I find this rather odd, so please bear with me.
When I first purchased my Fastrack, I also picked up a set of those little track "connectors"; I then used a set of them to get power from this:
To this: (1999 Korean-built)...
Now, those connectors are pretty small, so I used appropriate-sized wire. Soldered wires to connectors, attached connectors to track, and off we went.
Everything seemed "ok" except that there was a voltage drop (as expected, I suppose); and when I hit the "bell" button, the whistle would kick in, and when I hit the "whistle" button, the bell would sound! I found this weird, but figured it was due to an analog power supply trying to play with the more sophisticated sound system ("Signal Sounds") in the tender.
I really wanted to address the drop in voltage, so I removed the Lionel connectors, I took a length of lamp wire and soldered that directly to a piece of track, and tried that set-up.
Not only did that fix the voltage drop, but I now have a much better range of speed control, and the "whistle" and "bell" buttons work correctly!
Could this all be because of the larger gauge wire(s)? That's the only thing that I changed...
Mark in Oregon