Friday, December 29, 2006

Opinion - The MTH K-4, will it change the hobby?


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The issues list for the MTH K-4 is growing and from the overall hobby standpoint, interesting indeed.



As you may know this company has recently gotten the great Union Pacific Railroad to come down from Mt. Olympus (omaha) and treat the model railroaders like sons, not stepsons. This while they are in a lawsuit for patent infringement with the Lionel company.
  1. Well, the K-4 represents some other issues that could impact the hobby as well. Their implementation of DCC is to be polite, a bit weird.
  2. They have not respected the defacto function key operations which does affect every user.
  3. The engine does not use the programming track, won't work there, all programming is done on the main including engine address changes.
  4. And as I have already mentioned, other little gotchas are there from an operational perspective.

Having said all this, it is still my favorite engine but at what cost? I think the guys in O gauge can attest that MTH is now a huge player in their scale. Are they heading for HO next? Looks like it. How has O gauge benefited from their presence?

If MTH continues down their path, they will be setting some very strong precedents about how other manufacturers will and can implement DCC. It will be interesting to see if the NMRA steps in with them and tries to keep them centered with the other manufacturers, or will MTH, as MRC has done, continue to forge their own niche in the DCC world. Taken to extremes, we could be on the verge of a very complex and confusing set of 'standards' for how Locomotives work from a function key perspective.

More later, got to make a buck.



Observations/issues

DCC
My K-4 does not respond to the emergency panic stop button on my Lenz LH100. All other trains stop and are silent. The K-4 continues moving, totally ignores it. This is a concern. My work around will be to reconfigure my LH100 to power off instead of panic stop.

When I tried to configure address, I get an error02, loco not found. I am running a booster. Have not tried to trouble shoot this yet, as I am having too much fun running it as 03!

F8 is sound off/on on most if not all other DCC sound locomotives. Why did MTH have to be different, stubborn or an oversight? F3 is sound on or off?

Documentation
The smoke unit switch on the tender is not labeled on or off and no picture in the documentation. The ON position is to the LEFT (when viewed from the rear of the tender forward). The smoke unit responds to F8 and the switch so you have four different combinations to find the only one that works. My unit arrived (factory packaging intact) with the smoke unit turned off. This is why it was an issue.



I think I got a woodie!

WOW! Realism, Sound and Smoke. Undeniably the BEST locomotive I have in the roundhouse (virtual). Every other steam locomotive I own, and they are all BLI and P2K DCC/Sound equipped are inferior to this one.

MTH, More, please, now!

Joe Daddy!


Got an email from Lee, my K-4 is in the Mizell roundhouse! Got to go pick it up. Yesterday, we went to the Longmont train show and my darling wife Jeanne told me how much she likes the Lionel's belching smoke as they roll past! Does she have a surprise coming!



Warren Mizell has a unique train store on the North side of town (Denver). I only needed a couple of things for my mountain making so I thought I'd drop by and see my friend Lee and look around.

Big mistake. Lee was helpful as usual, but he and Jim thought I should see the MTH K-4 in operation on the test track. OK, what the heck, nothing wrong in looking, right? Besides, I am not an Eastern railroad fan, much less the PRR. Nothing wrong with it mind you, but I do admit to being a bit of an ATSF bigot. So I am safe, wrong road name.



If you have not seen this locomotive in operation, I suggest you don't. I have 6 BLI/P2K full on DCC/Sound steam locomotives, so I am very use to them, know what to expect and am rather hard to impress these days.

The chuff got my attention, definitely NOT QSI, but when it started belching smoke, I was a goner. Now I am not a rivet counting modeler, I'll never be good enough to be one, but the road name needs to at least say ATSF, right? "We had a customer buy one with a set of Santa Fe coaches", he said "he didn't care, he liked it anyway."

Then they tell me it comes in undecorated. Ok, can you order me one? Yes, two weeks.

So, it looks like my railroad is finally going to get a Pacific. I'll badge it Santa Fe, now to find some pictures of a Santa Fe Pacific, I think I remember hearing and seeing one somewhere. I gotta figure out what number it ought to be.

I sent a note to MTH asking what their next HO product would likely be. They responded that was confidential, and they only release that information in a catalog.

Note to self, stay out of those Local Hobby Shops!

Best to you all,

Joe

2 comments:

Rednarb said...

Recently got an MTH K4 as well. I too was sold on the synchronized chuff/wheel combo.

I hope they keep up with their HO product line. But I also hope they try and conform more closely with the NMRA suggestions for DCC operation...

quba said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Patricia

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