Replacing a speaker and more
It was 2002 when this O-Scale miniature locomotive (MTH 30-1214-1) first hit the rails. That was the same year Sanyo released America’s first cell phone with a built-in camera!
Although it needed a little TLC, for a 17-year-old toy, this 3-rail model held up remarkably well; how many people can say that about their Sanyo SCP-5300?
Sounds like Troubble
Out of the box, the locomotive still looked as new as it did back in 2002. Unfortunately, it didn’t sound as good as it did all those years ago. The audio was garbled, scratchy, and very faint. Resetting the loco through DCS had no effect so it was time to dig a little deeper.
Mechanically, everything about this locomotive was working fine. I suspected a loose wire or perhaps an old battery. With this in mind, I decided to open the tender for a look inside. The problem was easy to spot; the magnet of the two-inch speaker had deteriorated and become a powdery mess. I’ve since learned this is a somewhat common problem for MTH engines of this era.
Replacing the speaker was a remarkably simple repair. Just four easily accessible screws hold the speaker to the tender’s frame. With these removed, I unsoldered the wires leading to the damaged speaker. Then, soldered the same wires to the replacement speaker and mounted it to the frame.
With the tender shell already off, it was a great time to also replace the factory-installed rechargeable battery with a BCR from J and W Electronics.
The speaker replacement and BCR upgrade for this locomotive took less than 20 min to complete with a total cost of about $37 (speaker $6.99 via amazon, BCR $30.00). The end result: a truly great 3-rail MTH steam locomotive is back on the rails – better than ever.
The Real USRA 0-6-0 Switchers
Switch engines are smaller locomotives than those working the mainline. Because of the nature of their work, moving cars around railroad yards, switch engines spent much of their time waiting for work assignments. As a result, steam switchers had smaller fireboxes, boilers, and tanks than road engines. These smaller engines that needed to were ideal for use in tight spaces where other engines could not fit.
The MTH 0-6-0 model is based on the USRA 0-6-0. This class of steam locomotive was designed under the United States Railroad Administration, during World War I. In all, 255 USRA 0-6-0 switching locomotives were built with many more variations of the design to follow.