which transformer to buy Lionel or MTH ?

Hello --new Member with a rookie question.  I'm 55 and new to Model Railroading. My Dad was a Diesel Mechanic for Delaware and Hudson in Oneonta , NY. So i bought a Lionel RS-3 LionChief Plus Locomotive last month, because it reminded me off the ones i used to see him work on. I still remember being in the " pit" as a 7 yr old as the Big Old Boy came over top of us. i was one scared kid.  So i thought i would set up a display for my Grandson so we could have some fun together. But its getting expensive and im getting second thoughts but dont want to disappoint him. We have enough room for about 50 ft of track. I only plan on running my LS-3 and maybe getting him one of the LionChief Plus sets. We are trying to keep the cost down, i know there are better trains, but these  seem like they will get us going in pretty good shape. We are using Fastrack. My problem is i dont know what transformers to buy. I was told do not get the CW-80, as it wont run 2 trains. I was thinking the Lionel GW-180 180 WATT. It seemed a good price. I cant afford the new Lionel ZW-L. I also was told to buy the MTH 4000. We wont have to many accessories--maybe a crossing gate. I am totally confused on the power . Any advice is appreciated.thanks  for your help.

Original Post

 

Your best bet I would say would be a MTH Z1000. Reasonable price and works great on pretty much any brand.  Also has a fast trip breaker to protect your electronics in the event of a derailment.  TrainWorld has them in stock. 

MTH Trains
 
 
 
MTH 40-1000 Z-1000 Transformer
The most powerful ready-to-run train set transformer you can find, the Z-1000 boasts 100 watts of power, a U.L. approved design and separate 14v Accessory Ports. Its robust design will provide years of service and power enough to for any starter set to a moderate size layout. Available in many RailKing starter sets or separately, the Z-1000 is the perfect solution for a growing O Gauge layout.

Features - U.L. Approved
- 100 Watts Max Power Output
- Controller LED On Light
- Smooth Operating Throttle Knob
- Built-In Circuit Breaker Protection
- Individual Bell, Horn and Direction Buttons
- 14v Accessory Port
- 60Hz Operation Only - Unit Measures: - Operates On Curves
 









      

Chris.

 

Home of the C.L.&M railroad

 

 

 

 

  

KKNAPPER

Where in NY are you located, If down State maybe you and your grandson can visit our club. See below

You cant go wrong with the MTH Z1000, I have a few on my home layout and they work very well. If you are looking at some of the Lionel Sets I can recommend the Pennys Flyer set. It comes with a transformer

 

Chris Lonero posted:

 

Your best bet I would say would be a MTH Z1000. Reasonable price and works great on pretty much any brand.  Also has a fast trip breaker to protect your electronics in the event of a derailment.  TrainWorld has them in stock. 

MTH Trains
 
 
 
MTH 40-1000 Z-1000 Transformer
The most powerful ready-to-run train set transformer you can find, the Z-1000 boasts 100 watts of power, a U.L. approved design and separate 14v Accessory Ports. Its robust design will provide years of service and power enough to for any starter set to a moderate size layout. Available in many RailKing starter sets or separately, the Z-1000 is the perfect solution for a growing O Gauge layout.

Features - U.L. Approved
- 100 Watts Max Power Output
- Controller LED On Light
- Smooth Operating Throttle Knob
- Built-In Circuit Breaker Protection
- Individual Bell, Horn and Direction Buttons
- 14v Accessory Port
- 60Hz Operation Only - Unit Measures: - Operates On Curves
 









 

Thank you Chris and Steve. I had not heard of the MTH Z1000, so i will check it out. But if that would be enough power for both of our Trains on the track , it seems like the way to go. The Lionel Chief Plus came with a remote that controls all of the features. From what i have read , we would just turn on the transformer , put the power handle up and use the remotes for the rest. Can you add multiple Transformers for additional power if ever needed ? Again rookie question. I live in Upstate Steve in Ilion,NY ( near Utica). I see your on the Island.

KKNAPPER posted:

Thank you Chris and Steve. I had not heard of the MTH Z1000, so i will check it out. But if that would be enough power for both of our Trains on the track , it seems like the way to go. The Lionel Chief Plus came with a remote that controls all of the features. From what i have read , we would just turn on the transformer , put the power handle up and use the remotes for the rest. Can you add multiple Transformers for additional power if ever needed ? Again rookie question. I live in Upstate Steve in Ilion,NY ( near Utica). I see your on the Island.

I can’t see any problem with running 2 engines on the same track if your using 2 lionchief locomotives. I have 4 Z1000’s running independent loops thru my command control TIU and that includes a Standard gauge line so I think you’ll be OK. 

      

Chris.

 

Home of the C.L.&M railroad

 

 

 

 

  

If you were running other than Lionchief those transformers are great.  But if you are just running LC use a 72 watt DC power pack that Lionel sells just for Lionchief and Lienchief plus engines.   I use one on each main line of my 11x17 around the room layout.  Have ran 4 trains on one loop with one power pack.   And the DC power may double or triple the life of your LC and LC+ engines.  Add that they only cost 49.99 and you got a winner!  Plugs directly into Fastrack and you use your factory supplied remote!  The LC sets come with a 54 watt pack that will work on a smaller layout just fine. 

