Skip to main content

A fellow brought me an American Flyer 1250 Transformer to check out.  He said the power to the track was intermittent.  Well it was because the contacts on the end of the transformer were very dirty and not making good electrical contact.  He also brought in the lock-on which I recognized as being used on Wide Gauge.  After I talked to the owner he brought in the locomotive.  It is a 4644 Electric.  Bench tested the locomotive with a ZW and the locomotive ran great.

I checked out the transformer taps with the following results:

1 to 2: Should be 5 ½ to 8 volts.  I got 7 to 11 ½ volts

1 to 3: Should be 8 ½ to 11 volts.  I got 13 ½ to 18 volts

1 to 4: Should be 11 ½ to 14 volts.  I got 19.2 to 24.1 volts.

Since I don’t have a lot of experience with American Flyer Wide Gauge, were American Flyer locomotives designed to run at such a low voltage?  The max the 1250 was designed to put out was only 14 volts compared to Lionel’s V and Z which were good for 24 volts.  If so I presume you can ruin the motor by using a Lionel transformer and not being aware of the voltage.  True?  I know you can ruin a Marx motor by using too high a voltage.

As to the transformer.  The fact that the voltages are much higher than the time plate states leaves me with two questions:

Did American Flyer make another similar transformer but with a higher output so maybe the nameplate is wrong?

Or are some of the windings in the secondary shorted out?  I took off the top and it looks like the transformer was too hot at one time.

Your thoughts please and thanks for the help.


Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest


I've been running that very same locomotive pulling 2 passenger cars under my Christmas tree every year for about 7 or 8 years now using a Lionel Z transformer.   I don't have it set up yet this year but I would guesstimate that I  run it at a throttle setting of slightly more than half of the Z's max voltage.  So that means about 13 or 14 volts and have not had any  apparent problems.  In fact it runs much better than my Lionel #10.

Hope this helps,

Bill T

American Flyer trains were designed to operate at a maximum of about 18V. That is true even with the postwar S gauge engines. When using Lionel transformers it is best to not use higher voltages although the motors are robust and will withstand overvoltage for a period of time.

The old transformer output voltages were rated assuming 110V house current which was common in the 1920's and 1930's. Add about 10% to the output voltages with modern 120V power systems. The output voltages of that transformer seem too high but I would not hazard a guess as to why. Did you have a load on the transformer such as a running engine when measuring the voltage? It could be a bad winding as you suggest.

These are not digital... they're analog and there is a huge difference in the output of these prewar transformers. Im no EE but the increases seem linear and not due to an issue inside the transformer.  Might be advisable to retire that 1250 as there is NO protection for the trains and switch to a ZW with a fast acting breaker.

Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.