install ps1 in older lionel switcher

Hello...I'm Eric from Cincinnati and this is my 1st post here but I've been a long time reader of this forum.....

What I 'm thinking of trying isto take out the e-unit

and install a ps1 board in my lionel switcher from the 1980's ....what my question is has anyone done this

....also the mth ps1 I have has the color plugs on the bottom so would i use both sets of wires from one color

I've been searching and searching on here and Google trying different ways of asking and still no luck...

So any help would be a huge help...Thanks guys!!

Original Post



Welcome to the forum!


Not to discourage you, but there are some things you might want to think about:

  1. PS1 is very old technology that wasn't considered a smashing success.
  2. The installation is probably going to be more complicated than necessary and result in a real one-off type of locomotive that will be hard to maintain.
  3. Replacements for the E-unit are probably very common and readily available.

There's probably a reason you can't find instructions on how to do this. 





TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

I've got it in ruffly to see if it will work ....It comes on... sounds start up 

but the motor is just humming ...I've only used one of the wires from each of the colors

to the motor "white & yellow" I'll try two wires....I had the ps1 sitting around and thought it would be neat to hear some sound from this switcher...

If you want sounds for your engine you would be better off buying a unit from Electric Railroad, or even a Williams True Blast 2 unit.

Like the other person mentioned, PS-1 is an obsolete and undependable.


Lee Fritz

Philadelphia & Reading Railway, one of the first railroads in the USA, first to have a double track system in the USA.

Hi Eric, I know this is going to be a dumb question but sometimes the obvious needs to be asked. Does your 1980 Lionel switcher have a DC or AC motor in it?


Other then that I got nothing, except a hearty welcome aboard and have fun.


Keep Your Rails Polished!

NJ HiRailer

(Just Picture The Image)

Email Wayne Renga at


Wayne installed a board and a chip from a 1997 MTH Railking Southern PS-4 in a 1994 MTH Premier PS-4 I had purchased from a Forumite. That provided Passenger Station Announcements (PSA) and enabled operation with modern transformers. Now I have the best of both worlds - a model of 1401 in the Smithsonian that operates on current transformers.


Wayne can provide expert advice about installing PS-1.


I highly recommend purchasing and installing a BCR from Wayne. Apply 10 volts for 1 minute and a PS-1 locomotive is good to go. No worries or possible damage from a depleted or a dead battery.


If the motor is one of those open frame Lionel universal motors, it may be that you didn't completely isolate the motor from AC voltage. I haven't cracked one open in a while, but as I recall, one brush lead goes to the pickup roller while the other goes to the chassis (common.) Reversing was accomplished by reversing the phasing (polarity) of the field coil. The way you can remedy this is to disconnect the brush leads and install a bridge rectifier with the plus/minus leads going to the armature, one of the AC leads going to the pickup roller and the other AC lead going to the chassis. This will feed a fixed-polarity DC voltage to the armature; the PS1 board would feed DC to the field coil and reverse it's polarity as appropriate.

Matt Jackson
"The best service you can provide for the hobby is to pass on what you have learned."

 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

"Celebrating 20 years of moving freight and passengers from Point A to Point A!"

YouTube Channel

If you are using an MTH bottom board with plugs you should be fine on current as the diodes were 6amp versions.  The really issue is the MTH PS-1 board is for a DC motor and you are modifying an AC motor.  So it gets tricky using the DC reverse unit.  You do need to add a bridge rectifier to keep either the field or armature current in the same direction while allowing the reverse unit to switch the one not chosen for constant current direction.  This works I have used DC reverse units on Lionel AC engines.


Also the PS-1 are quite reliable and hardy.  Also still supported with parts via MTH.  They are older technology, and you do need to keep a charged battery or use a BCR, but I sense you already have that covered.  If you do A SEARCH I think you can find some topic on the AC otor run by DC reverse unit.  G

MTH Authorized Service Center

Authorized ERR Dealer

Lionel Independent Repair Tech

Virginia Train Collectors Member

Thanks for all the help so far'm sorry I forgot to say it's an AC motor

...I'm going to try the things you guys talked about and I'll let you know how it turns out.....also, I seen where there are capacitors added to each side of the motor where the wires attach ......does anyone know the size? I need them......I'll take some pic's and post them too everyone likes to see

For AC motors, the common capacitors for the brushes are 1uf non-polarized caps to frame ground.  I confess, I was thinking DC motor, I haven't tried installing a DC board using an AC motor.

Originally Posted by ADCX Rob:
A change to Matt's scheme - connect the field in series with the bridge rectifier ~ & ~ to keep the motor "series wound" and the current draw at a minimum / close to original, and use the PS1 board to reverse the polarity of the entire circuit.

That won't actually reverse the direction of the motor, right?  You need to reverse just the field or armature polarity to reverse the motor.

We have to remember that AC motors reverse direction by flipping the armature and field windings, unlike a DC motor that dose the same thing by reversing armature polarity to the brushes.


I agree with Dick, the best way to go is to talk to Dalle, they have an e-unit that works for both AC and DC and will meet the power requirements pointed out by Chuck above.


Have fun.


Keep Your Rails Polished!

NJ HiRailer

(Just Picture The Image)

Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn:
That won't actually reverse the direction of the motor, right?

It will.  You would be reversing the entire circuit, the field will obviously be changing polarity,  but the brushes will not. 


Assign + & - labels to the field and brushes under both scenarios and it will quickly become obvious that they are changing polarity in relation to each other, as the brushes are powered by the same + & - of the rectifier at all times.


Originally Posted by gg1man:

We have to remember that AC motors reverse direction by flipping the armature and field windings...

