Atlas N ALP-45DP Problem

jwb3 Oct 17, 2019

  1. jwb3

    jwb3 TrainBoard Member

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    I ordered one of the new Atlas ALP-45DP NJT dual power locos. After I ordered it, I saw a blog post where a buyer said he's been unable to get the loco to run faster than a crawl. When my loco arrived, I tested it and found that it would start moving at speed step 1, but it would not move any faster at any other speed steps, although the diesel sounds would in fact accelerate. I tried resetting CVs 3,4,5, and 6, with no result. I e-mailed Atlas, who replied they are aware of the problem and are working with the engineers to fix it, but it is not a DCC problem. I replied asking if they had a time frame, but they didn't answer. I e-mailed the retailer where I got it, and told them about Atlas's reply. I asked if it might be possible to exchange it for a loco that they tested and found to work, but they then went and tested five locos in both DCC-sound and DC and said all had the problem, it was probably the whole run. They advised me to return the loco for refund and sent me a prepaid postage label.

    This is for anyone else who has ordered, or is thinking of ordering, this loco. Doesn't sound like good news for Atlas. But the retailer gets five stars in my book.

    [edited to remove references to non TrainBoard-advertiser retailer -- please refer to our advertiser policy. ]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2019
  2. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    Every review of this loco that I have read is that it is painfully slow...
     
  3. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I wonder if N Scale "scale speed" motor engineering gone too far, i.e. reduced top speed too much?
     
  4. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Maybe it has built in Positive Train Control. :D:p:ROFLMAO::LOL:
     
  5. SecretWeapon

    SecretWeapon TrainBoard Member

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    On DC, it started out so slow I almost fell off my chair! As time went on, it picked up speed. After hours of running around my layout, it got to a torrorable level. Still should be faster since it is a passenger engine. It takes off very slow when you stop. Kinda like the real ones. It takes about 1/3 of the layout to get to top speed again.
     
  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Now that's FUNNY! :LOL:
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Factory decoder issues?
     
  8. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    From everything that I have read, it is also in issue with DC loco
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Poor motor? Binding in gear train?
     
  10. u18b

    u18b TrainBoard Supporter

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    Boxcab.
    I was thinking the same thing.
    If it runs better when warming up, then there may be some sort of bind.

    It may be something as simple as a bad lubricant which is very thick at room temp, but then thins out when warmed up.
     
    SecretWeapon likes this.
  11. jwb3

    jwb3 TrainBoard Member

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    In their e-mail to me, Atlas said it was not a decoder issue. The impression I had was that the motor is poorly designed or poorly mated with the drive train, and its speed maxed out very slowly at the top of the voltage range. What tipped the balance for me to return it as defective was that although it would run very slowly at speed step 28, as I increased speed steps on the way to the max, the engine sounds would accelerate, but the loco would not. And the upshot seems to be that at the retailer, the problem is with every loco in the run, so it wouldn't be just a bind or bad lube on one loc.
     
  12. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter

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    Decided to not post a thought.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  13. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Official response from Atlas. From TRW:

    "We are aware of the problem with the slow initial speed of these units and are trying to determine what is causing it. The preproduction samples did not exhibit this issue, so we have to go through and try and determine what has changed. As it happens with both DC and DCC versions, it is not a decoder programming problem. I will post as soon as we figure it out, we have it narrowed down to a couple of possibilities and are working with the factory to determine which one(s) it could be. As others have posted, the speed tends to pick up as the model runs, but after it sits a while the issue returns.

    As far as what has shipped - everything, locos, cars, sets, AMT and NJT all shipped at the same time."
     
  14. kingj63

    kingj63 New Member

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    Hi All. I talked to the rep at Trainfest in anticipation of my ALP45 DP arrival. Having heard about the slow speed issue and also experiencing it on one of my buddies locomotives.
    They said something which sorta of makes sense. Something about a choke coil they did not anticipate. Whatever.
    I did not see anything obvious on the board(s). Nothing I wanted to mess with anyway.

    I began looking for simple(r) fixes.
    I have had luck twice now. First with my buddies model and now mine.
    It is somewhat simple if you can figure out how to get the shell off.
    The first part is somewhat less than obvious as the couplers need to be removed. More traditionally a HO thing than N.

    The second part may be model to model as far as how easy it is to remove the shell.
    My buddies was not hard at all. Mine was quite reluctant to come off. Had I not had success previously I may have given up had this been my first try.
    There is nothing per se inside gripping the shell to the chassis. It is however a snug fit and mine was extra stubborn coming off. The other practically lifted off once the couplers were removed.

    Shell off.
    Get some good cleaner. I have been using a 1-2 punch of ACT-6006 track and rail cleaner.
    I have been following that up with a general cleaning using a good electrical contact cleaner. Plastic safe stuff. Your choice. Basically something to remove residue the track and rail cleaner might leave behind.

    1. Just get a eye dropper or something similar to douse the motor good with the track and rail cleaner. I mean soak it. Be generous here.
    You will see an obvious spot to load up the armature between the gaps in everything under the hood atop the frame. Perfect spot for it actually and you will see it. Right where the windings and magnet go to the brushes. Move the motor by hand a few rotations and then shake out as much of the track cleaner as you can get out.

    2. Next up is the aerosol stuff. Just go nuts with this. It will evaporate eventually to leave no residue. I actually have a airbrush (compressor) which I set high and blow it out good as well after the second cleaning using the aerosol cleaner. I suspect if you don't have some sort of air to blow it out you should probably walk away for a while and be sure the last of the contact cleaner has evaporated or you might end up causing a dead short somewhere.

    OK, so I am somewhat of a fearless fiddler at times and this could have gone badly. To my surprise it has gone quite well twice now.

