ZW-L Failure. I was afraid this would happen.

There is a very easy solution to this issue.  1. Send the item to Lionel for repair.   2. Ask Lionel for a refund and get something else.

Don't blame the dealer as they have no way of knowing if the item in the box has or will ever have an issue.  Don't blame the dealer if they suggest you send the item back to the manufacture for repair as the new ZWL's are complex devices that there not equipped to service.  Don't go on and on about this problem because Lionel closed due to weather.  The south gets very little snow and is not equipped to handle it in the same way as we are in the north.

Sorry You had a problem, but whining about it here will not solve the problem all it will do is bring out all the nay Sayers.

Just MHO!

 

 

 

 

Some of you guys are, in my humble opinion, too easy on the dealers.  If they sell it, they should stand behind it and at least offer a return or exchange in the warranty period if the customer does not want to deal with the time and hassle.  This idea that when I buy stuff if it breaks it is totally my issue to deal with the manufacturer is not one that you would tolerate in other settings, not sure why folks who drop serious coin in this hobby are so willing to take it on the chin.  Is the dealer in this business solely for the love of the hobby?  

GregR is, in my opinion, too negative about the new equipment, but he has a legitimate beef about the lack of back up here by the dealer and the length of time this will take to get repaired.  To me, those things are worse than the failure of  the item.

Well here is one way to look at it. The ZW-L is considered the Cadillac of modern power. Visit any Cadillac Automobile dealership. A brand new Escalade cost $110,000.00. Walk in the service area. On average you will see 12-16 service bays. Master Tech's average 60-$75,000. per year some more. You will also see a gigantic Snap On tool box in each bay filled with tools that can average $60,000.00. and UP. They don't shop at harbor Freight. What does all this tell you? Nick

                                                                                                                             

Pine Creek Railroad posted:

Gentlemen,

   You might want to put a 10 Amp breaker between your ZW-L so if you get a surge it can be reset and not harm your ZW-L.  I have them between all my Transformers of different makes and never have a problem.   Just a suggestion.

PCRR/DaveDSCN2590

The 10 amp fuse is a good idea, but make sure it’s a fast blow fuse. 

rockstars1989 posted:

Well here is one way to look at it. The ZW-L is considered the Cadillac of modern power. Visit any Cadillac Automobile dealership. A brand new Escalade cost $110,000.00. Walk in the service area. On average you will see 12-16 service bays. Master Tech's average 60-$75,000. per year some more. You will also see a gigantic Snap On tool box in each bay filled with tools that can average $60,000.00. and UP. They don't shop at harbor Freight. What does all this tell you? Nick

I guess the train manufacturers could learn a few things, they have prices right with Cadillac, just can't fix the stuff like them

shawn posted:
Landsteiner posted:

"I just talked to Lionel. They are issuing an RA. They stated that service for the ZW-L specifically has a backlog of 4 to 6 weeks minimum. Apparently, I am not the only one, and Landsteiner’s speculation of an n=1 sample population may  be optimistic. I will let everyone know the outcome."

Alternatively, this is the backlog for all repairs, rather than specifically for the ZW-L, and Lionel is just quoting this for everyone.  This is, of course, their busiest time of year as I understand it,  as everyone gets stuff ready to go under the tree and finds something that isn't working but still under warranty.

Wishing you, optimistically, success in getting it back sooner rather than later, and in perfect working order.

Yes, probaly a backlog for all repairs....Plus, there may be only certain people that work on these?

I suspect you are correct Shawn. Their staffing may be limited and there may only be a few people qualified to repair the ZW-L.  It's not like Customer Service would come out and announce a 4-6 week turnaround because they are bogged down repairing the unfortunate self-inflicted surge of repairs related to engineering, production or QC issues.

