No problems running my alien smoke car or hot box reefer at 18 volts using LC remote. Just make sure you run the alien smoke car with smoke fluid or smoke switch off......easy to forget about it. I modified mine with strobe lights.....heres a video.
I expect someone would have mentioned it by now if it was an issue with the smoking car in question, But I'm aware of some smoking cabooses(?) that had issues with melting plastic when run on the constant 18VAC of command layouts. Assuming you're using a more powerful transformer than the LionChief DC wall packs this may be something to keep an eye on, just to make sure you don't damage anything.
I'll also second that you'll probably want something more than a starter transformer, and defiantly more than one of the little wall packs that come with LC sets.
As far as I know, yes, it's safe. I have a K-Line smoking caboose and haven't had a problem with it. I run LC+ and DCS with 18 volts to the track.
Unless that caboose has the CMD/CONV switch, I'd modify it for 18 volt operation. I've seen a number of melted sides on smoking cabooses. The smoking boxcars and tankcars normally have a regulator for the smoke units, but the caboose typically doesn't.
In order for a resistor to drop the voltage by half, it would dissipate as much power as the smoke resistor. Do you really want another hot component in there melting the shell?
The diode operates in a totally different way to dissipate the AC power, it simply blocks one polarity of the alternating current and thus supplies about half the power to the smoke resistor. It does this while dissipating very little power, it simply doesn't allow the half cycle of current to pass.
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