The motor in question is an AC/DC universal series wound motor.  With the addition of a rectifier to power either the field OR the brushes/armature, a universal motor also reverses with a change in polarity on DC.  The permanent magnets in a DC(can) motor simply take the place of a DC powered field.


I wonder why nobody powers the Pulmore motors with the DC command stuff by just adding a rectifier to the field.  I'm wondering if that would even allow the ERR Cruise Commander to function with a Pulmore motor...

eflower I give you a lot of credit for trying.  I hope you succeed because frankly, I'd like to know how your switcher performs running off of DC current from the PS1 board.


The original O scalers used converted tinplate equipment, feeding DC to the universal motors thru an outside 3rd rail.  A lot of folks claimed improved performance that way.  I never tried this but it makes me want to start experimenting myself!


Matt do you think your wiring method might provide better load/speed regulation than ACDX Rob's (which is the accepted norm?)


Good question and good thread!

Ok guys .....I went to Radio Shack and I got all the items needed...I'm tinning the wires

and I read over how Matt is saying to hook it up then I Googled it and I found a few pic's of how these guys wired one and now I'm confusing myself.....

Is there anyway someone could draw a pic of the wiring...please.....please


this is what I found....and the bridge that I have is square and goes +~-~



Photos (1)


The diagram is correct, it is just not labeled well.


The black leads to the rectifier are connected to the ~ & ~(it doesn't matter which).


The red leads from the field to the rectifier are connected to the + & -(again, it doesn't matter which).


The connections marked "+ & -" at the bottom are the motor leads - connected to the PS1 motor output.


If the loco starts in the wrong direction, switch either the red leads or the "+ & -" connections.


You are a hundred percent correct Rob. I even had a rectifier on the output of my American Fler transformer to my post war AF engines. It made them run slower but the DC did make them work.

But, I think GRJohn asked a very good question how dose all the electronics work through all that noise?


That is why I like the Dalle product line because it seems to have some filter cercuits on it to isolate the PS1 board from the AC noise.


If you recall Lionel did alot of work on AC motors with their early curse control back in the nineties. I think AC noise and TMCC where not a good mix so they went over to DC drive motors.

I'm sure there where many other issues that directed their decision but that rings in my head.


In any case, if you ask MTH or Lionel if you could up grade your post war engines to command control they will flat out tell you no. I'm sure it can made to work but at what cost in aggravation when operated.


That is why I say talk to Dalle, I think they already invented that wheel.


Keep Your Rails Polished!

NJ HiRailer

(Just Picture The Image)

Well, I've installed the ERR AC commander in a couple of locomotives, and I have several other TMCC Pulmore motored models still in the stable.  They run fine, but don't have the low speed performance of DC can motors.  All of the TMCC versions have a 1uf NP cap from each brush to frame ground for noise suppression.


I may have to try a Pulmore motor on a DC board, just to see how it runs, or if it runs at all.


It appears we can emulate the behavior of a can motor with the added bridge.

Thank's John, good info, it's always valuable to learn a new application.


Now if e-flower can make this all come together and work this thread will become a "KEEPER".

I have a four inch binder where I keep all the threads that I feel I may someday wont to use and this looks as if it could be one of them.


Keep Your Rails Polished!

NJ HiRailer

(Just Picture The Image)

IT WORKS!!!!!!.......the switcher has been sitting for a long time and will need

the gears cleaned and re-greased ...I also need to put on the brush capacitors..

Now that I know it works its time to fit it in that little body ....that should be fun..

I'll take a few pic's after dinner and post them.

Thanks soooo much for all the help guys!!!!...This was fun!!

This application will work fine as Eric demonstrated.  I have done it with a Lionel 103 Electronic reverse unit and it works fine.  They do tend to run slower because of the double diode drop, but run very well.  You can chose to hold the field or the armature steady.  Both methods work.


Not sure why someone would think a PW can't be run with TMCC?  There is nothing fundamentally different from the early TMCC AC motors and a PW motor. Just add the capacitors.


The PS-1 board has far more capability then the Dallee, you can have an electromagnetic coupler function, plus all the sounds.


This can be done easier if you can find the QSI ACRU bottom board.   It was meant for the AC motors, and I have seen them used to drive 2 motor units via a harness.  G

MTH Authorized Service Center

Authorized ERR Dealer

Lionel Independent Repair Tech

Virginia Train Collectors Member

Ok...Here's an update...I stopped working on it last night to watch my shows "The Walking Dead" etc....Anyway I've been looking up noise filters for the humming I'm getting a little before 1/2 throttle .....I found something here"" so I built two of them and tried  it out in different spots with no luck...

Now I've taken the motor out for a clean up & oil ...Also the body is really

small for the board,speaker,BCR and that large I can get the sound problem fixed I was thinking of looking on ebay for a larger body....I got pic's but the wife took the phone's charging cable to work for her phone....

So that's were I'm at....If any one has an idea for a noise filter it would be a help...

The best place to filter noise is right at the source of the noise.  I'm assuming you're getting the brush noise from the AC motor, is that correct?


If that's it, I'd consider adding some inductance in series with the brush leads and then the 1uf NP caps.  A .1uf cap across the brushes might help as well.  This will probably be somewhat of an experimental process, EMI is sometimes pretty unique to individual situations.

Hi Eric, I'm kicking this back to the first page so as to keep this thread in mind. I for one am looking forward to those pictures.

In fact I would send those pics with a little report to Allan. He may wont to use it in one of the future issues of OGR.


Keep Your Rails Polished!

NJ HiRailer

(Just Picture The Image)

Likes (0)

OGR Publishing, Inc.
33 Sheridan Road, Poland, OH 44514