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Hello everyone this is my first post. I have a few questions about my Lionel 2034 starter set that I’m about to give to a grandson.  1F088FCD-04D5-48A8-857B-2E5E3D16CA428010C021-EA3A-40B8-A081-916124616AA1

The questions relate to the train at full power just flying off the track. I’m using a 1025 transformer which delivers I believe 16 V to the track. I have attempted to lower the voltage with a paired series of seven diodes which I believe gets it down to around 11 V which is perfect. (I tried a 3 amp diode earlier and thought maybe 10 amp diodes might make a difference but it really doesn’t). 

I’m concerned about the diode string heating up too much. I’ve tested it with the instant read cooking thermometer and it looks like it gets up to about 160° at full track power. So I don’t know if there’s a way I can button this up to keep little hands off it? I thought maybe a perforated short section of PVC pipe?  Any thoughts.  I don’t see how these could fit in the engine compartment—which could provide some air cooling. 

I do have a Lionel 1033 transformer and I may just have to use that instead and tell them to connect it to the 11V setting but the fact the little 1025 the set came with fits right in the set box set to me is way cool and I wanted to present it that way.  

Photos and video below. 

I did a complete tear down and rebuild and dressed the engine up by adding a bell, handrails, and a bell plus a repaint (keeping the original cab numbers). The set minus the engine came to me free from a friend. I found a beat up missing lots of parts engine with no run time and it is a great runner now.  

Say hello to “Oscar”!



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Thanks for the advices.

clarence commented diodes were an invitation to disaster—would like to know the reasoning behind this?   I researched the use of diodes to drop voltage on this forum and others and found this solution many places.  All noted they would get warm.  This is warmer than I expected.  None mentioned dangerous.  I should note I am not skilled in this area at all!

may try bigger o42 curves.  Good idea. 

may just let the youngsters (two actually—five and one and a half years old) have at it and learn by experience!!

the dc conversion idea sounds interesting: what should I look for and where for a dc transformer.  And what do I need to do to the engine to accomplish this.  Remember the engine runs fine now it just has too much available power from the little 45w 16v max 1025 transformer. 


Last edited by Obuckler

Just a few thoughts:

Use the 1033. My 027 layout had one, and a 2055 PW small Hudson. It almost never "flew off the track", and when it did, I learned to control the throttle better. I was 7 years old. Learning is part of it. It quit flying (and the class lights on the smokebox front survived).

Some have added a screw/post stop to the throttle-sweep area of the transformer to physically limit the handle travel.

Yes. I forgot to mention the 1033 will probably go with the set.  May explore a set screw on the 1025 but not sure yet.

The two boy family will get a larger Christmas layout later—O gauge track in a bigger oval with a 2025 engine that was my childhood set.  This first set is for the playroom to come out whenever they want.  For now the older one is enamored with trains.

My third grandson getting a Christmas layout too but under a year old so too soon to tell.

I only do a temporary layout Christmas and one landscaped drop from the garage ceiling figure 8 layout at my home. I am in awe of the layouts on display here. 

I enjoy collecting for operating and repairing.  Not into true collecting.  I also limit myself (with minor exceptions) to Lionel from 1952 which helps limit my impulses!




First off, I've been using 027 track with 027 curves for 32 plus years. There is a distinct advantage here for those who do not have space for large layouts, 027 tracks allows for layouts in small spaces. Saying to just ditch it is as useful as telling those who are having problems with Legacy or DCS to get rid of that and get some reliable postwar: It doesn't help anyone. By the way, if you can find it, MARX at one time made 027 curves in a 34 inch diameter, which is larger but would still allow building of a small layout, like on a hollow core door, should you ever do that for your grandsons.

But, since you are only doing floor layouts as you say, maybe you'd want to invest in just an oval of FasTrack, which has its' advantages for floor layouts.

Yes, the 1033 is a great transformer because of the dual voltage settings to the track. The B-U setting of 0-11 volts is great for even the basic K-Line starter set locos that would normally take off like jack rabbits. Using the 1033 with the B-U setting, they won't. I've had so-called experts claim I have to installed TMCC into my K-Line S-2's as there's no way they could run so slowly. Well, they are wrong.

BUT there's a way with your 1025 transformer. If you take a small board, mount the transformer to that, then you can rig up a "throttle limiter" using a block of wood on the right side of the transformer (same height) and then using a strip of wood or metal (with a series of a few holes drilled into it), you can screw in this strip to the larger RH block of wood, and thus create a physical limiter that will allow the throttle lever to only be turned up to a certain point. I know a couple guys who creatively did things like this and it worked great.

