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ZW-Old vs. New

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ZW-Old vs. New
Posted by EIS2 on Monday, April 9, 2007 11:43 PM

I have a new ZW with the 180W bricks.  It works fine if I use either DCS or TMCC to control the voltage to the tracks for my conventional trains.  However, it does not work very well if I use the throttles to control the track voltage because very small changes in throttle position produces very large changes in train speed.  The problem is that the ZW does not begin to ramp up voltage until about throttle position 12-14.  Therefore, the throttle handle is useless between positions 0-12.

I am thinking about getting a post-war ZW combined with circuit breakers to control my conventional engines.  What throttle position (0-20) provides sufficient voltage  (5 volts) to start a train moving on the postwar ZW?

Thank You...

Earl

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Posted by Fred Bear on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 2:51 AM
I have 2 post war ZW's and they both move the 1666's that I run at about 5-7 volts. They seem as if the handle positions are pretty sensitive all the way through their range. I did put new rollers on all four handles on both units however, not sure if that made a big difference, but I'm guessing it might. Jake
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Posted by bfskinner on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6:08 AM

Earl,

My understanding, along with experience and observation of the internal mechanism mechanism of the postwar ZW's, is that the secondary coil is "tapped" by the rollers at somewhere around 6 volts minimum -- maybe as high as 8 volts. That is, when throttling back, the wipers roll right off the coil at no less than 6 volts and park on an insulating piece. Therefore there is no output at all between zero and 6 volts.

Thus, when throttling up, the output goes from zero to 6 volts (maybe even as much as 8 depending on a given example) which tends to jump-start some modern locomotives with light loads. It is not that much of a problem with pre- or postwar locos, which needed higher voltages than many of the modern ones do.

That said, the old ZW's seem to produce a gradual and relatively linear output between 6 and 20 volts which gives reasonable throttle control, but nothing like the "two hundred or more" steps I see advertised with some modern control systems.

Some folks prefer the old 1033 transformers for "sensitive" locomotives becaise it will throttle smoothly between zero and 11 volts -- if you use the correct taps; but to get the full 16 volts out of a 1033 you lose the low speed control because the range shifts to about 6 to 16.

Most everyone laughed (until recently, at least) but in fact the lately revised CW-80 will give smooth throttle control from zero to 16 or even 18 volts, depending on whether you use lionelsoni's voltage conversion chart, but the total power available is comparable to a 1033 rather than an old ZW. (You can "over-drive" a 1033 a bit, particularly if the thermal circuit breaker is stuck, but the "fold-back circuit" in the CW-80 will not permit such abuse.) On the other hand, the CW-80 has a built-in lag between the movement of the throttle handle and the change in voltage at the track. Some folks find this annoying and not conducive to fine throttle control.

These remarks are applicable to conventional operation only. Hope they help.

bf
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Posted by chuck on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6:27 AM
Did you calibrate the new ZW?
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Posted by phillyreading on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:28 AM

I have a post war ZW and like the output levels very much. Works great with everything that I have. 

From every thing that I have read about the new ZW I would not give you a $5.00 bill for a truck load of new ZW's. Also hate the fact that you have to add separate power units to a transformer. Have tried a new ZW at a train show here in south Florida and the new ZW is not for me, totally differant than the PW model.

Chuck, are you an audiophile? as you mentioned about calibrating a ZW.

Lee F.

Interested in southest Pennsylvania railroads; Reading & Northern, Reading Company, Reading Lines, Philadelphia & Reading.
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Posted by chuck on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:46 AM

"Am I an audiophie?"

Probably not.  New ZW's resemblance to the old one is literally only skin deep. 

The new unit is an electronic controller.  If you really, really liked the original, you will probably not like the new one.  Of course the new one can control 760 watts of out put power vrs 180.  It also can start at 0 volts instead of 7.  The controls are deliberately non-linear in time response (aka decreases are at approximately twice the speed of increases).  All of this (and more) is in the owners manual.  The unit is different, not necessarily better or worse, just different. 

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Posted by phillyreading on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:56 AM

The reason I mentioned audiophile is because I had an old Pioneer cassette deck that required you to calibrate the Dolby noise reduction unit to record on a cassette tape.

The new ZW's are out of my price range too!

I will keep my pw ZW & Z type transformers until they can no longer be repaired. Have the proper current protection for newer trains with the old ZW.

Lee F.

