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New BLI Challenger bad decoder

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New BLI Challenger bad decoder
Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, February 8, 2020 2:21 AM

Hello folks--

My son wanted a big UP steam engine, so we picked up a UP 3985 4-6-6-4 (Paragon 3) at Timonium last Sunday.  It ran very well for 4 days.

Now lights and sound (and smoke if switch is turned on) come on, but the engine will only move in the forward direction for a few inches, then stop, and the headlight flashes, but the sounds and lights continue as per normal.  It will not move backwards at all.

Power supply is MRC Tech 7, plain DC.

...

Friend from train store is bringing dcc system by tonight to attempt reset to factory defaults.

 

John

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, February 8, 2020 10:42 AM

PRR8259

Hello folks--

My son wanted a big UP steam engine, so we picked up a UP 3985 4-6-6-4 (Paragon 3) at Timonium last Sunday.  It ran very well for 4 days.

Now lights and sound (and smoke if switch is turned on) come on, but the engine will only move in the forward direction for several inches, then stop, and the headlight flashes, but the sounds and lights continue as per normal.  It will not move backwards at all.

Power supply is MRC Tech 7, plain DC.

...

Friend from train store is bringing dcc system by tonight to attempt reset to factory defaults.

 

John

 

P.S. Suggestions of whom would be good to jailbreak this thing to plain DC without the Paragon 3 stuff in it are also welcome, and/or other dual mode decoders...

 

Based on my experiance, it is just a decoder problem and a reset stands a good chance of fixing it.

If you don't care about sound, it's not that hard to remove the decoder and rewire. Any one who can hard wire a decoder should have no trouble un-wiring one.

Broadway typically has seven wires to the loco, 2 for the motor, two for wheel pickups, other three, headlight, smoke and sensor. Not that hard to ring them out.

In the tender, just connect the right side pickups to one motor lead, left to the other, a diode and resistor for each headlight, and you are good. Forget the smoke..........

Sheldon

    

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, February 8, 2020 8:04 PM

Thank you much for the reply Sheldon--

We used my friend's NCE system to perform a reset to factory default settings, to no avail.  No improvement whatsoever.

The engine begins all the startup sounds, lights come on, and it starts to move a couple revolutions, so the motor, drivetrain and valve gear all appear to be ok, but then it stops, and the headlight and backup light begin flashing.  That's it.  Something in the motor control circuit is kaput, no good.

See updated post below for latest information from 3rd party repair technician.

John

 

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Posted by PC101 on Sunday, February 9, 2020 1:26 AM

BLI's web site has BLI Dealers listed.

It would be a wait if sent back to BLI, but it should be fixed right by BLI and be good for one year from the date of purchase for Johnny.

If you pull the decoder out yourself (take lots of pictures first to remember where all the wires go) and send it back, for me from Florida to Pa. about a 10 day turnaround.

I hear repairs are 10 weeks out till return time for a whole engine sent in.

I passed up on some BLI merchandise at Timonium only because I did not know or ask if the vender was a listed BLI Dealer and he had nothing to write a receipt for me if I bought something.

 

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Posted by NS6770fan on Sunday, February 9, 2020 2:38 PM

BLI's turnaround is 8-10 weeks as stated above. I sent my K4 out for gearbox repairs the Friday before Christmas. Haven't heard anything but I'm hoping to have it back by the end of february.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, February 9, 2020 3:16 PM

Another BLI thread.  This forum is as close to having a BLI as I will ever be.

Mike.

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Posted by PRR8259 on Sunday, February 9, 2020 4:10 PM

See updated post below which includes information provided by professional repair technician.

John

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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, February 9, 2020 5:26 PM

mbinsewi
Another BLI thread. This forum is as close to having a BLI as I will ever be.

At one point today, there was one after another today.  It's a darn shame, no matter how good their service is, that folks have to send them back multiple times. 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by PRR8259 on Sunday, February 9, 2020 8:10 PM

deleted. not value added

 

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 10, 2020 7:19 AM

 The locos look and run nice. It's always the decoder. They really need to step up the wuality of their electronics. Perhaps they are just too invested in their proprietary Rolling Thunder system to do what ever other manufactuer has done and used an established decoder maker's decoders in their products. Granted they were somewhat burned by their choice of QSI early on, but they also sold locos with Loksound - the probably shouldn't have used a different company name for those and confused people.

