Best Post-war transformer for MTH Operation?

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by Elcoholic, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. Elcoholic

    Elcoholic New Member

    Aside from MTH's Z-4000, most "modern" AC transformers seem to leave a lot to be disired. The good ole Lionel ZW and Z transformers definately have the power and reliability but, unless I'm mistaken, do not have the ability to operate horns and bells on MTH trains, at least not reliably. Does anyone have more experience with this application? Is there a "trick" to it? Is there an ABSOLUTE BEST post-war transformer to use? Which one and why? Thanks
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The horn/whistle/bell controls of post war transformers - any of them - do not work well with modern engines.

    For one, the DC was not polarized so the post war transformer does not offer individual control of bell and whistle/horn. To properly control the sounds, you need a separate push button for each polarity of DC. You can make your own from a published circuit, or buy a sound activation button from Lionel.

    Second, the older transformers stepped up the voltage slightly so the engine would maintain speed when the post war air whistle motors kicked in. This voltage increase is not needed with diesels or modern steamers; it causes them to speed up somewhat.

    Each of the postwar transformers has its own special features (and drawbacks). The mighty ZW has a cost premium relative to the others but features 4 separate voltage controls and 2 whistle activations. The extra variable voltages are handy to getting operating accessories to work just right. The 1033/1044 are my personal favorites - modest price, enough power for a 4x8, and easy ability to change voltage ranges depending on needs of your equipment. KW, LW, SW, and TW all are good transformers as well. If you don't have a ZW, the smaller postwar train set transformers are good for lights and individual accessories.

    my thoughts, your choices
  3. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    THose old transformers have thier limitaions and slow breakers that can from computer stuff in a milisecond.

    You will pay $150 or more from a good reconditioned KW, I have one.

    About $300 or more for a ZW.

    Invest those hard earned dollars in the MTH transformer. YOu will be glad you did.

    My KW will funtion my K line Shay's bells and whistle but not the air whistle on my Polar Express in the traditional mode. Go figure.

    I operate in TMCC and am thinking of swithing to DCS.

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