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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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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Repair a Marx 1209 transformer

Repair a Marx 1209 transformer

Want to repair a Marx 1209 transformer? There are two schools of thought. One is that small, sub-75 watt transformers aren’t worth fixing because they are so cheap. The other is that since they are so cheap, you have nothing to lose by trying.

Marx didn’t design its transformers to be fixed, but the design is extremely simple. The hardest part really is getting the case apart and then getting it back together. If Marx had designed them to be serviced, like its competitors did, they would have cost more, so we wouldn’t have as many Marx trains to enjoy today. So it’s easy enough to forgive Marx for this.

Let’s dive in.

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How to install American Flyer track locks

How to install American Flyer track locks

To held tracks hold together without nailing them down permanently, AC Gilbert marketed its #694 track locks. Sometimes people also call these track clips. The locks are u-shaped pieces of tin that came in a brown envelope with instructions on the front. If you’ve lost the instructions, or bought the clips secondhand and never got them, here’s how to install American Flyer track locks.

These track locks are indispensable for setting up a layout on the floor.

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Fix a Marx 999 that derails a lot

Marx’s most popular locomotive might be the 999, because it can pull anything Marx made–6-inch tin, 7-inch tin, 3/16-scale tin, 4-wheel plastic, and 8-wheel plastic–without looking out of place. It really only has one problem: The front trucks on many 999s are prone to derailments.

Counterintuitively, the fix for a 999 is the opposite of how you fix the same problem on many other O gauge electric trains.

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