Jim   

Operator of the Southern Railway System.

Powered 100% on DC.   

To give you an idea of what can be run with a z-1000 brick:

This year on my under tree layout I ran, two trains (with smoke on), 6 lite cars (only two were LED), my 2 loops of Fastack had one command switch(on track power), one Operating/Uncouple Track Section(on track power), and a two small building lights(incandescent).

Since I just purchased the brick this fall I was just happy that it all ran. I don't try to push the limits of the Z1000. Also, I don't think I tried to fire the switch and the Uncoupler at the same time.

Since you seem to be budget conscious, MTH offers a Z1000A. This is what I purchased. It's the same transformer brick as the z1000, it was $25 cheaper. You just don't get the controller for running conventional trains, that you get with the Z1000.

 

 "I was thinking the Lionel GW-180 180 WATT."

If you buy the Lionel Powerhouse 180 ( I am assuming that is what you meant) it doesn't come with a controller either.  I don't think the new GW180 is available yet, which does come with a controller unit. It has a MSRP of $279.99 in the Lionel 2019 Catalogue.

I do understand from other Forum members that the Powerhouse 180 does have a faster circuit breaker. There  are plenty of threads here on that subject that you can read.

 

Mark W

Please note what the Lionchief sets come with.   54 watt DC power packs.   And check out the power pack supplied with the Polar Express trolley set!    It is DC also with adjustable voltage output!!   Everything in a LC, LC+, and LC+2.0 is DC.    So if you run any AC transformer you are converting wall power to 18volts AC, to send through a track, into the train to be changed to DC via the bridge rectifier .   Then to be cleaned up via the capacitor.   Only to power DC electronics and motor.      

Then consider the wall pack.   That changed wall power to 18v DC, through the track to the engine that now doesn't have to change anything.   Just run on the DC provided.  While your saving 450.00  Notice there isn't a CW 40 or CW80 in the catalog this year? 

Jim 

 

Operator of the Southern Railway System.

Powered 100% on DC.   

Good thing you're a newbie with a simple question. Welcome. You could get a Chevy or a Ford or a Plymouth. Or a Honda or a Camry. Or a Hyundai or a Subaru.

Lots of choices and lots of opinions. Try to figure out what you will need in WATTS. So many engines, so many lighted cars, so many accessories. Then get something that exceeds your requirements by a reasonable amount. It doesn't have to be 400 watts or more. But do get a new model power supply with a fast acting circuit breaker to protect the electronics in your engines. If you are just going to run Lionchief engines, you might save some bucks by just getting a brick (power supply) such as a Lionel 180 or 135 brick. They will supply a constant 18 volts and your remote will  control the engine.

Gerry 

  Home of the BRATS RR  

 

 

 

Welcome to the Forum
Tons of great folks ready to help.
I have a CW-80 and I can say without a doubt- DON'T GET ONE OF THESE!  I only use it for my Christmas layout and for bench power but it has been nothing but trouble for me.

I'm planning on picking up a Z-1000 this year. If all of your trains are new and have remotes then the brick power supply is all you need. But if you happen to pick up some older conventional engines then you will need the throttle control.
Bob

PS- The D&H is one of my favorite lines. Love the colors on the locos.

Three Rails Are Better Than None 

Over the years I have purchased many ready to run sets, most with CW-80s and all have worked well. I use several at once plus a ZW.

But if you only want one transformer for the whole layout, get a Z-1000.

Charlie Nassau has it for under a $ 100.

Sean

 

TCA 14-6985#

 

Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight


A Lionel Transformer will give your layout / train room “The Wow Factor”

It is the focal point and visitors to your train room will recognize company name: LIONEL, even non train visitors.

The first photo is from Trainworld / Trainland Web Store an OGR Sponsor and you can find a link to them, in the OGR Banner. Lionel maybe phasing this 6-14198 out. You may want to purchase 2 of these at $124,99

The second photo is how it looks in my train room. Lionel 6-14198 next to an older Lionel ZW-L.

1 Lionel Transformer2 Transformers

Hope this helps: Gary

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Two Lionel LionChief or LionChief-Plus trains? An MTH Z1000 will serve your needs quite well, with ample power for some operating accessories as well. My advice would be to avoid the Lionel CW-80. If you guys really get into the hobby and decide to expand, consider an MTH Z4000 or a Lionel ZW.

In answer to a question back near the top, yes you can use multiple Z-1000's on a layout, BUT whenever two or more transformers are on the same layout, one must verify that they are properly phased, and if not, correct the issue.  Checking phasing is very simple; correcting misphasing is easily done, with care.

You don’t need to worry about a “WOW” factor most people won’t care anyway! In your post money is a factor to consider so you don’t need a Z4000 or a ZW-L you need a reliable power source like the Z1000 especially getting started in the hobby.   Keep it simple to start out and maybe later you could step up to other options. 

      

Chris.

