SF F3A & B - Pics & questions....

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by steamhead, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    This is what the birthday fairy brought me the other day.....Awesome & jaw-dropping..!!

    They're Precision Craft Models F3A & B....with stainless steel sides..!! Really gorgeous..!!

    Now I got to install a decoder in them...will probably go with sound as well. I got a question here...Since the units are "factory MU'd" (there's a connection between them) will I need just the one decoder in the A unit..or in both..?? Also...Does any one know how to take the shell off ? I'd hate to go "exploring" and run the danger of screwing something up...Lastly...the lights aren't working - any reason for this? The manual says that lights are on continuously when used with DC...but no joy...:cry:

    Now I'll have to ask Santa for a few coaches to make up my Super Chief....!!!

    Attached Files:

  2. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    They look great! Happy birthday!

    As for popping the top, I'd guess that the coupler boxes may hold the shell to the chassis... or at least need to come off before you can slide the shell off.

    As for the MU'ing... I dunno! :eek: I haven't seen them. You could conceivably run them both on one decoder, assuming they run well together. Just make sure it can handle the amp load of both of them together. Perhaps a new diesel Tsunami? PCM also has a sound/DCC upgrade for them, but I don't know what it's worth.
  3. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Thanks for the heads-up...
    I did run the A unit by itself for about 1/2 an hour, and then tried the same with the B unit, but it didn't run alone. It's got to be run with the A. This is what makes me think that both will run off the same decoder...
    Thanks again....
  4. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Wow! Those are sharp.
  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Herc...They sure are....They're just the first step in putting together my "dream" train. Though a steam fan to the core...this one train was one of the reasons I chose New Mexico as the setting for my layout....:mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:
  6. Dan85

    Dan85 Member

    Very Nice!!

    Do you have a link to any more pictures of your layout? Looks pretty sharp!

    - Dan
  7. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi Dan....Thanks for your comments.sign1
    Here's a link to the first section of the layout that I consider mostly "finished". It still needs detailing, but the "rough" work is done.
    I'll have to dig through the "archives" here to find some other "random" pics I've posted now & then.

  8. Dan85

    Dan85 Member

    Very nice work Steam! If that's the "rough" work, I can't imagine what the detailed looks like!

    - Dan
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If they are always going to be consisted together, you can run both off of one decoder IF the decoder has enough capacity to handle the load of both locomotives. Most decoders are designed to run one locomotive. If you hook up two locomotives to a single decoder, you run the risk of the load from the two locomotives overloading and burning out the decoder. Sound units add more electrical load to the decoder, so you need to keep that in mind as well. Typically a can motor in an ho locomotive will draw about 1/2 -3/4 amp at full load. Some motors draw as little as 1/4 amp. Also the motor draws less power at slow speeds and the most power at full throttle. I'm not sure what the sound units draw. If you can find out how much both units plus sound if they are so equipped draw, then you can contact decoder manufacturers to see what they have available to handle the load. Another source would be to send an email to Tony's Trains asking about this. I think he does dcc conversions of all sorts of ho models for people as well as selling a complete line of trains and decoders. He may know exactly what decoder you will need to run this set of locomotives.
  10. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Thanks Russ....:thumb:
    I'll get in touch with them....
    The units are really heavy, so just to get them moving might be a good load...never mind coupling a 6 car consist behind them....
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I don't think weight is a real consideration of the load on a decoder. Weight is a function of torque of the motor overcoming the resistance to turn. The max load on the motor is locked rotor amperage, no decoder or motor will live with that load for long. That is why emphasis is made to make sure when you add weight to a locomotive for extra pulling power that the locomotive is still able to spin the wheels. Once the motor starts rotating, it goes to it's amp rating. If we use an Athearn open frame motor as an example it will pull @ 3/4 amp with a clean armature. If you get carbon buildup on the armature of that Athearn motor, the load may go up to 1 or even 1 1/2 amps due to the extra resistance getting the electricity to flow from the brushes to the armature. Dirty wheels will cause the same problem, but since the decoder is between the wheels and the motor, the decoder doesn't see that load problem.
  12. e-paw

    e-paw Member

    They look great, and the scenery does too. The sand and rocks of the desert are a stark contrast to the heavily treed mountains I'm used to in the north east. Looks great send more pics.
  13. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    I got in touch with PCM and was told the unit will operate with one decoder as the B unit is a "slave" and will run off the A unit's control. They told me the LEDs probably have a bad connection...
    So I mustered up some courage and cracked the A unit open. I checked the voltage at the "motherboard" and do have 12v of juice at the socket where the headlight unit plugs in...But the LEDs don't work...I checked voltage at the LED board and read 3.5v. I don't see a resistor anywhere that would drop the voltage...Any ideas..? :cry:

    I don't see why I should be troubleshooting a brand new unit, but....:curse:

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