Interested in southest Pennsylvania railroads; Reading & Northern, Reading Company, Reading Lines, Philadelphia & Reading.
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Posted by lionelsoni on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 8:15 AM
According to the service manual, the original ZW starts at 8 volts, which is a little high.  The manual says that "The three fixed secondary windings are wound directly on the primary...".  If this means that they are the outside windings, one might get lucky and be able to unwind several volts worth of the 8-volt winding.  That voltage would of course also be lost at the high end of the output range.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by laz 57 on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 8:59 AM

I have two newer ZWs, one with 4 bricks for running trains and the other with three bricks for accessories, all work great.  I can controll the track voltage on all tracks with the Cab1.  But when I first turn on the power tracks two and three will be at the 18 volts needed to run TMCC.  If I am running my conventional engines, I'll place them on tracks 1 and 4 themn controll them with the Cab1.  I also have DCS hooked up and can run my MTH engines to it.  Or run the MTH engines in conventional with the Cab1 on tracks 1 and 4.

laz57

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Posted by EIS2 on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 10:07 AM

Chuck, Yes I did calibrate the ZW.  I have seen the same throttle deadband on other modern ZWs.

Thanks to all who replied.  What I was really trying to ask is what handle position (0-20) does the postwar ZW start applying track power sufficient to begin running trains.  Throttle positions 0-12 on my new ZW is essentially all deadband at less then 2 volts output to the track and is therefore useless for anything other then stopping trains.  All of the voltage ramp occurs between throttle position 14 and throttle position 20.

It sounds like the postwar ZW starts providing track voltage at about 6 volts as soon as the rollers contact the coil at a very low throttle position.  Is that accurate?

Earl

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Posted by lionelsoni on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 10:49 AM
As I posted above, the manual says 8 volts:  "...these transformers have a fixed secondary winding of 8 volts in series with a variable secondary winding of 12 volts.  This makes it possible for each of the four rolling contacts to supply from 8 to 20 volts."

Bob Nelson

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Posted by EIS2 on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 10:53 AM
 lionelsoni wrote:
As I posted above, the manual says 8 volts.
Most of my Williams engines would fly off the track at 8 volts.  Do you use another rheostat in line to drop the voltage?
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Posted by lionelsoni on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 10:57 AM
I don't have a ZW.  I use Zs for my main layout.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by bfskinner on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 1:58 PM

Earl et al,

Here are some data points from measurments on my two postwar ZW transformers, using a 30 year old Sears analog voltmeter. The no-load output at the wall read 125 volts AC as supplied by BGE in mid-afternoon. If you think that reading might be a little high, adjust the values below accordingly. The transformers have had very little use since all rollers and pins were replaced a couple of years ago, but the windings themselves are old and certainly less than "brand-new clean" along the roller-contact paths.

On the two ZW's the max output read 21 volts AC on all terminals, measured with no load, or 105 per cent of rated output.

The minimum outputs were 7.6, 7.2, 7.0, 7.2 and 7.5, 7.2, 7.0 and 6.9, to the best of my ability to read them. Make of these what you will.

My postwar Lionel locos run quite well when driven by these ZW's, but as Earl suggested my modern dual can-motor Williams diesel as factory-wired (parallel) which will start at 3 volts or so, is a bit of a jack-rabbit when driven by these transformers.

 

bf
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Posted by msacco on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 5:43 PM

Earl,

You are definitely right about the deadband but are you using a commnd base and the CAb-1. This isn't an issue for me because I operate exclusively using the remote cab1. I guess my ZW is more for looks. As far as flexibility goes it hard to beat the new zw.

MIke S.

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Posted by EIS2 on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6:20 PM
 msacco wrote:

Earl,

You are definitely right about the deadband but are you using a commnd base and the CAb-1. This isn't an issue for me because I operate exclusively using the remote cab1. I guess my ZW is more for looks. As far as flexibility goes it hard to beat the new zw.

MIke S.

I do use either the Cab-1 or DCS remote to control voltage to the track but I would also like to be able to use the ZW handles if they weren't so dogone sensitive.  I like to operate my postwar trains without all the fancy electronics of DCS and TMCC.

Earl

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Posted by chuck on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6:47 PM
Unfortunately PW trains tend to run better with PW supplies and vice versa.  While you can run modern equipment with PW supplies, you need to wire in fast acting breakers and possibly spike protection to keep the modern electronics from being damaged.  Modern lower end supplies may not be able to handle higher current PW trains.  Z-4000 and new ZW are fine products but while they look like the old ZW, they don't behave like old ZW.  The closest thing to the old ZW may be the MRC Pure Power Sine Wave units.  They come in single and dual modes.
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Posted by ADCX Rob on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:03 PM
 bfskinner wrote:

...the CW-80 has a built-in lag between the movement of the throttle handle and the change in voltage at the track. Some folks find this annoying and not conducive to fine throttle control...

I have seen this claim before...

I've had 22+ CW-80's & still have 4.

None of them operated or operate in this fashion.  The voltage comes up as fast as you move the handle from 0 to 18 volts.

I just tried it again w/ my son's "Easter Eggspress" layout... no lag in the throttle w/ any of the 9 engines we are running.

Rob 

Rob

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Posted by EIS2 on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:28 PM
 ADCX Rob wrote:
 bfskinner wrote:

...the CW-80 has a built-in lag between the movement of the throttle handle and the change in voltage at the track. Some folks find this annoying and not conducive to fine throttle control...

I have seen this claim before...

I've had 22+ CW-80's & still have 4.

None of them operated or operate in this fashion.  The voltage comes up as fast as you move the handle from 0 to 18 volts.

I just tried it again w/ my son's "Easter Eggspress" layout... no lag in the throttle w/ any of the 9 engines we are running.

Rob 

My CW-80 also has the lag.  I like the CW-80, but it does not have enough power to run all my postwar and prewar trains.  For example, my 675 will run several laps around the track and then the CW-80 will shut off power for a while (a few seconds) until the transformer cools down and then the power will come up slowly and the whole cycle will repeat.

Earl

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:44 PM
 EIS2 wrote:

My CW-80 also has the lag.  I like the CW-80, but it does not have enough power to run all my postwar and prewar trains.  For example, my 675 will run several laps around the track and then the CW-80 will shut off power for a while (a few seconds) until the transformer cools down and then the power will come up slowly and the whole cycle will repeat.

Earl

My CW-80's run a 2333 AA w/ cars at full throttle indefinitely.   The throttle response is immediate, no lag.  Methinks you have a defective CW!

Rob 

Rob

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Posted by msacco on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:47 PM

I don't know guys. I find the new zw and the cab-1 to be better for running postwar trains. I seem to have finer speed control over them this way. Earl forgive me if I'm stating the obvious here but you do know you can operate conventionally using the cab-1 right? I don't run tmcc and I am always using my cab-1.

 

Mike S.

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Posted by chuck on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:57 PM
He wants to run in conventional from the "console" via the handles, not the new units forte.
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Posted by bfskinner on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 9:56 AM

ADCX Rob,

Methinks you must have gotten some "Super CW-80's" if yours do not have a throttle lag.

Try this, remove all locomotives from your track, but leave at least one lamp connected, such as a street light, switch lantern or caboose, etc. Power up your CW until the lamp glows steadily and brightly. Hit the direction switch once. What I think you will observe is the lamp going out for an instant, and then coming up gradually to its original brightness.

Based on some comments posted by ADCX Rob below, I am striking the next two pararagraphs but not obliterating them in the interests of exactitude. The Manual Reference will remain, however, if only to illustrate how difficult the truth is to come by:

Perhaps you manipulate your throttle handle smoothly and slowly. That is good. In normal operation you may not notice the "lag," but I'll bet it's there. Select a locomotive that does NOT have a constant-voltage headlight. Run the train in reverse and watch the headlight. Pull the throttle back to "zero." The train should stop and the light go out. Rapidly bring the throttle lever back up to its original position while watching the headlight. The loco should come up in neutral, and once again the headlight should start off dark and ramp up gradually but obviously to it's original brightness. If you do this with a post-war transformer, the light will go from dark to full brightness virtually instantaneously.

This is not a big deal, and I'm glad that either you don't have it or at least it doesn't bother you in normal operation; but I'm surprised you haven't noticed it.* With safe-and-sane (slow)manipulation of the throttle handle, the effect can be minimized. 

Another test: take a postwar loco, power it with a postwar transformer (such as a 1033) and, from a dead stop in neutral-after-reverse, push the throttle all the way to its maximum. Hit the direction button once. You will almost certainly see the wheels spin as max power is sent to the wheels virtually instaneously. Try it again with a CW-80. The wheels will not spin, or will spin much less, as the power ramps up much more slowly. Many people who have observed this have concluded that the CW-80 has much less power than the 1033. My tests have lead me to the conclusion that the CW-80 actually has more power than the 1033,** but it takes a bit longer for it to ramp up.

