Updating the Lionel Mikado and Pacific
Using ERR Cruise-Lite and adding Puffing Smoke

Click on images for larger view

The Lionel American Flyer Mikado and Pacific S gauge locos are one of the most beautiful engines built by a major manufacture. Very nicely detailed and reasonably accurate especially for a S Gauge Hi-Rail engine.

At the time it was built it was state of the art with good sounds and lighting. It did suffer from the lack of a good puffing smoke unit and  poor low speed performance from the gear ratio.

The technology has evolved over the years and today with the release of ERR's Cruise Lite system it is possible to upgrade these locos so they can perform like they should at lower speeds and also maintain speeds through out the layout. 

It is also now possible to add a puffing smoke system synchronized to the steam sounds.
The upgrades can be done different levels depending on budget and skill.

First I recommend the at the minimum you upgrade to the ERR Cruise Lite. This is pretty straight forward with no machining involved. It only requires good wiring skills and attention to details.

If you want to upgrade the smoke system it is more involved with some machining and additional components used. 

The main smoke unit modifications are:

  1. Changing to a smaller can  motor with single start ratio worm gear and modifying the gearbox so the motor is mounted towards the rear instead of the front of the loco to make room for the smoke unit.
  2. Modifying a Lionel Smart Smoke unit PC board. 
  3. Replacing the Seuthe smoke unit with a MTH HO fan smoke unit.
  4. Making a 4 chuff cam. (This can also be done if keeping the Seuthe smoke unit).

Mikado before update mods. Note motor is located forward of the gearbox.

Here is the finished Mikado. Motor mounted at rear of the gearbox to make room for the smoke unit.

              Here is the finished Pacific

    Details of the front end of the loco

The rear of the modified Mikado. The Cruise Lite board makes room for the rear mounted motor.

On the left is the original motor and on the right is the replacement motor. By using the Cruise Light system the flywheel is not needed saving space.  

The replacement motor needs to have the American Models Low Speed worm gear pressed on.
The shaft has to have some knurling chiseled on to it for an interference press fit for the worm

NICHIBO MD3BN-14280-R/51

American Models part # GBWSLS

The Mikado motor mounting plate and motor.

The Pacific motor mounting plate and motor

The gear box needs to be milled to have a flush surface for the motor mounting plate.
This is the Mikado gear box.

This is the Pacific gear box. It is different than the Mikado. The milling is done only in the marked red area to prevent damage to the gears.
This is the Mikado motor mounting plate made from .110" thick aluminum.  

          This is the Pacific motor plate

The Mikado motor and plate are attached to the gear box with 4-40 allen cap screws. The plate needs to be aligned to have the proper mesh backlash between the worm and worm wheel gears when assembled.

The pacific motor assembly. Note there are no bosses on the side of the gearbox to use for the plate mounting allen screws therefore holes have to be drilled in the gearbox for the screws. 

The motor and gearbox as mounted on the chassis The motor needs to be temporarily removed from the mounting plate to gain access to the gear box screw.

A small shelf is made from brass stock to mount the original Smoke unit AC regulator. 

The original motherboard is removed and a mounting shelf for the Cruise Lite board is installed.
It is a piece of 1/16" plastic with flat head screws to mount it. Foam tape is used to mount the new board.


The Smoke Unit AC regulator mounts on the new shelf using foam tape. The heat-shrink covering is removed from the regulator to save space. The Smart Smoke unit board is mounted with foam tape to the chassis. 


A Lionel Smart Smoke unit PC board 691SSMUFS1 SMOKE UNIT PCB  has the electronics cut off to make a small board. It takes serial data from the receiver and generates the fan motor puff pulsing voltage.  Use 6308095202 5 PIN SMOKE UNIT HARNESS for the 5 pin connector

Not being sure of the availability of the Lionel boards in the future there is a new Puffer board coming from ERR that can substitute the serial type board with a  switch driven  board that has a fixed pulse with puff like the serial board.

The smoke unit is a MTH HO AA-1600000   fan driven smoke unit.
An aluminum mounting strap is made to hold it to the loco body using the old Seuthe unit's screw holes.

The mounting insulator plate is made from 1/16" thick plastic. When mounted it goes under the marker light board where the Seuthe unit adaptor mounting piece used to be. The smoke tube is from a Gilbert smoke unit but I removed it as it was restricting the smoke flow too much. 

             Pacific smoke unit mounted 

Mikado smoke unit  mounted in the loco shell.

This is a top view of the chuff cam with the Micro Switch removed. Depending on the Loco the switch may have to be shimmed with tiny spacer washers to get the adjustment right.

This is a bottom view of the cam with the bottom cover removed.  The cam is a press fit on the axle.
The wheel is pressed off with a wheel puller to remove the old cam and press on the new one.
Try to phase the cam with the drive rods so the chuffing matches the position of the pistons.

Here is a drawing of the new Mikado cam. I have tried various plastics to make the cam from and have found plastic gears seem to work best as material to start with.  I am still working to find the perfect gear to use.

              Here is the Pacific Cam
It is smaller than the Mikado Cam due to space restriction in the chassis frame.


Here is the replacement cam on the left and the original Mikado cam on the right.

Here is the wiring diagram. Note the diode in the line to the IR tether. This is added so the IR transmitter does not load down the serial data line.

Also there is a 51 ohm dropping resistor added in series with the fan motor since the motor is only a 3 volt motor.

           Testing before final assembly

NYC Mikado with Cruise Lite and 4 chuff cam and original Seuthe smoke unit