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Requesting help about a lionel Type C transformer

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Requesting help about a lionel Type C transformer
Posted by Toy Trains FTW on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 5:54 PM

hi everyone! I recently bought a lionel type C prewar transformer in a lot but i cant find anything about it in the 2016 Greenberg's guide to lionel trains. I know they dont include everything but in the section they seem to list AA BB as in Type A transformer and a type A motor, same for "B" and so one, but for type "C" it only lists the motor, could this mean the transformer is rare? Thanks for any info!

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Posted by Penny Trains on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 6:51 PM

Um, well...you bought a great collectable.  But you probably can't use it.  Sad

According to the "Standard Catalog of Lionel Trains: 1900-1942" by David Doyle, 2005 printing: "C TRANSFORMER  This 75-watt Multivolt transformer was designed to operate on 25- to 40-cyle current and was sold from 1922 through 1931.  It had stepped voltage output."  Standard 21st century house current is 60 cycles which is higher than the Type C's rating.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it's going to have to be a "shelf queen" unless you have 25 to 40 cycle current to operate it with.  Sad

Here's a list of prewar transformers to help you avoid making another bad purchase:

  1. Type A (1) 1921-31: 40w 60cycle
  2. Type A (2) 1931-37: 60w 60c
  3. Type B (1) 1916-17: 50w 60c
  4. Type B (2) 1917-21: 75w 60c
  5. Type B (3) 1921-31: 50w 60c
  6. Type B (4) 1932-38: 75w 60c
  7. Type C      1922-31: 75w 25-40c
  8. Type F       1931-37: 40w 25-40c
  9. Type H      1938-39: 75w 25-40c
  10. Type K (1) 1913-17: 150w 60c 29v
  11. Type K (2) 1917-21: 200w 60c 29v
  12. Type K (3) 1921-38: 150w 60c 29v Brass identification plates
  13. Type K (4) late:       150w 60c 29v Nickel identification plates
  14. Type L (1) 1913-16: 75w 60c
  15. Type L (2) 1933-38: 50w 60c
  16. Type N     1941-42: 50w 60c
  17. Type Q (1) 1914-15: 50w 60c
  18. Type Q (2) 1938-42, 46: 75w 60c
  19. Type R      1939-42: 100w 60c
  20. Type S (1) 1914-17: 50w 60c
  21. Type S (2) 1938-42, 47: 80w 60c
  22. Type T (1) 1914-17: 75w 60c 29v
  23. Type T (2) 1917-21: 150w 60c 29v
  24. Type T (3) 1921-22: 110w 60c 29v Brass plates
  25. Type T (4) 1922:     100w 60c 29v Brass plates
  26. Type T (5) 1922:     100w 60c 29v Nickel plates
  27. Type U      1932-33: 50w 60c ALLADIN also Ives type Y
  28. Type V 1938-42, 1946-47: 150w 60c no fixed voltage taps
  29. Type W     1933-42: 75w 60c
  30. Type WX    1933-42: 75w 25c
  31. Type Z 1938-42, 1946-47: 250w 60c no fixed voltage taps

For standard gauge the best choices are the T, K, V and Z because of their higher output voltage which is helpful when running "less than great condition" vintage equipment.  However notice that types V and Z have no fixed voltage taps, so while they have a lot of power to run the trains, you'll most likely need a secondary unit to run accessories.

Hope this helps!  It's a bummer, I know.  But we've all been there!  Wink

Becky

Trains, trains, wonderful trains.  The more you get, the more you toot!  Big Smile

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Posted by Toy Trains FTW on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 7:21 PM

Penny Trains

Um, well...you bought a great collectable.  But you probably can't use it.  Sad

According to the "Standard Catalog of Lionel Trains: 1900-1942" by David Doyle, 2005 printing: "C TRANSFORMER  This 75-watt Multivolt transformer was designed to operate on 25- to 40-cyle current and was sold from 1922 through 1931.  It had stepped voltage output."  Standard 21st century house current is 60 cycles which is higher than the Type C's rating.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it's going to have to be a "shelf queen" unless you have 25 to 40 cycle current to operate it with.  Sad

Here's a list of prewar transformers to help you avoid making another bad purchase:

