TIPS & ADVICE FOR LGB TRAINS HOBBYISTS

LESSONS-LEARNED COMPLIED BY THOMAS WHITE - OLD DOMINION RAILWAYS

Started List on 2-2-2021

DC ANALOG POWERED TRACK LAYOUTS & LOCOMOTIVES

  • Plastic Wheels Replacement:  Your train cars that operate on your layout with plastic wheels create a fine powdery dust that gets on the rails and requires more frequent track cleaning.  It also will form a black covering below and around your track, especially if your track layout is on carpet.  I recommend that you change your plastic wheels to metal wheels.  They not only stop the plastic dust contamination, but they also add stability to your train cars and also make your operating layout sound more realistic.......metal wheels moving across rail joints just like real trains!  The Bachmann Wheels Sets, 4 Pack, available on my Website, offer an economical alternative for two axle and four axle train cars.  You'll want to put a dab of silicone lubricant on the tips of each wheels set axle before you insert them into the axle groves on your train car's truck/boggie.

  • Locomotive Wheels & Carbon Brushes Wear:  You should periodically reverse the direction of your locomotives and train cars on your layout.  Otherwise, one side of the wheels will wear more than the other due to the drag from curved track sections on the inner wheels.  Your locomotive's wheels and carbon brushes will then require replacement on the heavy wear side before the opposite side.  Note the photo below of wear differences from a set of carbon brushes removed from an LGB Mogul locomotive.

  • LGB 65000-Series Sound Modules:  The steam sound versions produce an excellent electronic chuff for your LGB locomotives.  However, in most cases after installation, the chuff sounds will not be in sync with the wheels revolutions of your steam locomotive.  You can adjust the chuff sounds to be in sync by using a DCC system, or a Massoth or LGB PC Programming Module, by adjusting CV193, Start Threshold for Analog, from the factory-default setting of 128 to 30.  I've found this setting will provide 4 chuffs per wheel revolution for most LGB Mogul locomotives when testing the setting on my roller wheels test stand operating the locomotive in DC Analog power.   If necessary,  CV2, Start Up Voltage, can also be increased from the factory-default setting of 2, to a slightly higher setting between 3 - 5, which delays the start up of the Sound Module.   Note the demonstration video on my Website's Home Page of an LGB Mogul that I installed the LGB 65001 Sound Module into the tender; the CV193=30 setting produces a great 4 chuffs per locomotive wheel revolution. 

DCC DIGITAL TRACK SYSTEMS & LOCOMOTIVES

  • Massoth DCC Decoders – Measuring DCC Voltage Outputs

  1. Massoth advises to use an RMS-capable multimeter in AC mode with load, i.e., a device connected to the terminal and powerd “on“.

  2. The Massoth DCC decoder terminals output is not DC voltage; it is a pulse modulation with 24 volts (peak voltage) and smaller pulses for lower voltages.

  3. The output for the motor is also a pulsed current, not a DC current.

  4. Also remember that the output voltage on a specific decoder terminal will be determined by DCC command station’s DCC output voltage to the track.  And most large scale DCC decoder’s output voltage at the terminals will be approximately 1.5 volts less than the track input voltage to the decoder.  For example, my Piko DCC command station’s DCC output to my programming test track is 18.4 volts DCC.  That means the decoder’s Headlight Terminal’s maximum voltage output (CV53=32) will be about 17 volts.  This all needs to be taken into consideration when dimming a decoder’s output voltage terminal for a particular device such as 5 v. lights and 5 v. smokers.  Some DCC decoder installers instead prefer to change out all the 5 volts devices and replacement them with 19 volts lights and an 18 volts smoker.  That obviates the need for doing any dimming of the voltage for specific devices.

  5. In order to accurately measure your DCC command station's output voltage going to your track and to the locomotive's DCC decoder,  you must use a multimeter capable of measuring DCC voltage and amps.  A regular voltmeter or multimeter, even my expensive Fluke unit, cannot properly measure DCC current.  The RRampMeter v.4 is specifically made for large G scale hobbyists for this purpose.  It will meaure DC, AC, and DCC Amps and Voltage.  Old Dominion Railways is now a RRampMeter v.4 Dealer and it can found on this site's DCC Components and Accessories page.

