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Tower 55 UP ES44AC Review:

Modeling isn’t what it used to be and when a new manufacture comes out with a new product there is bound to be problems with the engines and that was the problem with the first UP ES44AC number 5460 I received. It ran fine by its self but when any other engine was placed on the tracks it would short itself out and would not run. After going back and forth with the guys at Tower 55 I decided to return the engine and try for a new engine. When the second engine came it also had a problem, it wouldn’t run. So, I contacted Tower 55 and worked with them to resolve the problem. As it turns out there are two tabs sticking through the board that were not making good contact and thus the motor would not run. The problem was easy to fix and was running just fine. But would it have any problems with other engines on the tracks? No it fine against several other engines.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:


At first look the models are highly detailed and much better than the typical plastic handrails that usually break or bend and do not return to the original straight position. Each model came in a plastic self-contained box that makes it nice for display without having to remove the model. But once you pull the model out of the plastic cover it became very flimsy. The models are very highly detail with razor sharp lettering. The only visible problem is with the grills not showing any depth of field. I also change out the couplers to #5 Kadee, the #58 tend to come apart from the train consist. Also, this model’s snowplow was not securely fixed and fell out but an easy fix with glue. On the BNSF models the red hoses were loose when I received them from shipping.

ON THE TRACK:
Once I placed the models on the track they immediately started up with the horn going off 4 times, kind of disturbing. But the models ran quite well but raced across the layout much faster than my Kato or Atlas models. So, I programmed the models by changing them to the following CV’s:

CV2 = 1 (Start speed)
CV3 = 3 (acceleration)
CV4 = 3 (deceleration)
CV5 = 150 (Max speed)
CV6 = 100 (Mid range speed)

Then both ran fine against the Kato Dash-9 unit. But as each unit is different the above values might change.

The next issue is the ditch lights and contacted Tower 55 to help with the programming. BNSF and UP do not have alternating ditch lights when the horn goes of at a grade crossing. Here is the fix:

CV33=013
CV51=000
CV52=000

There is one draw back; the rear lights remain on no matter which way the engine runs.

SOUND:
F1 - Bell pretty good.
F2 - Horn Very good, genuine GE sound
F3 - Uncouple. Pretty bad and turns on top number board lights???
F4 - Random air effects. Ok.
F5 – Dynamic brakes – Excellent
F6- Air blow off. Excellent
F7 - Grade crossing horn sequence. This is a neat feature, by push F7 and it handles the whole grade crossing horn sequence once.
F8 - Mute. Works well on one unit but on the other there was a leaking of sound.
F9 - Brake squeal – this was just ok, not to impressive.

I highly recommend using JMRI version 1.7.3, which includes programming for the new ES44AC/DC models and allows changing of sounds.


 

THE GOOD, BAD AND UGLY:
Mostly I would rate this very high up in comparison to other manufactures. Except for the fans not all one color and showing the depth of field maybe in the next models this will change. The toughest thing is to speed match with other engines, but that is why I run with DCC, with straight DC it would not be possible and could only run these units by themselves. The small problem with the motor tabs not connecting should be taken care of in future models. It takes time to perfect these kinds of models, but it helps to have a friendly and responsive staff at Tower 55 to help out.

Overall rating (1-10) 8

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