MRC Power packs

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MRC Power packs

Postby epspsy » Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:08 pm

Wondering if anyone has successfully disassembled a MRC power pack, and what kind of socket tool or screwdriver was used on those three pronged nuts. I have 5 of their units, all non DCC, up to the control master 20. Two have been sent back to them for repairs, only to fail in some way within a years time after they took months to "repair" them. I have a large HO layout and need the power.

It is unfortunate that MRC has a virtual monopoly on these units, and I am weary of replacing them, yet again.
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby Otto Vondrak » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:19 pm

Like the old saying goes, I don't think there's any user servicable parts inside...
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby GOLDEN-ARM » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:27 pm

Ever think about building your own? Back in the day, I ran my place with a group of Control Master X powerpacks, with handheld walk arounds, built from plans I got in MR. I've also seen plans to build your own powerpack, using a transformer, and various pieces, to do the same as any other pack, but since you build it, you can repair it, make it as "strong' as you need. They are actually fairly easy to build, and work great. You already probably know DCC is the way to go, so...... You might get some schematics from a repair shop, drawn up, for you. Once you have the schematic, showing the values of the pieces (resistors and capacitors), replacement is as easy as Radio Shack, and a soldering iron, if you have any electro-mechanical abilities. Just a thought. :wink:
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby epspsy » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:26 pm

To date some 74 members have viewed my post, with only one suggestion in reply.
Is the MRC technology that impregnable? There must be someone out there who understands how their systems work, and how to access them, besides MRC people.
I have resisted DCC in part because of the initial expense, but in the main because using it would involve retrofitting some 15 non DCC locos, which for years have performed just fine -- more expense. And I am not about to replace them: call it attachment......
So, any other techno-savvy folks out there?

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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby ApproachMedium » Mon Aug 11, 2008 4:39 pm

I dont think that these things are NOT serviceable. My MRC Trainpower 027 died after i had it for the first year, or something got screwed up in it i forget. But my local hobby shop at the time repaired the unit for me, they were probably an authorized MRC dealer or some sort.
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby byte » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:58 am

epspsy wrote:Two have been sent back to them for repairs, only to fail in some way within a years time after they took months to "repair" them. I have a large HO layout and need the power.
EPS


I've never had to send one away for repairs, but my club currently has a Tech 4 out with them getting an overload issue resolved (which, to their credit, they offered to fix for free). Is waiting months to get a repaired item back from them the norm?
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby sjl » Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:01 pm

As a Quality Assurance engineer in the mil-space industry, my techno-savvy advice is, DON'T OPEN IT. Although I don't work for MRC, I do work part-time at my LHS and I will guarantee that there are no user-servicable parts inside.

Please don't take this as an insult -- you may be an EE and perfectly capable of troubleshooting the power pack, but all it would take is one errant solder splash or a damaged component (that you can't tell by looking at) to create a lot of smoke at a minimum, and perhaps alot of damage to your layout, your house and/or your family. DON'T OPEN IT.


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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby epspsy » Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:06 pm

It absolutely is. Utterly frustrating.
Moreover, I have sent back two units for repair, a Command 20 and a Sound and Power 7000. The latter unit lasted for about 10 months, then failed again - the speed control is erratic (the issue both times); the 20, which I had for about 10 years, same issue, failed within days of return from "repair" after waiting at least ten weeks.
That was $32.00 wasted.
Both now have been replaced with 6200's. One is fine. The newer one has an overly sensitive
circuit breaker...
That's why I want to find the kind of socket that will open the mysterious screws that keep the
box tightly shut, and see what is inside. This stuff is not nuclear physics!
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby conrail71 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:12 pm

Ok, let me try... I had an experience where a Tech II 2500 had a few dead spots on the rheostat that controlled the speed of the trains. At the time I was operating in the basement, it was a little damp but not bad. Since then my layouts have been in attics and I have not had any trouble since then. At the time of my 2500 troubles I worked at a LHS and one of the guys that came in all the time took it home with him and "cleaned" it. I never asked how he got the screws out but it worked after that. Maybe if you have a specialty tool supplier in your area(ie. a tool and die or commercial supplier) they may be able to find a tool to take them out. There had to be a tool to put them in so there must be one to take them out, right?

Be advised though that once you open one the warrenty is voided. If you did get one open I would look for sources of corrosion, tarnish from humidity or a wet environment.

