Challenger Mystery

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by TexDoc, Nov 27, 2007.

  1. TexDoc

    TexDoc Member

    Ok, here’s the story. I sent my Challenger to a dealer to have a Soundtraxx Tsunami installed to replace the MRC due to really poor performance. I got the loco back in a reasonable time and when I set it on the track it would hardly move. The sound performed in relation to the throttle speed, but not the engine. I talked to the dealer/installer and he had me send it right back.
    I received an email from the dealer today containing the following information.

    “I've opened the tender. Disconnected the decoder from the motor. Tested the motor and decoder separately (all ok). Reconnected the motor to the decoder. Reloaded the program as I shipped it to you.
    It ran fine, even though the radius of my test track is too small for it and the front drivers kept coming off the track.
    I was all ready to pack it up and send it to you when it stopped running. Something in the loco is preventing the motor from turning.”

    That’s the situation. I am looking for any help anyone can give that may lead to the light. The loco has been gone for some time and I have been looking forward to running it with the new decoder. Has anyone had a similar problem with a Challenger’s performance? Anything come to mind?
    I thought the Tsunami was the Holy Grail. I had read good reports on how improved the Challenger ran equipped with one. But my experience has left me Challengerless for nearly three months.
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    There is a possibility that in the process of taking it apart to put in a new decoder, or in the process of shipping, that a small speck of something (piece of sand, cat hair, wire, etc) fell into the mechanism and created a mechanical bind.

    What this technician needs to do is figure out whether the problem is the decoder or something else. I would suggest he swap decoders to see if it then works okay. That should tell him for sure where the problem is.

  3. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Texdoc, did the engine run ok before you sent it in? Seems like I remember other threads about the challenger being a poor runner anyhow.

  4. TexDoc

    TexDoc Member

    It never did run well. Kept losing the program until finally I couldn't re-program the decoder. That was when I decided to go with the Soundtraxx. So far it has been an N scale money pit.
  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Is that tiny, little money..??:mrgreen:

    Sorry...Couldn't help myself....:cry:
  6. woodone

    woodone Member

    I don't think the problem is in the decoder (Tsunami). Possible that a piece of packing material got into the drive train.
    I have three Tsunami's in my Kato Mikados, and they run and sound great.
    I did have a different decoder in my first unit, and I was not happy with the sound-so I changed to Tsunami. I would say that the sound is 4 to 5 times better. I had to turn the volume down!
    Has the dealer sent the loco back to you?
    All of the install would be done in the tender- no need to open the drive train to upgrade the decoder.
  7. TexDoc

    TexDoc Member

    Woodone,Two things... One, the installer is not refusing to fix the problem. It is that we don't have an answer as to why the decoder checks out and then quits. The running problems before the new decoder were confined to what I believe is MRC failures. Losing the program, simple poor performance.
    Two, the loco and motor were tested according to the installer and found to be working correctly. He reinstalled the decoder and tested the loco on his track. It was running fine and then just stopped. He did not send it back to me, but emailed me with the problem and his plan to fix it.
    I am just looking for suggestions to help the process along. From the initial install to my receiving it not working to sending it back has been nearly five months.
    I believe the dealer/installer is doing what he can. He had his last installer quit and hasn't been able to find anyone to take his place. This means he is running his shop and net business and trying to fix the Challenger, too.
    He has since told me he ran the engine backwards to no avail. Didn't fix the problem. What his plans are now I don't know.
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    I would take out the decoder and see if if it runs ok on dc. That will narrow it down to mechanical or electrical problems. An installer should have lots of jumpers laying around.

  9. woodone

    woodone Member

    By looking at the first post, the dealer had test run the locomotive on D.C. to test it- Ran on D.C. or that is what I understand.
  10. TexDoc

    TexDoc Member

    I can't answer that question. He stated that he "tested the decoder and the motor and both tested fine." No indication of how tested?
  11. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    If it runs ok on dc and not dcc, the next place to look would be the decoder or the wiring going to it. There could be a wire making contact somewhere intermittently that does not affect dc operation. Maybe not shorting out the entire loco, but shorting the decoder.

  12. AlBruAn

    AlBruAn New Member

    I thought I'd resurrect this since I'm curious if this issue was resolved as I have a few of Athearn's Challengers and Big Boys and have considered having the decoders replaced with Tsunamis.
  13. woodone

    woodone Member

    I have not seen a post from TexDoc in quite sometime.:confused:
    The last I had heard he had the locomotive back and it was running.:thumb:
    Not sure where the problem was (or is) in this install.
    I have Tsunamis in three Kato Mikes, and love them. I had to do some room research to install the capicator in the Mikes, something that you should not have to do on the Challenger or Big Boy install as the tender is quite large.
    As far as installing a Tsunami, you will be real happy:mrgreen: with the sound and the speed control. Plus you will be able to read the CV's in the Tsunami, something that you could not do with the MRC decoders.

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