AC versus DC

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by SAUVAGE, Apr 4, 2006.


    SAUVAGE New Member

    Can you run a Lionel standard gauge 0 locomotive ( such as Lionel 2-8-4 berkshire steam locomotive) in DC ( although it is meant for runing AC)? Are there some small modifications to be made so as not to damage the motor? I would also the accesorie also not to work ( such as steam ,whistle...)?
    many thanks for your response
  2. krokodil

    krokodil Member

    Basically you can (at least the older pure electromechanical models. (I have one about 60 years old and runs perfect on DC as well incl. the mechanical wistle and the FWD/REV switch.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    One hitch is that the whistle operates off DC (at least the older ones do) and you get a continuous whistle.
    The Lionel motors are called AC/DC because they operate off either. DC motors will not work on AC - they just keep trembling back and forth 60 times a second.

    Do you want a cheap technical explanation? You know how a DC motor has an electromagnet inside that pulls itself to the North pole and then is reversed and pulls itself to the South pole. When you apply AC to that, the magnetic field reverses itself 60 times a second. To match that, the field magnet is also made an electromagnet, and reverses itself in time with the armature magnet.
    Run DC through the field magnet and you have it permanently one way, and the armature behaves sedately as well.
  4. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Newer production Lionel locomotives use a DC can motor with a voltage rectifier to convert the AC track power to DC. You can remove the rectifier and run the train on DC. If you attempt to run it without removing the rectifier, you'll damage the rectifier.

    I know one person who has done this with his locomotives. He reports he gets finer control over the train's speed by eliminating the rectifier and running on DC. On the older Lionels with the universal motors that can run on either, I don't see much difference between running them on DC versus AC. But if you run an older Lionel with the mechanical e-unit, the solenoid in the e-unit can become magnetized, so it won't operate properly and you lose the reversing capability. You can de-magnetize the e-unit with a bulk tape eraser to restore that functionality.

    The whistling tenders will blow continuously on DC, so you'll have to use a non-whistling tender or disable the pickup in some way.
  5. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    It's useful to disconnect the old e-units if you are going to run the engine on DC. They don't have any function on DC and this way you don't damage them for future conversion back to AC operation, once you've seen the light. :)


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