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 Athearn/Roundhouse 2-8-0?

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
OK Hogger Posted - 08/11/2019 : 11:09:17 PM
Has ANYONE heard any updates on the Athearn/Roundhouse 2-8-0's?

The website says it was announced in 2017 and "due late January".

However, I think since it was announced, Athearn lost the Chinese factory that was making their stuff. (Chinese government closed the factory.)

Thus, I'm wondering if "due late January" was referring to 2018 and the page simply hasn't been updated, or if that's THIS coming January (2020)?

Anyone heard ANYTHING?

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
railman28 Posted - 06/02/2020 : 3:00:45 PM

You use Sprog with your computer and the JMRA program along with your current or old Smart phone to operate your railroad, program your decoders, plan your car movements and more.

I have an old computer in the workshop but I choose to spend about $40 more and get a PI-raspberry computer that comes preloaded with JMRI. All together I spent about $160.00. I think that that's a pretty good price. After all the PI has more computing power than my first Desktop did and after playing with it a bit the deal looks sweater and sweater.

I put additional information in my tread.

OK Hogger Posted - 05/31/2020 : 6:59:46 PM

Please tell me more about Decoder Pro. How much ($$)? What kind of connection between the computer and the decoder? Etc?

railman28 Posted - 05/31/2020 : 5:28:54 PM
Now that I have Decoder Pro up and running. F9 turns on drift, F10 turn off drift. F15 is a real nice grade crossing signal. Digitraxx access to the higher Functions are clumsy to be kind about it so I changed the grade crossing Signal to F5 (F5 and F6 are unused light functions) and a backup whistle to F6

OK Hogger Posted - 05/20/2020 : 09:26:02 AM
Well good luck with that, Bob! I've pressed all the F keys from 1-9 and 0 while in operation and I have yet to get the "Drift" feature to work.

My final decision is to pass on another example of this model. I'm not too keen on the metal boiler (I enjoy kit bashing and personalizing an engine via piping/etc), plus, the "new" Athearn domes don't fit my 1880s era as nicely as the MDC-legacy domes do.

SO, that will save me some immediate cash outlay, but it means no more DCC/Sound equipped engines on the roster until I roll my own.

All fer now.

railman28 Posted - 05/19/2020 : 5:42:49 PM
Athearn's engine does have drift. I accidentally turned it on. Couldn't turn if off. I had to turn track power off to get it off. We need an accurate mapping of the "F" keys. f8 is mute
The engine is rugged. While work on another section of the layout I accidentally backed the engine off the turntable (a nail is now in place). It toke about a 14" fall landing on a cardboard box. the headlight snapped right back on and testing found no other damage.
railman28 Posted - 05/16/2020 : 6:18:53 PM
Nickel platting; I used Micro Mart's over priced kit to electro-plate my brass parts for a cosmetic finish. I've not tried to plate drivers. I don't think it would work.

Programming; With great difficulty I was able to renumber and lower the volume of my engine. I lowered it to 60 and It now blends in nicely with the Americans. The difficulties stem from my Digitrak DCC controller. Every time I enter a new value into the CV my Command Station shuts down and I have to reboot it a couple of times to restore operation. This is not a problem of the Athearn Engine. It happens on my Bachmann too.

OK Hogger Posted - 05/16/2020 : 5:03:01 PM

Wonder how the plastic drivers will survive the temps? May have to remove the tires from the driver? (Agh!)

Glad it's you, my brother, and not me!

Bernd Posted - 05/16/2020 : 4:02:08 PM
Originally posted by OK Hogger


That would be great! I hope your experiments prove encouraging. Durability will not be established until after several "miles" of use for drivers that are plated via that method.

Safe to assume the drivers will need to be removed from the axles in order to not plate the steel axle?

This is exciting news, Bernd! Thanks for sharing!



I have some MDC engines, both HO and HOn3 with brass drivers that I want to try the plating on,

As far as the axles are concerned I was thinking of painting them to cover the steel axle. The process requires putting the brass in a solution and bring it almost to a boil. I'll have to experiment to see how I can plate the wheels without having to take them off the axle.

OK Hogger Posted - 05/16/2020 : 2:17:13 PM
And here's a better pic without the background clutter.