  1. Type A (1) 1921-31: 40w 60cycle
  2. Type A (2) 1931-37: 60w 60c
  3. Type B (1) 1916-17: 50w 60c
  4. Type B (2) 1917-21: 75w 60c
  5. Type B (3) 1921-31: 50w 60c
  6. Type B (4) 1932-38: 75w 60c
  7. Type C      1922-31: 75w 25-40c
  8. Type F       1931-37: 40w 25-40c
  9. Type H      1938-39: 75w 25-40c
  10. Type K (1) 1913-17: 150w 60c 29v
  11. Type K (2) 1917-21: 200w 60c 29v
  12. Type K (3) 1921-38: 150w 60c 29v Brass identification plates
  13. Type K (4) late:       150w 60c 29v Nickel identification plates
  14. Type L (1) 1913-16: 75w 60c
  15. Type L (2) 1933-38: 50w 60c
  16. Type N     1941-42: 50w 60c
  17. Type Q (1) 1914-15: 50w 60c
  18. Type Q (2) 1938-42, 46: 75w 60c
  19. Type R      1939-42: 100w 60c
  20. Type S (1) 1914-17: 50w 60c
  21. Type S (2) 1938-42, 47: 80w 60c
  22. Type T (1) 1914-17: 75w 60c 29v
  23. Type T (2) 1917-21: 150w 60c 29v
  24. Type T (3) 1921-22: 110w 60c 29v Brass plates
  25. Type T (4) 1922:     100w 60c 29v Brass plates
  26. Type T (5) 1922:     100w 60c 29v Nickel plates
  27. Type U      1932-33: 50w 60c ALLADIN also Ives type Y
  28. Type V 1938-42, 1946-47: 150w 60c no fixed voltage taps
  29. Type W     1933-42: 75w 60c
  30. Type WX    1933-42: 75w 25c
  31. Type Z 1938-42, 1946-47: 250w 60c no fixed voltage taps

For standard gauge the best choices are the T, K, V and Z because of their higher output voltage which is helpful when running "less than great condition" vintage equipment.  However notice that types V and Z have no fixed voltage taps, so while they have a lot of power to run the trains, you'll most likely need a secondary unit to run accessories.

Hope this helps!  It's a bummer, I know.  But we've all been there!  Wink

Becky

 



Dang that stinks Sigh Thanks for the info Becky, I will definitly consult this thread for more info next time! Luckily it came with a type K! which i can use with my std gauge, my typt t does fine though. I also will soon have a type B for the ives o gauge set! anyways, If someone tried to plug this type C in would it be burned out? I am for sure not gonna try it but you know how ebay sellers are.  Thanks again for the info!

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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, November 17, 2016 8:06 AM

A transformer designed for a lower frequency should work just fine at 60 hertz.

Small transformers, like those for toy trains, are usually designed to go slightly into saturation, to make them a little smaller and cheaper.  Operating at over twice the design frequency may therefore result in cooler running, with a very clean sinusoidal voltage waveform.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by rlbarnard on Thursday, November 17, 2016 9:05 AM

Hi,

I concur with Lionelsoni. I have a type H transformer which I have used for years to power accessories, even though it was designed to operate at the lower frequencies mentioned.

Take care,

Dick

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Posted by Toy Trains FTW on Thursday, November 17, 2016 9:44 AM
Great Thanks Bob and Dick! I will probably use it for accessories at the most. I dont want to risk it lol. Also my friend that is an electrical engineer says that it doesnt really matter for toy trains. like you were saying Bob. Thanks again everyone!
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Posted by phillyreading on Thursday, November 17, 2016 2:52 PM

Becky,

That's quite a list of transformers but you forgot the VW from 1948 & 49. It is rated at 150 watts, similar to the ZW except for it's wattage. Also the ZW had 3 models; one 250 watt(48 & 49) & two 275 watt(50 to 56) ones, one ZW had the type R(57 to 66)on it.

Lee Fritz

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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, November 17, 2016 3:45 PM

Lee, Becky's list was of prewar transformers.

Becky, the V and Z each have four controllable output voltages, two of which were apparently meant for accessories.  However, except for their smaller knobs, they are equivalent to the big-knob controls.

TTFTW, using a transformer at a higher-than-intended frequency is a good thing, not just something you can get away with.  In fact, since the utilization voltage has risen over the past century (from 110 up to 120 volts), prewar 60-hertz transformers get more stress by being plugged into modern outlets than their designers expected and get hotter even with no load.  But using a 110-volt 25-hertz transformer at 120 volts and 60 hertz more than compensates for that increased voltage.  Your transformer is electrically better suited to running your trains than any prewar or postwar 60-hertz transformer.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Toy Trains FTW on Thursday, November 17, 2016 4:21 PM

lionelsoni

Lee, Becky's list was of prewar transformers.

Becky, the V and Z each have four controllable output voltages, two of which were apparently meant for accessories.  However, except for their smaller knobs, they are equivalent to the big-knob controls.

TTFTW, using a transformer at a higher-than-intended frequency is a good thing, not just something you can get away with.  In fact, since the utilization voltage has risen over the past century (from 110 up to 120 volts), prewar 60-hertz transformers get more stress by being plugged into modern outlets than their designers expected and get hotter even with no load.  But using a 110-volt 25-hertz transformer at 120 volts and 60 hertz more than compensates for that increased voltage.  Your transformer is electrically better suited to running your trains than any prewar or postwar 60-hertz transformer.

