Transformers and Smoke Output

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by simmonds, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. simmonds

    simmonds Member

    After reading in threads that smoke unit performance depends on the type of fluid and the transformer being used, I decided to try a few of my transformers out and see if there was some truth to that theory. I initially started collecting S gauge American Flyer trains years back so my larger transformers at this time are postwar Flyer models 15b and the larger 18b. I do not at this time have a Lionel ZW but would like to test that one out as well. I used 6 drops of Dept. 56 Magic Smoke for the test and let the train (Marx 666) run around the track until the smoke output ceased for each transformer. I must say I am surprised by the results. The winner for the greatest amount of smoke output was the Lionel CW-80 !!!! The cw-80 produced twice the smoke output of the other transformers and I am not sure if I understand why. The small transformer in the photo is only 50 watts so I can understand that one. The other two large AF transformers however are 110 watts and 190 watts! The CW-80 is only 80 watts yet produced the most smoke! Why is this??? Maybe someone can explain why this is. :rolleyes:

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  2. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Because the Lionel CW-80 doesn't suck as badly as everyone thinks it does. :D

    Seriously.... I have no idea. :confused:
  3. simmonds

    simmonds Member

    Cannonball - The CW-80 is NOT a bad tranny at all. I think it is one of the better ones out there right now in its performance range. It is good that people think they are junk though because you can pick them up on eBay for cheap.

    I had a CW-80 that I got in a Polar Express set that had kind of an irritating whine from the internal fan unit. I called Lionel and talked to customer service and tried to explain to them what the transformer was doing. Before I could utter more that 5 words the lady asked me for my address. She said a new transformer was in the mail. She also said that when the new one arrives, cut the cord on the old one and through it in the trash. Well the new transformer arrived within a week and works like a charm. As for the old transformer....well I did not throw it away and it still works great also. :thumb: Lionel has excellent customer service. The poor little CW-80 doesn't get the credit it deserves. Chris
  4. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    When it comes to my post war engines any transformer I have makes it smoke. In fact it is hard to find a transformer that will not make it smoke. However when using my 180 power pack with TMCC in conventional mode it out performs everything.

    Now move to the modern age engines in particular the Lionel Berkshire that comes with the PE set and the steamer that comes with the PA set. The CW 80 is a miserable performer with both of these engines. You can run them fast with as much rolling stock as you can fit but the performance is just bad.

    If I use the MTH Z1000 or the 180 power brick the engines look like they are on fire with no rolling stock attached. Even my old Lionel SW 135 doesn’t work as well and you can just forget about the Lionel CW 80.

    All bets are off when using the 180 power brick match with a TMCC engine. I don’t even need to use the boost to have smoke bursting out of the stack.

    I guess I can conclude that among the modern transformers the CW 80 is a poor performer. However when matched against the only post war transformer I have of much greater wattage it is equal to the task or slightly better.

    I suspect there is a better answer but I personal find that more wattage gives much improved smoke performance.

    [FONT=&quot]I use the CW 80 however I do honestly with out a doubt believe there are far better choice than it. The CW 80 will remain in my line up of transformers but someday I will replace it with a MTH Z1000. I think the CW is the only new modern transformer that will not operate MTH PO 2 functions. That pretty much limits your choice of engines you can run with it. That is unacceptable for a modern transformer.[/FONT]
  5. simmonds

    simmonds Member

    See, I also was hoping to conclude that the more wattage the more smoke. However the point of my post was that after I ran these tests, the cw and its 80 watts outperformed the 190 watt AF 18b. Evidently smoke output has little to do with wattage and more to do maybe with amperage. Maybe someone with some electronics background could explain this better.

    What do you think Jefelectic???
  6. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    Watts / Volts = Amps Yeah it in there somwhere. ;)
  7. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    The big thing that you have to compare is how fast was your engine running, and at what voltage and how many amps was it pulling at that time.

    The higher the voltage, the better the smoke will be. so if you put twice as many cars on the engine and it would slow down, but then you add more voltage to the track the more smoke you will have.

    BTW - I still believe that the CW is a poor excuse of a transformer.
  8. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    That's OK.
    I still think it works just fine. ;)
  9. simmonds

    simmonds Member

    The thing everyone seems to forget is that the CW-80 was intended by Lionel to be a starter transformer. They try comparing it to middle line or premium transformers which is ridiculous. Compared to Lionel old starter set transformers the CW is a HUGE improvement. Lets not compare apples to oranges here. 80 watts of power with whistle and horn controls in a nice looking housing that doesn't clash with postwar trains like some of the other sheet metal gizmos :curse: Sorry everyone. I just don't understand the hatred with this poor little transformer. In the end I will say it outperformed transformers with more that twice the watt output. I gotta give Lionel props for this little transformer. Thanks Lionel :)
  10. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    Well that is my point. IT is in starter sets. the first entry into the hobby, and it has a 60% failer rate. How fast can you drive a newcomer away from the hobby! Have a new set that doesn't work!

    The only reason why you are seeing more smoke output is because it does not have enought amps to run your train at lower voltage, so you must turn up the voltage to get the amps, thus more voltage, more smoke. Not really a better transformer. Also this is a crop sinewave transformer. Many people with MTH engines have many problems with it. On the other hand, the MTH Z1000 will and does run any make engine.
  11. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    Wow a CW-80 thread. Ok so I’m on my third CW-80 no big deal. I bought the first one with the Lionel PE set. It died in less than 24 hours. No big deal Lionel replaced it, or I should say my dealer exchanged it for me.

