Author Topic: Blue Box installs  (Read 2419 times)

BruceRogers

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Blue Box installs
« on: July 23, 2017, 02:55:43 PM »
Athearn F7A.JPG
Athearn F7B.JPG
Athearn GP50.JPG

I received an email from a group member about installs of LM-3 modules in Athearn and other brands.
I thought I'd just share these pictures of my older Blue Box engines that still run the stock motors.
The F7s are from early 2012 when I first got into RailPro and still run the LM-1 module.
All were done by hardwiring in the 9 pin JST harness.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 03:22:37 PM by William Brillinger »

IDRick

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Re: Blue Box installs
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2018, 09:18:50 PM »
Hey Bruce,

Tell me about your blue box athearns.  Did you measure current draw and if so, how high was it?  Would my athearn blue box from the mid-90's have the same drive as your blue boxes from 2012?

Thanks!

Rick

KPack

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Re: Blue Box installs
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2018, 10:29:04 PM »
Hi Rick,

I've attached the questions you asked in the intro thread and will answer them here.  It makes the most sense I think.

1) Is there a replacement solderless, easy to install harness for the athearn?
I haven't seen one recently.  To be honest, it is not that hard to hardwire a harness in on the old BB locomotives.  It will take a while the first one or two times, but after that it gets quick and easy.  A cheap soldering iron from Harbor Freight is an easy way to get started.

2) Is the current draw too high with blue box athearn?
The current draw can be very high, but still within limits for Railpro.  There are easy ways to tune these locomotives to run better.

3) Any easy way to decrease current draw on athearn (if it is a concern)?
You can run an eraser over the commutator to polish it and remove any burs.  Careful filing of the gears will remove burs as well.  Replacing the wheels with ones from Northwest Shortline is one of the best upgrades you can do.  There are many guides on the internet that are easy to find that walk you through tuning an old BB.

4) Any thoughts on how to convert the Proto2000?
Proto 2000 will typically run better than the old BB.  You will likely need to replace the axle gears though because they break more often on Proto than on BB from what I've seen.  Besides that they have more weight and better detail.


My first Railpro install was a very old early 90's Athearn Blue Box GP50.  It was one of my first locomotives from when I was a kid.  I did some tuning on it and hardwired in a 9-pin harness, then installed a Railpro module and a speaker.  It draws high (700mAh) but runs very smooth and quietly.

This was also my first detail and weathering job on a locomotive.


So in the end it is definitely possible.  It is a little more work.  Newer locomotives are easier because many have a 9-pin plug already in there.

-Kevin

BruceRogers

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Re: Blue Box installs
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2018, 11:56:45 AM »
Rick,

Kevin, Has lots of good points. There's no reason to measure the current draw when installing an LM module. Every motor is different, even ones with the same specifications that's why I use the auto current stall test. Your Athearn Blue Boxes from the 90s will be just fine and the drive is the same now as it was then. Like Kevin I have some high readings in my older Blue box models. Checking I saw the highest at 580ma and the lowest at 410ma.



IDRick

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Re: Blue Box installs
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2018, 08:11:10 PM »
Thanks Kevin and Bruce, very helpful!   Now, I need to clear off the old railroad table and lay new track!  :-)  No reason to have a control system without a layout...  :-)  We will be selling our home in three years and moving across the state to be near our son.  For now, I'll just be playing with a small layout while dreaming of a future much larger layout!

gcarter1945

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Re: Blue Box installs
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2018, 06:28:00 PM »
You might consider remotoring your bluebox with a new Genesis motor from Athearn (approximately $40.00 [ATHG63842]).  Just a thought.  http://www.athearn.com/Search/Default.aspx?CatId=THCR&Page=7

Geoff
Too soon old, too late smart.