Lionel ZW Transformer / Repair?

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Lionel ZW Transformer / Repair?
Posted by KirkD on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 12:03 PM

Newbie alert -- first post:

Lionel Train Set No 1609 (early 1960s vintage).  Getting a train set out after many years of non-use.  Setting up a small oval, my Engine seems to be working with my original (small) transformer, but goes slow / like it's on slow speed even when on full speed setting on the transformer.

Using my old ZW transformer -- as I slide the throttle to more power the red light shines brighter, but engine does not move at all, tried a couple different channels with same result.;  

Thoughts on what could go wrong or recommendations on things to check or repair actions?  Also -- feel free to direct me to more appropriate forum if this is not the one to ask this type of question.

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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, November 21, 2019 9:36 AM

The red light is connected across the circuit breaker and should not light at all unless the circuit breaker is open.  Your circuit breaker (or its wiring) appears to have failed open.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by KirkD on Thursday, November 21, 2019 4:38 PM

Hi Bob, Thank much for your reply... I am new to Lionel train repairs, but have soldered electric / electronic parts before, if said circuit breaker is bad, do you know if there is a source of parts to replace it?

Is there a diagnosic procedure to test of the circuit breaker is bad.  I did measure voltage on the terminals prior to attempting to run the train.

- Kirk  

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Posted by Michael6268 on Thursday, November 21, 2019 6:59 PM

Disconnect everything from the ZW and try turning up the throttle.  If the red light comes on, that means you have a short circuit or the circuit breaker is stuck open as loinsoni said.  They were primitive in the day, and tend to fail now at their current age. The good news is they're inexpensive and if you're handy not hard to install. If you turn up the throttle and the red light doesn't come on, then something in your track or engine is causing the short. But it sounds like that's not the case if it worked with your other Transformer.

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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, November 21, 2019 7:30 PM

"Disconnect everything from the ZW and try turning up the throttle.  If the red light comes on, that means you have a short circuit or the circuit breaker is stuck open as loinsoni said."

No.  With no load on the transformer, the red light will not come on, whether or not the circuit breaker is open.

You can test whether the circuit breaker is the problem by jumpering around it.  If the transformer then works, you've found the problem.  But don't leave it that way; replace the circuit breaker.  If you can't get an exact replacement or don't mind not having one, you can replace it with a 15-ampere automatically-resetting automotive circuit breaker.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Banks on Thursday, November 21, 2019 7:56 PM

KirkD
Engine seems to be working with my original (small) transformer, but goes slow / like it's on slow speed even when on full speed setting on the transformer.

Could it be the engine is drawing to much current and needs a good clean and lube???

Banks, Proud member of the OTTS  TCA 12-67310

  

   

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Posted by Michael6268 on Thursday, November 21, 2019 8:08 PM

lionelsoni

"Disconnect everything from the ZW and try turning up the throttle.  If the red light comes on, that means you have a short circuit or the circuit breaker is stuck open as loinsoni said."

No.  With no load on the transformer, the red light will not come on, whether or not the circuit breaker is open.

You can test whether the circuit breaker is the problem by jumpering around it.  If the transformer then works, you've found the problem.  But don't leave it that way; replace the circuit breaker.  If you can't get an exact replacement or don't mind not having one, you can replace it with a 15-ampere automatically-resetting automotive circuit breaker.

 

 

Why does the breaker trip and light come on if you short the posts together if an internal short wont? 

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Posted by lionelsoni on Friday, November 22, 2019 5:59 AM

The red light will come on for a short circuit load, whether internal or external.  But, with everything disconnected from the transformer, the red light will not come on, even if the circuit breaker is open.  So disconnecting everything and observing that the red light is off tells you nothing useful about the state of the circuit breaker.

In any case, notice that he has tried more than one "channel", which I think rules out an internal short circuit.  And any short circuit would have caused the circuit breaker to cycle.  I'm sure he would have noticed and reported the red light's flashing on and off.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by KirkD on Friday, November 22, 2019 9:46 AM

Thanks for the comments -- I will start with a clean / lube of the engine -- it's definitely not running 'cleanly' -- that is, at full throttle runs slowly.  Note -- this is with the old / small / original transformer.

I'm 99% sure the red light did not come on with no load attached, but I'll double check that as well.

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Posted by BigAl 956 on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 10:51 AM

I'm with Banks and Mike. If the ZW powers up normal without the track or train connected I would examine them first before opening up and doing surgery in the ZW.

Are you connecting power properly? The center rail typically goes to A-D and the outer rail to U.

Try connecting just a few pieces of track to the transformer. Make sure you examine tracks carfully making espessially sure the center rail insulators are OK. See if you can crank power without a red light or strong vibration from the ZW. Then connect the locomotive. If the ZW starts shorting with the locomotive make sure it is lubed and properly moving. Too bad you don't have a known working engine you could test with. Is there a hobby shop or a train meet coming nearby you could bring both to to check out?

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Posted by lionelsoni on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 7:09 PM

What does "powers up normal" mean?

Bob Nelson

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Posted by BigAl 956 on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 9:52 AM

lionelsoni
What does "powers up normal" mean?

Toche, I mean plug it in and crank up the handles. The green light stays on, does not dim, no vibration strain, and the red circuit fault light does not come on.

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Posted by lionelsoni on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 10:57 AM

That's also how it would behave if the circuit breaker were open.  An open circuit at the terminals (from disconnecting all loads) prevents any current from flowing through the red lamp, even if the lamp is not shunted by a closed circuit breaker.  If the circuit breaker is stuck open, the red lamp will light, in series with the load, as soon as a load is connected and you try to supply voltage to it.

Bob Nelson

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