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Lionel Challenger Needs Tinkering

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For optimum performance the Lionel Challenger requires some tinkering and lubricating. This observation has been conveyed to us by Bob L., a seasoned Model Railroader and tinkerer.

Out of the box overall pulling performance is poor, only 6-8 cars up a 2% grade. The tender is very heavy, about a pound. The weight in the tender can be removed and it doesn't appear to adversely affect tender tracking while improving pulling power.

Bob also discovered that lubricating all the tender axles and loco pilot/trailing axles increased pulling power almost 40%.

Dissatisfied with the sound, Bob installed some cotton between the face of the speakers' cones and the floor of the tender. This reduced distortion and significantly improved fidelity. Our earlier observations commented on the whistle's apparent distortion.

Here is an unedited report by Scott H about the Challenger's low speed performance we also commented on.

Hello,

I saw the comments about the new Lionel HO Scale Challenger on your (Tony's Trains) web site.

http://www.tonystrains.com/technews/loconews/lionel-challenger.htm

I just took delivery of two of these locomotives from Caboose Hobbies and they both suffer from the low speed running problem mentioned on your web site.

I have carefully checked the mechanism and have found the source of the problem. On the front engine the crank pins on the first driver's rods catch on the crossheads. There is simply not enough room to have the crank pins clear, even on straight track. At slow speed the pins hit and jam until the motor generates enough torque to overcome the resistance. This can lead to some rather dramatic lurching of the locomotive at throttle step 1. Once the throttle is increased to step 3 or above the lurching stops. However, the front engine vibrates at speed - which is probably caused by the crank pins hitting the crosshead.

This is a serious design/assembly problem as it destroys slow speed running qualities as well as potentially leading to reliability problems as the front engine shakes itself apart as well as subjecting the motor to excessive loads and wear.

I will also be contacting Lionel about this issue, as well as the dealer I purchased the locomotives from.

Thanks Scott for this info!

Let's see if Lionel acts on this and makes the necessary improvements ... or exhibits the arrogance that Athearn demonstrated by not fixing the traction/imbalance problems of their Genesis Steam 2-8-2 and 4-6-2 locos.

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