Lionel TW transformer questions

8 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March, 2006
  • From: Troy, IL
  • 157 posts
Lionel TW transformer questions
Posted by yallaen on Friday, March 17, 2006 7:50 AM
Well, it's not a ZW, but it was only $

I got my Lionel TW Tuesday...and my Lionel 675 steam engine w/ tender yesterday. Of course, I was excited to try it I put some track down on the floor..hooked up the transformer in a manner I thought was correct lol..and as I put the train down onto the tracks, spark city! I moved some of the wires around and FINALLY got it to work with the throttle lol...

So, with no manual, perhaps I can glean some info from the wise ones on here...

Here is what I have on the terminals:
* U * * Z * Z F
C * A I * E *
I____25V___ I

To explain: The * are the terminal lugs. Going from left to right
C, U, A, Unlabeled, D, E, F.
The Z is not actually says "14v" in each place where Z it placed, with a line connecting diagonally between the two offset terminals.

So, keeping in mind that I don't know anything about phasing that I"ve read...
1. Phasing changes depending on how the unit is plugged in. It's best to replace the plug with a polarized plug so it's always plugged in the correct way, right?
2. I bought this transformer to primarily be used for accessories, etc., since it was cheap. BUT, for the time being, it can be used as a source of power to tracks until I get settled and get a ZW. How do I wire this to track?
3. What are the accessories connected to?
4. When this becomes an accessory power output I connect them to the variable power and power up to 18v?

Thanks for tips and answers in advance!
  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Lake Worth FL
  • 4,014 posts
Posted by phillyreading on Friday, March 17, 2006 9:25 AM
Older Lionel transformers can be hard to figuire out, the best thing to have is an older
Lionel instruction manual that came with many of the post-war sets, in it is desribed most transformer voltage outputs and combinations. It has most of the post & pre war transformers listed, even the VW transformer(VW is NOT a typo error!) which I think is a smaller version of the ZW. The instruction manual I have even covers Majic Electrol, Lionel's first attempt at remote controlled trains, basically you needed a transformer like the KW or ZW to operate this feature.
Right now I can't find my old instruction manual as it is packed away from moving twice in the last two & a half years.
Lee F.
Interested in southest Pennsylvania railroads; Reading & Northern, Reading Company, Reading Lines, Philadelphia & Reading.
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 288,947 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 17, 2006 10:03 AM
TW Transformer:

Under the railpower hookup:
- the "A" binding post is the Common. (to outside rail).
- the "U" post is the Hot, variable voltage[7-18 volts]. (to center rail).
- "C" post is also 18 volts Hot, fixed voltage.
- "D" post is 14 volts Hot, fixed voltage.

When using the "B" post as Common:
-"U" is Hot variable voltage [0-11 volts].
-"A" is fixed voltage [7volts].
-"E" none.
-"F" is fixed voltage [14 volts].

I don't remember the transformer's wattage rating but typical of pw units it would be the input wattage not the net output, which is lower.
But unlike other pw units, the TW has an independent reduction circuit generating 14 volts fixed to power accessories which, [theoretically] will not draw current away from railpower.
When you only have one transformer on line, you don't need to worry about phasing. Only when you have two or more units with their Commons tied together, then you need to do a phase test..
  • Member since
    March, 2006
  • From: Troy, IL
  • 157 posts
Posted by yallaen on Friday, March 17, 2006 10:31 AM
The rating appears to be 175watts...
So, if I connect the a and f terminals, I should get 25v CONSTANT voltage?
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 288,947 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 17, 2006 10:34 AM
There seem to be two versions of the Lionel TW transformer. Try the link below, scroll down until you find links to both of them.

  • Member since
    December, 2004
  • From: Southwest of Houston. TX
  • 1,082 posts
Posted by jimhaleyscomet on Friday, March 17, 2006 10:57 AM
A polarized plug works to keep a transformer in phase.

Another option is to attach the plugs all to a power strip. If you have a polarized plug (newer) transformer then also attach it to the power strip and make sure all are in phase. Then you can just plug and unplug the one power strip. Then I write "G" on the side of the plug that faces the third "ground" plug on the strip (in case I have to remove a plug) for both the polarized and non polarized plugs.

Jim H
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 288,947 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 17, 2006 1:35 PM
  • Member since
    September, 2002
  • 548 posts
Posted by Chris F on Friday, March 17, 2006 10:35 PM
TW transformers were made from 1953 to 1960. Although rated at 175W, the power was split between two internal transformers. One supplied variable voltage for running trains, the other supplied fixed voltages for powering accessories. The advantage was that accessories didn't steal power from the train, which would have slowed it down. The continuous power rating of each transformer was 60W, about the same as a 1033 transformer.

TW's made in 1953 had a "B" terminal that pulled fixed 7V from the train transformer. TW's made in 1954 and later did not have a "B" terminal.

1. I recommend against a polarized plug - you may need to re-phase depending on how an outlet is wired and what other transformer you might be phasing with. Just put a mark on the plug (e.g., paint) indicating the Hot side (the one that plugs into the smaller of the two slots in the power strip). BTW, the power strip is a very good idea.

2. Leonard described track connections - U to center rail, A to outside rail. You don't have a B terminal, so that wiring doesn't apply.

3. Accessories are connected to -
C and A for fixed 18V (just C when connecting to a switch, which supplies its own neutral).
D and A for fixed 14V (just D when connected to an accessory that uses the outside rail as a neutral, e.g., a crossing gate).
E and F for fixed 14V.
F and A for fixed 25V (not very useful unless you're wiring 2-3 lights in series).

4. When A and U are used for accessories, use them for "cranky" ones - those that seem to require a different voltage every time you activate them.
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 288,947 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, March 18, 2006 10:19 AM


Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!


Get the Classic Toy Trains newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month

Search the Community