    About two week later my Lionel 2037 derailed with some nice sparks. You guessed it the internal circuit break blew. You all know by now there is no reset so my second CW-80 was junk. No big deal I have a great dealer he replaced that one too.

    Now my third CW-80 has run great since January. However I am very careful not to have a major derailment when using that transformer.

    Over the past three months I have had no problems but I know what to expect if I do have a derailment, which in time will happen. Now is this a starter transformer? Well to be frank no it is a mid level transformer (POWER MASTER) not the starter that they do mfg and put out with the Nascar set.

    So I have owned three CW-80 and still use one that is an important part of the power supply for my layout. However I understand its limitations and walk the fine line of blowing the darn thing up again. I do endorse the MTH Z 1000 mainly because it has an external breaker that can be reset. I use this transformer and track section to experiment on because I know if I do something wrong it will not destroy the transformer.

    The price difference between the Z 1000 and CW-80 is small, while the actual retail price is about even you can pick both up well under this price.

    Now if you want to test my theory place you locomotive sideways across the track then turn the power on. Let me know if your CW-80 passed the test. I often wonder if it would be better to use the Lionel Lock On in combination with the CW-80 for the excellent circuit protection given by the Lock On.

    [FONT=&quot]Well that is my take on the CW-80 I use them hard and still keep them in my line up for power but that doesn’t mean I like them or even trust them.[/FONT]
  12. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    You've spoken quite a bit about the Z 1000 and if my CW-80 ever does bite the dust, I will probably replace it with one of these. Just for the extra 20W of power if nothing else.

    I've always used a lockon and I guess I've never understood why anyone would use anything else. Just snap it on and you're good to go. No muss no fuss.
  13. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    :) I should of been more clear and said the TMCC Direct Lock On. :oops:

    Don't get me wrong the CW-80 may last a life time. I just think it would be better if it had a circuit breaker like the Z1000 that can be reset. Another reaon I like the Z1000 is the fact that the CW-80 will not operate MTH Proto Sounds. On the other hand the MTH Z1000 will operate Lionel railsounds and every other sound board out there.
  14. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Ah, I gotcha now.
    So far my CW-80 has done pretty much everything I've asked of it. We'll see how it does when I get the new layout built. I know I'm going to add a couple more lockons to spread power through the tracks more evenly, so I'm hoping everything will work. I've got a ton of lighting accessories going on though. Not sure if it will be able to handle them all without a backup.
  15. simmonds

    simmonds Member

    The CW-80 is never going to be my main transformer. I like it fine and use it now and when my larger layout is finished, I am sure I will have a few of them in use. I could never put the MTH z-1000 to use on my layout because of its looks alone. I might have locomotives that run better than others, but if it is ugly it is not going to have much run time on my layout. But thats just my personal taste.
  16. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Personally, I don't give a poo what the transformer looks like just as long as the trains loook good. :cool:
  17. JoeGrapes

    JoeGrapes Member

    Ok, I just bought a new 180 PowerHouse to replace my CW-80 that everyone said I shouldn't be using. I have a 70ft loop with grades of 3% and dual motor steam loco pulling 10 cars. I thought the engine should make more smoke so I figured everyone is right, just not enough power out of the CW-80 for what I'm doing. It's great as a started trans for a small layout they said. Any hoo, after getting the new trans home and THEN realizing I need the Lockon to hook it up. So back to the store. After all the screwing around and finnally getting it fired up, guess what? No more smoke than before and the train runs just as it did with the CW-80. I'm sure I was close to the limit of the CW-80 and I can grow with the Powerhouse but if you use the CW-80 as intended or even a little more, it'll work just fine.
  18. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    [FONT=&quot]I'm not sure what you are doing wrong Joe if you are using TMCC. The TMCC engines all have a smoke burst option that makes them just pour the smoke out. In addition it permits more amps to run light at their fullest brightness 100% of the time. You can stop the engine and every light should be bright. I know your talking smoke but as you can see the power is there and is not related to the throttle control.

    I'm curious as to what engine you are running and if it may be possible your smoke unit needs some rehab done to it.

    TMCC was a pain in the backside for me to learn and at first I had problems getting all the functions to work. I couldn't even get my engines to smoke it was that bad. I think my problem was for the longest time I was still running them in conventional mode.

    In any event every TMCC engine should have a drastic improvement with both the smoke and the headlight performance over conventional.[/FONT]
  19. JoeGrapes

    JoeGrapes Member

    I'm using a K-Line Allegheny and I'm am running it with TMCC. I just cleaned the track and did the reprograming of the engine. With a clean track it takes the grade much better and the reprograming seems to of made the engine run smoother at slower speeds. I am using Mega Smoke and the smoke is coming out probably the way it should. I'm sure the engine is running better with the Powerhouse it's just that with all the slamming the CW-80 gets, and me being new to this and not knowing any better, I think I expected a more dramatic improvment. But I'm happy:)
  20. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    I got you. :)

    Well in most cases a different transformer won't give you any better climing traction. :D

    The extra power will show up when running extra engines and the way it gives full power to the little things. That is why you shouldn't operate things like the turnouts / switches off of the track power. I'm not sure it they just burn up but I do know you will burn all the indicator lights out.:curse:

    Well have some fun TMCC is pretty cool and is tons better than conventional. Even though I feel that way I still run more conventional engines than TMCC and will do so for ever.:thumb:

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