New Lionel ZW transformer or other

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Rod, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. Rod

    Rod New Member

    I did not see a prior post to answer this, so here goes. I'm pretty new to model railroading, even though I'm 54. :) For a few years, I've hooked up a simple Lionel railroad under my Christmas tree. Last year I got a second train and I just purchased a third. So far I have run one train at a time on a fairly basic track set-up using the 40W transformer supplied with my first train set. I want to hook up a larger, more complicated track and run two (maybe more) trains at a time. I will need a new power source and was thinking of getting a new model Lionel ZW with two 135 or 180 W powerhouses. Does this make sense? Are there other ideas or things I should know? Thanks for your help.
  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Rod that is one way.
    Check what you need for running -- there seem to be a large number of ZW variations with TMCC.
    You could also but a number of small packs -- something between 80 and 100 watts. (Lionel seems to have a very small selection of transformers these days.)
  3. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The best answer depends upon where you see your future heading. There are 2 partially compatible command control systems out there - Lionel's TMCC and MTH's DCS. I don't know enough to advise if you are planning to eventually go down one or both of these paths.

    If you are staying with non-command systems and locomotives (which means you give up a lot of control over the various sound systems), then a used post war transformer with replaced power cord and plug is actually a better solution than most new transformers.

    With multiple conventional transformers - ideally one per train, and more if necessary for accessories - the track should be wired with the cab control (sometimes called "block") wiring scheme. The outcome is that the same transformer controls the same train no matter where it goes on the track by selecting the controlling transformer for each "block" of track.

    In the cab control scheme, huge transformers are not needed. The transformer needs to be powerful enough to run the train it is controlling. Thus, a 1033 or LW for each train works well (unless you are running double-headed long lighted passenger trains). Bigger transformers can be used, but the extra power is normally used for accessories.

    yours in transforming
  4. FiveFlat

    FiveFlat Member

    It seems this is a very difficult thing to figure out when staying NON-TMCC.
    My dad just bought himself a new Berkshire with Railsounds, etc. and he is running it on the same very small layout (a large oval with 2 turnouts)
    He had to configure the trains so that one is in neutral while driving the other. When he's operating his other locomotive that doesn't have railsounds, just a whistle, the berkshire is in neutral sounding off. I thought that was a bad idea, but seems its the only route if you don't go with TMCC (or DCS)
  5. Rod

    Rod New Member

    Thanks to the posters on this.
    I think I'm understanding some of the issues although I'm obviously an amateur on this. So far I have only non TMCC locomotives. I plan in the future to add TMCC locomotives and perhaps even upgrade the locomotives I have to TMCC. Meantime, I want to be able to control my non-TMCC trains.
    I don't necessarily want to spend an unnecessary fortune, but I'd prefer to get equipment that will be good long term.
    I think I will probably get the TMCC system (base, cab-1 and ?trainmaster command powermaster for convenetional locomotives). And then I still need the power source which was the original question. It seems there might be a question as far as whether the new ZW system is the best idea.
    I still don't fully understand the issues of having a set-up with multiple trains and how to drive them individually, especially with non-TMCC locomotives or a mix of TMCC and non-TMCC locomotives.
    Lastly, I do want to add some new sounds and also have various accessories - so far I just have a crossing gate.
    If you have the patience and seem to understand my issues, I certainly appreciate your help.

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