OK Hogger Posted - 05/16/2020 : 2:09:57 PM
Since we're talking MDC-based (which is what an Athearn is at heart) chops n' hacks, here's a pic to illustrate what I've done with some of them.

On the foreground track from left to right: A 51" driver 2-6-0 that I've radically lowered, a Mantua (approx 60") driver 2-6-0 that can be lowered some more, and a stock Athearn 2-8-0.

Even with the two on the left being quickly "cobbled up" concept models, as can be seen, the lowering of boiler on an MDC really changes its appearance and reduces the overall "hulk" of the model. I think shortening the smoke box will also be an aid to reduce the "hulk" effect.


OK Hogger Posted - 05/16/2020 : 12:19:14 PM

That would be great! I hope your experiments prove encouraging. Durability will not be established until after several "miles" of use for drivers that are plated via that method.

Safe to assume the drivers will need to be removed from the axles in order to not plate the steel axle?

This is exciting news, Bernd! Thanks for sharing!

Bernd Posted - 05/16/2020 : 09:14:05 AM

After reading your post on the brass wheels of your engine I remembered back when I was interested in doing some anodizing, I found Caswell Plating. I noticed they had electro-less nickel plating kits. At that time they only had large quantity kits available. After reading your post I surfed over to Caswell. They now have a mini-plating kit for nickel plating. I ordered the kit. Why?

I have several MDC and some others with brass wheels and I'm curious as to whether they can be plated enough for modeling purposes. I'll report back in a separate thread when I receive and do my first experiment.

railman28 Posted - 05/16/2020 : 02:41:26 AM
Wow! Thanks a lot Andre! That was a lot of work. And it is very helpful. I use Digitrax. I have an older (1 year) command station that also requires mainline only programming. I've been able to do some programming of CVs like changing the Address to the engine number but I seem to be doing something wrong because when I hit enter the command station shuts down and I have to reboot it. when it comes back on-line I find that the decoder took the change but it a real pain to go through this with each programming. Therefore Until I can figure out what I'm doing wrong I'm only doing the basic stuff.

OK Hogger Posted - 05/16/2020 : 01:01:46 AM
Hi again Bob!


Understood on the Arbour frame. I vaguely recall taking a closer look at one of the kits to discover that the axles won't even fit in the axle slots. We shall see what becomes of my Arbour kits.


Electric lights didn't start becoming common until mid-late 19-oughts. Prior to that it was carbon arc. Then prior to that it was oil.


As for CV's and such, think of it this way: Each "CV" has a number for that feature. Once you open that CV, then a "value" can be placed therein.

What DCC system do you have? I have NCE, and "Program on Main" (instead of using a dedicated "Programming Track" section) is very simple once the navigational basics are understood.

To start, I place the engine I want to modify on the layout. (NCE can program the SELECTED engine and leave the other engines alone. Not all systems can do that, so you MAY have to remove the other engines off your layout so that the engine you want to modify is the ONLY engine on the layout.)

Once I've placed the engine is on the layout (if it wasn't on the layout already), I will then enter the "Program On Main" feature, next verifying the engine number is the engine I want to modify, and upon entering into program mode, I select "CV" (so it will go into CV reading mode). It then opens the CV field that allows you to enter the CV you want to modify. (This is like selecting a loco: When prompted you enter the desired number and hit "Enter".)

I'll use whistles for example. The CV for whistle selection is CV 120. Thus, when my NCE controller LCD display prompts me for the "CV Number", I type in "120" and hit enter.

The screen on my handheld now changes to "Value".

Let's say I want the Baldwin Single Chime, which has a value (selection) number of "2". (In this case more of a selection than value.) I simply type in the "2", hit enter, then exit "Program On Main".

I now have the Baldwin Single Chime whistle sound. If I want, I can adjust its individual volume by accessing the "Whistle Volume" CV (CV 129) and then increasing the value for more volume, or reducing the value for less volume. (Default volume is 225).

One you get the hang of it, basic programming is easy peasey.

IF you have questions (that is, if you have NCE), I may be able to help you learn the basics.

