I have a 18v wall wart that came with my starter set and I currently own a few cw80 and a z500. I've seen posts on how you can run the Lionchief engines on cw80's on the accessory +/- terminals of the transformer and heard where they've just had them hooked up directly as well. The claim is that if you turn the power up around 80%, you can use the Lionchief remote and this would be an alternative route instead of using the wall wart supplied with the set. My question is, doesn't the Lionchief engines run off of DC, or does it run off both. If so, would this be a better power source then the wall wart? I've read many forums to this claim but hesitant because I don't want to damage the unit. Clarification would be greatly appreciated, thank you all in advance.
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LionChief locomotives run on AC or DC. Anything else is AC ONLY. They send DC packs with the starter sets since it’s easier and cheaper once you outgrow that though you guys need to go AC and get a “real” transformer. CW-80’s are not bad per se but they can have some to be desired. You however should NEVER run a train with the accessory outputs of a CW-80 that output isn’t designed for trains. There’s nothing wrong with using the track output simply raise the handle too full voltage and your off to the races. The MTH Z500 also isn’t “bad” but I think it may only be 50w I’m not sure so don’t quote me. Do keep in mind that Lionel recommends never going above 19V. A MTH brick can output 21V.
If your still wanting to go bigger now will depend what you wish to run. If you still want the capabilities of the having the CW handle but more power try a GW-180. 180W, the other would just be a straight 180w PoweHouse brick witch has arguably the fastest breaker in the hobby. To recommend much more we need more information of your railroad and what you want to do.
CW-80’s and other small transformers make great accessory transformers
I'm running about 40 feet of track with no switches or accessories but plan on soon so I wanted a good reliable power source.
Read this thread, DAVE O from Lionel ,answers your question.
Correct he is, by golly immediate increase in performance. I'm going with zhubl on the gw180 upgrade. I think it will be a great investment in the long run when I start expanding my layout with other additions. Just ordered one this morning, thank you all for the responses, great community here let me tell you.