I like the Lionel starter sets a lot seeing as how I don't have much. Right now I am just looking for something to run under the tree for Christmas only. I don't really like any of the intellectual property-based sets (Like Disney, Polar Express, etc), but I like the idea of a Starter set. 

OK - here are my 3 questions...

This is the engine I want to use.

_____________________

1. How much FasTrack would I need to build the standard 40/60 that comes in most sets?

2. What transformer would be best for this Lionchief Plus engine and track? (I don’t plan on a huge system. Just a nice train to set up under the tree during Christmas only). No big layouts.

3. I have a set of old postwar Lionel O gauge passenger trains I inherited from my great grandfather (The sleek, silver ones that say, “Lionel Lines” on a badge). Could these work as my passenger cars or would the transformer have issues lighting them? Would the L+ electro-coupler work with them? I like the idea of a shiny new engine for my kids but also using pieces from their great-great-grandfather's set.

 

 

Original Post

1. Curved Sections: 8 036; 12 048. Straight Sections: 4, 6, or 8. Substitute 1 for an Operating / Uncoupling Section with a magnet in the center to uncouple cars and blades for operating cars. Log Dump and Coal Dump Cars work with the magnet. Two blades operate Milk Cars.

FastTrack 10" Straight Sections come in a 4-pack. Get a Terminal Track (one 10" Straight Section) that includes wires for a transformer.

2. Transformer: LionChief Plus uses a remote to access features. Check with a hobby shop about a transformer to supply 14-16 volts to the track and enough power for those illuminated passenger cars. A rebuilt and certified Lionel postwar transformer may work, or a Williams / Atlas transformer.

3. Passenger Cars: They would look beautiful behind that ,locomotive, especially at night. If the bulbs are too bright at 14-16 volts, consider replacing them. Also, the wheels turn loosely on the axles. Put a drop or two of light oil on each side of each wheel. Turn it to work the oil between the wheel and the axle to reduce friction.

Good Luck!

1.  The standard 40x60 is made up of eight pieces of O36 curves and four 10" straight tracks. One of the straights is a terminal/power connector track where you connect your transformer.    You can find this oval of track on the big auction site all day for about $60.00 shipped to your door.  It will cost about the same buying from local hobby shops or other vendors.   -  -  If cost is a major concern for you, you can save a couple bucks by purchasing brand new, tubular style, track from Menards, which will cost you about $32.00 if you have it shipped to a local store for pickup.  (As a side, at the moment, Menards is stocking a 4 pack of O36 Fastrack curves for $13.99, but I did not see and straight track available. )  You can also buy boxes of dirty, but not rusty, used tubular track very cheaply on the auction site.  

2.  Almost any lionel transform made after WWII will do the job with the addition of a modern, fast acting, circuit breaker.  The DC wall pack that comes with starter sets, however may not be the best choice for a LC+ engine.  Some of them do not have quite enough power to fire the electro-coupler on the engine.  My top choices for running just one LC+ engine on a small oval of track would be a Lionel CW-80, An MTH  Z-Controller with any of the various power bricks made for them, or a post war 1033 with a modern circuit breaker installed.  You may find a postwar ZW or KW really the most cost effective solution, however.  Asking what transformer to use is a fairly loaded question as there are many things to consider including if you plan to expand the size of your layout, have parallel tracks, powered accessories or other thing that may demand a bigger transformer.  You also have to consider how handy you are with wiring and basic electronics:  if you are a little handy, adding circuit breakers to postwar transformers is simple, but this is a nonstarter for some folks.  Last, there is brand preference/bias, and tall tales of particular models being unsafe that are practically identical as far as safety design with other models touted as being the best choices.  

3.  Postwar cars will work just fine on fastrack, and with the LC+ engine and its coupler.  The problem you may have is with the lights, for two reasons.  First, if you use a small transformer, or one of the LionChief wall packs, it may not have enough power for the high demands of the light bulbs.  Second, if you have the track set to a recommended 18VAC constantly on, on the track, you'll burn out the postwar bulbs.  There are several good options to fix this, including installing higher voltage bulbs, but the preferred method is probably to install LED lighting in the cars.  LED lighting will also eliminate the 'not enough power' problem as well.  

So what to do?  If you are on a serious budget, I would do one of two things.  First would be to buy a good, used, postwar transformer and brand new tubular track from Menards.  The second option that makes some sense, is to buy a starter set that has some cars or something you like in it, keep the track and transformer, and resale the engine and anything else you don't want on the auction site.  You can pick up good LC starter sets for as little as $200, and likely sell the locomotive alone for about $100.  

JGL

Great idea about the LED's as I don't want to get too fussy over the whole set. 

Do you think if I replaced them with LED's that I could get away with the CW 80 or the 72W wall pack?

With the LEDs either transformer choice will work for you.  Something to consider, however, is that the 36 Watt and 72 Watt wall packs for LionChief/+ output DC current.  Lionchief/+ will run on DC or on AC, but any other lionel O gauge engine will require AC, so if you think you may EVER want to purchase any non-LionChief engines, I would save the hassle and start with an AC transformer now.  

(Disclaimer, because otherwise someone will complain about it:   Yes, all transformers are AC, it's just simpler to refer to both DC power supplies ( which contain a transformer) and transformers as the same thing, and most people understand that well enough.)

