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Thread: Improving lights/ditch lights on Fox Valley ES44?

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    Default Improving lights/ditch lights on Fox Valley ES44?

    I just got my first Fox Valley ES44AC today plus a TCS decoder and it looks and runs great -- with one catch.

    THAT DITCH LIGHT.

    Or lack thereof. To demonstrate my woes, here's a tale of two GEVOs. Kato on the left, Fox Valley on the right:



    Now tell me, which one is FRA-approved?


    Is there any way to improve the ditch lights on these things? The decoder functions says they can blink, but I don't know if that requires any special wiring or not.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    You will need two extra LEDs if you want flashing ditch lights, but as a side note UP and BNSF doesn't use flashing ditch lights they are either on or off, if the locomotive is in rule 17 lighting normally the ditch lights will be off.
    As for fixing the problem with it being so dim, you will probably have to make room for SMD LEDs in the ditch light housing, or replace the stock glass sets with fiber optics, both of which can be a pain if you don't know how to fully disassemble a locomotive shell, if you do, great!

    (and because I am biase towards Kato's.... ) if you have successfully made your Kato's consist with FVMs (give yourself a pat on the back cause that's a task in its self... ) put the Kato's on point and just run the FVMs as lashed engines like behind the Kato's.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nscaler711 View Post
    if you have successfully made your Kato's consist with FVMs (give yourself a pat on the back cause that's a task in its self... ) put the Kato's on point and just run the FVMs as lashed engines like behind the Kato's.
    Either I lucked out or I managed to temper the Kato down but they do run pretty well together in a consist. I might have to adjust the momentum settings on the FVM a bit but for the most part they're good.

    But seriously, I can't imagine how such an otherwise wonderful model can have such lame ditch lights. It's almost as if they're not even there!

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    There is a thread on another board where he installs LEDs in the ditchlight housings of a FVM GP60 for the same reason. It is a project on my long list to do.

    I agree, the lighting is the major (and perhaps only) failing of an otherwise excellent model.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottL View Post
    I agree, the lighting is the major (and perhaps only) failing of an otherwise excellent model.
    i agree, great looking/running model but they dropped the ball with the lights

    i read somewhere (maybe this board) that there was something you could get from FVM to fix this

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    On the GP60 model, the light tube was bent at 90 degree angles, which really reduces light transmission. I have not taken one apart yet to look, but I think this unit needs both brighter ditchlights and the headlight too. I was resigned to fixing it with LEDS, but perhaps a fix from FVM will emerge.

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    While that is true about the ditch light tube is bent 90° on the GP60, its not much of an excuse to lose THAT much light. Kato has several models where the ditch light tubes are bent 90° in a couple of spots and they still produce alot of light, if anything FVM needs to polish the light tubes more or get a better mold for them.

    As for the write up on the GP60Ms....
    http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/...le-Sub/page172


    Ok just to add to this I disassembled 4 Kato's: SD70M, SD70ACe, AC44, SD40-2 MP.
    And 2 FVMs: GP60M*, ES44. (*Do NOT try to disassemble the ditch lights, unless you plan on installing LEDs, my light tubes broke due to the fact FVM decided to GLUE the pieces together.... Morons....)

    So here are a couple of pictures to give you an idea on the whole "Kato Quality" and the 90° angles that are used on both companies ditch light tubes...

    GP60 up front ES44 is next. See where it broke on the GP60?


    Next to the ES44 is the SD40-2 MP, SD70M, AC44, and on the right is the 70ACe.


    Top to bottom, GP60 omitted due to stupid glue :grrr:
    AC44, SD70M, SD70ACe, SD40-2, & ES44


    So yeah that should shed some light on some of FVMs dark side.
    Last edited by nscaler711; 21st Feb 2015 at 10:32 AM. Reason: more stuff
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    Hmmm, quite revealing. Well, you don't need to convince me of Japanese engineering and quality. The Kato shells are engineering works of art- wonderfully intricate and well fit. I just installed a decoder in a new Kato ES44AC and even the body metal casting is finished better than the competitors.

