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Some PCM PRR Decapods Have Issues: September 29, 2008

Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Locomotives, Tony's Tips | 0 comments

This Decapod had a few issues right out of the box.


Knowing you like reviews of new products let me pass on mine with the newest from PCM the PRR Decapod (product #881 lettered, numbered 4595 with long haul tender).

Mine came with a serious lurch and would not run smoothly, under any load it would walk off a 30″ radius.

I found the #4 driver set to be badly wobbling vertically, wiggling by hand it didn’t have much play and it should. A peek under the cover plate showed an bearing upside down, using the supplied wrench I removed the side rods lifted the drivers, rotated the offending bearing 90 degrees, that corrected, the engine ran much better.

This however uncovered a second problem the engine now didn’t like left hand curves. The #2 driver set had no side play in that direction, sliding right. There is a plastic cover on the gear tower on the left side that hides the headlight wires. This was not flat and prevented the driver from sliding. Here I needed to remove the drivers from the frame and work the plate out and clean it up with a file for a better fit, once back the engine is now running as well as any I own.

To be fair to PCM a number of my PRR friends are not having any of these problems with over a dozen of these engines out of the box and running.

The front coupler is a bit of a challenge perhaps. PCM is using a semi-scale plasticĀ  coupler with the molded side springs for centering. Mine had a lose uncoupling pin and I have found the shape of these knuckles not to be that compatible with the trusty KD#5 (or #48), I wanted to replace it. The only choice is a KD cat whisker… the problem is the coupler is held on by a large head shouldered screw and the mounting area is metal frame so I now have a “hot” coupler.

There is no room to easily modify the front draft gear and any draft gear box extending back will cause problems with the lead truck.

Good new is I don’t have a single car or other engine with a hot coupler… oh, wait I’m getting a second Dec… Well just don’t couple them nose to nose! I could mill the front of the frame and cut parts of the pilot beam but that would require a bare frame, too much work. If I were stuck needing to insulate I know I have a lifetime supply of the larger plastic couplers with the side springs and metal knuckle springs that could be used.

Lastly talking to Larry the Tech about the driver problem I was warned that on the long haul there is an issue with wires being pinched in the tender. Blinking headlight is the symptom, look at the rear of the electronics in the tender for wires under the board or connectors. Tender is snap fit carefully prying the sides outward and working the floor out does it.

The appearance of the engine is great, Banshee whistle, nerve wracking, it sounds close to what I’ve heard on some recordings and I think what Strasbourg ran for awhile. I haven’t checked dimensions but it feels right, painting and lettering are good. They did use the brown cab roof that I don’t like, but I’m told that depending on the era and shop it is correct. A terrific addition for Pennsy fans… now all we need is an equivalent H8/9/10!

Jim Albanowski
Princeton NJ

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