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6D4C1FA0-8909-408F-9AAC-FCEC46516800I have recently built a 5x8 train layout. It has one outer loop of o48 and a separate inner loop of o36. I currently am powering it with two cw80 transformers, one for each loop. The outer loop I want to run TMCC and lionchief plus engines on and the inner loop will have lionchief and conventional engines. Any advice on what to use to power the layout? With just my engine and once passenger car I’m already at 2.5 amps. Thanks


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Original Post

Casper, it sounds like what you currently have is're only consuming ~half of the available amperage of the CW80? If you simply want more power (ie watts), you have a lot of choices, depending on how much you want to spend. Here are some lower $$ ones...

Consider a 180W PowerHouse "brick" (Lionel # 6-22983) and a TMCC direct lock on (#6-34120) for your outer loop to essentially double the power available. You will NOT be able to run conventional on that loop with this setup as this supplies a constant 18VAC, non-variable. Retail for the pair is ~$200.

I'd probably just stick with the CW80 for your inner, conventional loop. Again, if you want more power consider the GW-180 (#6-37947), which is a controller like the CW80, except its powered with a seperate 180W "brick." Retails ~$260.

MTH offers great options as well...I'm not trying to be a Lionel only spokesperson!


Each CW-80 is rated at 5 amps and should be able to adequately handle the loops you mention, although the 2.5 amp draw for one loco and passenger car seems on the high side depending on the loco and if that's continuous draw. You might want to check the loco and car to make sure everything is moving freely  and clean the track.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend anything until and unless you start experiencing a problem. I've had 2or 3 engines running at one time off a CW-80 and not experience any issues. If you have issues or want to step up, I would recommend the MTH Z-4000 transformer as an upgrade. It's fairy reasonably priced for a top transformer and has two separate throttles, each of which you can wire independently to your separate loops and it provides 10 amps per throttle.

Casper posted:

It is a new york central commodore Vanderbilt, I believe it’s from 1996. I just don’t want to overload the cw80 because I heard you have to take it somewhere to get it reset if it trips.

The biggest issue is that, because they don't want people taking them apart, Lionel uses oddly shaped triangular indented screws that require a similar type screwdriver to remove, which most people don't have (available at Harbor Freight and Amazon as I recall). Other than that, replacing a blown fuse is pretty straightforward for anyone with basic mechanical/electrical skills.

Obviously, getting another transformer as was described above is the other option. It's like racing - speed costs money, how fast do you want to go ?

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