    The slow pace, something slightly better than a fast walk / slow running pace has been improved by this simple cleaning process. I'd say I am getting up around 50-60mph now. Still sorta slow for a passenger engine. Compared to out of the box this cleaning process delivers what is minimally an acceptable run speed for most people.

    This also sort of meshes with previous comments about extended running seems to improve the speed.
    Anyone around old enough to recall how old N Scale stuff had to be warmed up before running? It usually traced to carbon deposits on the armature. Cleaning the old open can motors was sorta of easy and produced immediate results.

    This feels like that sort of solution.

    I hope it is a permanent fix and not something we need to repeat every so often to keep it clean.

    I really don't advocate trying this if you have never opened up a model before. Not rewire hard. There is still plenty to break in simply removing the shell.
    My process which works for me has it's own hazards. Not entirely sure where they stashed the speaker on this thing. It's under the motor somewhere out of sight. Thing is the soaking I suggest could theoretically load the speaker which I assume would not be good. I do half think you should only try this if you have a way to blow it all out good and dry after the cleaning steps.
    That said. Use enough of the contact cleaner and let it sit long enough. The contact cleaner will displace the track cleaner and eventually evaporate. By eventually I mean an hour or less. This stuff evaporates so fast you can almost watch it disappear.

    Hey, this model is worth it. It is every thing I hoped it would be and quite possibly a little more.
    The speed issue was something that could be overcome. That slow could never have been intentional by any design.

    I'd actually appreciate any other users with some moderate skill level who tries this this "fix" reporting back for all to see if it's just me or of this is actually it.
    I hope it is, and I hope it helps someone else.

    Jeff K.
     
    SecretWeapon likes this.
  15. kingj63

    kingj63 New Member

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    BTW, if anyone needs a tip or two on putting decoders in the cars. I've installed the Lok Next18 decoder in mine and unraveled the settings to get the lights to work properly.
    Sort of frustrating out of the box because the ditch lights on the cab car are set to F1 and F2 key. Problematic if you are running a sound equipped engine and consist the set.
    Also the interior lights do not work naturally with the decoder in factory default settings.
    I already put my programmer away for today. If anyone needs me to share, just ask.

    Let's just say it is possible to get everything working just so. It was less than obvious to me anyway because I am still not 100% proficient with the Lok Programmer and the decoder is a little vague on what functions actually do. The saving grace here is you basically have 2 assigned outputs 4 aux outputs each doing it's own thing. 2 get used right of the bat for the Forward and Reverse direction of travel lighting on the tail end of the cab car. That leaves Aux 1-4 for only half clear assignment. 1 and 2 are the left and right ditch lights. 3 and 4 are just sort of there with no clear description as to what they do via the Lok programmer interface.

    Ultimately I remapped Aux 1 and 2 to get off F1 and F2. F0 seemed like a safe place to park the ditch lights as long as you do not mind losing independent control of them (on/off) It is safe thinking all the F key uses on a sound locomotive. Unless you remap a ton of stuff you are not going to find many free F keys to create independent operation of the ditch lights which does not run afoul of some sound function on the locomotive.
    Yeah, I know advanced consisting probably solves this. Call me a Luddite along with half the DCC users that finds consisting to be annoying at times. This is my only set of these cars and locomotive. One address suits me just fine.
    Anyway.
    Though not specifically stated as such. Aux 3 and or 4 have some link to the interior lights. This is what I need to reopen my programmer and look to see what it was that finally got it all working. This is also just my solution and would not be the only solution.

    I mention this because I saw someone else asking about this issue may not have been here. Point being it is a head scratcher when you plug in the Next18 decoder and half the stuff works and half does not. Just be aware you did nothing wrong. It requires programming that no one bothers to reveal to anyone out here in user-land. You did the install just fine. Now you have to program it is all.

    Again, the set is well worth the effort. This is right up there with the best of N scale once you run the bugs out of the model(s).

    Jeff K.
     
  16. SecretWeapon

    SecretWeapon TrainBoard Member

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    I did something very similar to what Jeff did. I also added a drop of oil on the trucks. It took off as good as the Kato Sprinter. Ran great for a while. I had to repeat the process the next day. It has been running as intended since. I called Atlas & told them what I did. A week later they said they found an electrical problem. I don't know. Mine runs great with my cure.
     
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  17. kingj63

    kingj63 New Member

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    My buddy has not reported back on the durability of the "fix" I did to his a few weeks back. I am assuming no complaint.....
    Anyway, on day 3 of the fix to mine. Not exactly been burning the track up running it. Which would toss a new factor into the mix. Simple break in time.

    So far, running twice a day. One lap of my layout. About 70' of track total. Then back to sleep until the next test.
    It has started up flawlessly each time.
    I note this because a few comments have been left about this sort of repair being temporary and in need of repeat.

    You may consider this fix permanent unless I come back and say otherwise.
    The evidence mounts at this point it is not temporary.
     
  18. SASRR

    SASRR TrainBoard Member

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    IMG_20191206_225409.jpg I have one of the car sets and they are not much better the truck frames are messed up due the the axle being to wide it seems. I think the whole set engine and cars in this project have not turned out very well.. anyone else having this issue with the cars also
     
  19. Alexander Montagano

    Alexander Montagano New Member

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    I bought this because it runs right by my house, and I am having issues with speed of loco and the passenger cars derail very easily. I found that the trucks were screwed to tightly and that helped. Super sensitive to small track imperfections, will derail on curves if the pitch is off.
     
  20. SASRR

    SASRR TrainBoard Member

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    mine aren't tight I try to lossen then but from the picture you can see my trucks are bad and since all my other cars run on all my tracks but these don't well...….
     

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