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@Merlin posted:

Hello, I am starting to order my parts for my layout. It will be a 5x10 layout with 2 simple oval fast track. The outside track will be O60 and the inside track will be 048 and on a tressle. Will the cw80 work and give enough power If I put a cw80 on each track? Thanks

Not sure if you will be able to use 060 on a 5x10 layout.  At best you will be right to the edge.

I’m in the process of building a 5x10 layout with 054 Ross curves without a road bed on the outside loop and I barely have enough clearance.  My two loops are going to be powered by a ZW-L so I should be fine.

1. Wayne is correct about the track width. O-60 fastrack is measured from centerline to centerline which, on a 5' (60") wide layout, will mean the trackage will actually overhang your layout top by about 1 3/4" on both sides, so you may want to re-think that.

2. I'm not aware that the new CW-80 has been released yet (Charles Ro shows a 4/10/21 availability date). The SKU for the new and improved version is L-1908080. It looks similar, but not exactly the same as the old version. The old one had large green and red bulbs on the top of the case. The new one appears to only have a smaller green bulb at the top left of the case and no red bulb. The handle also appears a little more squared off than the older, rounded version.

3. Depending on the length of your loops, one CW-80 may be enough to power both of them. I would try that first and see if it's enough - you can always add a second one later if you need it. With one, just run the transformer output to a terminal block like the one pictured below and then run power drops (four per loop should be adequate) to each loop.



Images (1)
  • MTH 12 PORT


Your OP repeats a mistake we all make when starting out.  Layout SIZE doesn't really matter when it comes to transformers.  As long as you have enough leads running out to the track system, you'll be fine.  What eats wattage is motors and light bulbs.

So for your CW-80's, you need to figure out how many motors and light bulbs you plan on powering with each transformer.  The track itself doesn't "use" power any more than just a wire "uses" power.  IF the track has automatic switches running off the track power, then you need to figure in the momentary power of the switch motor, plus the continuous power used by the indicator lights on the controller and the switch itself.

An engine uses power for the motor(s), the headlight(s), the sound system, and the smoke unit.  Passenger cars can chew up all kinds of power... especially if they use incandescent bulbs.  Cabeese as well.


Unless there's an "improved" CW 80 in the works. I'd avoid any CW 80 currently available for purchase.

The CW 80 is the oddest transformer on the planet. I used one  stricly for accessories and was not happy with it.

Add to that you can't even get an accurate voltage reading with a standard voltmeter unless you have the conversion chart.

I'd second the GW 180. Which at its heart has a PH 180 brick. One of the BEST transformers in the hobby.

Last edited by RickO

My experience with some of the earliest CW80 was very bad, the biggest problem is that they are not even heavy enough to qualify for a boat anchor. These old CW80s are nothing more than E-WASTE and landfill fodder.

Dave Olsen stated this a couple years ago about the CW80 redesign:

@Dave Olson posted:

The new federal regulations are requiring us to redesign the circuitry of the CW-80. It's the same thing that happened with the PH-180/GW-180. Now that we have that one redesigned and shipping, the CW-80 is being worked on.

The new CW-80 will have a new sku number. Aside from the changes being made to meet the new regulations, we're also improving upon the design. The efficiency will be improved and render the cooling fan obsolete. Also, it will get the bi-color LED like the GW-180 - green normally and red when there's a fault.

I'm excited for the new design. We're hoping to get the first shipment out by the end of the year. It'll show its face in the C2 catalog.

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