EMD E8

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Overview

The Aristo E8 is a relatively new loco, the "date stamp" on the first run locos says 2006, but they became available around April 2007.

The CB&Q and Santa Fe ones came with chrome plating. As of late 2008, a second run of E8's with new road numbers are announced. Also the CB&Q and the Santa Fe are now in silver paint, not chrome plated.

There was a delay in receiving them them, we were told that the sideframes were "wavy" and not acceptable, and they were returned to China for new sideframes. The new sideframes are often bowed, so the original ones must have been pretty bad.

Cautions for the new owner:

  • This is a long loco, be sure to give it space when moving it or working on it.
  • Be careful when picking up from the top, you can damage the grill or punch in the porthole windows.
  • There are "stirrups" and a step that are just below the locomotive doors in the center, these are particularly fragile, and can break off easily.

My best advice is to get your hand under the fuel tank to pick it up.

Fragile steps and stirrups:

Here's a picture of a broken off step near the tweezers, the stirrup is below the door. Good reason the heed my warning about how to pick up this loco, put your hand under the fuel tank!


Easily lost journal sideframe "thingies"

The truck sideframes "hangers" can also fall off easily, like the USAT F units. Perhaps a bit of silicon glue, so it can be taken off later. Ted Doskaris used CA glue, his were dislodged in the box.

Wavy sideframe castings:

Another aspect of the model, that held up distribution initially (the story is that all the first run were received in the US and were returned to China to be fixed) is the wavy sideframes of the trucks.

It's easiest to observe on the bottom of the following picture, notice the left hand journal area is "rotated" somewhat clockwiase, the middle one is bent out, and the right hand one is bent inwards and a bit counterclockwise.

I will try to get pictures of 2nd run E8.

Well, this one is pretty wavy and it was sold to Ted Doskaris:


Typical problems out of the box:

The only common problem is that the loco either does not run or does not run well. The motor blocks have contacts on the top that contact a small circuit board in the truck assembly. Quite often new locos do not have good contact here. The solution is to remove the motor blocks and bend the 8 tabs upwards. They will eventually recompress and this will occur again. It's not always obvious when the problem happens.

The contacts are for power pickup and for the motors. If the power pickup tabs are not making contact, then you will have poor running because you are only picking up from one truck.

If the motor contacts are not making contact, you will have worse problems, the motors will not be powered, and the other motor block will shove the "dead" one along the track, usually resulting in destroyed gears. Check my "Prime Mover Basics" page to learn about correcting this.

Another issue is that not all the drivers contact the rail even on flat track. As with virtually all "prime mover" motor blocks, there are various foam pads inside the motor block between the housing and one or more gearboxes, and sometimes the motors also. The idea under the motors is unclear, since normally the motors must be assembled completely "into" the motor block, in fact drive train binding will occur otherwise, and a common fix is to open the motor block, apply heavy pressure to the motor, and then reheat the motor brush tabs to allow the motor to sit all the way into the block. This is tricky since you really want to do both at the same time, but one by one, reheating each one alternatly will do it, but be careful to not melt stuff. (The original design was that these were not soldered, but free to seek "home", but this causes a different problem).

Also, foam pads under the gearboxes may overly limit flexibility, or cause one or more gearboxes to not seat properly in the "saddles" in the motor block, resulting in a "high centered" axle.

Finally, quite often the entire motor block casting is bowed such that nothing is flat. In this case grinding some of the saddles deeper can correct this, but of course, since there is no real up and down suspension in these motor blocks, you can never really overcome this design, the only thing really keeping the whole shebang from derailing is the deep flanges, normally on anything except flat track, one axle is in the air.

Disassembly:

Removal of fuel tank:

Note: you do not need to remove the fuel tank to take apart the loco. The fuel tank is secured with 4 screws, use a small philips screwdriver at an angle.The air tanks prohibit you from getting straight on the screws. Some people have pulled these tanks off, but mine were hot glued, and if there are pins to hold them on, they are very short. The picture below shows the angle a bit:



The picture below shows the tank off. The tank can only go back on one way, and there is a huge amount of room in it for weight. I the E8 weights are the same as the Aristo dash nine weights. Read the page on E8 weight for more info and some inexpensive ideas to add weight.


To remove the chassis, you firse need to release the front coupler. You can either remove it completely, or remove the 2 small screws holding the pilot housing.

Now you can remove 7 screws as shown in this picture below (where the yellow soda straws are):


Once you have it open, it looks like the picture below:

Notice the 2 small circuit boards on the chassis at each end. Each "battery" or "mu" cable for battery power connects to the board at the respective end of the chassis. One of the 2 leads goes through a polyswitch. This means that if you pass power "through" a loco, these will probably open electrically, since they are 3 amp rated. These should be bypassed in this kind of usage.


In the board near the nose of the loco, there are 2 more polyswitches. These are in line with each of the track pickups for the front truck ONLY. This is a nice feature to prevent meltdown, but the rear truck is unprotected, a strange omission. There are no polyswitches on the main board in the shell. See the picture below:

A suggestion to Aristo: put the polyswitches on the input to the main board first, protect the motors and other electronics. If you want to protect from shorts through the wheels under track power, then put polyswitches on ALL 4 track pickup leads. If you must put a polyswitch in the "mu" power bus, then rate it for 3 locos... that would be about 9 amps. That would protect from gross shorts.

The bottom line is that people running these locos in MU battery setups, or under heavy loads will likely get the famous "stops running and restarts after a while" situation.

All the lights are incandescent, and Aristo is using a series regulator IC to provide power, not the RFI emitting PIC processor that is the bane of R/C people (used in SD45 and others).

There are lights over each truck and shining from behind the step/stirrups for the front side doors, a nice touch, but check them, several people have reported them burning out prematurely, might be a candidate for LEDs here.

There is a simulated mars light, and it looks very convincing.

 

E8 "B" units

Aristo (Lewis Polk) said they will not make a B unit (and never did).

Rex Ammerman made an E8B unit for me (from TWO E8A's), here's a picture of his and mine at his house:

Rex's web site: http://www.trainweb.org/trainyard/index.html

Sub-Pages

Click the links below to go "deeper" into details on indivudual motive power by manufacturer

  E8 Weight     E8 Coupler Vignette    Kadees for the E8    DCC / QSI install E8 
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