Someone asked me recently about the Lionel CW-80 and how it compares vs older transformers. That’s a fair question, and one that tends to stir up a lot of emotions on train forums. So I’ll try to present the pros and cons in a fair manner.
Micro Center sells a pair of $5 USB-powered speakers. You’re either going to read the next sentence or you aren’t.
Still with me? Great. Let’s talk about them.
When using vintage Lionel transformers, it’s important to make sure the power cord isn’t broken or frayed to avoid the risk of electric shock or starting a fire. If yours is, here’s how to replace a Lionel transformer power cord.
Replacing a power cord safely is a lot easier than most people make it sound. It’s possible to do the job safely with simple tools and a few dollars’ worth of parts from the nearest hardware store.
In spite of what a certain O gauge magazine tells you, vintage toy train transformers aren’t inherently unsafe to use. Age can take their toll on them, so you want to give them a good safety inspection, but as long as they pass the safety inspection, they can give you a long, productive service life. Here’s how to check a train transformer for safety.
All of my train transformers are at least 50 years old, and I expect my sons to inherit them in workable condition. Read more
We have a house with an above range microwave, but no nearby outlet to plug it into. The previous owners simply ran an extension cord. While I’m not 100% positive this is illegal to do in my locality, the safety is questionable and it certainly goes against the manufacturer’s recommendations. My home inspector wanted me to install an outlet. Here’s how to install an outlet for an above range microwave.
Better yet, I did it over the drywall without tearing into any walls, and spending less than $20.
As I was getting a property ready for inspection, I had to take care of some electrical issues. All of them were trivial, except one. In the end, I had one last dead electrical outlet to figure out.
All of the advice I found online said to call a professional. All of it. Here’s the exception, and here’s how I found it.
Frequently the trucks (the wheel/coupler assembly that sits under train cars) come unattached. Lionel trains from the 1970s and first half of the 1980s are especially prone to this, though other makes of trains aren’t immune either. And sometimes you just want to change the trucks–some Lionel and Marx O27 cars are just the right size for American Flyer S scale, for example, only the trucks are the wrong gauge.
It’s tempting to try to just re-attach them with a nut and bolt, but as the train runs in circles around the track, the nut loosens and eventually works its way out.
The key is all in the type of nut you use.
With two young kids, we find ourselves fumbling around in the kitchen at night more than just occasionally. At some point, we turned to flipping the microwave’s night light on.Which was fine, except I found that one of its settings uses 30 watts, the other 60, and more often than not, that light stays lit 24/7. That’s more power than I want to leave on full time. LED night lights solve that problem neatly. Read more
I got a new book recently about saving energy. I’ve read several of those, but this one had two tips I’ve never seen anywhere else: caulking baseboards and putting child safety covers on electrical outlets.
It didn’t explain caulking the baseboards, but I will. Frequently there’s a gap in the wallboard where it would normally meet the floor. Maybe it’s laziness—it’ll be covered by the baseboard, after all—but that gap is also a handy place to do after-the-fact wiring, reducing the need to cut into walls and then patch and repaint. The gap makes the area prone to drafts, however. So caulking where the baseboard meets the wall, and where it meets the floor if it’s not over carpet, makes rooms less prone to drafts.
The child safety outlets make for another interesting trick. I’ve talked before about foam electrical outlet inserts and their companion for light switches. And I’ve wondered about putting a child safety plug in. But recently I bought child-resistant outlet covers, after seeing them on This Old House. They come in varieties that twist or slide. I like the sliding ones better, both from an insulating and usability standpoint. They’re convenient because you can just slide the cover out of place, rather than having to remove an insert. And these covers do two things: They put more material between you and the gap in the wall, and they cover the outlet plugs themselves, eliminating that last little source of drafts. And when you have small children like I do, they’re a necessity anyway.
I do insulate interior walls as well as those that face the outside. I didn’t used to bother. But this book mentioned that gaps in interior walls can cause them to act like chimneys, drawing heat out of the room. So I’ve changed my ways.
Both of these are inexpensive upgrades that don’t take long to accomplish. When you buy the switch covers in bulk, it gets even cheaper.
I get ridiculed sometimes for talking about saving energy so much, but think about it. Energy isn’t getting any cheaper. My local utilities ask for rate increases just as frequently as the law allows them to, and more often than not, the state grants an increase. Not always as much as they ask for, but something.
More energy saving ideas
I’ve done a number of other things to help me save energy over the years. Most are pretty inexpensive. I installed thermal blinds and thermal curtains. Then I insulated my hot water pipes. And of course I use LED light bulbs.
My electric usage dropped 19 percent in 2011, so these things work.