 A shame - because I don't think that is their main selling point. They sell because in many cases, they are specific models of locos that haven't otherwise been offered in plastic, with a level of detail that is as good as or better than all but the highest end brass. They've only made one loco I can use, and I have two of them - both are from when they were sold with ESU decoders, and both run fine some 12 years later.

 Changing the decoder is not very difficult, all the wiring is easy to trace, and they've done nothing silly like MTH, it all follows standard DCC practice even if they didn't color code things. 

 Actually what the problem sounds like is mechanical or a short. If it turns for a few revolutions, then the motor circuit is working. That it stops could be a wire binding up on the drive train and shorting - the blinking headlight is commonly an indicator of a short circuit by various decoders. Could be a short on the motor wires, or a short between a track pickup and one of the motor wires.

                                          --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 drgwcs on Monday, February 10, 2020 8:49 AM

Before you send it back or do anything you should try doing a physical reset of the decoder. A lot of times this will correct things that just doing a reset using a DCC controller won't do. Paragon reset https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POeA9c8ZRkM There are three types of switches that they have used in models to to this and this is described in the video. Hope this helps.

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Posted by PRR8259 on Monday, February 10, 2020 11:33 AM

Thank you for your comments.

How does one get the challenger tender apart?  The exploded view diagram is poor.  The instruction manual is lacking compared to BLI manuals of the past which provided more information.

I've looked for shorts several times, and am just not finding them.

I am looking at the YouTube videos, and am just not finding what I need to find right now.

John

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Posted by cold steal on Monday, February 10, 2020 12:34 PM
I have one too, refurbished . It's one of my best loco's. If your running D.C. get yourself an M.R.C. tech 6 and see how much better it will be. And if you can find one get the more powerful 6.0 version as it will run multiple BLI steamers
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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 10, 2020 1:28 PM

 Exploded view diagrams for all BLI steam locos and tenders is here:

https://www.broadway-limited.com/paragon2explodedviewdiagrams.aspx

Scroll down, they have the various Challenger locos as well ass various tenders for them listed. Can't open here at work, triggers the web filter for some reason. They also have the diesel ones if you go up a level on the page.

 I guess they are trying to be more tree friendly and include only the basic reference information, with the rest left to you to download. 

                           --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 PRR8259 on Monday, February 10, 2020 4:41 PM

Hi Randy--

Thank you for your response. 

The exploded view diagram on the website is exactly the same as the one that came with the model.  It appears to be missing information, and some items do not align correctly to scale even allowing for the isometric view.  In particular it does not seem to show which screws actually attach through the tender floor to the body.  Is the tender body supposed to snap off like it does for some of the smaller BLI engines in the YouTube videos?  The diagram also appears to show the rear of the tender as being a separate piece, which would be bad for disassembly if it is glued (some other makes go crazy with glue).

So if anybody has actually taken one of these tenders apart, I would appreciate a little more information.  Thank you all.

John

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 10, 2020 6:49 PM

 It just snaps on, it's not glued and there are no screws. I'm not sure what order - the back with the speaker assembly might have to come out first or something.

 

                    --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 PRR8259 on Monday, February 10, 2020 9:16 PM

O...k... I will see what I'm able to do.  Thank you for the information.

John

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Posted by PRR8259 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 12:36 AM

Um, no the challenger tender body does not merely snap off. 

However, I guessed correctly and removed five screws (fifth being the coupler--one must remove the coupler or else risk breaking the cut lever).  Then the body does come off.

I tried a couple times to do the hard reset, to no avail.  Puff of smoke from decoder, followed by acrid burnt smell.  Not good.

Why can they not put a hole through the tender floor to a reset switch?  Gee wouldn't that be a novel concept?  Why hide the reset switch where it is somewhat difficult to get to?

