HO Transformer

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Toon, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. Toon

    Toon New Member

    I have a 7-15 volt transformer form a Loinel "O" gage I would like to use for my Lionel "HO" gage but when I hook it up the HO engine just vibrates and doesn't go anywhere. I tried two engines and two different transformers and they both did the same thing. Are HO transformers different from O gage transformers?
  2. kettlestack

    kettlestack Member

    Welcome to The Gauge Toon,

    I think your Lionel transformer has an ac output to the tracks. With the exception of the German made Marklin trains, all HO locos run on dc current. The ac will burn out your loco motors in no time if you persist in applying the ac current.

    You can still use the transformer for lighting and operating electrically operated turnouts. Alternatively you can fit (or have a friend fit) a bridge rectifier rated at 2 or 5 Amps between the transformer 15 volt winding and the speed control rheostat (variable resistor). The rectifier converts the ac to dc.

  3. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Toon and Welcome Aboard, Like Errol has said the HO trains are DC and the Lionel transformer is AC. The reason that your loco vibrates is that it is trying to reverse directions 60 times a second in phase with the cycle of the AC current.

    Also...7 volts is a very high starting voltage for HO trains. The bridge rectifier will probably drop that down to a useable level but the windings in the Lionel's are such that you still will not have good speed control with it unless you add a 120 Ohm rehostat between the rectifier and the track. Like Errol said use the Lionel for lights and etc and look into the MRC line of HO powerpacks. They are an excellent value and even the least expensive ones work very well.
  4. DanRaitz

    DanRaitz Member


    You can get a MRC 1370 power pack for $39.98 at you LHS and it will work very well for you.

  5. Toon

    Toon New Member

    Thanks for the info. I guess I just assumed that everything was DC. I'm off to the train store tomorrow.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You can also get control units that take 14-16V AC input and produce controlled DC. Often the Hobby Shop will have them. Peter Thorne produced 2 books (20 years ago now?) on electronic projects for MRs and they included "Transistor throttles" that would work off Lionel transformers. (I have 3 Lionels running my layout, with assortrd throttles added on.) You might consider this as a future project, so don't discard the transformer.
    A neat trick with the transformer is to reduce the voltage so that visitors can't run the train too fast.
  7. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Toon, take a close look at your Lionel transformer. It should say whether it is AC or DC. Also, my son has a Lionel set that came with a DC transformer from the mid 80's. Early on in my train days, I fried a DC motor with an AC transformer and it took a split second to do it. I hope you haven't had that luck. Good luck, this forum is a gold mine of information.

    Greg Elems

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