  • Useful Data for Determining Maximum Allowable Voltage and Amperage on DCC Decoder Output Terminals (Tested with Fluke Multimeter and RRampMeter4).  Note that an LGB 18 volts smoke unit consumes less than half the current of an LGB 5 volts smoke unit.  So when installing a DCC sound decoder, I will sometimes replace the LGB locomotive's existing 5 volts smoker with an 18 volts smoker and connect it to a terminal with full track power.  I've found some Massoth DCC sound decoders will create a low hum noise when the output terminal is "dimmed" to 5 volts when a 5 volts smoker is connected.  Solution for the hum noise:  Install a 5 volt regulator to a terminal with full track power (usually 18 - 20 volts), or replace the 5 volts smoker with an 18 volts smoker and use full track power at the output terminal.

  • DCC Decoder Wiring & Testing Installation Technique:   

  1. First wire only your LGB locomotive’s motor block wires to the decoder’s two track power and two motor terminals ----- guidance is in the Massoth Installation Manual.  Next connect the speaker to the decoder’s 2-pin speaker socket.  Do NOT connect any other devices such as lights or smoker unit to the decoder.

  2. Second, place your locomotive or just the motor block with the four wires (track power/motor) and the speaker connected to the decoder onto your separate programming track.  Next, connect a DC- powered throttle’s wires to the programming track, apply slight DC voltage to the track and listen to determine if you begin to hear the decoder’s locomotive sounds, and maybe the slight movement of the motor block/locomotive.  If you get these results, that means you’ve properly wired the decoder.  If you hear nothing, it usually means the decoder isn’t wired properly ----- don’t apply additional DC power, but instead double check the decoder’s wiring for track power and motor and correct it.  Why test with DC voltage:  If you made a mistake in the wiring of the decoder, when you test it in low DC voltage, it’s less likely to damage the decoder if you’ve made a wiring mistake.  If you instead test the decoder using DCC current, you’re immediately applying full track power, 18 – 22 volts DCC , to the decoder, and if you’ve made a wiring mistake, then it’s likely you’ll permanently damage the decoder.  The decoder's factory warranty will not cover your wiring mistake.

  3. Third, if your programming test of the decoder is successful, then continue wiring the next device such as the headlight, cab light and rear light.  Before you test the lights and smoker, remember that most LGB locomotives use 5 volts devices.  So, you’ll first need to “dim” the lights and smoker terminals on the decoder from the factory-default setting for full track power (e.g., CV50=32 to CV50=5 or 7).   Again, you might want to test the lights on your programming track before proceeding to install any other devices.  Why:  The benefit of testing each device on your programming track after you install it helps you confirm the wiring is correct, or whether there may be some defect in the device.   It’s much easier to find these wiring or other problems causing the device to not work if you test each device immediately after installing.  If you wait to test all the installed devices and find the decoder doesn’t work properly, then trying to find the problem is much more difficult.    

  • LGB/MARKLIN Locomotives with the Newest mfx/dcc/dc Sound Decoders:  If your DCC system does not have the mfx technology feature, it's recommended that the mfx feature be turned off in your DCC system to preclude potential operating conflicts between the mfx and dcc protocols.  CV50 controls these features:  CV50=0 for DCC only; CV50=2 for DCC and Analog only; the factory default setting is CV50=10 for mfx, dcc and analog operation.

  • Adding Massoth Maxi Power Caps to an LGB 21670 Track Cleaning Locomotive:  There's not a socket or solder pad for installing Massoth Maxi Power Caps found on the latest "Red" model of the LGB 21670 DCC/DC Track Cleaning Locomotive.  Power caps will help your locomotive to get through faulty track switches and dirty track sections.  Massoth Germany provided me with the below PDF document below which specifies where to solder the Massoth Power Caps onto the main circuit board. 

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