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Hi Paul,

I have been rebuilding ZW thansformers for many year and have sold many on the Forum and have never had a recall or a problem with any. If you want a "rebuilt" ZW, if I was to do it, t would have all new rollers, a new circuit breaker. a new cord and the rectifier disks that provide power for blowing the whistles would be converted to heavy duty diodes.
My costs for a rebuilt unit per the above would be in the area of $165.00 plus shipping. If you look on eBay these units would sell for over $200.00.
You indicate you want to pay much less. I do have a very good ZW I recently purchased that in its present condition is in very good shape' The rollers look good, the circuit breaker is one of the best Lionel ever used (an aircraft circuit breaker from the mid 1940"s), the voltage outputs are right up to spec., the rectifier disks have no scorch marks, the case is very sound and looks good and the cord looks OK. No doubt, due to age, the cord will probably need replacing in the relatively near future.
In the condition as is, I could sell you this ZW for $110.00. I would throw in a new Lionel repro cord for future use for another $5,00 or installl it for another $12,00.00.
These units are very heavy and the shipping from NH to VA would be $17.90. So in summary,
The unit as is would be $110.00 plus $17,90 shipping
The unit as is with a new cord for future use would be $115.00 plus $17.90 shipping
The unit as is with a new cord installed would be $122.00 plus $17.90 shipping
Be very careful when buying a used ZW. Ask if the voltages are all to spec. Ask the condition of the cord as on most original cords, due to age, you will find small cracks.  Ask if. the the circuit breaker has been tested and works, ask if there are any scorch marks on the rectifier disks and ask about the condition of the rollers. Any one of these problems can be costly even if you purchase the parts and replace them, but if you have to take it to a repair shop, you are talking big bucks. For instance, just the circuit breaker alone, for the part can cost over 20 bucks.  Good luck in your search and let me know if you are interested in the ZW I have.
Jim Lawson, O Gauge Jim on the Forum


I have always wondered if any of the guys who rebuild the old ZW replace the old core/coils.  Back in the day, we all did rollers and cords with updated breakers.  I have been clear of that for such a long time and still wondered how guys who do the work handle the core/coil.  I am only guessing someone makes that part aftermarket.

All good info above from Jim on what to be heads up for.

Last edited by Marty Fitzhenry

Hi Marty,

Over the years I have reconditioned RW'S, 1033'S, KW'S, ZW'S, and you name it.  I have yet to come across any transformer with a  bad coil.  I doubt if you could buy a new core and coil assembly.  If I ran into a KW or ZW with bad coils, I have a couple of "junkers" I could salvage core and coil assemblies from but the change out would be very labor intensive and probably not worth it.


Out of curiosity, what would make a coil fail?

Here is one: an unprotected short across two postwar ZW power terminals that is not noticed, and allows the coil to overheat.

Another: physical damage to the coil caused by improper maintenance.

I had one guy bring me a medium sized transformer that he tried to replace the cord himself. He did quite a job prepping the eyelets. He broke off the primary winding leads right at the core.

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