BLI AC-5 Repairs

Initial Impressions, December, 2011

Two BLI AC-5 Cabforwards were under the Christmas tree this year (2011). These locomotives came with BLI's Paragon 2 DCC and sound, smoke generators, and traction tires. Initially both locomotives ran quietly and smoothly. The smoke generators started making smoke immediately and were amusing for a while, but are now turned off.

After a few trips around the layout, I used Decoder Pro to program the road numbers and make entries for the new locomotives in the Decoder Pro roster. All was fine until I attempted to read back all the CV values from the second locomotive. One locomotive would read back OK, but not the second one. It does appear to have accepted the new road number so it is useable. More investigation will be required.

The next morning when I started up the layout and attempted to run the new locomotives, they both had jerky, erratic operation, and finally stalled completely. I could hear the motors turning. but the drivers were stationary. Upon disassembly, I discovered that the universal joint sockets which are friction fitted to the flywheels, were slipping and not turning the drive-line when the motor turned.

A drop super glue in flywheel sockets, replace the drive-line, reassemble, and all was well. Well, almost. One of the locomotives would operate just fine until it tried to pull a heavy string of cars uphill around a left hand curve. Then it would walk right off the track. After much poking, and fiddling, I discovered one of the many wires coming out of the smoke box and routed to the tender plug had become deranged and was interfering with the movement of the rear engine. Simply pushing the wire back into its correct location solved that problem.

These locomotives have an amazing amount of power and traction. I have tested them with a 61 car train on a 2.5% grade. I could add a few more cars to this train, but 30 cars per locomotive is quite a few more than I will routinely operate. Time will tell how durable the traction tires will be. There is a video of this train on YouTube: