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ZW TrainMaster Controller & PowerHouse Transformer Set

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ZW TrainMaster Controller & PowerHouse Transformer Set
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, February 4, 2006 6:46 AM
I am trying to power a large fastrack layout (approximately 285 ft.) using a ZW Trainmaster Controller & 2 PowerHouse 180 Watt Transformers. I am also running TMCC with Cab-1 remotes. I have wired the fastrack as suggested by the booklet with the command base to the U or common pole on the D side of the ZW, a lead wire from the U pole to the outer rail of the fastrack layout, and 7 leads from the D pole on the ZW to the center rail at various parts of my layout. This seems to work fine if I'm using one or two TMCC Locos but when I add a third all three seem affected by the power consumption. I have no block sections on this layout with each end looping back. My question is (after reading the booklets enclosed with the ZW & Cab-1) how can I get the needed power to operate more than two trains effectively?
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Posted by Buckeye Riveter on Saturday, February 4, 2006 9:39 AM
Bob and Roy; WHERE ARE YOU?

NV, Roy just conducted a class for me on this very subject this week because, when I started running the big TMCC engines, hot box car, passenger cars, talking giraffe car, and who knows what else, the circuit breaker was tripping.. Let's see if I learned anything from his great explanation along with the information I gleaned from reading Neil Besougloff's book, Command Control for Toy Trains published by CTT.

1. The layout needs to be divided into electrical blocks, each with a separate 18 volt power supply and all in electrical phase, sharing a common return or ground through the outside rails of the track. (You've done that already.)

2. Plug the transformers into a single power strip. (You've probably done that, too.)

3. Use your average train length as a rule of thumb to size the block length.

4. Don't forget to make allowances for yards, double-headed trains, grades, and other power hungry features on your layout.

5. If you want to run your layout in conventional control and command control, you need to add PowerMasters or a TPCs. TPCs are recommended over the PowerMasters.

6. There is not limit to the number of blocks you can have, although you can only plug just so many transformers into a single electrical outlet until you burn down the house. (Just kidding, you would normally just trip the circuit breakers continually. I could see it now, hit the horn on the SD-40 and all the lights go out in your house. [:D] )

7. If your layout grows that big, call an electrician to put in a special train circuit.

And if I have said anything incorrectly, I'm sure someone will correct it. [:D][:D] Also, and this is where I hope Roy or Bob shows up, there is a special circuit breaker/surge protector they will recommend using with any command layout.

Celebrating 18 years on the CTT Forum. Smile, Wink & Grin

Buckeye Riveter......... OTTS Charter Member, a Roseyville Raider and a member of the CTT Forum since 2004..

Jelloway Creek, OH - ELV 1,100 - Home of the Baltimore, Ohio & Wabash RR

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Posted by Birds on Saturday, February 4, 2006 10:38 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by Buckeye Riveter
1. The layout needs to be divided into electrical blocks, each with a separate 18 volt power supply and all in electrical phase, sharing a common return or ground through the outside rails of the track. (You've done that already.)


From this description it sounds like one needs to go with multiple small transformers rather than one or two large ones being home-run (star wired) to the various blocks.

Are there small transformers that have a pure sine wave?

Birds
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Posted by lionelsoni on Saturday, February 4, 2006 11:16 AM
Sorry, I'm afraid I have no interest nor experience with TMCC nor modern "transformers", etc.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, February 4, 2006 2:14 PM
Buckeye,
I appreciate this information. I was hoping to get by without creating isolated blocks. But when I break up some of the leads by putting some on A and D and powering up the track on both poles I get a tripped breaker on one of the powermasters. I'll try the block isolation.
Thanks,
Noel
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Posted by Buckeye Riveter on Saturday, February 4, 2006 2:41 PM
Noel, glad it helped. If you have never seen the OGR videos on the TMCC, it is worth viewing.

I didn't want to create blocks either, but after Roy's explanation, it is better and safer than putting so much juice to the track.

Celebrating 18 years on the CTT Forum. Smile, Wink & Grin

Buckeye Riveter......... OTTS Charter Member, a Roseyville Raider and a member of the CTT Forum since 2004..

Jelloway Creek, OH - ELV 1,100 - Home of the Baltimore, Ohio & Wabash RR

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Posted by Chris F on Saturday, February 4, 2006 9:35 PM
Noel, I admit I'm a little confused (not uncommon!).

What locomotives are you running? Single or dual motor? DC or AC motor(s)? Although you've got 2 180W PoHo's, only one is supplying track power (thru D). That's about 10A current available, or an average of 3.3A per loco. I would think 180W would be enough unless, like Buckeye indicated, you're pulling a lot of power for passenger car lights, etc.

You indicated you have run 7 hot leads to various points on your 285 ft. layout, but didn't mention if you also have run multiple common leads. Also, you didn't indicate what wire gauge you used (14 gauge would be a mininum). An inadequate number of power jumpers and too small wire gauge will increase resistance, which generates heat, which means less power to run locomotives. Have you measured the voltage drop at various points?

Buckeye, I may need an education, too, 'cause I don't know why Noel couldn't use a TPC 400 to supply more power instead of having to create blocks.
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Posted by Buckeye Riveter on Saturday, February 4, 2006 9:58 PM
Chris,
Take a look at this post from last week.

http://www.trains.com/community/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=56793





Celebrating 18 years on the CTT Forum. Smile, Wink & Grin

Buckeye Riveter......... OTTS Charter Member, a Roseyville Raider and a member of the CTT Forum since 2004..

Jelloway Creek, OH - ELV 1,100 - Home of the Baltimore, Ohio & Wabash RR

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Posted by Chris F on Sunday, February 5, 2006 11:45 AM
Buckeye, thanks for the link. I agree that block wiring to limit current to 10A would be safer.

That topic inspired me to download the TPC manual. It specifies a minimum wire gauge of 14, maximum current for a TPC 300 of 15A, and maximum current for a TPC 400 of 20A. I suspect 14 gauge wire wouldn't be large enough for Noel's layout, and that's where electrical expertise would be really important.

Just for grins, here's a link to the instructions for Lionel's 5D tester:
http://pictures.olsenstoy.com/searchcd31.htm?itm=1072
If you scroll down to the tables, you'll see the specs for testing the circuit breakers on Postwar transformers. Holy amps, Wattman, look at the time!!!
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Posted by lionelsoni on Sunday, February 5, 2006 12:00 PM
I wouldn't use less than AWG12 if the source can deliver 20 amperes before tripping the breaker or blowing the fuse.

Noel said 285 feet. If that is actually how far the track is from the source, he needs some serious feeders to keep the voltage drop reasonable. However, I imagine that that number is something like the track length and that there are opportunities to feed the track when it comes close to the source.

AWG14 has about 60 percent more resistance than AWG12 (about 2.5 ohms per 1000 feet, versus 1.6). Often neglected are the facts that the resistance of the feeder is doubled because there are two wires in series, that, on the other hand, the resistance of the outside rails is halved because there are two of them, or reduced even further if nearby tracks are tied together, and that the worst-case resistance of a track loop is halved because it is fed from both ends.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, February 5, 2006 6:58 PM
I tried blocking my layout into 4 separated blocks except for the outer common rails. Each time a TMCC Engine crosses a block one of the two powermaster's circuit breaker would trip. So I went back to one single block using 16 ga wire and 9 equally spaced leads. I attached 4 leads to post A and 5 leads to post D with 1 lead from the command base to the common or U post on the D side of the ZW and then to the outer rail. With control handles A and D to full, I power up the track using the Cab-1 remote. I only power up track 1. This seems to enough power to run 6 passenger cars, 4 lighted cabooses, 2 Lionel dual motored steam locos (N&W Class A & CRR Challenger), 1 dual motored Atlas SW-9 Switcher, and a single motor Virginian Rectifier. Thanks for all the information.
Noel
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Posted by wrmcclellan on Sunday, February 5, 2006 10:30 PM
The two locos are probably pulling no more than 1.5 to 2 amps each. Let's call it 3 amps.

Six (6) lighted passenger cars can be pulling about .15 to .2 amps per bulb. Assuming 2 lamps per car and .15 amps, you have .3 amps per car times 4 for 1.2 amps.

Four (4) lighted cabooses with one lamp each add another 0.6 amps.

Add the Atlas switcher (1.5 amps) and the Virginian (pullmor motor? for 2-3 amps.

So you are running about 7 amps. Add much more and the breaker will trip.

Regarding the tripping of the breaker when you tried blocks...

How old are your Powerhouses? There were some built with reversed internal connections, so there would be a phasing problem as you possibly experienced when the train crossed the initial blocks you set up. Lionel offered a reversing plug for those units. I am assuming you have the PHs plugged into the same power strip and that there have been no previous modifictions of the 110v plugs on the PHs.

From Lionel's web site: http://www.lionel.com/CentralStation/Findex.cfm

"2. How can I tell if my 180W PowerHouse is out-of-phase?
There is a date code heat-stamped into the bottom of the case near the plug of the 180W Powerhouse, at the time of manufacture. Any 180W Powerhouse with a date code of 2000 48 or lower is out-of-phase with other transformers.
3. What will Lionel do to correct my out-of-phase 180W PowerHouse?
Lionel will provide a Phase Adapter plug, which will attach between the Powerhouse and ZW controller to correct the out-of-phase condition. "

Let us know if you would like to try to work on this further.

Regards,
Roy

Regards, Roy

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, February 6, 2006 5:28 AM
Roy,
Yes, I am using a grounded power surge proctector strip. The dates engraved on the bottom of the 180w powermaster transformers are 200426 and 200046. Could the latter be the problem (200046) ? They both were packaged with the ZW set.
Noel
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Posted by wrmcclellan on Monday, February 6, 2006 9:37 AM
nv,

Your PHs should be OK. The ones identified by Lionel are 2000 vintage (and earlier) and yours are 2004. The code means the year of manufacture followed by the week in the year of manufacture. Your PHs were manufactured in weeks 26 and 46 in year 2004.

Using the same power strip is also correct, so no apparent issue there.

When you were using the two Phs to power two blocks that the trains traversed, were they set to the exact same voltage to the track?

Regards,
Roy

Regards, Roy

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Monday, February 6, 2006 4:12 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by nvcollins

Roy,
Yes, I am using a grounded power surge proctector strip. The dates engraved on the bottom of the 180w powermaster transformers are 200426 and 200046. Could the latter be the problem (200046) ? They both were packaged with the ZW set.
Noel


That looks like the problem! Did you buy this set from a dealer/shop? It looks like the latter unit is year 2000 production falling into the faulty range, the former is a year 2004 production unit. It would be highly unlikely that the factory would package two units with dates over 3.5 years apart.

You should get a big spark & a Powerhouse breaker tripping when traversing blocks powered by out-of-phase bricks.

Rob

Rob

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Posted by wrmcclellan on Monday, February 6, 2006 7:41 PM
Rob,

Good catch!

With my [censored] bifocals, I did not catch that the second date as 2000 (vs 2004). The 200046 looked like 2004 to me.

Noel - It is probably too late to get a return for your 2000 vintage PH which should not have been packaged with a 2004 vintage ZW. You should be able to get the polarity reversing plug from Lionel.

I think we can prove this issue with the use of a common 3 prong plug (with ground) to 2-prong plug adapter with wire ground lead. This will allow you to reverse the 110 vac plug in the power strip.

Regards,
Roy

Regards, Roy

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 7, 2006 12:43 PM
Roy,
That's OK, I wear bifocals also. Is there a way of rewiring the transformer, by reversing the output leads inside the transformer housing?
Noel
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Posted by wrmcclellan on Tuesday, February 7, 2006 4:48 PM
Yes if you are so willing.

Regards, Roy

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 7, 2006 6:22 PM
Finally got it working by rewiring the output leads on the transformer (2000 46). Now my trains cross each block without tripping a circuit breaker and TMCC and conventional engines behave as they are meant to.
Noel
P.S. Thanks to all who helped with their input on this frustrating matter.
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Posted by wrmcclellan on Tuesday, February 7, 2006 6:38 PM
Noel,

That is great news. Glad it worked.

Enjoy your layout!

Regards,
Roy

Regards, Roy

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Tuesday, February 7, 2006 8:59 PM
Noel,

I'm glad that fixes the problem.

You may want to check one other thing, though... I read long ago that Lionel may have wired the faulty PowerHouses wrong on the primary side, with the neutral(wide spade side of plug) switched instead of the hot(narrow), or if it's right at the switch, then the connections to the primary side windings after the switch are backwards. Their fix, of course, was the adaptor on the secondary side to switch the polarity, which gives the impression of a full fix, although it's not, really.

Did you open up your unit to make the repair?

If so, you may want to go back in and make (2) changes - one on the secondary & one on the primary side. Either way, try to mark the PowerHouse somehow so that any subsequent owner/user will know that the change has been made.

I guess it would be best to have a known good PowerHouse opened up to compare side by side to make the right fix.

Rob

Rob

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, February 8, 2006 6:10 AM
Rob,
Thanks for for the insight. I'll check into this. At this point, I plan to purchase 2 more 180 w powerhouses for layout expansion. When finished I hope to have over 400 feet of main line rail with about the same amount for sidings and yards.
Noel

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