Yet another Athearn Gen Challenger thread

I have wanted a Challenger for quite some time now(HO). I have been looking at the Ath Gen Challenger but have heard numerous complaints about the sound system and its operating problems (again same decoder). My question is if I replaced the sound/motor system with a Tsunami would I have a good running loco? I know it will sound good based on the two Tsunami steamers I already have. Another question: does the challenger come with traction tires or are they included extra. I really would find it embarrasing to have a 4-6-6-4 that had to have traction tires. But thats me. Thank you for any info.
Terry :)
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I've heard guys say they bought Gen Big Boys and put Tsumani decoders in there and it functions just fine. Probably the same thing with the challenger. I have no first hand experience with changing the decoder though. I just keep my Gen BB as is. But it sucks the fact you can't run it silent. :mad: And yes they do come with tires and no option without the tires.

BTW My UP challenger is a lionel.

I recommend the Lionel if you can find one for a resonable price. No tires needed.
Hey thanks AGGRO. WOW that is exactly the Challenger I want but I can't seem to find one anywhere. Where might I look and how much would be a decent price? I don't do ebay. Thats a nice looking Loco.
Yes I am looking for the Lionel Challenger. But if that fails then I will go with the Ath Gen version and put a tsunami in it.

Aggro you did a fabulous job weathering that loco. Thats a mean looking loco. How does it run? I imagine it weighs a ton. Probably can pull a stump.

Anyone out there replaced the decoder in their Ath Gen Challenger? Thanks for the replies and I apprecate you stopping in.
Thanks. The lionels weight somthing like 4 pounds with tender! No BS! Easily one of my most powerful locos. Mine runs fairly well. Silent. Good slow running capabilities. Boiler 'dances' a little when moving fast though.
Wow, Aggro! I need to send you my Lionel Challenger that is still in its birthday suit. You did an outstanding job weathering.
Mine to is also the boss of the layout. It took awhile for her to break-in and get limbered up, but now is a powerful machine. I just don't like the steam boat whistle blast of the QSI. May replace with a Tsunami.
Since the Lionel Challenger has been out of production for so long, I can see why the prices would be high. Most will just go with the Genesis one, for a low price.

Lowest I've ever seen it was $249 or something like that. I paid around $299 for mine, one of the last 'first runs'. I bought it after I lost out on one at the '04 NMRA Convention silent auction at $259.

I havent personally installed a Tsunami into the Athearn Challenger, but I have seen the innards of the tender and the change wouldnt be that difficult (I have installed many Tsunamis in various locos). When you remove the tender shell, you will see 2 PC boards and the speaker assembly on the roof of the tender. Clip off all the wires that run to the decoder. Remove the large PC board (Leave the small one on the front of the tender) by removing the little screws that are holding it on. Clip off the wires going to the speaker and throw the decoder across the room (to make sure you wont be tempted to use it again).

On the front PC board you will see some soldering pads with wires comming off of them. You need to find out which one is for the motor, pickups and light. once you are sure you know which pad is for what function, then you can feel free to solder the wire leads directly to the solder for the motor, red/black for the pickups and white/blue for the forward light.

The last step is to solder the wires to the speaker assembly.

Test the locomotive on the test track, if you hear sounds, have light, and have motor control, then you are golden. Reassemble the tender.

Time to program CVs.

Go to the Soundtraxx web page and download the manual for ALL the cvs in the Tsunami. The first CV you need to set is the speed table. Get the loco moving like you want. Then set the CV for 'articulated mode'. Then set the CV for CHUFF rate to match 4 chuffs for revolution. Then set the CV for slip rate (to make your drivers go in and out of sinc).

Beyond that set the loco to your liking. Choose your Whistle, Bell rate and various other Tsunami goodies.

Hope this helps.

Ken - Tks for the great headsup on that e-bay deal:D I found one at an LHS for $384.00 unfortunately they only have the oil fired w/smoke lifters left. I would really want a coal burner. Anyone know how hard it is to remove the smoke lifters???? (on the Lionel Challenger)

David - Tks for the info. I figured with that large tender it would be easy. I just completed my 17th sound install, an IHC 2-10-2. By far the easiest to date. The tender is so big you could lay down and take a nap in it:D

Question on the speakers in the Ath Gen Challenger. How manywhat size and what is the impedance? probably 8 ohms. Are they good quality speakers or would I want to upgrade to better ones.

Tks again David and all those who stopped by and offered help.
Terry spidey sence thinks they are 8 ohm each. They are on the TOP of the tender facing downward. Like-a-so....


The tsunami requires 8 ohm. Better sound would be made by getting the biggest oval speaker that will fit on the floor (after you remove the MRC decoder). I would drill holes where the speaker will sit and set it down with Walther's Goo (I love this stuff.....itll hold the speaker in place, but will never crack like CA cement..).

Tks David. Man you would think with all that electronics the dang thing would do better. Not the best place for those cheap speakers either. I don't see much of an opening on the bottom for the sound to get out. I agree with gutting the whole thing and putting a big oval on the bottom. I just put a 3" X 1.25" speaker in my IHC 2-10-2. Again thanks alot for the info.