I recently bought a used 1033 transformer (mostly to satisfy a childhood desire, I know bad decision!!!).  My question is, "Why does a 90watt transformer seem to be weak?"  I notice that the engines do not run as fast or can pull as hard with it.  Currently, I have it attached to my fast track, which does seem to operate better.  I have seen upgrades that people have performed on these types of units, but prior to attempting to modify it, is there something I can do improve performance?  Clean? 

Original Post

because that transformer puts out less voltage to start with even a zw only puts out 20 volts if I remember so the lower wattage also enters into the picture ,the lower the wattage the quicker youll run out of enough voltage to run old post war trains draw more power then todays train, . a KW I believe if I remember correctly puts out 25 volts! the z4000 transformer puts out 22 volts at 400 watts I believe!

you get what you pay for. 

o gauge  trains ,music ,computer repair windows 7 and 10!

ASC Tech MTH school completed! 2019 !

Last edited by Alan Mancus

No Alan, let's not mislead anyone.  The KW doesn't put out 25 volts, and it's not more powerful than a ZW.  At ~20V open circuit, 18 volts full rated load, and 10 amps continuous (across all channels), the ZW was the most powerful postwar transformer.  The prewar Type Z (with four dials on its face) was rated at 250 watts, and COULD output 24 volts.  The only postwar loco that was specifically rated for 20 volts is the 773 Hudson (although a dual-motored diesel pulling 5 lighted aluminum cars could draw several amps.)

None of these vintage transformers can match the Z4000 for power, or for its quick-acting circuit breaker and reliable whistle activation.  But...  Lionel command circuitry is rated for 19V absolute max.  So turning any transformer up beyond that is asking for trouble.  And the feel of the handles on the Z4000 is like sliding plastic, yuck!  It just doesn't compare to the positive tactile sensation of the roller moving across the windings on an original ZW.

Another good choice in a modern transformer is the ZW-L.  It's output depends upon the connected bricks, up to a total of 620 watts!

Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

Last edited by Ted S

Wow great information, as of now I am using the 1033 to power a postwar 681 and occasionally swap it out for a Santa Fe 2343.  The loop is pretty standard in it that it is about 4 x6 and no accessories hooked up to it. 

As I mentioned in another post I picked up a Century Club Niagara, but do not plan on ever running it on the 1033, even though my Niagara is a learning model (experimenting with learning how to work/repair new equipment.)

I run two 1033 units in phased series for my test track, most PW will run very well on one unit, even the BB runs just not very fast.Even the big 5100 rock island runs very well.

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