21480 at Maerklin for repair; seeking your background thoughts/advice

RH Prague

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I've sent my 21480 2-10-2 to Maerklin in Goppingen for repair under guarantee. The dialogue is interesting, and I'm sure it will help me if some of you will throw in your thoughts on what's going on.
You'll need the background; fiirst the initial problems

* I bought it in April 2022 (new, from Peyker in Austria). At first perfect. Then sometimes a minor irritation: when I placed it on the track, one of the "next station" sounds would go off involuntarily.
* Last season it got worse, sometimes that particular sound would go off while it was running. At the same time, the smoke generator output gradually weakened, so that less and finally nothing came out of the chimney, only around the valve gear. So I thought that since it's under guarantee I'll get them to fix it.
* There is though no Maerklin authorised service centre in CZ. But there is one just across the border in Stollberg, where, by coincidence my niece lives and works. So I took it there in January.
* Communication with that place was a bit difficult but they have a long history so I trusted them, even though when I got it back there was no written indication of what they'd actually done. (My niece's Mum brought it back as she had been up there)

Things then turn worse, the first time I put it on the track.

* Immediately the whistle blows.I can't stop it, and it's loud. But at the same time, the loco doesn't move. I take it off the track. Shut down everything and restart.
* Put it back on track. Same result only now smoke starts billowing but only from the valve gear. Then I smell burning. I whip it off the track and see that the burning is coming from around one contact shoe. I've seen enough, wonder what on earth the service centre is playing at, and get on with trying to contact Maerklin directly.
* everything else on the railway is functioning normally, including the Harz T3 railcar which also has a very sophisticated sound module

Hope it helps if I break this up into two posts, part 2 is what Maerklin are now saying...
 

RH Prague

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* Maerklin customer service is a bit..well, never mind. They did contact Junghanns in Stollberg for a report. Mr Junghanns said that they had replaced the smoke generator, then he had tested it using "a Maerklin C3, and with an Ecos Zentrale" and everything functioned perfectly. But Mr Frank Mayer at Maerklin agreed that I could return it directly to them for further inspection in the light of what had happened.
* As of today it is in the hands of the repair dept and they have responded quickly. Here is their reply in full, translated

We have tested your locomotive extensively.
The smoke generator, driving sound and all other functions work as they should.
We assume that there is a short circuit because a contact shoe has burnt into the gearbox frame.
We suspect that this was caused by a driving device and booster with a high amperage through your system.
Could you tell us how many amps your Massoth command station has available and whether you have additional boosters or similar in operation?
(As all Märklin digital central units have a maximum of 5 amps available and such a short circuit is therefore hardly possible)
We will of course repair the defective gear frame and wiper free of charge.
In order to narrow down the fault further, I would ask you to give us more information about your layout or command station.
As we are unable to reproduce any of the faults you have described and the locomotive has no fault with Märklin command stations.


I have quickly responded to them making the following points:

* Fotos of my Massoth Dimax 1210Z and 1200T and LGB 50110 transformer.
* No booster, I would not need one. While the Dimax can deliver 12 amps, it never needs it, I run a max of two locos at a time and currently pointwork and other electrical stuff are operated analogue.
* I have 12 other locos and they have all been running both before and after the blow-up of the 21480 perfectly normally, and that includes the powerful Harz T3 railcar.

So that's where we are at present. Of course it's always difficult with any tech problem where the technicians cannot reproduce the fault themselves. But at this end, the variable is this loco. Everything else is fine, and has been since the digital system was installed in 2018 ( and by the local retailer whom I regularly use). And I am pretty sure there is nothing at all remarkable about my set-up, the proof is in the more or less faultless operation of all those locos.

Nevertheless your thoughts will be much appreciated and may help me in my dialogue with the Maerklin techies.
 

PhilP

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My thoughts and suspicions are a pickup problem caused the latest damage.

I have seen many motor-blocks, where the area around the skate has melted.

