Sunday, April 28, 2024

New Piko HO SP Krauss-Maffei

I've been interested in the Piko HO Krauss-Maffei ML4000 diesel hydraulic since they announced it. I talked more about the prototypes in this post last October. I got mine a month or so ago, and I'm still working my way through it.
One first impression is that the lights are satsifyingly bright, unlike some other recent models, but I also discover that the decoder is proprietary Piko, and the function keys are wandering far afield from US suppliers. The headlight is 0, but the oscilating warning light, unlike other suppliers who put it at 5 or 6, is at shift F10. The lighted number boards are F9 (engine startup is F8 like ESU, but it's complicated after that). The markers are press F9 twice.

Apparently Piko, unlike ESU, won't allow you to remap functions to try to make things more consistent. I also discover that I can't change the loco address, which is 3 by default, to 9000 on the main with my NCE ProCab. Piko USA support replied quicky to my e-mail about this and said to use the programming track. This did work. There is no quick start guide for the unique and proprietary DCC-sound system, which US suppliers normally provide.

More recently I've started to test it in MU with a Walthers Proto SP black widow GP9, which the prototype often ran with in MU as single units.

I had no problem setting the two locos up in advanced consisting on my NEC Pro Cab and speed matching them. (I've often found that at the speeds I use to operate, it's sufficient just to adjust CV 2 to get each loco barely to start rolling on speed step 1.) So far, I'm not seeing a problem. Also, the Walthers Proto SP black widow GP9s have empty number boards, which is correct for a loco not in the lead before 1967, while the K-Ms were mostly out of service before that time, and both the K-Ms and GP9s were renumbered in the 1965 SP renumbering, so the paint on the black widow GP9 is exactly right for this role between 1961, when the K-Ms were delivered, and 1965.

However, the biggest problem with the Piko K-M I've seen so far is that the couplers are plastic, possibly McHenrys. Their uncoupling loops are a little low, and my experience with McHenrys is they're too brittle for any serious service. I still need to replace these with Kadees on my model.

So it's a good model with a few imperfections -- an A, but not an A-plus.

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