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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently installed a Train America Studios (TAS) Turbo Smoke unit in my Bachmann K-27.


TAS website is: tas


I bought the 2-rail DC version. Although all versions have AC stamped on them the DC version comes with a full bridge rectifier. Also, you can order the unit to work with various voltages, just let them know what you need. Since I run DCC I got the standard unit which takes 14v - 22v. My DCC system puts a constant 19v to the rails.



What motivated me was that I like smoke but the unit that comes with the B' K-27 is marginal at best, in my opinion. And having the puff in sync with the chuff like the real locos was very intriguing.


I currently use a Phoenix P5 for my chuff, which works off of the optical sensors that come with the K-27. If you go to the Bachmann website you can find a PDF that describes how to install various sound cards in the K-27.



Since the chuff was already using the optical sensors I wanted to use the same for the Turbo Smoke unit so the chuff and puff would be in sync. The main issue was the smoke unit HAS to be in the loco, but the sound card is more easily hooked up in the tender, which is the way I have mine. I did not want to run another set of wires from the loco to the tender so I hooked up the smoke unit using connections in the loco boiler area only. I decided to use the existing optical sensors that come with the K-27 rather than magnets and a reed switch, but that would work just as easy.


The main issue is I had to invert the polarity of the optical sensor, just like I had to for the P5. The detailed instructions on how to do this are on the Bachmann site, but basically you need 2 components; a PNP transistor and small capacitor. They cost about $2 each at Radio Shack.



These are the steps I followed:
I first removed the boiler of the K-27, following the detailed instructions provided by Bob Grosh. He gives some nice tips on the lip inside the boiler and removing the boiler rods. It takes just a couple of minutes to remove the boiler and cab (it took me about twice as long to put it back on). I disconnected the existing smoke unit wires and put electrical tape over the ends of the wires (rather than cutting them or removing them). To remove the existing smoke unit there are 2 screws holding it in place, easily seen once the boiler is off.

This first pic shows the K-27 loco with the boiler and cab off (they come off as one piece). It shows the connections I used for the smoke unit; trigger and ground. I currently only use one sensor. One of my sensors failed a short time ago and I have a replacement coming from Bachmann. Actually that was the main reason I decided to install the TAS smoke unit, as I've had it since June. If I had to open up the K-27 boiler to replace a sensor I might as well install the TAS smoke unit. Once the other sensor is working I'll jumper between the chuff triggers to hopefully get 4 chuffs per revolution.






For the connections I used the wiring and connectivity diagrams that Bob Grosh put together to figure out what I needed.


The smoke unit needs power, I used the left and right rail pickups. This next pic shows the PNP transitor and the capacitor installed. The collector pin of the PNP provides the chuff to the smoke unit. I connected this to the ground wire of the Turbo Smoke unit (the unit comes with a built in diode on this wire). The PNP base connects to the optical sensor output (the trigger). I pick up the signal AFTER the on-board diode (thanks to Stan Ames), rather than the “A” connection on the PCB. The PNP emitter goes to the “B” connection on the PCB – this provides a ground. The capacitor is attached to the base and emitter pins of the PNP - supposed to help provide a cleaner signal.






Here is short video showing the smoke unit and how it puffs in sync with the chuff. You will see the smoke unit first putting out idle smoke, then when the loco starts moving the puff n chuff mode kicks in and then at the end when the loco stops it goes back to idle smoke.


puff n chuff


Here is one more with the K-27 put back together.


k-27
 

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That looks fantastic.


I'd love to reequip my LGB moguls with something like that. The TAS website gives dimensions, but I have a feeling it might be too large for the mogul even before I start measuring. But I'm very impressed with the amount of smoke the unit produces, and the chuff effect is great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Matt. It really is a nice unit. I should have gotten measurements while I was installing :-( If someone else doesn't post them I can remove the smoke box front this weekend and figure out what they are.

