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I recently replaced a Lionel ZW transformer that was running my PostWar American Flyer Loop with an American Flyer 17B transformer. Why? Just because.

Even with the control lever pushed to 0 MPH, enough power is still going to the track to prevent the e unit from cycling. I have to lift the control from its locked position to cut power to the tracks, and then re-engage it to cycle the engine's e-unit.

This does not seem right to me - is it? If it is not right, what is the fix?

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@AmFlyer posted:

That handle was called a "dead man's control" in Gilbert's catalogs. Power is only interrupted to the track when the handle is lifted. I kind of like that style transformer and used 15B's and 19B's to operate the layout.

That is correct, the deadmans handle was made so the reverse unit would not cycle till you lift the handle. You could pull into the station and stop and not have to cycle the reverse unit before pulling out.


Thanks for the info guys - looks like my 17B is working like it was intended but, for me, lifting the throttle out of its lock to reverse, etc. is a PITA.

I'm gonna replace it with a Lionel transformer again. The ZW was overkill for my loop, I'll probably use a LW.

Thanks for the catalog pic FlyerRich. For information purposes, the 17B looks just like the pic of the 19B but without the center toggle switch

Last edited by Lionelski

Why not learn to run the control as it was "meant" to (my opinion), as a dead man control? Keep your hand on the throttle with enough pressure on the handle so power is applied to the track but not down in the keeper clip. If there's trouble on the rails up ahead, just relief pressure on the handle and everything stops in an instant. Pulling the handle out of the keeper clip takes more effort and time in an "emergency". Yes, putting the handle secured in the keeper clip allows for running a train unattended but is that "legal"?

I know this a bit late, but what I call the idle voltage actually performs the same function as the Lionel Stop Stations. The Stop Station drops the voltage low enough to stop the train but not so low as to cycle the E-unit. So as the nichrome gadget starts to feed voltage again the train will move in the same direction as when it pulled in.


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