Lionel O gauge and power

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  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Lionel O gauge and power
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, March 31, 2002 10:13 PM
We started with a New York Flyer set, which came with the Standard Controller and a 40w/3a tranformer. We have since added a number of cars to our set up, including some of the lighted passenger cars. Unfortunately, the 40w transformer does not seem to be able to keep up with our expanding train.

We'd like your thoughts on some of the options we've come up with. One would be to repair an old ZW (from the mid-1960s, passed down in our family). Another would be to purchase a new controller/80w/5a transformer that would support RailSounds.

But: 1) will the older ZW support RailSounds on our new trains? 2) how far will the 80w tranformer take us? 3) since purchasing a new ZW is not an option for us right now, is there any other solution we should consider?

Thanks for your help.
  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: US
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Posted by Algonquin on Tuesday, April 2, 2002 12:33 PM

There is a good article on this site called "Power Trip" by Terry Thompson, which covers upgrading toy train transformers. This article should answer most of your questions. Just search on the words "Power Trip".

Relative to question 1: The old ZWs will work fine for RailSounds. I use two old ZWs on my permanent layout. You will need to buy a railsounds button (just a couple dollars) to support the bell ringing function. The whistle/horn will function directly off the old ZWs whistle button.

See Terry's article for the answer for question 2.

Relative to question 3: If your old ZW does not show signs of extensive water damage, it may only require minor maintenance to restore it to a safe condition. Normally, a new powwer cord, whistle rectifiers and internal rollers are all that is needed to be replaced. You might want to bring it to a Lionel Service Station (you can locate one with the dealer locater on the Lionel website, "") for a repair estimate. It may only require $45-75 to inspect and restore your ZW. This would be much less than the $275-350 for a reconditioned or new ZW.


Tim Pignatari

A penny saved is a penny earned. But every once in a while it is good to treat yourself to a gum ball.

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, April 2, 2002 6:26 PM
Thanks, Tim. I found the article, and appreciate your taking the time to respond. I'm encouraged to looking into repairing the ZW.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, April 16, 2002 7:28 PM
I would like to suggest replacing that old ZW, Bring it to a hobby dealer, offer it to him for 250.00, (since it will be reconditioned and sold at a handsome profit) I don't believe that you could have a safe reconditioning done on that piece for 45 dollars. May I suggest no less than 300 watts, and perhaps holding out for MTH to release the new DCS system, compatable with all manufacturers locos. Best of luck, and enjoy! Slick

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