I thought I had decided to buy only electric locomotive models with external rods. So I fell in love with the beautiful Swiss SBB Ae 3/6 II. I had studied some Roco catalogues containing the Austrian ÖBB class 1345 without noticing it. Not until Roco did a replica of a red model, the 78494 (digital three rail AC). (It’s 72494 as digital two-rail DC – 72493 without sound. The DC versions seems not to have LED lights; are there other differences? See bottom of page.)
This is the loco as it was around 1990. I don’t know how many of the locos were left by then, and why they were painted red.
The model runs very well. It’s absolutely super, and runs elegantly through my small and very curvy layout. And it’s a pleasure to the eye and to hold. But I had two problems with it. The plastic bag of details came without the ladders. So Roco sent me a correctly assembled bag. But I don’t like mounting the ladders and hand rails myself since the ladders really didn’t fit and the handrails needed to be adjusted with a scalpel. I had to cut them a little, just a little. But on one that little was a little too much. So I had to add a little glue. I did push away some paint on the metal base while doing this. It’s ok not to mount the finest details, but not the ladders and hand rails.
The second problem was with the sound. All of a sudden the speaker got these metallic sounding sparks. The station speaker sounded nice, but not the engine sound. So I sent Roco an mp3 recording of it, but after a week there was no answer (I have received an answer now, commenting that opening it does not void the guarantee). So I gave up and opened it. I dismounted the upper point of the hand rails (since the ladders were somewhat glued), and pushed the plastic housing out of its fastening with the four screws underneath for this. Very nice. So easy! When the body came off I dismounted the speaker and all of a sudden all sound was bad! I saw the membrane move a lot. And I saw that it had actively been pumping sound up into a tight acoustic chamber. It sounded like when a speaker coil was hitting the metal from when I built my first stereo in the sixties. Voila! I pushed the speaker well in place again. Well. The sound became fine again! What must have happened was the the speaker have come loose so that the air pressure escaped through some opening, and the membrane’s movement must have hit the metal. When it was reassembled tightly it was ok. But I am not impressed by this; it shouldn’t have come loose. I think this still depends on some double sided tape. How long will my fix hold?
I have had another response from Roco support (thanks!):
Yes, the speaker is indeed fastened with adhesive tape only. But they added that “additionally you can wrap a tire (spare of a wheelset) around speaker and speaker-box to compensate a slacking adhesive force.” They also commented on the LED vs. lamp matter by saying that “this 78494 has the same LED lantern included as the earlier models 72493, 72496 and so on. The other variations (62645 ff / 68646 ff, year 2009) were fitted with bulbs.”
After I bought a Märklin loco with sound I found words for what had annoyed me with the sound of this loco. See My Märklin 37294 DB Class 191 electric locomotive
Doing MM2 instead of DCC
This is possible. It runs ok (but, see below). This came out as a suggested solution when one of my new Märklin locos (37514) probably thought it saw analogue “protocol” and ran away uncontrolled, since my track was powered all the time. See Railway modelling scratchpad, chapter “Märklin 37514, SBB Ae 3/6 II SW update? – Does my loco need updating since it sprints away some times?!
However, I lose the Roco 78494’s station announcement when it runs under MM2 protocol! The station is left with a nice Austrian accent German (they say), and it’s very nice. It also loses some of the other sound functions. And, I have a catch-22 since switching off analogue mode with register 50 on the newer mfx+ Märklin locos with the MS2 is simply not possible. At least I haven’t figured out how. See this discussed at Switching off analogue modes with register CV 50 with MS2 – possible?