. I can't afford maintenance problems.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, September 17, 2021 8:33 AM

I bought a used BLI Paragon Mikado and a Pacific. I really like them. They hold their value so many people must like them. Run well. Sound pretty good. Look great.  Hard to see what's wrong with them.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by BumpyJack68 on Friday, September 17, 2021 1:00 PM

I can't seem to find the discusion about BLI moters being 3 pole and causing problems with Paragon 3 decoders? I contacted BLI about P4 motors and got this back quite quickly;

 

Info

11:05 AM (2 hours ago)
   
to me
Hello Jack,

"Paragon 4 engines have a 5-pole varistor motor in them."
What the heck is varistor you ask?
 
https://kinmoremotor.com/article/motor-basics/what-is-varistor/

Is this a good thing?

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, September 17, 2021 3:43 PM

Bumpy, I read the Varistor Description you shared. I found it interesting, but it sounds like a possible solution to a problem that no one has.

I could be wrong, but it does not seem necessary from the description.

From my experience, any HO scale locomotive that is not cheap junk made in the past thirty years has a perfectly good motor from the factory. I am thinking, and I do not recall having had any motor failures in a very long time except on much older models I have bought used.

Maybe this device helps with DCC control. I do not know anything about that.

All my Stewart/Kato, Proto-2000, Walthers, and Bachmann locomotives have wonderful motors that I cannot complain about.

Gears... now that is an area we could use improvement.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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