JGL

I would suggest the MTH Z-1000, which is overkill for just the loco, but if you add lighted passenger cars, they can quickly add to the needed amperage. The MTH Z-500 might get the job done, depending on the number of lighted cars, but I would stay clear of the MTH Z-750, because it's voltage is too high for the LionChief electronics. The post war Lionel transformers are not the best choice because of their low sensitivity circuit breakers, plus they are likely to be pretty old and possibly in need of a new AC line cord. Not a big deal for a qualified electrician, but not something for the novice.

Bill in FtL

Bill is there a difference in output voltage in the Z500/750/1000?  Also, to the best of my ability to test things, follow etch lines and read part numbers and data sheets, there is nothing in a LC+ locomotive that would be damaged by normal O gauge voltages of 16-22VAC (at least in the NW2 LC+ I disassembled.)  in any case, I'm curious why the z750 is singled out as having a different voltage than the 500 or 1000?  

JGL

NORTH POLE CENTRAL LIONCHIEF  PLUS PACIFIC /  6-83214

I do not have this road name, but I have the same loco with Reading and Northern.  This locomotive is still operating, at the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.  The 425. is located at SUSQUEHANNA ST,  JIM THORPE, PA.   http://www.lgsry.com/

The video will show the LionChief 425 and the full scale version at The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.  I do like the colors on the North Pole Central, cool pick for your layout.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbWfacp3U3Q

Hope this helps: Gary

I just dug out the 4 old passenger trains. They are in OK condition, but they are a little dull and sticky. What's the best way to clean them? They've been in a basement for many many years.

JohnGaltLine posted:

Bill is there a difference in output voltage in the Z500/750/1000?  Also, to the best of my ability to test things, follow etch lines and read part numbers and data sheets, there is nothing in a LC+ locomotive that would be damaged by normal O gauge voltages of 16-22VAC (at least in the NW2 LC+ I disassembled.)  in any case, I'm curious why the z750 is singled out as having a different voltage than the 500 or 1000?  

JGL

I believe a Z500 is a 50 watt transformer, 750 is a 75 watt and 1000 is a 100 watt.  So a 750 would have more power than a 500.  I don't own any MTH power supplies yet, but that's what I've always understood about them.

I've found that I can get a lot done with an 80 watt transformer, but sometimes that's easy to push to its limit, so you may want to make that a minimum power rating.  This is especially if you plan on using the smoke unit in the locomotive in addition to the lighted cars.  It's easy for the power demand to add up quickly.  The MTH Z750 would probably work too.  The Lionel CW-80's get mixed reviews, but you can get them fairly cheaply and I've had fairly good results with them.  They're definitely not the highest quality product in the world, but I've used two of mine for almost 10 years now.

Last edited by SantaFe158

Santafe158, 

My comment was directed to this: 

Bill Nielsen posted:

... but I would stay clear of the MTH Z-750, because it's voltage is too high for the LionChief electronics...

Which suggests that the z-750 has a different output voltage than the z500 or z1000, something I'd never heard before.  

I would agree that an 80 watt transformer is about as low as you want to go, and bigger never hurts, if you can fit it in the budget.  

JGL

If you are sticking with LC or LC+, a power supply that puts out 15 to 19v AC or DC, and 4+ amps should suffice for all your needs. I use a 18.5v 3Amp HP laptop supply for my Christmas tree layout. It's the only part from the laptop that was worth keeping!  I added a PWM 3 amp controller from Ebay if I want to run non LC engines on the layout.  All of my engines can run on DC.

Last edited by Mathew Clayson

I would find a good, refurbished postwar RW transformer, 0-19v AC output, 110w, and would leave the lights alone in the passenger cars. One problem I would like to point out is that the patina of used postwar and modern products usually is very different, which may or may not be pleasing to the eye.

wallix posted:

I just dug out the 4 old passenger trains. They are in OK condition, but they are a little dull and sticky. What's the best way to clean them? They've been in a basement for many many years.

Would you post a photo of the passenger cars? If you have the first run of those cars, they are worth more than average. Treat them with care.

A dab of mild dish detergent on a damp, soft cloth would be the method to start with. NO polish or hard rubbing. Rinse with just a damp cloth. Then, dry with a third cloth. The microfiber cloths in the packs work well.

You'll need 18v volt bulbs to replace the bulbs in them. Hobby shop standard item.

wallix posted:

I just dug out the 4 old passenger trains. They are in OK condition, but they are a little dull and sticky. What's the best way to clean them? They've been in a basement for many many years.

I would disassemble them, so you can give the aluminum body a vigorous scrubbing without hurting anything else. Olsen's has posted pages from the service manuals here: http://pictures.olsenstoy.com/searchcd31.htm?itm=593

Basically, you are removing four screws, and pulling the plastic end caps straight out (be careful how you grasp the ends so you are not pulling on anything thin or fragile). Then the sheet metal underframe with the trucks and everything attached slides out of the aluminum body, as does the window plastic.

Soap and water and a toothbrush for the aluminum. If your cars have the colored stripe, I would not immerse them, but it sounds like they have the metal name plate, so no problem there. In any case, don't scrub the lettering! If you want a high shine, you can use mag wheel polish, but these did not have a high shine when new. If you want original condition, just clean it. Use a mild soap solution and a soft rag or brush with a more gentle touch for the silver-painted ends. The silver paint is fairly fragile.

You can search on this forum for cleaning aluminum passenger cars for more information and opinions.

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