The Lionel KW transformer

The Lionel KW transformer

The Lionel KW transformer was the second largest transformer Lionel made in the postwar era. It delivered 190 watts of power and provided two handles to control two trains. Internally, the design is very similar to the ZW. If the ZW was Lionel’s Cadillac transformer, the KW was the Buick. I always thought Lionels were overrated until I ran a 675 locomotive with a KW.

There was a time when nobody made modern transformers the size of a KW or ZW. Now that they do, the ZW and especially the KW cost a lot less. I remember when a reconditioned KW cost $200. Today you can get one for under $100. An as-is KW with minor issues will cost half that. These days, the KW is a bargain.

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Wiring a Lionel LW transformer

Wiring a Lionel LW transformer

When it comes to wiring a Lionel LW transformer, there’s more to consider than just which posts to use. The size of the wires also matters. If you derail a train, 5.5 amps of power can run through the wire for 10-15 seconds before the circuit breaker kicks in. An LW has enough power to melt wire and make it smoke or even catch fire.

Proper wiring for the LW transformer is a bit of a safety issue. It’s not just about preventing voltage drop to keep your train running smoothly. A smooth running train is nice, but safety is a must.

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Atari 2600 power supply specs

Atari 2600 power supply specs

The Atari 2600 power supply wasn’t as durable as the rest of the Atari 2600, which is nearly bulletproof. By far the most common issue with the Atari 2600 is a dead AC adapter. Fortunately, a suitable Atari 2600 AC adapter isn’t hard to find, even today.

After you replace it with something new, or at least newer, a dead Atari console usually springs right back to life.

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Wiring a Lionel KW transformer

Wiring a Lionel KW transformer

When it comes to wiring a Lionel KW transformer, there’s more to consider than just which posts to use. The size of the wires also matters. If you derail a train 8 amps of power can run through the wire for 10-15 seconds before the circuit breaker kicks in. You don’t want the insulation to melt and catch fire.

Proper wiring for the KW transformer is a bit of a safety issue.

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Wiring a Lionel 1033 transformer

Wiring a Lionel 1033 transformer

When it comes to wiring a Lionel 1033 transformer or its brothers, the Lionel 1044 and 4090, there’s more to consider than just which posts to use. The size of the wires also matters. If you derail a train 4 amps of power can run through the wire for 10-15 seconds before the circuit breaker kicks in. Although this is less of an issue than with Lionel’s larger transformers, a 1033, 1044 or 4090 still has enough power to melt wire and make it smoke or even catch fire.

Proper wiring for the 1033 transformer is a bit of a safety issue. It’s not just about preventing voltage drop to keep your train running smoothly. A smooth running train is nice, but safety is a must.

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Wire a Lionel ZW transformer

Wire a Lionel ZW transformer

When it comes time to wire a Lionel ZW transformer, there’s more to think about than just which posts to use. The size of the wires also matters. If you derail a train 12 amps of power can run through the wire for 10-15 seconds before the circuit breaker kicks in. You don’t want the insulation to melt and catch fire.

Proper wiring for the ZW transformer is a bit of a safety issue.

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Lionel KW diode installation

Lionel KW diode installation

Lionel transformers use a selenium rectifier disc to produce a jolt of DC voltage to activate their train whistle. These discs degrade over time, so a decades-old transformer often produces a pretty anemic whistle–even one of the bigger transformers like the 190-watt Lionel KW. Replace the disc with a diode for a cost effective and reliable fix for that wimpy whistle. Here’s a step by step guide to a Lionel KW diode upgrade.

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The common post on the Lionel 1025 transformer

Lionel produced several 35- and 45-watt transformers through the years, including the 1010, 1025, 1015, and 1016. Lionel MPC produced a similar 4045 transformer in the 1970s. They’re small, but cheap when you can find them, and can be useful when you string them together with other transformers. The problem is the markings don’t tell you what you need to know in order to do that.

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A reverse lockout switch for Marx trains

The only thing I don’t like about Marx trains is that most of them don’t have a switch to lock the locomotive in one direction. Fortunately it’s not hard to add a reverse lockout switch for Marx.

It’s a cheap project–all you need is about a foot of wire, a toggle switch, some heat shrink tubing (1/4 inch or smaller) or electrical tape, and your soldering iron.

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