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I am planning to build a 4x8 1946 era Lionel layout this coming winter.   I have bits of the top of the line 726 Berkshire set that I plan to complete with the missing cars.  From my reading, the transformers of that time still lacked the built in whistle control on many of them, like the RW.   As I want to do 2 loops, I am thinking the 100w type R with dual throttles.   But, I know the 167 whistle controllers tend to have quite the voltage drop and sometimes the rectifier disc is just shot.  Can a modern diode set up be installed in these like is done with older transfomers to help with whistle activation and voltage fall off?  If so, anybody know where to get the parts?   If anybody has pics of early postwar layouts from the first couple of years of production, I would love to see them, from floor layouts under the tree to table top.  Looking to capture the look and feel of a layout built right after the war ended.  So no plasticville and such that came later on.   AD

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Many like (do a OGR search) the post war Lionel LW transformer with 125 watts giving more wattage for a single engine than a ZW.  Buy two, one for each train.  They are not very expensive if you look around (about $40 plus postage on ebay), if you can not get one at a train show minus the shipping).

Check out my OGR post on how I built my 1950s style toy 027 train layout that uses three LW transformer for over 40 years and you might want to know how to build a $10 turntable too!


The Type Q is interesting.  Guess it will come down to if I do a single track layout or a double loop.  The plan is for a single transfomer mounted at one corner of the layout so it table can fold shut when not in use.  I would say right now its between a a Q and the R.   I was supprised the LW's didnt appear till the mid 1950's when Lionel was starting to decline a bit.  They are a really cool transformer with the lighted dial.     AD

Thanks for the PDF, I will print it off once the new ink arrives for my printer.  Why 1946, well thats the date for my Berkshire set that I am building up.  Its more of a 1946 to 48 time frame, where the initial set was purchased in '46.  So layout construction would be Christmas day going forward.  A Z is nice but massive overkill along with being to tall and heavy.  The transformer will be at the front left corner of the layout and the layout is hinged and folds up flat against a 10" deep frame that is lag bolted to the wall studs.  Even a 4x8 dominates my tiny layout room, so being able to fold it shut when not in use, like most of the summer when the garden railway is the choice for nice day train time.  The one non '46 era thing I may try to include is a nice bridge from Trainworks Studios.  I dont like having a track plan that the only route is up and down grades in such a small space as sometimes I just want to let it run and not have to touch the throttle.  So I am searching high and low at track plans for both over and under, otherwise I will have to recess the bridge into the main table with a valley cut out if I choose to use it.   AD

Thanks Roy, some folks are just the way they are.  I have done the later stuff, owned LW's, ZW's and so forth.  At one time, when I was the repair tech for a local Lionel repair shop, I had pretty much one of every model of postwar steam and diesel in my collection.  Shop credit for trains is how I was paid, so by my early 20's I had a huge postwar collection.  Then I moved out on my own, bills and life came along, sold most of it to get life started with my wife.   Now I am slowly rebuilding, but with more of a focus and less of a "shotgun" approach of just everything postwar.   AD

AD, I believe the second flat layout would be more age appropriate. Also it would lend itself to accommodate your folding desire.  

Not sure if you have 1946 era catalogs. Mine have been misplaced since my move. I didn’t see any track layouts in 1946, however the link below is for 1947 catalog and has suggested layouts….for your reference.

Last edited by Rich Wiemann

I am thinking about doing double level but not connected, so there are no grades.  A smaller loop on the 2nd level to use this nice bridge from Trainworx that I have had a few years, then the main loop.  I do not thing O42 was an option then, so O31 will be the curves used.   Still need some good clean postwar Lionel O gauge track.  All I have had offered was 027 stuff for the most part.  What O gauge was a bit salty and not what I was looking for, ie many half sections ect.  The layout is actually 4x7, but I will use a 4x8 plan that I just shorten a bit. 

I wish I had room for 072 curves.  042 would be max diameter with 031 for an inner loop or both for both loops.  Adding whistle control to a Q or an R is simple, use the 167c whistle/direction controller.  Which is what I would do, with an upgrade to diode for the whistle vs the aging rectifier disc that always slows the train down due to its voltage draw/drop.  I dont mind 031, the Berkshire is happy on that, just no 027 track.  I was thinking the same thing for a station set up!  AD

Last edited by artfull dodger

Like Rob said, that 1041 is an interesting transformer. I believe it was the first transformer with a built in whistle controller. The 167 whistle controller has a choke to compensate for the whistle motor current increase.  It should not allow too much voltage drop. There is a special 167, the 167S for the 726 since it is a heavy current user.  You might want to find a 167 that you know is working properly and test it with a train to see how it works.   The 167 is classic 1946.

I am very familiar with the 1041.  My dad's 1423w set from 1947 came with that transformer.  Not the easiest to take apart and service but do work well.  But at only 60w, it might get a bit warm running a 726 with the high stack motor in it.   Right now I am between a R and and the unique Q.  Just depends if I go for a dual loop/train layout or single track.  I found a track plan I like, I could probably use my bridge even though it would not have been something outside of a dealer display layout in that era.  But not sure I want a layout with grades.  With only 7 foot to work with, that makes grades eat up lots of space or very steep.  Now I dont pull long trains, so lack of Magna-traction doesnt factor in for me.  But having to 'baby sit' the throttle for the up and down speed control does.  Still looking at pics of various vintage layouts folks have built.    AD

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