30 watts, will that even run a 4-4-2 starter engine? My first starter set had a 40 watt transformer and would run the 4-4-2 engine around the track for a few laps, and then it would start to slow down. Extended run time and the engine started balking.
Its a major drawback to Lionel sets. MTH has always had a decent transformer in their sets. Why cant Lionel overcome this problem?
K-line, in my opinion, Had the best with their 100-120 watt transformers in their better sets.
The toy train gods should mandate that 100 watts be the absolute minimum available in transformers. Whistle, bell, and reverse buttons should also be mandatory. Pure sine waves would be quite nice as well.
See the Scenic Jumijo Railroad in CTT and OGR magazines!
Can it be true that Lionel has done away with the CW(Can't Work)-80 watt transformer? All the negative posts about the CW-80 and all the defective ones at my local hobby shop makes me it was due to happen.
A nice 75 watt transformer with whistle would do well in starter sets.
From the instruction manual posted on the Lionel website:
Your PowerMax Transformer provides a total output of 1.8 amps. Also, available voltage depends on how much load is on the output. Generally, track voltage is 0-16 volts (AC). You may momentarily approach or exceed the 1.8 amp limit of the PowerMax Transformer when pulling illuminated cars, or fighting over grades with heavy loads. When you reach 1.8 amps, the green light on the Transformer will begin to flash. This indicates that the Transformer is in "fold-back mode." In fold-back mode, the Transformer is automatically reducing, or folding back, power. This gradual reduction in power provides interruption-free power while bringing the amperage back down to a safe level. If this condition lasts for more than 30 seconds, the transformer will shut off the power to the track and the green light will continue to flash. Move the throttle to the off position to reset the Transformer and return to normal operation.
I heartily agree with you Dr. John, that Lionel has yet to outdo the basic performance, versatility and reliability of the #1033 transformer for beginner to mid-size table top layouts.
But I am inclined to not dump on Lionel about this new transformer until we hear complaints similar to that for the CW-80. My understanding is that this PowerMax is included with the Target set and the NASCAR sets. It sounds to me like the transformer has enough power to do what it is intended to do with what comes with the set. The Lionel instructions do say it will operate a horn, whistle and also Railsounds. Even the basic cheap no-frills K-Line pre-Power Chief transformer ran the trains just fine and had enough power to run the locomotive and a couple of lighted cars, plus control the uncoupling track.
Granted, these small transfomers do not lend themselves to the beginning buyer growing into the hobby. It would be nice if Lionel's instructions said as much, but that might seem to negative. The following statement, also from the PowerMax instructions is certainly a little misleading, since there are no accessory posts, nor the power to run them:
Congratulations on your purchase of the Lionel PowerMax Transformer! This device combines a high output control unit and an internal power supply, providing your railroad with all the power you need for a small- to medium-sized layout.
I'm not prepared to dump of Lionel for making this move. I do feel the instruction should indicate that the growing modeler is going to need a larger transformer to power a layout. But I'm sure Lionel is trying to curb costs while maintaining some level of introductory quality. The Target exclusive set does seem to offer some bang for the buck.
But I've also always felt Lionel should put less effort and money into the high end and focus on making the lower end more affordable and of the highest quality possible. Lionel does no national advertising. The starter set is the business card for the future. It would be a wise move to inform the new buyer of the real truth that this new PowerMax transformer will NOT offer the power needed for even a small layout if there are any additional accessories or lights. It might be a good PR move of goodwill to even make available a discounted second transformer of this type available (or even the cataloged "Accessory Transformer") to the new customer from Lionel direct. Even that wouldn't power many lights or accessories, but at least it would power some. the PowerMax won't cut it on that level of performance.
I did however get a real charge out of the illustrations showing how to hook up the PowerMax to your track... 027 track!
Long live 027 track! Yes, there was an illustration for hooking up to FasTrack too, but you would think with the inclusion of FasTrack in the sets and all the hype, that the FasTrack instructions would have been given the main emphasis and shown first, not 027 track. Maybe 027 track will be back again in current train sets?
brianel, Agent 027
"Praise the Lord. I may not have everything I desire, but the Lord has come through for what I need."
Dr. John wrote: It seems that their focus is moving the long-term hobbyist toward TMCC rather than conventional control. I wish that were not the case. And price-wise, it is a huge jump from the cost of a new CW-80 to a new ZW. And few novices are aware of the availability of refurbished postwar transformers.
I believe the 30W transformer might work well for an inexpensive small starter set. 90% of the first time purchase people out there buy just one set and no accessories (think NASCAR fans and my first set 40 years ago). If a 30W transformer helps Lionel keep the price low I hope it works out. Actually, I have lot of little transformers! I like to be able to set them at different voltages and each can run switches or an accessory (or two) or perhaps a separate loop. Lionel may have been short sighted not going with a 50W if they could offer 50W without a fan (and extra cost). Or perhaps in a few years they plan on adding a "new" more powerful PowerMaxII 50W transformer. Since neither Thomas or any of their freight sets include lighted cars, the 30W should work fine.
I hope everyone turns their nose up at the PowerMax. Then I can scarf them up on ebay for cheap to run accessories!
I'm so sorry Dr. John. Other than the comment on the 1033 where I am really with you, the rest of what I said was from my own feelings and not referencing what you said at all.
I suppose I should have closed with mentioning how I agreed with you on the 1033, and then everything else would have seemed more separate. My apologies.
God bless TCA 05-58541 Benefactor Member of the NRA, Member of the American Legion, Boss Hog of Roseyville , KC&D Qualified
I strongly suspect that Chief Eagles is correct in his assessment that Wal*Mart and Target prompted the manufacture of the PowerMax transformer in order to meet certain pricing goals.
The fact is that the sole reason for my starting the thread was to alert potential buyers that there is a new transformer "out there" that looks almost identical to the widely recognized CW-80 but which actually is very different.
Some folks might well prefer the PowerMax to the CW-80; whereas others might think they were getting a CW-80 "on the cheap" and be disappointed. Clarification was all that was intended.
Thanks to all who have read the post and taken the time to respond. It has been spirited!
Thank you for starting this thread. I appreciate the head's up about the new transformer.