My theory is that contamination of the wheel - backs, the grease internally breaking down releasing oils, acts as an insulator.
The skates then have to pass most of the current, and this relies on the spring and metal shims in the block, making good contact (just by the pressure from the spring).
The current is being carried by the light-gauge metal of that coil spring, and it gets hot.

I wonder if there was an initial problem with the smoke unit? - Why would the first repair centre swap an expensive unit, if not?

The damage when returned to you, could be bad luck?
Something could have moved in transit, perhaps? A carbon brush could have jammed, do not contributing to current collection, again perhaps?

The fact Marklin have taken ownership of the damage, and are going to replace the parts, is the best outcome you can hope for.

I can't prove any of the above, but it seems a plausible explanation.

PhilP
 
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RH Prague

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My thoughts and suspicions are a pickup problem caused the latest damage.

I have seen many motor-blocks, where the area around the skate has melted.

My theory is that contamination of the wheel - backs, the grease internally breaking down releasing oils, acts as an insulator.
The skates then have to pass most of the current, and this relies on the spring and metal shims in the block, making good contact (just by the pressure from the spring).
The current is being carried by the light-gauge metal of that coil spring, and it gets hot.

I wonder if there was an initial problem with the smoke unit? - Why would the first repair centre swap an expensive unit, if not?

The damage when returned to you, could be bad luck?
Something could have moved in transit, perhaps? A carbon brush could have jammed, do not contributing to current collection, again perhaps?

The fact Marklin have taken ownership of the damage, and are going to replace the parts, is the best outcome you can hope for.

I can't prove any of the above, but it seems a plausible explanation.

PhilP
Thanks, PhilP PhilP , as you say, all of those things sound plausible; although the transit explanation is a tough one to accept. It was of course in its original box, my niece's Mum took it to her car and then to her place, and I picked it up from her. As such that transit was almost risk free, compared to the one by parcel to Gottingen when it passed through something like 6 distribution centres en- route.

The only other thing I'd say is that the motor-block melt-down happened in a matter of seconds during which time the loco did not actually move.

Do you (anybody) have a view on their suggestion that my Massoth set-up might somehow be at fault, or have I successfully demonstrated that logically there's no reason to blame it?
 

PhilP

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Do you (anybody) have a view on their suggestion that my Massoth set-up might somehow be at fault, or have I successfully demonstrated that logically there's no reason to blame it?
Well I can't 'see' your Central Station..

But you can set the limit for current protection to operate at.
If your CS is set for 12Amps, then it will happily supply up to this without shutting down.

If you only tend to run a couple of loco's at once, I would definitely consider checking this setting, and reducing it to (say) 5Amps.


I don't believe the equipment was at fault.
But believe that the current setting was / is too generous, and this contributed to the damage.

PhilP
 

Diesel2000

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FWIW I had the smoke generator on my 21480 fail within the first year. Rather than send it to Marklin USA for warranty repair and wait however long, possibly then on to Germany I just decided to buy a replacement smoke generator for $60 and install it myself. When the generator failed the chuff stopped working because the wheel sensor passes through the generator before going to the decoder. If the power to the generator does not work then there is no chuff, so its a pretty integral part to the steam locomotives functioning and is a bit a weak point. Pretty much all the steamers LGB is making are configured this way now.

I use a Massoth booster along with my CS3, so this gives me pause to redivide my layout power blocks so I have no more than 6 amps available to any one area. Full 12 amps can be pretty catastrophic with shorts.
 

RH Prague

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Maerklin have swiftly replied:

We have now also tested the locomotive with the Massoth control center operated by you.
Here, too, none of the faults you described can be detected.
The locomotive does what it is supposed to do.
We will now return the repaired locomotive to you in perfect condition.
Should further problems occur, you could contact the builder of your layout.
The fault may lie here. Of course, it would be ideal if you were to operate our locomotives with Märklin products.
The Central Station 3 from Märklin, for example, has a maximum of 5 amps available (which would be sufficient for the operation you have described) and switches off automatically in the event of an overload (which would have prevented this short circuit). As you are using a third-party control station, we cannot provide any information on this.
If you have any questions, please contact Massoth.
The locomotive has been fully tested ( Märklin, Ecos, Massoth command stations and analog ) and found to be in good working order.