Bear in mind too, those smaller sorts of transformers came in a ton of train sets made over the years. Somehow, even with the drawbacks (especially noticed by adults), enough of us still managed to stay interested in trains into our adulthood. Those small transformers are also great for accessories, getting a customized voltage for the best operation.

The other thing too, for using the 1025, is to get a lighted caboose instead of the non-illuminated one, and maybe one of those die-cast postwar search light cars. The extra weight, and power draw, will help slow down the train.

But as also suggested above, the boys have to learn sometime. If they don't like the train flying off the curve, there's a way to prevent it: Keep the throttle turned down. AND with the layout on the floor, the likelihood of damage being done is far less than if the train was on a layout several feet above the floor.

I’m currently exploring these last two ideas.  Either epoxy on a bump to top to limit travel or the wood idea.  Also thinking on fashioning a black plastic wedge to silicon glue on the top 1) to make it removable at a later time and 2) to make it look like the transformer came that way.  The oldest grandson probably not be able to remove and may not realize “o great let’s remove this and see what happens!@“.

of course I want them to explore so his dad will be able to remove it later. 

I did weight the tender which helps. Good idea on a lighted caboose too. 

thanks all

Last edited by Obuckler

I have had great success using a 12VDC / 5Amp power supply to run everything from prewar Marx and American Flyer to a top-heavy post war Lionel 1656.  However, since you own vintage Lionel AC transformers, consider purchasing a Lionel AC to DC Converter such as the 6-5900 (approximately $10. and available on that auction web site).  These are simply wired between your transformer and your track.

Early post war motors are universal.  They’ll run on AC or DC.  The difference is in performance and control.  With DC, a young engineer can make his or her train run at a realistic crawl or smoothly increase the speed safely without the need for supernatural fine motor coordination.

As long as the train being run does not have any devices designed specifically for AC operation (e.g. a whistle or bell tender) and the layout is a simple loop, there are no downsides to using DC power.

Looks like a simple bridge rectifier can convert my 1025 to dc output easily enough.  I will test that.  There are no whistles on the 2034s slope back tender to worry about.  What I can’t find answered anywhere is does the dc conversion mean the e-unit will still operate in all positions to get forward neutral reverse neutral??

the Benz train videos never mentions and always shows stop and forward direction only?

There is no good way to tame the high-strung nature of postwar 4- and 6-wheel steam locos.  They're clumsy and tragically under-geared.  Like most of you I started with one of these 2-4-2's and after a few broken marker lights (and scolding, and tears) I learned to control it.  But it's really not a good design, there's no easy way to improve it.  Limiting the voltage might limit the absolute top speed.  But-- the behavior of these motors changes a lot with various loads.  When you put several cars behind the loco,  the lower voltage may not be enought to start the train moving, so it will just sit there with the motor getting warm.  Not good!

A LionChief Plus Pacific like 6-81311 is the about smoothest and easiest-operating steam loco I can think of for O27 track.  Synchronized sound and smoke, looks good on sharp curves with traditional rolling stock, not a lot of details to break off, kid-friendly wireless remote.  Another key benefit...  At some point in the future you might want to have two trains sharing the same track.  (This makes for very exciting operation!)  So get another LionChief Plus.  There's no need for block wiring (which is a boon for temporary floor layouts) and unlike a block system you have true individual control.  Heck, you wouldn't even need a second transformer!  This is how I'd want my son to be introduced to the hobby!

If you're determined to stick with postwar, then I suggest a "boring" diesel like a 622, 2033, or even a 2383.    These have a lower center of gravity and a much better effective gear ratio.  A dual-motored 2383 will give smoother starts, more consistent running at slow and medium speed, with a more muted top speed than any of the small postwar steamers.

One more thing... O27 is a limitation.  You don't have to go all the way to O42 -- that takes a lot of space and really limits what you can do on a 4x8.  But, even starter sets come with O36 these days.  If you're willing to step up from O27 to O31, the LionChief Plus 726-style Berkshire runs even better than the LC+ Pacific.  Or... a 773!  NOT kidding!  It's the only postwar steam loco that runs like a diesel.  With 18:1 worm drive, he can't run that one fast enough to leave the track.  It's ironic that the most expensive loco Lionel sold after the war is actually the best toy -- more forgiving and less frustration than the entry-level models.

"It's the gear ratio, Brian.  It always has been the gear ratio."

Last edited by Ted S

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