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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby Dieter » Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:17 pm

I concur with Otto; there's probably not much you can do once you get inside the box except make it worse, unless you do a lot of work with electronics.

If you are determined to do it yourself, if you don't have a friend with all the tools and widgets, take the unit to a hardware store or a JEWELER. Show the person behind the counter what you've got and ask; "What kind of tool do I need to get this apart?" Even if they can't sell you the specific part, finding out what it's called is 3/4 of the battle.

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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby Chessie GM50 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:32 pm

A: there are NO consumer-serviceable parts in there.
B: As a volunteer firefighter, I can say, from the experience of fighting a fire started by some genius that tried to service a Gamecube himself that it is a BAD idea!
C: DCC is better for larger layouts anyway, but I DO have a basic T4 for a test track positioned on my layout.
D: No, they fixed my DCC controller in about two weeks, so I'd say that that wait is abnormal. I'd contact them.
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby astrosa » Wed Aug 13, 2008 5:24 pm

Can you describe these mystery fasteners more precisely? My MRC Tech II 2500 just has six standard Torx security screws on the bottom. These are also sometimes known as "star" or "hexalobular" sockets, except that the security screws have a pin in the middle, so the matching bit has to have a central hole.

Like others have said, even if you did get inside, I doubt there's much you could do. I'm an engineer, and all I'd probably be able to do is trace the circuit looking for dirty contacts or cracked solder joints. It's possible that an inconsistent speed knob could be fixed by a shot of Radio Shack pot/tuner cleaner, but you'd probably have a hard time even diagnosing anything else.

On the DCC subject...you're really that hesitant over 15 locomotives? Most people I know who resist DCC complain that they'd have dozens or even hundreds of engines to retrofit, and yes, that is a lot of decoders. But 15 engines could easily be done for under $200 in decoders, and NCE sells a full-featured DCC starter set for about $150. Nothing says the entire conversion process has to happen all at once, either.
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby pennsy » Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:31 pm

Seems that MRC has an interesting reputation. If such is the case, why bother with them ? Use another brand or build your own. I have repaired non DCC power paks, and usually the problem is that something has worn out, yup, worn out. When I replaced rheostats or potentiometers on a power pak, I upgraded it, used one that could handle more power than the power pak could deliver, same thing for other parts. Or as we used to say, you made a Toyota into a Rolls Royce.
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby epspsy » Wed Aug 13, 2008 10:45 pm

The torx socket looks like a possibility. At least it offers some options. Maybe I'll break down
and delve into DCC at a future date....maybe.....
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Re: MRC Power packs

Postby NW608 » Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:53 am

It is a security version of the TORX head. Go to any electronics supply house and they should have a set of bits that will work. All I did on my Tech II 1400 was (It was totally out of warranty - I bought it used for 5 dollars) take a 5/64 drill bit and drill out the center pin on each head. The 5/64 drill was smaller than the Torx opening and it only took a second to remove the security pin. Then a number 10 TORX screwdriver worked just fine to remove the screws.


Also,

Chessie GM50 wrote:A: there are NO consumer-serviceable parts in there.
B: As a volunteer firefighter, I can say, from the experience of fighting a fire started by some genius that tried to service a Gamecube himself that it is a BAD idea!
C: DCC is better for larger layouts anyway, but I DO have a basic T4 for a test track positioned on my layout.
D: No, they fixed my DCC controller in about two weeks, so I'd say that that wait is abnormal. I'd contact them.


Saying there are "NO consumer-serviceable parts in there" is not quite true. While Chessie GM50 is correct in you can cause yourself problems if you don't know what you are doing, fixing your own loco and track wiring is no more difficult than the power pack. Anyone who has "any" experience in Ham Radio, TV repair, small electronics repair, etc. can open these up and replace any component inside. The issue is finding the correct schematic of the pack. Then simple troubleshooting skills will lead you to the failed component. A quick visit to your local electronics supply store (or on-line store) and for pennies on the dollar you can have your favorite power pack back on-line. The main thing to remember is watch for shorts and do proper troubleshooting to isolate and find the fault. Then use the exact replacement part. Common sense goes a long way in preventing problems! By the way I was a Professional Firefighter and yes I too have seen fires started by careless people, but your track wiring is more complicated than these power packs. The DCC locos and sound systems certainly are more complicated than these analog systems. If you can read an electrical schematic then you can trouble shoot and repair your power pack.

Hope this helps,

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