Well, I have to accept that from their POV they have done all they reasonably can do. However I'm obviously wary that the moment I put it on the track, the loco will get fried again. But if it's possible to set the amperage to 5amps max, as you suggest, PhilP PhilP that ought to limit the danger and be a workable solution overall. I'v never seen any loco use up more than 1.9amps anywhere on my layout. As a boots and braces safety measure I might get in contact with the one modeller I know locally and ask if we can run it at his place first. He's got a wonderful railway and knows his stuff technically.

I suppose if Maerklin are right, the short-circuit occurred at the first moment when I puit it on the track and the whistle started blowing. That is one loud whistle to blow continuously for 10 seconds or more, so I suppose that could have created a surge. But it still bothers me, why just this loco, which clearly previously had a defect, with the smoke generator.
 
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Tanker man

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Just a thought, one of the UK retailers recently posted ( somewhere!) that you should never put a loco on to ‘live’ track but should turn off the power , carefully place the loco on the track then , when you are sure that all of the wheels and contacts are where they are supposed to be, turn the power back on.
Not sure if this helps
Cheers
Dave
 

RH Prague

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Of course if anyone know off the top of their heads the procedure for changing the amperage settings in my Dimax, I'd be very grateful for the short-cut to finding this out. I generally find Massoth documentation hard to get to grips with.
 

Diesel2000

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Of course if anyone know off the top of their heads the procedure for changing the amperage settings in my Dimax, I'd be very grateful for the short-cut to finding this out. I generally find Massoth documentation hard to get to grips with.
Pages 17/18 of the 1210 manual

1716905265307.png
 

mike

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I've had a spring melt before, and upon inspection, it was acting as a heating element,melting the gearbox, using a massoth 1200 , nav ect , set to 7amps..after this I took advice and turn the power off now before placing a loco on the track .not happen since, touch wood,
 

RH Prague

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I've had a spring melt before, and upon inspection, it was acting as a heating element,melting the gearbox, using a massoth 1200 , nav ect , set to 7amps..after this I took advice and turn the power off now before placing a loco on the track .not happen since, touch wood,
I had never heard this advice before but now I think about it, it makes perfect sense. Some locos, including this one, but particularly my Saxon Mallett, are very fiddly to place on the track "cleanly". A Stainz, no problem. I'll follow that advice from now on. I see that my Dimax offers 7amps and 4 amps as the max. setting. I think I'll start with 4!
 

Keith RhB

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A couple of thoughts/suggestions:

1) you mentioned you use the LGB 50110 transformer to feed your Massoth central station. That power supply only puts out 5A so it’s not too much…but it’s certainly enough to melt things that are shorted. I would check the short/shutdown time that is set on your central station and maybe shorten it a bit.

2) How often do you clean the wheels on your locos? The only times I’ve seen those sliders get hot enough to melt the housing is when too much currently is consistently put through them because the rest of the wheels aren’t doing their share of picking up power so too much goes through the sliders. Make sure all the wheels are picking up power by resting the loco upside down and using test leads on each axle at a time. Make sure there are no missing or worn out brushes.
 

dunnyrail

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A couple of thoughts/suggestions:

1) you mentioned you use the LGB 50110 transformer to feed your Massoth central station. That power supply only puts out 5A so it’s not too much…but it’s certainly enough to melt things that are shorted. I would check the short/shutdown time that is set on your central station and maybe shorten it a bit.

2) How often do you clean the wheels on your locos? The only times I’ve seen those sliders get hot enough to melt the housing is when too much currently is consistently put through them because the rest of the wheels aren’t doing their share of picking up power so too much goes through the sliders. Make sure all the wheels are picking up power by resting the loco upside down and using test leads on each axle at a time. Make sure there are no missing or worn out brushes.
Top advice re checking all wheels doing their pickup, so many times I have done just that check with dodgy running loco to find only one wheel picking up power 1 side, not even the slider all requiring remedial action.