Imagine my surprise, after showing a coworker pictures of the NJ Hi-Railers layout, he brings this into work! It goes back to at least being his Dad’s. He had it cleaned up professionally, a few years ago, but would now like to run it  

What’s the “best” transformer he could pick? He’s not gonna spring for a Z4000 or the top Lionel 4 output model  






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Last edited by Marty R
Original Post

Back in 1933, Lionel recommended the Type B transformer:

However, any variable power supply able to provide ~6-20VAC at at least 4-5 amps (~70 Watts) would be appropriate for running the set around some track.


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Last edited by bmoran4

If he's looking for a "nostalgic" style piece, I think a refurbished 1033, LW or RW would be good choices. He could step up to a KW, but that may be overkill for his layout. I think I saw one of our forum sponsors, Charles Ro, has a refurb KW for $175.00. There are many of the above models available on e-bay as well, but just make sure they have been gone through with new cord, etc. If there's a train show coming up in your area, they should also have some good buys as well.

OTOH, a modern CW-80 or Z-1000 should also work fine.

I suggest a prewar Lionel, Ives or AF transformer with a Lionel 081 rheostat for speed control.  They tend to have a higher range of available voltages than the postwar transformers.  Many prewar locos will run better with 20  to 25 volts.  A KW gives you only 20.  I've got a 262 motor for sale.  I'll test it tomorrow and see what it needs.  I'm using a Type A for testing my older motors.  It puts out 24 volts.

Don't get an RW or 1033 for prewar locos - only 19 or 16 volts.

I'm with the 70w in.a.pinch.but.go.for.more club. More voltage is nice (but dangerous to modern boards!), More amps is really what you want to ensure you have though.

Before the ZW, there was the mighty Z. They are still around for under $100, sometimes $50-60. All that power to one throttle Mmm Mmm 

...or share amps with the other 3 throttles and more track, turnouts &/or accessories.

I find AF & Marx to be a little lighter than rated on heavy duty cycles. AF seems most heat sensitive having more heat v-drop, Marx just get very very hot. 

The LW has the most power for single throttle Lionel units.(125w?)(@20v I think) VW and KW tie (2 throttle 180w)

Split of power isn't a 50/50 thing for 2+throttles. E.g. kw throttle A might use 120w today leaving 60w for throttle B..... it is based on need and availability sothrottle B might only use 25w today.... or it might use 90w and 90+120=210w more > than 180w so trips the breaker.

A few transformers DID split the power rating; there are actually two transformers in them.... mostly avoid them (tw or sw?)

Rheostats get very very hot 👶🍼... but also have a vintage feel that can't be beat. They allow most any constant power supply to be used..say... battery or.battery charger, ham radio/test bench supply, industrial transformer(&fuses/breaker), etc...remote mount the power if ya want; añd a tabletop rheostat footprint is small, takes up less room than the big rheo /breaker/transformer combos we usually use.)

Another vintage name is Jefferson Transformers. I think their Midget is 75w/12v, but it does well with engines that normally like 15v+

Adriatic posted:

I think the Z hits 25v but check me... The L external whistle control box of the era ate 5v just being hooked up. 

Yep.  The Z goes to 25 volts.

Follow up. My buddy was trying to use this 1026 :-) I’ll let him play with one of my extra Z1000s. We can go from there. 

The 1026 is very undersized in both current and voltage for a 262E. A Z1000 will make a difference for sure!

Properly cleaned and lubricated 262 (any 250 series motor) should exceed your speed control at 12-14 volts. No need for a massive iron core Z or ZW.  A V or R Dial type or just about any of the Letter designated "Multivolt" transformers with do... though a rheostat will help with finer control.

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