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Peter's Model Railroading | Articles | Locomotives | PRR NW2


On February 21, 2009, the Houston S Gaugers club were able to participate in the Greater Houston Train Show where we got to set up our layout. I took that opportunity to not only show off this new engine, but, more importantly, to break it in. I ran it for at least 30 minutes continuously in both directions. I was able to pull about ten cars without any problem, but most of the time ran with just a few cars. The layout itself had some electrical gremlins, and at one point in time I saw smoke coming out of my engine! I learned that the Tsunami decoders flash the headlight when the decoder is overheating. The engine won't move at that point. I got to experience that several times with this engine. I don't know if it was related to the layout's electrical gremlins, or if the problem was indeed with the decoder and/or its particular installation. There may just not be that much "breathing room" in the engine. As the show progressed, the engine started stalling more and more. It got to the point it was embarrassing to run, because I was just pushing it along.

However, despite these problems, the engine was quite a show-stopper. Many people would follow it along as it circled the layout. The interior cab light and the bell were definitely the highlights for "kids" young and old. After I got home, when I opened the trucks, I noticed that several of the wheel wipers were no longer making contact with the backs of the wheels. Also, one of the wipers had a lot of burn residue on it. Bob Werre experienced the same problem with three of his engines. We suspect that the layout's 8-amp and non-working short-circuit detection were to blame. Most of our engines smoked, and so we don't think it was the decoders, but rather the wheel wipers struggling under the strain of the current, perhaps burning off some of the residue on the back of the wheels. After cleaning and adjusting the wheel wipers, my engine once again ran fine on my home layout. By the way, I used the same set up for the February 2010 show where we basically had the same layout. However, in the year since the above-mentioned show we fixed all shorts and re-did some of the wiring on a couple of our troubled modules. The end result was all of our engines, including mine, ran the entire day's show without a hitch. We concluded that our layout and a faulty short-circuit detection in the DCC system units were the problem last year. The Tsunami and other decoders that we used handled the high-amperage load just fine.