 



So Bob, are you telling me it would be a good thing to use it instead of a T or K or B? I am a n00b when it comes to electrical terminology so sorry if this is a dumb question. :\

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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, November 17, 2016 4:36 PM

Yes.  As long as it is in good condition and puts out the voltage and power you need, I would choose it over a 60-hertz transformer, especially over a 60-hertz prewar one.

I use a couple of Zs to power my layout.  But, to keep them from heating up on modern line voltage, I power them through a big isolation transformer with taps that lower the voltage even below the prewar level.  That would be quite expensive if I had had to buy the isolation transformer; but I rescued it from being thrown away.  You can get the same advantage for free!

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Toy Trains FTW on Thursday, November 17, 2016 4:41 PM

lionelsoni

Yes.  As long as it is in good condition and puts out the voltage and power you need, I would choose it over a 60-hertz transformer, especially over a 60-hertz prewar one.

I use a couple of Zs to power my layout.  But, to keep them from heating up on modern line voltage, I power them through a big isolation transformer with taps that lower the voltage even below the prewar level.  That would be quite expensive if I had had to buy the isolation transformer; but I rescued it from being thrown away.  You can get the same advantage for free!

 



lol nice! I would save any train item from the trash, given if i could find any. Once again this might be a dumb question but I can plug a 25 cycle transformer into a house plug that is 60 cycles and it would perform better and not burn out? Thanks again!

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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, November 17, 2016 5:03 PM

Yes.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Penny Trains on Thursday, November 17, 2016 5:59 PM

It doesn't effect the output voltage to the trains?

Trains, trains, wonderful trains.  The more you get, the more you toot!  Big Smile

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Posted by Toy Trains FTW on Thursday, November 17, 2016 6:00 PM

lol okay! thanks again! sorry for the non intellectual questions.

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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, November 17, 2016 6:51 PM

Becky, not as long as the frequency (60 hertz) is no lower than the transformer was designed for (25 hertz).  Notice that the transformer was rated for either 25 or 40 hertz (notwithstanding that the hertz had not yet been invented!).  Those were just the two most popular frequencies at that time that were less than 60.  The transformer will work at 25 or above.  For example, you could run it, or any postwar toy-train transformer, on the 400 hertz found in airplane electrical systems.

By the way, that 25 hertz was the frequency of the generators at Niagara Falls and was commonly found in New York.  It is still used for the electrified track on the East Coast.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by cwburfle on Friday, November 18, 2016 6:46 AM

I'll second the recommendation to use a "V" or a "Z".
Those transformers are very nicely built, and deliver variable voltage between 6 and 24 volts.
I'd add external circuit breakers to each power terminal that is in use. I like postwar #91 adjustable electromagnetic  circuit breakers. There are other solutions, including the prewar #91 electromagnetic cirucit breaker. I think I've seen the prewar ones in single range and dual range versions. They are not adjustable.
Those prewar transformers, with their metal cases, strike me as being a hazard.

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Posted by lionelsoni on Friday, November 18, 2016 7:57 AM

Or plug the transformer into a GFI outlet, or ground the case.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by phillyreading on Friday, November 18, 2016 9:52 AM

Bob N, thanks for clarifing that. Also nice to know about the older transformers able to work with today's voltage.

Lee

Interested in southest Pennsylvania railroads; Reading & Northern, Reading Company, Reading Lines, Philadelphia & Reading.
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Posted by Penny Trains on Friday, November 18, 2016 6:49 PM

I hang around here because I learn something every day!  Big Smile

Trains, trains, wonderful trains.  The more you get, the more you toot!  Big Smile

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Posted by ArizonaAndy on Friday, December 15, 2023 12:48 PM

Hi everyone,

Just read the post above regarding transformers.  Just unpacked my father's Lionel train which has not been run in 20 years.  I took it to a local train store and the engine & tender ran fine on the train store's track I am looking for help on how to wire the transformer (Type T 100 watts/110 volts/60 cycles) to the Whistle Controller #66 to the circuit breaker to the track.  The train is about 90 years old and in good shape.  Unfortunately, there are no directions on how to wire it.  I have my Lionel train set-up but do not think my transformer has the juice to move my father's train and his train cannot run on my track anyway.  Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Posted by pennytrains on Friday, December 15, 2023 5:20 PM

Welcome aboard!

The type T is a good unit for prewar trains.  I'd also recommend acquiring a number 95 rheostat to get a greater range of speed control.

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Friday, December 15, 2023 9:33 PM

ArizonaAndy
Unfortunately, there are no directions on how to wire it.



This is the quickest way to wire it up.

Rob

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