Meanwhile, I have rediscovered that my postwar ZW actually works much better than the ZW-L, and runs postwar equipment much more smoothly and quietly. I certainly don't miss the chopped-sine "jack-hammer / grinder" effects on my E-units and AC motors. That 30-pound paper weight is now on it's way to North Carolina for repair. I have mixed feelings about that transformer. A small part of me hopes it will fall off a cliff and disappear somewhere in route to Lionel

It's ironic: For all the hype about PW ZW's frying modern trains (which has never happened to me)...who would have thought that a PW train would fry a modern ZW-L? 

GregR posted:

... For all the hype about PW ZW's frying modern trains...

It's only hype, and has little to nothing to do with the transformer or its circuit breaker... it's just a numbers game. All newer electronic gear needs transient voltage protection, it's just that there are so many ZWs out there running trains that there's a pretty good chance of a ZW being involved.

Rob

GregR,

A couple years ago I bought my dad a new ZW-L thinking how much liked his old PW ZW. He had years before added a Z4000 along side of that ZW. It took a bit of getting used to but he adapted and accepted the Z4000. My thinking was to replace both the Z4000 and the ZW with a newer model that could do the job of both. 

After a month, the ZW-L got shelved and about two months later he sold it on a popular internet auction site.  He for the same reasons as you did not like how it ran his older PW trains. His opinion is that the PW ZW is the gold standard of how all transformers should operate any locomotive (albeit no BELL button). Apparently the Z4000 made the cut in his opinion and lesser transformers like the CW80 and the Z-controllers never did or will. He could pick up on how chopped waved transformers operated his trains and that just rubbed him the wrong way.

I eventually wound up getting my dad the PW ZW Volt / Amp meter add on an online auction to be used with his old ZW, which he likes a lot.

H1000

I had a similar issue a while back, except there was no derailment. Just started leaking voltage out of all the throttles. I had opened up so I can attempt a repair but ended up getting an RA# and got it covered under warranty.

Bruk Bannister

-The Guy who made the RCMC & BEMC wiring diagrams.

Dmaxdeere87 posted:  ...I guess the train manufacturers could learn a few things, they have prices right with Cadillac, just can't fix the stuff like them

A long-standing gripe of mine too.  These things may be toys, but they are very expensive.  Not having parts and expertise is just not acceptable.

Although I like all the bells and whistles, I'm contemplating transitioning back to postwar/MPC for my toy train fix and moving to HO or N for the scale stuff.  The PW is easy to repair, and if a $150-200 HO/N loco goes belly-up, it's not a catastrophe.

As far as sending it back to Lionel vs. the dealer, if the item was purchased via mail order, the difference is minor.  Would feel differently if buying in-person - would expect the dealer to deal with it.

Ray Lombardo posted:

Some of you guys are, in my humble opinion, too easy on the dealers.  If they sell it, they should stand behind it and at least offer a return or exchange in the warranty period if the customer does not want to deal with the time and hassle.  This idea that when I buy stuff if it breaks it is totally my issue to deal with the manufacturer is not one that you would tolerate in other settings, not sure why folks who drop serious coin in this hobby are so willing to take it on the chin.  Is the dealer in this business solely for the love of the hobby?  

GregR is, in my opinion, too negative about the new equipment, but he has a legitimate beef about the lack of back up here by the dealer and the length of time this will take to get repaired.  To me, those things are worse than the failure of  the item.

the day of the service station is about over. At least for some of the train equipment. The dealer can do nothing. They are in a bad situation. 

H1000 posted:

GregR,

A couple years ago I bought my dad a new ZW-L thinking how much liked his old PW ZW. He had years before added a Z4000 along side of that ZW. It took a bit of getting used to but he adapted and accepted the Z4000. My thinking was to replace both the Z4000 and the ZW with a newer model that could do the job of both. 

After a month, the ZW-L got shelved and about two months later he sold it on a popular internet auction site.  He for the same reasons as you did not like how it ran his older PW trains. His opinion is that the PW ZW is the gold standard of how all transformers should operate any locomotive (albeit no BELL button). Apparently the Z4000 made the cut in his opinion and lesser transformers like the CW80 and the Z-controllers never did or will. He could pick up on how chopped waved transformers operated his trains and that just rubbed him the wrong way.