    But I still want FVM models, so I'll have to either consign them to second position in the train or go the route of LEDs...

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    FVM went cheap with the LEDs. Replace them with ones with a higher MCD.
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    Do any of you guys know about the FVM ES44C4's ditch lights? Do you know if the ditch lights are still dim on this later run or were they improved? td

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdnscale15 View Post
    Do any of you guys know about the FVM ES44C4's ditch lights? Do you know if the ditch lights are still dim on this later run or were they improved? td
    As far as I know, the later runs have improved ditch lights. But you can hardly find any in stock. 90% of the ones currently on the used market are from the earlier run.
    When I tell owners of the second-run GEVOs about the ditch light problem, they look at me as if I belong in an institution.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    Quote Originally Posted by MetroRedLn View Post
    As far as I know, the later runs have improved ditch lights. But you can hardly find any in stock. 90% of the ones currently on the used market are from the earlier run.
    When I tell owners of the second-run GEVOs about the ditch light problem, they look at me as if I belong in an institution.
    haha that's pretty funny!! I think I've gotten similar looks!! ��
    So you think the C4's might have the improved ditch lights? Trying to find some guys who own them to verify. Maybe I should start a new thread and ask?

    By the way. did you see yesterdays anniuncement from ScaleTrains???? ))

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    The original led is mounted to the top of the board, unsolder it, flip the board (be carefull to remember the direction of the legs) solder the legs to the bottom board. When cool , wrap the board with kaptan tape. I just did this to three of my es44's and it makes a big difference. The led is much better positioned for the light pipes that are the ditch lights. I replace the OEM led's on one of the units with some warm white led's I purchased on ebay, they are more a golden color, significantly brighter and use less power than the oem ones. I will eventually switch all six of my fox Valley led's with these.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ray2001 View Post
    The original led is mounted to the top of the board, unsolder it, flip the board (be carefull to remember the direction of the legs) solder the legs to the bottom board. When cool , wrap the board with kaptan tape. I just did this to three of my es44's and it makes a big difference. The led is much better positioned for the light pipes that are the ditch lights. I replace the OEM led's on one of the units with some warm white led's I purchased on ebay, they are more a golden color, significantly brighter and use less power than the oem ones. I will eventually switch all six of my fox Valley led's with these.
    Great. Now how do I get the shell off the dang thing?

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    use the top of the box, position the loco pilot on the edge of the box, pick them up , drop the box end, The shell will pop off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ray2001 View Post
    use the top of the box, position the loco pilot on the edge of the box, pick them up , drop the box end, The shell will pop off.
    Yes, I already do this with most locos. It works on Kato and Atlas locos but it does NOT work on FVM locos!

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    @Spookshow 's advice is cryptic
    To remove the locomotive shell, simply grab the fuel tank with one hand, the shell with the other, and then just sort of wiggle it up and off.
    http://www.spookshow.net/loco/fvmes44ac.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotian_Huntress View Post
    @Spookshow 's advice is cryptic
    To remove the locomotive shell, simply grab the fuel tank with one hand, the shell with the other, and then just sort of wiggle it up and off.
    http://www.spookshow.net/loco/fvmes44ac.html
    I've already tried that like 5 times...no luck.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    Pull the radiator off, hold the shell and press on the mechanism.
    It worked for the two I had.
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    Carefully, of course...

    I like to remove the fuel tank, and then there is a separate underframe part that I try to loosen next. Doesn't always work that well on the GEVOs, and if I recall it seems to go easier on the ACe. The shell itself has four small pins that help align the underframe. Most of my locomotives still have four pins, which is why I'm now pretty careful about this part. Then shell can be wiggled up and off like @Spookshow says. I usually leave the underframe in place on the chassis unless I am going to pull the chassis apart.

    FVMGEVO.jpg

    Replacing the shell is, naturally, the above process in reverse, paying particular attention to the alignment pins and the fuel tank. The fuel tank may not always pop into place, so I like to set the locomotive on a flat surface and ensure the tank is level. The underframe should be behind the tank.

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