Lionel CW-40

Want to post a reply to this topic?
Login or register for an acount to join our online community today!

Lionel CW-40

  • I'm not familiar with this transformer however I'm looking for somthing to run a single line with bell/whistle capabilities. Is this a good choice??

    Replies to this thread are ordered from "oldest to newest".   To reverse this order, click here.
    To learn about more about sorting options, visit our FAQ page.
  • Do You mean the Lionel CW 80 ?

    When I got back into the hobby a few years ago I got a CW-80.  but as I started to build my layout I realized that it was not enough for my needs.  I picked up a Post War ZW 275 watts last year for a fair price and am very happy with it.  The older transformers do not have a bell button, but there might be an add on out there in the market.   I now use the CW-80 for testing stuff but not as a part of my layout control.

    There have been lots of discussion about the CW-80,  some fellows have had not very favorable review of the CW-80.  For a small layout,  like an oval of track,  with limited accessories it might be OK.   But if you plan to expand in the future you might look for an older post war transformer.  There are lots to be had out there, for a fair price and they have worked well for a long time.  See if you can find a Post War 1033, its 90 watts and has a whistle control, but no bell.  A post war TW is 175 watts.

    Check out this web site

    Look at the Track + Transformers link


  • Lionel includes a basic 40W transformer with some of its R-T-R starter sets.  It looks like a CW-80, but with less power.  We have one that came with my son's first set and it works very well running a simple train set up (one loco and a couple of lighted/operating cars) on a simple oval of track   It has bell, whistle, and direction buttons, and it did not have any of the problems some of the early CW-80s had.  Since we have increased the size of our layout we use it to power lighted buildings now.

    You should be able to find over very cheap, even new, and it should meet your basic needs.


  • Thanks for the responses. Couln't find any specs on the CW40 but saw that it came w/ RTR sets. I actually have 3 mains, two of which are working off a an old 190W  KW that also handles the accessories. In addition, I have a simple 6' oval which I run with a tiny transformer that came with a set in the early 90s with no whistle capabilities. Just want to replace that one so I can have whistle/bell on that line without having a bunch of sound buttons.

  • As long as you're not running any lighted passenger cars you should be good. What kind of locomotive are you planning on running?
  • If you are using an older postwar transformer, like the 275 watt ZW or the 190 watt KW, you can add a Lionel sound activation button, part # 6-5906, and wire it in reverse to get the bell feature.

    The CW-40 would not have enough power for my layout. The newer CW-80 will work with most brands of engines, except for MTH with PS-2 or PS-3.

    Lee F.

    Interested in southest Pennsylvania railroads; Reading & Northern, Reading Company, Reading Lines, Philadelphia & Reading.
  • What was the wattage of those little black, blue, or red transformers that came with the Lionel starter sets back in the Postwar period ?

    Bill T.

  • I believe those little red, blue, and black transformers were 25 or 30 watts.  My 40W starter transformer has run locomotives from two different eras and had no problem running a locomotive with a bell and whistle while it was pulling five lighted passenger cars.  Just keep in mind the loop of track was a basic 40" x 60" oval.


  • Also keep in mind that the length of the track has very little to do with the power needed from the transformer and is completely unrelated to the maximum current that the transformer can supply, that is, its circuit-breaker rating.  What is important for long track, particularly track with inadequate joints or feeders, is high transformer voltage, to compensate for voltage loss in the track and wiring.  I think that the incorrect idea that a large layout needs transformers of a proportional size comes from the fact that high-powered transformers, like the Z and ZW, tend also to be high-voltage transformers--24 and 21 volts respectively, compared to the 16 volts of the otherwise excellent 1033 for example.

    Bob Nelson

  • Bob,

    Thanks for the input.  For my own clarification: Since the length of the track is a small factor, is it safe to presume I could use the 40W transformer to run one basic train (as mentioned above) on an oval of track that is 120" x 180" or larger as long as properly gauged feeders are used?



  • Yes.  In fact, with a loop that size, you have a good chance of not needing any extra feeders if you have soldered or other high-quality track joints and no block gaps in the loop.  Having a loop that is complete electrically is a big advantage, since the distance from the transformer to the farthest point is only half the total track length and the electrical resistance is halved because there are two paths from the transformer to that point, for an overall improvement of a factor of four over a non-looped track.

    Bob Nelson