* Check out p. 7 of the Owner's Manual for the CW-80: "NOTE! Quickly shutting off or throwing the throttle all the way forward will NOT [emphasis mine] result in an instant change in track voltage." Later on the same page it says "NOTE! When the DIRECTION button is pressed, track power is interrupted instantaneously. Track power is restored gradually [again, emphasis mine] when the Direction button is released. Source: Owner's Manual part number 71-4198-250, 11/05.

The ironic importance of this is that, based on innumerable posts on both major forums, many operators of CW-80 transformers have observed the throttle-lag and concluded that it meant that they had a defective transformer. Evidently they didn't read the manual; because whether they like it or not, it is a feature, not a bug. The forums are full of posts from operators who have had their CW's replaced due to this and then re-complained that the replacement is no different from the original. Well, duh!

** About 80 watts for the CW-80; closer to 63 watts for a 1033 when driven at or below its factory specifications.

All of the remarks above pertain to the various CW-80's produced prior to the major revision in 2006 about which I have no sources or experience.

 

bf
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Posted by ADCX Rob on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 11:37 AM
 bfskinner wrote:

ADCX Rob,

Methinks you must have gotten some "Super CW-80's" if yours do not have a throttle lag.

Try this, remove all locomotives from your track, but leave at least one lamp connected, such as a street light, switch lantern or caboose, etc. Power up your CW until the lamp glows steadily and brightly. Hit the direction switch once. What I think you will observe is the lamp going out for an instant, and then coming up gradually to its original brightness.

Well, now you're talking direction button operation which I never mentioned - that's always worked perfectly on my numerous CW's(just as you describe it).  I'm talking orange throttle lever here.  No lag on any of them - the manual is wrong(on this point as well as others) regarding a "ramp-up" feature.  The voltage comes up as fast as you can move the lever.

 bfskinner wrote:
Perhaps you manipulate your throttle handle smoothly and slowly. That is good. In normal operation you may not notice the "lag," but I'll bet it's there.

Nope, it's not.  Not on any.  And I move that lever fast w/ postwar e-unit engines to cycle the reverse, I don't wait around for the "direction" button to do it's work.

Rob 

Rob

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Posted by bfskinner on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 12:13 PM

ADCX Rob,

Congratulations.

Do let Lionel know so that they can correct the Owner's Manual.

bf
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Posted by ADCX Rob on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 2:28 PM
 bfskinner wrote:

ADCX Rob,

Congratulations.

Do let Lionel know so that they can correct the Owner's Manual.

They already know about the several errors.  And have failed to correct them in any of the versions.

The part that reads: 

"Quickly shutting off or throwing the throttle all the way forward will not result in
an instant change in track voltage"

is completely wrong.  If they were speaking of the direction button function, they are half right - power is interrupted immediately, ramps up gradually.

Test it our for yourself... DON'T use the direction button at all. 

Rob 

Rob

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Posted by bfskinner on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 3:21 PM

ADCX Rob,

So what you are saying is that by controlling the speed of the train by the direction button alone (ignoring the throttle handle) does produce the oft-cited lag; whereas using the thottle handle alone (ignoring the direction button) does not. Then any apparent lag in throttle response when using the handle alone is due simply to the inertia that the transformer must overcome to get the train up to speed. So the heavier the train, the longer it takes for it to finish accelerating and reach the speed that a given throttle setting will maintain.

OK, I'll accept that.

bf
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Posted by ADCX Rob on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 3:54 PM
 bfskinner wrote:

ADCX Rob,

So what you are saying is that by controlling the speed of the train by the direction button alone (ignoring the throttle handle) does produce the oft-cited lag; whereas using the thottle handle alone (ignoring the direction button) does not. Then any apparent lag in throttle response when using the handle alone is due simply to the inertia that the transformer must overcome to get the train up to speed. So the heavier the train, the longer it takes for it to finish accelerating and reach the speed that a given throttle setting will maintain.

OK, I'll accept that.

Precisely.  The throttle lever works just like any postwar transformer.  I'm running a 616 ATSF switcher with 11 gondolas, 2 boxcars, & a caboose as I type this.  CW-80 transformer works as I have described.   Any apparent lag in throttle response is the same as a 1033, ZW, any regular transformer(there actually is no lag - the 616 leaps to warp speed - wheels spinning - even w/Magnetraction - until it picks up train speed).

Rob 

Rob

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