I eventually wound up getting my dad the PW ZW Volt / Amp meter add on an online auction to be used with his old ZW, which he likes a lot.

so, you don't think Lionel would rather produce a old transformet? Sell, it and forget it! Of course they would. This is a issue with product safety and liability. It is what it is...

shawn posted:
H1000 posted:

GregR,

A couple years ago I bought my dad a new ZW-L thinking how much liked his old PW ZW. He had years before added a Z4000 along side of that ZW. It took a bit of getting used to but he adapted and accepted the Z4000. My thinking was to replace both the Z4000 and the ZW with a newer model that could do the job of both. 

After a month, the ZW-L got shelved and about two months later he sold it on a popular internet auction site.  He for the same reasons as you did not like how it ran his older PW trains. His opinion is that the PW ZW is the gold standard of how all transformers should operate any locomotive (albeit no BELL button). Apparently the Z4000 made the cut in his opinion and lesser transformers like the CW80 and the Z-controllers never did or will. He could pick up on how chopped waved transformers operated his trains and that just rubbed him the wrong way.

I eventually wound up getting my dad the PW ZW Volt / Amp meter add on an online auction to be used with his old ZW, which he likes a lot.

so, you don't think Lionel would rather produce a old transformet? Sell, it and forget it! Of course they would. This is a issue with product safety and liability. It is what it is...

Well why couldn't they build a larger version of the PW ZW to compete with modern Transformers? Other manufactures still make transformers with wound coils instead of electronics. I don't think it has anything to do with safety and everything to do with cost & features. It's more economical and feature friendly to build electronically controlled transformers vs a coil wound unit.

 

H1000

doug b posted:

Whatever you are buying, you should read the warranty first. If you do not like the terms, then do not buy it.

Doug

In Lionel's defense, they have gone beyond their technical obligations for warranty service. First, I am fairly certain that most ZW-L transformers were produced in one or two large production runs, probably more than 3 years ago. So, they appear to have quietly waived their 3-year limitation of coverage in recognition that this product remains cataloged for ongoing sales. The same may be said of the Legacy base and perhaps a few other items. Secondly, they sent me a Fedex shipping label to return a 30 pound item back to Lionel. I was not expecting that concession as the terms of the warranty state that it is the customer's responsibility to pay for return shipping. So, I am pleased with Lionel's response. My opinion of the transformer is a separate issue that has been well stated.

Ray Lombardo stated that many people are too easy on the dealers. This is a complex issue.

On the one hand, many dealers suffer greatly for Lionel's QC issues, taking on uncompensated repairs as a dealer, or under-compensated repair work as authorized service stations. They sometimes take it on the chin and get saddled with unfair expenses like return shipping, to fix and return Lionel products in the interest of providing good service and to retain customer patronage. The widespread nature of this dealer good will and behavior unfortunately prevents Lionel from grasping the scope, magnitude and cost of QC failures. Just imagine the impact if Lionel's entire dealer network began to return everything that arrived back in their stores in defective condition!

On the other hand, some dealers could do a much better job with communication and standing by the products they sell.  I received a terse, single line email from the seller which stated precisely, "I would suggest giving Lionel a call and see if they know a solution" . The email contained no salutation, and there was no name identifying the individual  who sent me the email. What message should a customer receive from an email like this? The message that I received was, "We don't care to address you by name, we want you to go away, and we wish remain anonymous by concealing our name". Perhaps my interpretation is incorrect. Perhaps they cannot repair these transformers. But they didn't care enough to explain. 

LaramieJoe posted:
Dmaxdeere87 posted:

This is why club layouts use z4000s and not the zwl,  they dont hold up. None of the zw remakes held up. The old zw which isn't that powerful keeps kicking though!! It's not any brands fault it's just electronic devices.  

And very easy to repair (I might add). 

Amen,brother!!  I have a good old 275W ZW that had new rollers years ago.  Lever outputs are set once and forgotten as I have super fast electronic breakers between ZW and TIU inputs.  So far no problems and had several derailment or objects on track and ZW just hums along, no fuss, no muss, no triacs/transistors/diodes to mess up those sine waves!  

