Skip to main content

Hi all,

I know our old Lionel transformer goes up to 25V, while our new K-Line transformer only reaches 18V.
Our K-Line switches suggest that 12-15V is ideal.  I believe that K-Line and Lionel passenger cars used to come with 12V bulbs.

What are the common voltage limits for Model Railroad electronics today?  TMCC? MTH's DCS? Command control? Menards engines or cabeese?  Other common lightbulbs?
Transformers in general?
I think MTH's helicopter car takes up to 25V for limited time--I don't recall reading about a max voltage for those.

Did Lionel's DC-only engines have a different voltage cap than the AC engines or AC-DC engines?  MPC vs Postwar vs Modern?

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

  1. Many Lionel products (trains, engines, and action or sound cars) 18V AC is recommended maximum.
  2. Many accessories are 10-16V and some have specific requirements so ALWAYS read the manual. Again, some like the swing ride must have 16V AC, others that might be on the high side.

My advice and rule for our club layout- never ever go over 19V to the track, 18 is typical for command control.

Again always read the manual but in general- don't exceed 18V is a solid rule regardless of brand.

@Micro posted:

Hi all,

I know our old Lionel transformer goes up to 25V, while our new K-Line transformer only reaches 18V.
Our K-Line switches suggest that 12-15V is ideal.

I believe that K-Line and Lionel passenger cars used to come with 12V bulbs.

What are the common voltage limits for Model Railroad electronics today? 18V maximum on track

TMCC? MTH's DCS?Again 18V maximum on track

Command control? Menards engines or cabeese? 18V maximum

Other common lightbulbs?12-14V typical
Transformers in general? Never exceed 18V as a rule.
I think MTH's helicopter car takes up to 25V for limited time--I don't recall reading about a max voltage for those. NO, again do not push past 18V AC as a rule

Did Lionel's DC-only engines have a different voltage cap than the AC engines or AC-DC engines? Heck yes, DC engines are probably flying at 10-12V, again, never exceed 18 but realistically more like 8-12V is typical conventional voltage operation.

MPC vs Postwar vs Modern? Again, typically 8-12, maybe 14-16 in extreme cases is fast for conventional operation and never exceed 18.

Honestly we have no need in most cases for a transformer that exceeds 19V AC and 21 is seriously pushing your luck and lifespan of electronics and 25V is pretty much let's smoke something.

Honestly we have no need in most cases for a transformer that exceeds 19V AC and 21 is seriously pushing your luck and lifespan of electronics and 25V is pretty much let's smoke something.



  1. Many Lionel products (trains, engines, and action or sound cars) 18V AC is recommended maximum.
  2. Many accessories are 10-16V and some have specific requirements so ALWAYS read the manual. Again, some like the swing ride must have 16V AC, others that might be on the high side.

My advice and rule for our club layout- never ever go over 19V to the track, 18 is typical for command control.

Again always read the manual but in general- don't exceed 18V is a solid rule regardless of brand.

Thank you!  I appreciate your information and responses.

I should clarify that the 25V Lionel transformer is a Type V 150W.  Regarding the MTH Operating Helicopter Flatcar, at 25V on the transformer knob the activating track will spin the heli fast enough to reach the 7-8' ceiling when it lifts, but at 18V it won't go that highSadly, most of our

Then again, if I am understanding things correctly, 18V at the transformer doesn't always equal 18V at the track, especially after the voltage drop from engines and lighted cars?  We have run conventional 20' trains that run 15V to be a decent speed, but I sometimes worry about the more powerful engines flying off the track at those voltages.

Sadly, most of our items don't have a manual.

#1 many manuals, even most, can be found online in PDF format. Take the time to gather and check them for recommended voltage and operation. Between Lionel Support.com, MTH, this forum, and Google- again, most manuals have been saved in a PDF format somewhere.

#2 You should not have that much voltage drop and thus heat somewhere in your wiring.

#3 The helicopter car has a voltage regulator in series with the motor. You are clearly stressing the capacitor, diodes and regulator at 25V AC input, and knowing those components first hand (I'm mid process of making that exact car remote controlled no longer using shoe pickups and activation track).

Helicopter car manual https://mthtrains.com/sites/de...ction/30rs13481i.pdf

"The recommended voltage for the helicopter's flight is 12-15 volts; this will allow the helicopter to fly 5-10 feet."

Again always read the manual but in general- don't exceed 18V is a solid rule regardless of brand.

To amplify what Vernon says, I've never felt the need to have more than 18 volts on anything on the layout, including the track or any accessories.  25 volts to Lionel locomotives is way about the manual's 19 VAC maximum warning, it would certainly shorten the life of the electronics if they didn't croak more immediately.

Add Reply

Post

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
800-980-OGRR (6477)
www.ogaugerr.com

×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×