Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tier 4

I ordered a ScaleTrains ES44T4, but unlike the guys who've posted about it on YouTube, I got the DC-only version with the idea of putting a control-only DCC decoder in it. I like sound in moderate doses, but too many sound units on a layout at once can drive me up the walls. This brought me to some interesting features of the model. Below is the chassis with a Digitrax DH166MT installed:

This is the first one of these I've installed, and I had several false starts until I went to the instruction sheet and learned I was trying to put it in upside-down. So I got it to work, but I found that it lights the ditch lights separately, left light is F1, right light is F2. I will need to remap F2 to work with F1 to turn them both on at once. I also noted that there are LEDs available to light the number boards, but they aren't controllable from Digitrax function keys.

Going to the ScaleTrains product manual, I found that there are DIP switches on the PC board that enable certain lighting features for the recommended ESU decoder. On the DCC-ready version, the DIP switches are off, and ScaleTrains recommends leaving them off for any but an ESU decoder. This is the sort of thing that no reviews I've seen so far have mentioned. For now, it doesn't bother me that I can't light the number boards, since most models don't control them separately.

Most reviews, in fact, like those in MR, cover only sound versions of locos or their DC-only counterparts. Gotchas like what you see here probably aren't worth the space in the magazine, but this is one reason I'm probably going to drop MR when my sub is up for renewal. If I have to find stuff I need for myself, the mag isn't worth it. Someone may one day try using a Digitrax decoder on this thing with the DIP switches on and find it works OK, but so far, nobody seems to think this is a service anyone would pay for.

Here's the loco with the shell on:

I especially like the PTC antenna array on the cab roof. Here's a prototype loco from a similar angle:

Speaking of Tier 4s, I finally got a shot of an EMD Tier 4 yesterday. UP calls this an SD70AH-T4C. This loco is from the series 9062-9096 delivered May through August of this year.


  1. The L.F.&.N.W. continues to be an industry leader with it's latest US EPA and CA ARB compliant motive power!!! It looks great. How does it perform on the layout?

  2. So far, it's a smooth and quiet runner, but I still need to speed match it with similar units.

  3. Excellent. Glad it runs as good as it looks!