 

John

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 7:13 AM

Well John, have you contacted BLI?

If they will fix it under warranty, I would have them fix it.

Patience is a virture.......instant gratification can be a vice.......or at least a foolish waste of time and money.

If you are still not happy when it is fixed, sell a working locomotive........

Broadway Limited has never impressed me the way they have entranced so many others.

Their failure rate seems no better or no worse than any of the others, including Bachmann. Their selection of offerings has limited appeal to my needs, and they are selling sound first, and the model train second.......... And their prices have always seemed a little rich, until MTH came along.......

I have a few, 7 to be exact. But they are all now straight DC with no decoders or sound. 

Two Reading T-1's, two N&W Class A's, two USRA Heavy 2-8-2's, and one USRA Heavy 4-6-2.

The T-1's are from back in the day when they offered DC locos for a brief time. The Class A's have had their tenders replaced with Bachmann C&O Kanawha tenders with no decoders. The Mikes and Pacific have Bachmann USRA long tenders with no decoders.......

Both the Mikes had issues that required complete rebuilding of the locos, BLI was not much help with parts.........

I don't see many more BLI products in my future......

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by PRR8259 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 8:21 AM

Well Sheldon--

Dealer I purchased from was not an official authorized BLI dealer, so technically, I have no warranty rights.

Please read much farther down for updated information from professional 3rd party repair technician.

John

P.S.  At Timonium Show, I could have/should have purchased the nos Proto 2000 USRA 2-8-8-2, unlettered...

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 8:39 AM

I have two Proto 2-8-8-2's, they have been flawless.........

I don't see any $700 locos in my future, brass or plastic, and probably not many more $300 or $400 ones either.

I have a great fleet of locos that nearly fills all my needs and wants, and for the rest Ebay is always full of deals.

Yes, I bought a lot of stuff when prices were lower, and took great advantage of the fact that many DC locos went cheap after more people wanted DCC and sound.

I have 130 locos, Genesis, Proto, Intermoutain, Spectrum, with a dollar cost average price just over $100 each. They all run great.

Yes, Broadway has been known to dump some stuff when they need cash........ example, I have less than $200 each invested in my N&W Class A's.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 10:02 AM

 There are several manufacturers now with crazy MSRP numbers. The locos sell for new for a LOT less. The new Bachmann with WOWSound has a $599 MSRP. Micro-Mark, which is not know for having the best prices in town, is selling them for $369. Selling a new one at $450 is actually less discount the Micro Mark is giving on the Bachmann. The BLI refurbished store has them listed at $420 for a refurb.

 BLI has a refurb shop on the page, and also sells the refurbs through factorydirecttrains.com. All clearly marked as refurbished, not new. Based on the number of issues, I'd almost take a refurb over a brand new one, just because that means someone has taken a look at it at least once. 

 But, so far they haven't made anything I can use besides the one loco, and I already have 2 of them, so I'm good.

                                           --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 PRR8259 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 10:51 AM

I get that.  However, it seems the number of repeat issues is...concerning...so my argument is why send it back when I can spend that money investing in some other decoder which apparently will last better?  Or just sell darn thing.

There's a guy on YouTube who says he has 6 BLI steamers, all of which had to go back for repairs, and yet still have problems.  That is just not a good record, by any math.

John

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 11:59 AM

rrinker

 There are several manufacturers now with crazy MSRP numbers. The locos sell for new for a LOT less. The new Bachmann with WOWSound has a $599 MSRP. Micro-Mark, which is not know for having the best prices in town, is selling them for $369. Selling a new one at $450 is actually less discount the Micro Mark is giving on the Bachmann. The BLI refurbished store has them listed at $420 for a refurb.

 BLI has a refurb shop on the page, and also sells the refurbs through factorydirecttrains.com. All clearly marked as refurbished, not new. Based on the number of issues, I'd almost take a refurb over a brand new one, just because that means someone has taken a look at it at least once. 

 But, so far they haven't made anything I can use besides the one loco, and I already have 2 of them, so I'm good.