To paraphrase: "Nothing comes between my ZW and track, except wires"

rrman posted:

To paraphrase: "Nothing comes between my ZW and track, except wires"

But you just said!!!       "I have super fast electronic breakers between ZW and TIU inputs."

I hear ya, the ZW may not be as big as the "monsters" they build today. But they sure are reliable and easy to repair.

H1000

H1000 posted:
 

 

Well why couldn't they build a larger version of the PW ZW to compete with modern Transformers? Other manufactures still make transformers with wound coils instead of electronics. I don't think it has anything to do with safety and everything to do with cost & features. It's more economical and feature friendly to build electronically controlled transformers vs a coil wound unit.

 

It took Lionel a long time to get UL approval of the ZW-L, and to please UL they had to take the amperage down a bit.

There are plenty of PW ZW's out there.   Why remake that, and have to compete with the secondary market?

BMT-Express posted:
H1000 posted:
 

 

Well why couldn't they build a larger version of the PW ZW to compete with modern Transformers? Other manufactures still make transformers with wound coils instead of electronics. I don't think it has anything to do with safety and everything to do with cost & features. It's more economical and feature friendly to build electronically controlled transformers vs a coil wound unit.

 

It took Lionel a long time to get UL approval of the ZW-L, and to please UL they had to take the amperage down a bit.

There are plenty of PW ZW's out there.   Why remake that, and have to compete with the secondary market?

When did the ZW-L get UL certified? According to UL the ZW-L is not UL listed: Lionel LLC UL Products

Yes, Plenty of ZW's available, but none that crank out 600+ watts of power (or have a bell button).

H1000

I vaguely recall that the ZW-L is approved by some voluntary accreditation agency and that agency wanted the power to be significantly less than the 720 (4 180 watt Powerhouses) watts that was originally planned if it was going to categorized as a hobby/toy device.  

romiller49 posted:

...and now ther are all junk. Go figure. 

Well, they will be soon. The electronic components all have a finite life waaaay shorter than the life expectancy of the cores in the original ZWs(everything around the core is replaceable/serviceable, even the core itself if that's the immediate failure can be gleaned from a parts donor).

Rob

EscapeRocks posted:
Dmaxdeere87 posted:

Zw-l hasn't even been out long enough to say it's great and lasts long lol, the z4000 been proven

Neither of you is wrong, based on your experiences.

I have both a Z4000 and a ZW-L.  Both are solid.   I have not experienced any issue with either.

I've had the Z 4000 for 7 years, and the ZW-L for 4 years.

I have the z4000 and is very happy with it.It always tells you there is a short.It runs all my trains be it mth.lionel.kline.I agree with ya on this.

the zw is etl listed

Both marks demonstrate that the product that bears it has met the minimum requirements of widely accepted product safety standards as determined through the independent testing of a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). And, as part of that testing regimen, the product manufacturer has agreed to periodic follow-up inspections to verify continued compliance. So, the only real difference between the marks is in the service, and services, of the testing laboratory behind them. It's here that ITS ETL SEMKO's clients enjoy the real differences between UL and ETL. ETL custom-tailored testing, quick turnarounds, and flexible work methods are literally changing the face of the industry by promoting an environment where the testing lab and product manufacturer work more collaboratively - bringing products to market more quickly, more smoothly, and more cost-effectively than ever before.

techman posted:

the zw is etl listed

Both marks demonstrate that the product that bears it has met the minimum requirements of widely accepted product safety standards as determined through the independent testing of a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). And, as part of that testing regimen, the product manufacturer has agreed to periodic follow-up inspections to verify continued compliance. So, the only real difference between the marks is in the service, and services, of the testing laboratory behind them. It's here that ITS ETL SEMKO's clients enjoy the real differences between UL and ETL. ETL custom-tailored testing, quick turnarounds, and flexible work methods are literally changing the face of the industry by promoting an environment where the testing lab and product manufacturer work more collaboratively - bringing products to market more quickly, more smoothly, and more cost-effectively than ever before.