The one question I have left is the reliability, as I just installed it this last weekend. Hopefully it will be good. I plan on running quite a bit outdoors this weekend.
 

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Matt,

Really appreciate you taking the time to post the information and the video. Thanks!

Best,
TJ
 

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That looks really cool. Is that the Phoenix P5 soud system?. It's a shame Bachmann continues to use the unit that dates back to the Big Haulers. Wouldn't it be great if they OEM'd a unit like this, and probably added $30 to the overall cost of the locomotive. I know some of us have fun ripping these locos apart and making these changes, but many people would love to have this level of realism - out the box.

Great video. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Peter, Yes that is a P5 sound card. Sounds are so real you need to look twice before approaching any crossings ;-)

I agree, if Bachmann was to put in something as good as Phoenix sound and good smoke unit with sync'd chuff, they probably couldn't keep them on the shelves. MTH does have their Protosound and Protsmoke out of the box, which does this same thing, but I think they only make 1:32. MTH is going to make a DCC version of their protosound and protosmoke but I don't know when it will be available and how much. Bachmann did put a Tsunami downgraded card in the 3-truck Shay, but the smoke was no where near as cool.
 

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I have installed the TA in my Mallet using the chuff switch from a QSI board and works as well as what you have done with the K-27. Love it. later RJD
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Matt, dimensions of the TAS smoke unit are: 1" wide x 2 1/2" long x 1 3/4" tall.

RJD, how long have you had your TAS smoke unit?

Jeff, yes the K-27 has 4 chuffs and my initial posts stated that I'm currently in the process of replacing a sensor to get the additional 2 chuffs. Glad you liked the video.
 

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Jimtyp I've had the units for about 10 months. Working great on DCC. Later RJD
 

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Not that hard to do. I used the existing mounting holes that are used for the AC smoke unit. I made a bracket to go around part of the blower motor and then drill holes in the bracket to secure the smoke unit down. also there is a shim I made to put under the other end to level it out. I also used round tube brass to insert into the smoke stack and into the TA unit. Later RJD
 

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That's slick. Maybe before I put this machine back together....
 

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Actually, I think that says they're not going to install or support them anymore... the rest of the website still has the units for sale.... you just have to install them yourself, and send them an e-mail if you have a tech support question. (At least that's how I read it.) It's the difference between "For" and "Or" in that first sentence.

Matthew (OV)

Additionally ... I did an install of one of these for a friend recently ... and while it does generate smoke, it wasn't nearly as much as I expected. I got a pencil thin stream of smoke vertically from the stack... it does puff with the chuff, so to speak, but it was not the gales of smoke I'd expected. Anyone else have this trouble?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If your not getting a good amount of smoke it may be you are not applying enough voltage for the unit. The default smoke unit needs about 20v to generate a lot of smoke. I run DCC and get a steady 19v to the rails and it smokes really well. When I tried even 14v it was not very good. They sell units based on what voltage you run at. If you don't specify when ordering you get the 20v version. If you are running at something like 14v then there is a modification they will do for you, I believe at no charge, before they ship it to you.
 

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Matt, how does your smoke unit perform as compared to Jim's video in the first post? If it's less, then what voltage are you running it at, and what voltage was it ordered for?

Regards, Greg
 

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Posted By SlateCreek on 01/08/2009 6:28 AM
Actually, I think that says they're not going to install or support them anymore... the rest of the website still has the units for sale.... you just have to install them yourself, and send them an e-mail if you have a tech support question. (At least that's how I read it.) It's the difference between "For" and "Or" in that first sentence.

Matthew (OV)

Additionally ... I did an install of one of these for a friend recently ... and while it does generate smoke, it wasn't nearly as much as I expected. I got a pencil thin stream of smoke vertically from the stack... it does puff with the chuff, so to speak, but it was not the gales of smoke I'd expected. Anyone else have this trouble?



Well okay there then buckwheat then how come when I call them on the phone...nobody answers
 
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