                                           --Randy

 

Randy, that Bachmann example is slightly less than 40% off, Bachmann has always structured their pricing to allow those who buy the product direct to sell at about that level and still make a reasonable markup. Many try to make some extra by not discounting that deep, maybe Micro Mark is feeling the competition from Trainworld and others?

BLI on the other hand has been known for short discounts limiting street prices to 20% or 25% off until they decide to dump what is not selling fast enough. This has been my criticism of them since the beginning.

There are only one or two more pieces from them I would consider at the right price, like you I mostly have what I need.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by Trainman440 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 2:53 PM

Hi, personally I got over 7 Broadway Limited engines, most paragon 2/paragon 1, one paragon 3. Paragon 3 decoders are super unreliable, unlike their previous decoders, which have yet to fail me. 

Anyways, there's a guy who is certified by BLI to replace bad decoders, might want to check him out. He claims 5-7 business days, shipped. And the prices hes charging aren't bad for a decoder replacement. 

While Ive heard nothing but good things from his customers, Ive never personally dealt with him. 

http://www.trainservicedepot.com/

Hope this helps,

Charles

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

Modeling the Santa Fe & Pennsylvania in HO

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Posted by PRR8259 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 4:47 PM

Charles--

Thank you.  The website indicates there are no P1 or P2 boards left, all replacements will be Paragon 3.

Since the last thing in the world I want is a Paragon 3 board, I asked if they can replace it with something else.  I indicated I don't need smoke, or necessarily even sound, but would like all the lights even if all on all the time...

Will see what they say.

John

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Posted by Wolf359 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 5:22 PM

Since you run regular DC, have you considered un-DCCing it? Unless you plan on getting into running DCC all the time, it might not be a bad idea to convert it to just plain DC. The best part is you'd never have to worry about a decoder board frying ever again. As I run DC only, I pulled the decoders from a Bachmann 2-8-4 and a Bachmann GS4 4-8-4 and put dummy plugs in. I don't have any BLI locos, so I don't know if they work like this or not, if they're not plug in units I'm sure someone who knows how to convert them would probably be willing to help if needed. Either way, I hope you can get it running and be able to enjoy it again.

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Posted by Trainman440 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 5:24 PM

The paragon 3 decoders he puts into the engine are tested by him, so there shouldn't be an issue. 

However, I understand that you probably dont want anything to do with paragon 3. In that case, I mean, wiring in your own DCC decoder shouldn't be that hard, it just takes some basic soldering skills. 

Best of luck!

Charles

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

Modeling the Santa Fe & Pennsylvania in HO

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Posted by PRR8259 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 9:17 PM

Hi Charles--

It's been a long time since I soldered anything and I do not currently possess the right equipment, or likely good enough expertise to do fine work.

The place you recommended has contacted me, and now we know what the problem is:  Some of the BLI motors are not tuned properly and draw too much current, which burns out the motor control portion of the Paragon 3 board, causing the model to light up, flash the headlight and backup light, and not move.

Allegedly the replacement BLI Paragon 3 decoders are more robust to handle the higher current.  I'm saying allegedly because there is a small piece of solder already burned into the box which leads me to think somebody already worked on this one once already.

Yes, converting the model to DC is a real consideration, or to someone else's decoder.  I have asked for an estimate of what it might cost me to retain lights that way.  They said considerable rewiring.

However, I don't think I'm the person for this job, and will leave it to a pro.

Ultimately, we'll see which way is cost effective or offers the most benefits.  I haven't dumped it out on ebay yet, though I did have the impulse to do the Dave Letterman "throw it off the roof".

John

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Posted by PC101 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 1:49 AM

With my past experence lately and all this I am seeing about these BLI power products, it is making me shy away from BLI power. How does one know if they are buying a ''NEW'' or ''REFURBISHED'' product? I wonder if we will start seeing redesigned/upgraded replacement OEM BLI DCC/Sound circuit boards on the LHS shelf's? The one year warranty will go by fast.

Would these decoder/motor problems be considered a Manufacturing Defect?

I've had four out of eleven that needed repaired so far. Not a good track record.   

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