At first I thought maybe you worked for ETL, but this just copy and pasted from from a web search, right?: http://www.crossbrothersinc.com/aboutetl.htm (about 3/4 way down that page).

The ZW-L was tested by ETL to meet the UL Standard 697. (I believe this is stamped on the bottom of the unit). Yes ETL is a NRTL and their testing is just as tough as UL. UL creates standards and tests (and approves) products to meet those standards and ETL tests products to meet criteria set forth by UL. ETL is a little more than just some vague voluntary accreditation agency.

While the ZW-L is not UL listed, I'm sure it would pass if they put it through the paces.

H1000

H1000 posted:
BMT-Express posted:
H1000 posted:
 

 

Well why couldn't they build a larger version of the PW ZW to compete with modern Transformers? Other manufactures still make transformers with wound coils instead of electronics. I don't think it has anything to do with safety and everything to do with cost & features. It's more economical and feature friendly to build electronically controlled transformers vs a coil wound unit.

 

It took Lionel a long time to get UL approval of the ZW-L, and to please UL they had to take the amperage down a bit.

There are plenty of PW ZW's out there.   Why remake that, and have to compete with the secondary market?

When did the ZW-L get UL certified? According to UL the ZW-L is not UL listed: Lionel LLC UL Products

Yes, Plenty of ZW's available, but none that crank out 600+ watts of power (or have a bell button).

you can have a your postwar ZW and your bell sound if you really need it, for about an extra $10 

bostonpete posted:
H1000 posted:
BMT-Express posted:
H1000 posted:
 

 

Well why couldn't they build a larger version of the PW ZW to compete with modern Transformers? Other manufactures still make transformers with wound coils instead of electronics. I don't think it has anything to do with safety and everything to do with cost & features. It's more economical and feature friendly to build electronically controlled transformers vs a coil wound unit.

 

It took Lionel a long time to get UL approval of the ZW-L, and to please UL they had to take the amperage down a bit.

There are plenty of PW ZW's out there.   Why remake that, and have to compete with the secondary market?

When did the ZW-L get UL certified? According to UL the ZW-L is not UL listed: Lionel LLC UL Products

Yes, Plenty of ZW's available, but none that crank out 600+ watts of power (or have a bell button).

you can have a your postwar ZW and your bell sound if you really need it, for about an extra $10 

Yep, that's what we did! Even added the volt / amp gauges that were offered many years ago. Now if there only a way to build in a powermaster...

H1000

H1000 posted:
bostonpete posted:
H1000 posted:
BMT-Express posted:
H1000 posted:
 

 

Well why couldn't they build a larger version of the PW ZW to compete with modern Transformers? Other manufactures still make transformers with wound coils instead of electronics. I don't think it has anything to do with safety and everything to do with cost & features. It's more economical and feature friendly to build electronically controlled transformers vs a coil wound unit.

 

It took Lionel a long time to get UL approval of the ZW-L, and to please UL they had to take the amperage down a bit.

There are plenty of PW ZW's out there.   Why remake that, and have to compete with the secondary market?

When did the ZW-L get UL certified? According to UL the ZW-L is not UL listed: Lionel LLC UL Products

Yes, Plenty of ZW's available, but none that crank out 600+ watts of power (or have a bell button).

you can have a your postwar ZW and your bell sound if you really need it, for about an extra $10 

Yep, that's what we did! Even added the volt / amp gauges that were offered many years ago. Now if there only a way to build in a powermaster...

you can' remake a  postwar zw. It will never pass  safety standards. 

H1000 posted:
bostonpete posted:
H1000 posted:
BMT-Express posted:
H1000 posted:
 

 

Well why couldn't they build a larger version of the PW ZW to compete with modern Transformers? Other manufactures still make transformers with wound coils instead of electronics. I don't think it has anything to do with safety and everything to do with cost & features. It's more economical and feature friendly to build electronically controlled transformers vs a coil wound unit.

