Anyone with experience using Fastrack plug-in DC powerpack for Dino & PetShop starter sets?

I realize probably 95% of people using the Forum are day-to-day working with the higher level Command systems (TMCC, DCS, Legacy, etc.) and probably consider these cheapie "Lionel Jct." starter sets as throwaways. So maybe I won't get a response here. But my grand kids LOVE these sets and especially the girls now have an interest in O-gauge trains, whereas without their PetShop sets, they likely wouldn't. (We are obviously hoping this interest will blossom into more sustained interest; the Disney sets and others are out out of reach of their parents' budgets at this time.)

OK, we have a dead Lionel HKYF12-180060T "Toy Transformer" (actually a power pack, since output is DC: 18Volts @ 600mA.) Substituting another one (from their brother's "Dino" set) perfectly restores normal operation of trains.

Is the bad pack worth cutting open & trying to repair? (It is likely out of warranty.) How sturdy are these things? What happens with these packs any time a car or engine derails and the induced short circuit (caused by the wheels bridging center-to-outside rail) isn't immediately corrected? What kind of fuse or circuit breaker -- any kind of internal protection -- is there?

I'm not going to rush out & buy a replacement at about $30 until I know more about the internals and hopefully others' experiences with this "transformer." Years ago Lionel had a faulty initial run of CW-80's (soon corrected) and I'm wondering if a similar situation exists here.

Heck, it would seem to me that any old 18V DC power pack might be reliably substituted, using the wire and barrel plug from the old Lionel "transformer." Most of those old HO Tyco and Aurora "Model Motoring" packs put out 18 volts at a more robust 1 A or so. At least a momentary short would never faze them. And some had legitimate breakers, as I recall.


Bill L.

Original Post

Not worth screwing around with, at least IMO. Your idea of your Tyco or Aurora pack is fine, that would work.

You can also use AC for the LC stuff, and those don't die with a short on the track.  In your case, just a cheap 40W postwar transformer with a 2A circuit breaker in series with the track connection would work great.

Thanks for the reply, John, but the Lionel Junction sets are DC, which limits you to using some kind of DC power pack. (I do have a couple of LionChief locos, love them, and they are fine with AC, like from a PW ZW.)

If I took your suggestion of using any cheap PW transformer, I'd need to first rectify the output to DC, requiring a separate rectifier module of some sort.

In the MPC days, we came across a few of the super-cheap sets back then that my son had to have, then eventually wanted to run on the main layout, and I simply installed bridge rectifiers internally to each engine chassis and they worked fine, though he lost any "reverse." (The original DC sets reversed the loco's direction by reversing the polarity of the DC output with the power pack lever moving past "zero" to the opposite direction.


Bill, You are suppose to be able to run the LionChief starter set locos from either AC or DC current, even though the sets do come with a DC powered wall wort, which I guess could make people believe that they run on DC only.

So any starter set transformer from prior years should work, setting the transformer throttle to 18 volts full. Some have said they still operate with less than 18 volts going to the track. Of course, you NEED the remote to actually operate the train, when the power is coming from the wall-wort or an AC transformer.

The LionChief PLUS locos have the added feature of being able to operate on a transformer conventionally without the use of a remote.

By the way Bill, I've been running the kinds of trains people have long said are junk or throwaways. Funny, in 30 years I've never once had a defect or a DOA. And every single train I've bought STILL works to this day. Call it what you will: I call it good.

Yes, that PetShop set IS one of the sets. Nowhere in the advertising nor instruction sheet does it say "AC compatible." But you and "Brianel" are CORRECT. I took the Dino engine (same diesel, different paint) out this AM and turned on the postwar ZW and the engine ran perfectly (with the remote directing it of course.) I had never tried this before.

I have one LionChief standalone steamer which I HAVE run quite successfully with std. ZW power. But nothing in its instruction sheet says "compatible with DC."

I guess I need to spend more time on the forum. Some of this stuff is just "understood" by "trainiacs" who spend much more time than I presently do running Lionel trains. (I used to be MUCH more involved, and a a few years back could have been labelled "trainiac" myself.)

In the MPC-era James Gang, Midland Freight, Black River and L.A.S.E.R. sets, the cheapie locos were DC only and I converted them all to run on std. track variable AC by installing flatpack bridge rectifiers. Not so with this new generation of starter engines !

Thanks, guys.

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