Rex K,

   The men are giving you some sound advise, in my case I use several Z4K and a couple ZW's and a few KW's  Have not invested in the ZW-L at this point, I probably will however.  Good advise to get the latest Z4K model.  Always over power your layouts, you never know when you are going to want to expand!

PCRR/Dave

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Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

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RexK

Per your original post and desire to run vintage tinplate trains there is no need to buy powerful ZW (limited to 69 watts per each of 4 trains with only two having direction and whistle) or Z4000 with 165 watts for each of 2 trains with modern circuit breakers for sensitive electronics).

The most powerful single train postwar transformer is the Lionel LW at 125 watts output.  These are available for $40 to $60 plus shipping on eBay or less at train shows.  The LW has a lighted dial for night operation and light intensity indicates voltage to the track.  With one LW per train circuit you have direction and whistle and can separate operators.  The LW with 125 watts can run two postwar trains per circuit. 

With all of these transformers, they should be limited to only running trains and not accessories and lights on the layout to allow full wattage to be available for train operation.  Cheaper transformers are available to run these at constant voltages as other have suggested.

Charlie

Choo Choo Charlie posted:

Per your original post and desire to run vintage tinplate trains there is no need to buy powerful ZW (limited to 69 watts per each of 4 trains with only two having direction and whistle) or Z4000 with 165 watts for each of 2 trains with modern circuit breakers for sensitive electronics).

That would be an incorrect statement.  First off, the PW-ZW is rated on input power, you can figure on about 80-85% of that at the output terminals.  Let's call it a 240 watt transformer to be safe.  All the power is available on any of the four handles, you just can't get more than about 240 watts combined out of all the handles.

Choo Choo Charlie posted:

RexK

Per your original post and desire to run vintage tinplate trains there is no need to buy powerful ZW (limited to 69 watts per each of 4 trains with only two having direction and whistle) or Z4000 with 165 watts for each of 2 trains with modern circuit breakers for sensitive electronics).

The most powerful single train postwar transformer is the Lionel LW at 125 watts output.  These are available for $40 to $60 plus shipping on eBay or less at train shows.  The LW has a lighted dial for night operation and light intensity indicates voltage to the track.  With one LW per train circuit you have direction and whistle and can separate operators.  The LW with 125 watts can run two postwar trains per circuit. 

With all of these transformers, they should be limited to only running trains and not accessories and lights on the layout to allow full wattage to be available for train operation.  Cheaper transformers are available to run these at constant voltages as other have suggested.

Charlie

Have you forgotten the TW Charlie?

A single train Lionel transformer with 175 watts. They also go for around $50 - $60

One of my favs

 

The TW is actually and odd duck,  It has two separate windings, and only one of them is used for the variable voltage.  That means you're limited to roughly half the rated output power.  The transformer is "rated" at 175 watts, again that's input power, so figure certainly no more than about 150 watts out.  Since each winding is half the power, you only have 75 watts to the track.

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Just won the zw.  Heres the ebay description.  The outer case was beautiful and it will be $200 after i add shipping so i hope its a good one....heres the description:

This listing is for a Postwar Lionel Type  ZW 275 watt Model R TRAINMASTER Transformer in excellent condition .This powerhouse is capable of running four trains at once. There are no cracks or breaks in the case , no rust on base plate , and the handles are solid . The whistle and direction levers center on there own as they should and work properly. It has been throughly checked and layout tested . All Carbon rollers have been replaced ,the voltage readings are 0-21.0 volts at full throttle,and and the cord has also been replaced. Note, you will always receive the transformer in my pictures, they are not stock photos. You will also receive a 6 month warranty on operation as long as unit wasn’t tampered with. This warranty does not cover misuse of any kind , it has been throughly tested and layout run to be in perfect working condition when shipped. I have been collecting and repair Lionel for many years and all my items are guaranteed 100% to work properly. A copy of operating information is also included. If you have any questions please ask me and thank you for looking!

Rex

 

Also, regarding the TW, the earliest produced models- such as the one shown in the schematics posted by @gunrunnerjohn , had an extra "b" post while all those produced 1954 and later lacked that post. "odd duck" is a totally appropriate name for this transformer due to, as has been stated and shown above, the constant, fixed voltage posts have an independent power source from the variable posts.

@Rex K congrats on the purchase. Replaced rollers and chord are a major plus- as is the warranty.  When I purchased my first ZW, I was at the gentleman's house and he had a 275 watt and a 250 watt, the 250 watt had a new chord. I went with the 250 watt based on that alone as it was a sign that someone had repaired at least the chord and likely some other parts of the transformer. The 250 Watt ZW actually had a higher output than the 275 Watt Zw and ZW(R), 7-21 volts vs. 6.5-20 volt. Regarding extra protection for the transformer or trains, inline circuit breakers can't hurt, IMO, but that's up to you. Since you aren't messing with any sensitive electronics, it's not much or a worry for the trains. Regarding the transformer itself, and this goes for any transformer, make sure you turn it off when not in use. While the ZW(R) is supposed to "hum" less, if you find yours humming some electrical tape around the transformer below the binding post area can help 

Finally, just an FYI, while you didn't say you'd be running any Marx or postwar Flyer- keep in mind that, if you do, these engines were made to receive 15 volts MAX! Thus, a postwar ZW could easily "fry" one of those trains.

Enjoy your ZW! Im sure you will- great transformer!

-Steve

 

Rex K posted:

Just won the zw.  Heres the ebay description.  The outer case was beautiful and it will be $200 after i add shipping so i hope its a good one....heres the description:

This listing is for a Postwar Lionel Type  ZW 275 watt Model R TRAINMASTER Transformer in excellent condition .This powerhouse is capable of running four trains at once. There are no cracks or breaks in the case , no rust on base plate , and the handles are solid . The whistle and direction levers center on there own as they should and work properly. It has been throughly checked and layout tested . All Carbon rollers have been replaced ,the voltage readings are 0-21.0 volts at full throttle,and and the cord has also been replaced. Note, you will always receive the transformer in my pictures, they are not stock photos. You will also receive a 6 month warranty on operation as long as unit wasn’t tampered with. This warranty does not cover misuse of any kind , it has been throughly tested and layout run to be in perfect working condition when shipped. I have been collecting and repair Lionel for many years and all my items are guaranteed 100% to work properly. A copy of operating information is also included. If you have any questions please ask me and thank you for looking!

Sounds like you got a good ZW with a warranty too! 

I once bought a used ZW for $ 75 and it cost me another $ 75 for the rebuild so with shipping costs that is right in line with your price.

Sean

 

TCA 14-6985#

 

Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight.


ZW's are great transformers. There are a lot of guys who do an excellent job of repair/refurbishing, and some who specialize only in transformers - sounds like you got a good one!

As Lionel Train repair is my business , I see lots of positives in your new purchase: new rollers;  new AC cord [a must! with 60+ y.o. items!] whistle & direction controls center on their own - this is a biggie - as it's an expensive repair if they need replacement! 0-21V AC is full power; some register at 22V but I usually chalk this up to meter sensitivity.

Looks like Santa showed up at your place early!  Lots of luck and many a pleasant hour enjoying operating your trains with your new ZW!

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!

 

Len Carparelli

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