 

It took Lionel a long time to get UL approval of the ZW-L, and to please UL they had to take the amperage down a bit.

There are plenty of PW ZW's out there.   Why remake that, and have to compete with the secondary market?

When did the ZW-L get UL certified? According to UL the ZW-L is not UL listed: Lionel LLC UL Products

Yes, Plenty of ZW's available, but none that crank out 600+ watts of power (or have a bell button).

you can have a your postwar ZW and your bell sound if you really need it, for about an extra $10 

Yep, that's what we did! Even added the volt / amp gauges that were offered many years ago. Now if there only a way to build in a powermaster...

You can buy a powermaster but know that if you do, it'll convert the pure sine wave to a chopped sine wave making it no better than a ZWL in terms of running PW items. 

Matt 

shawn posted:
H1000 posted:
bostonpete posted:
H1000 posted:
BMT-Express posted:
H1000 posted:
 

 

Well why couldn't they build a larger version of the PW ZW to compete with modern Transformers? Other manufactures still make transformers with wound coils instead of electronics. I don't think it has anything to do with safety and everything to do with cost & features. It's more economical and feature friendly to build electronically controlled transformers vs a coil wound unit.

 

It took Lionel a long time to get UL approval of the ZW-L, and to please UL they had to take the amperage down a bit.

There are plenty of PW ZW's out there.   Why remake that, and have to compete with the secondary market?

When did the ZW-L get UL certified? According to UL the ZW-L is not UL listed: Lionel LLC UL Products

Yes, Plenty of ZW's available, but none that crank out 600+ watts of power (or have a bell button).

you can have a your postwar ZW and your bell sound if you really need it, for about an extra $10 

Yep, that's what we did! Even added the volt / amp gauges that were offered many years ago. Now if there only a way to build in a powermaster...

you can' remake a  postwar zw. It will never pass  safety standards. 

I'd be curious to know why it wouldn't. I'm sure that the last design PW ZW-R wouldn't pass, but not because of the coil wound transformer. A modern version of the PW ZW would need a lot of other things that would still have to be addressed in the design of any new transformer in order to pass. Atlas & Williams both still sell a nice coil wound transformer, although not as big.

The whole idea is moot, by the time you build a 600+ watt version of the PW ZW, add all of the nifty feature the ZW-L has and build it to pass ETL or UL standards, You'll have a much heavier product, that would be just as or more complex than the ZW-L (mainly due to integrated powermasters & circuit protection). It would probably cost more too.

Electronic Transformers are cheaper to build, and easier to integrate features into... probable also easier to get an ETL or UL certification too.

H1000

Trainlover9943 posted:
H1000 posted:
bostonpete posted:
H1000 posted:
BMT-Express posted:
H1000 posted:
 

 

Well why couldn't they build a larger version of the PW ZW to compete with modern Transformers? Other manufactures still make transformers with wound coils instead of electronics. I don't think it has anything to do with safety and everything to do with cost & features. It's more economical and feature friendly to build electronically controlled transformers vs a coil wound unit.

 

It took Lionel a long time to get UL approval of the ZW-L, and to please UL they had to take the amperage down a bit.

There are plenty of PW ZW's out there.   Why remake that, and have to compete with the secondary market?

When did the ZW-L get UL certified? According to UL the ZW-L is not UL listed: Lionel LLC UL Products

Yes, Plenty of ZW's available, but none that crank out 600+ watts of power (or have a bell button).

you can have a your postwar ZW and your bell sound if you really need it, for about an extra $10 

Yep, that's what we did! Even added the volt / amp gauges that were offered many years ago. Now if there only a way to build in a powermaster...

You can buy a powermaster but know that if you do, it'll convert the pure sine wave to a chopped sine wave making it no better than a ZWL in terms of running PW items. 

Yep, chopped sine wave irritates my dad, that's why he sold his ZW-L and went back to the PW ZW & Z4000 combo he had before.

H1000

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