 

Home of the C.L.&M railroad

 

 

 

 

  

Like I said all of these are great options depending on what you are running.  I know I am in the minority on this one because I run strictly LC, LC+, and soon LC+2.0.   I am no electronics expert and that's why I have consulted with many including Lionel.  The main breaking point in the LC system is the capacitor. And another weak link is the bridge rectifier. Both sigh a huge huff of relief when you run them on DC.

  Id venture to say nobody else that has commented runs strictly LC equipment. So they have no choice but to run AC. If you do run only LC engines you have a choice.  With no huge investment you can run your trains the way they were intended.  

Jim 

Operator of the Southern Railway System.

Powered 100% on DC.   

Allan,

Curious why you mentioned not using a CW80 Transformer vs Z1000 when running just LionChief Plus engines.

It appears the Z1000 puts out 100 watts versus 80 watts but is that a big deal?

Probably missing something here as I am just a newbie on transformers.

Thanks,

Bart

 

Bart1 posted:

Allan,

Curious why you mentioned not using a CW80 Transformer vs Z1000 when running just LionChief Plus engines.

It appears the Z1000 puts out 100 watts versus 80 watts but is that a big deal?

Probably missing something here as I am just a newbie on transformers.

Thanks,

Bart

 

Based on my own experience the CW80 is a problem child. There have been many posts about problems with that transformer. I had 2 die on me a few years back.  From my own personal experience the Z1000 has worked flawlessly for me.  I'm not brand loyal whatever works reliably is the way I go no matter who makes the product.  I also have a ZW-L which has worked very well with no problems. I also know many people that have the Z4000 which is a great transformer as well.    Here is a link to the Trainworld site. The Z1000 is also cheaper than the outgoing CW80.

https://www.trainworld.com/man...-z-1000-transformer/  

 

      

Chris.

 

Home of the C.L.&M railroad

 

 

 

 

  

I started with the CW80 and was fine until I started to use the MTH DCS Explorer WiFi which is outstanding to run my MTH engines.  

While the CW80 had plenty of power it kept on blowing fuses in the DCS Explorer.  I swapped the CW80 with a Z1000 brick and have never blown a fuse.

 I have equal amounts of Lionel and MTH products and think that both brands are excellent so I’m not loyal to either.  I would recommend the Z1000 as this will allow for expansion into DCS if you choose at a later date. 

Carsntrains above has a point. If you are restricting yourself to LionChief and LionChief+ locos for now, no need at all to spring for an AC transformer like the CW80, ZW-L, Z4000, GW180 or Z1000.  You can get by with two LionChief DC wallwarts power sources.

If you are planning on a Lionel accessory or two, they have a system that allows you to pull power off a Fastrack section to power the accessory. With this approach no additional wiring is needed between the powerpack (as would be necessary with a CW80 or Z1000).  For this simple system, a GW180 or even a Powerhouse 180 watt with a command lockon is probably overkill.  Even the Z1000 with a variable controller may be more than you need and a greater expense. You already have one LionChief wallwart perhaps. If you buy another set, you'll have two. If you buy a LC or LC+ separate sale loco, a single wallwart for under $75 (for the more powerful one) will be sufficient.  You'll have more wattage (power capacity) than a single CW80 or Z1000, and for less expense.

As others have said, if you want to expand later to DCS/Legacy/Conventional, then a regular transformer (for conventional) will be needed at some point (for conventional only) or for command (DCS, Legacy, LC, LC+) a Lionel Powerhouse with a Command Lockon works beautifully with Fastrack and your total cost will not be much more than a Z1000 and much less than a GW180 or Z4000. 

Get the new Lionel catalog or look at it on line.  If you have a hobby shop that carries Lionel, they can show you the Fastrack section that provides accessory power at the site of the accessory, and cost out another LionChief wallwart (you may not need one if you have one and buy another set).  This costs you nothing or at least less compared with the other alternatives.  They can also price out a Lionel Powerhouse 180 watt and lockon for you if you want 180 watts and reserve for the future.  If you have no local dealer, look at Charlie Ro's prices online, they tend to be about 20% off MSRP for power and track, give or take.

Thank you all for being so kind and informative. I am not sure how to reply to all, so hopefully all will see this post. I know much, much more now than i did a couple days ago. I think we will be only running LionChief plus for right now, so the 72 watt power supply , seems to be the plan. I understand the benefits of the others , and as we grow (hopefully) , we can upgrade then. This is a nice forum and again thank you all.

I was curious about the load on a z1000 with 3 lionchief + locos.  Here is a screen shot of meters on three tracks running a  Gp-20 freight with 8 cars, a sd-60 with 9 cars, and a FT ABA with two powered units, 3 boxcars, and 6  lighted passenger cars (not LEDS).  All are powered by a single z 1000.

Assuming these are watts (probably not precise, but close?) this is near to the limit for a z-1000.  Didn't I read on the forum that 5 amps is about what the circuit breaker handles? this is about 4.5. 

 

Meters are left to right, the GP_20, the SD60 and the FT with two of the units powered and the passenger cars.

100_5875

 

100_5877

Hokie 71

Chief of Operations, Free Union, Blacksburg, and Albemarle Railroad (FUBAR)

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