For you convenience, here's a list of F Key Functions and CV's for the Econami decoder:

Function Description
0 (locked) Headlight
1 (locked) Bell
2 Whistle
3 (locked) Short Whistle
4 (locked) Cylinder Cocks
5 (locked) Drift Mode On
6 (locked) Drift Mode Off
7 (locked) Dimmer
8 (locked) Blowdown
9 (locked) Brakes
10 (locked) Water Stop
13 (locked) Coupler
14 (locked) Half Speed
23 (locked) All Aboard/Coach Doors
24 (locked) FX3 Output
25 (locked) FX4 Output
26 (locked) FX5 Output
27 (locked) FX6 Output


CV 1: Primary Address
CV 2: Vstart
CV 3: Baseline Acceleration Rate
CV 4: Baseline Deceleration Rate
CV 5: Vhigh
CV 6: Vmid
CV 25: Speed Table Enable
CV 29: Configuration Data 1
CV 66: Forward Motor Trim
CVs 67-94: Custom Speed Table
CV 95: Reverse Motor Trim
CV 117: F11 Brake Rate

Sound Controls
CV 112: Sound Configuration 1
CV 113: Quiet Mode Time-Out Period
CV 114: Engine Exhaust Control
CV 120: Whistle Select
CV 121: Alternate Whistle Select
CV 122: Bell Select
CV 123: Exhaust Select
CV 124: Airpump Select
CV 125: Dynamo Select
CV 126: Coupler Select
CV 128: Master Volume
CVs 129-160: Primary Mixer Volume Levels

CV 114: Exhaust Control
0 = Auto-Exhaust disabled
1 = Slowest chuff rate
57 = Default
255 = Fastest chuff rate

CV 120 Whistle Selects
0 Lunkenheimer Flat Top 3-Chime
1 Hancock Step Top 3-Chime
2 Baldwin Single-Chime
3 Boston & Maine Step Top 5-Chime
4 ATSF Step Top 6-Chime
5 Baltimore & Ohio 3-Chime
6 Nathan Step Top 5-Chime D&RGW No.488
7 D&RGW Step Top 5-Chime K-36 No.487
8 Southern Pacific Step Top 6-Chime
9 Southern Railway Flat Top 3-Chime
10 Baldwin Single-Chime 2 Round Top Single-Chime “Peanut”
11 Reading Flat Top 6-Chime
12 Southern Pacifi c GS-4 No. 4449 Whistle
13 N&W Step Top 3-Chime No.611
14 N&W Flat Top Single-Chime No.1218
15 Leslie A200 Airhorn SP GS-AC Classes

CV 122 Bells
0-4 Heavy Brass
5-9 Light Brass
10-14 Medium Brass (1)
15-19 Medium Brass (2)
20-24 Light Steel
25-26 Air-rung Heavy Brass

CV 123: Exhaust Chuff Select
0 = Light (default)
1 = Medium
2 = Heavy
3 = Geared

CV 126: Coupler Select
0 = Medium coupler (default)
1 = Heavy coupler
2 = Link-and-pin coupler

CV 128 Master Volume

Primary Mixer Volume Levels/CV Sound Effect/Default Value
129 Whistle 225 (UK)
130 Bell 85
131 Exhaust Chuff 180
132 Airpump 65
133 Dynamo 65
134 Blower 25
135 Side Rod Clank 80
136 Cylinder Cocks 100
137 Coupler Clank 128
138 Reserved 0
139 Brake Squeal 100
140 Brake Release 70
141 Reserved 0
142 Johnson Bar 64
143 Reserved 0
144 Blowdown 255
145 Blower Draft 25
146 Water Stop 50
147 Reserved 0
148 Emergency Stop 70
149 Glad Hand Release 150
150 “All Aboard!”/Coach Doors 192 (UK)

Hope this helps!

railman28 Posted - 05/15/2020 : 11:50:54 PM
Andre, Arbour; the frame is just the start of the problems. But they used 1/8" axles on their drivers. So I would suggest using MDC's frame, gears, motor, side rods, the entire mechanism except with Arbour's drivers. Arbour's boiler and other superstructure details are very useful.

I found the reference and have been reviewing them tonight. I find them very confusing. They will take careful study before I can benefit from them.

I haven't done my research on dynamos yet but if I remember correctly it will go since it was a 20th century item.


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