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Author Topic: AC or DC  (Read 10442 times)
Tonino

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« on: March 03, 2013, 01:33:10 PM »

Hi,
     Back into model railroading after 60+ years.  Dusted off my old Lionels and celebrated with a
new scale Williams GG1 purchase.  I have an old Lionel ZW 250watt transformer.  Can I run my
new GG1 on the same track with the ZW with my old equipment?  Or, do I need to purchase an
AC transformer and run the GG1 and any new items on separate track.  Its been so long, I'm assuming
my old ZW converts the AC to DC to power the track.  Its still packed up in the attic somewhere so I
can't look at it just yet.

         Thanks
              Tony
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jward


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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2013, 01:47:23 PM »

aren't all the 3 rail trains like lionel run off ac not dc?
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
richg
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2013, 02:09:03 PM »

My Lionel and Marx, three rail all run off of AC.

Rich
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JerryB

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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2013, 02:16:20 PM »

Your Lionel ZW definitely puts out AC power. That was the standard for all 3 rail trains when it was made.

As to the power requirements for the Williams by Bachmann, I would suggest you ask on that specific forum below.

Happy RRing,

Jerry
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Tonino

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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2013, 02:24:31 PM »

Rich, Jeff, Jerry,

     Thanks for the response.  I was just entering my teens when I ran my Lionels last.  I honestly don't recall
(and probably didn't even know back then what AC or DC was) what version powered the track.  I just made
an assumption it was DC  (and you know what they say about assumption!) based on the small guage wire that
connected to the track.   I Went hunting around the internet and found an article on measuring the voltage output
of the ZW (or any transformer I guess) and you need a  AC voltmeter!  Well that answers the question.  I was
one confused trooper for awhile.  Like I said its been 60+years since I enjoyed my trains.  Now its time for me
and my grandchildren to all have fun with them.  Thanks guys.  You'll probably be hearing more from me as I
"muddle through" all the new digital stuff.   And Jerry I did contact Williams directly re the Scale GG1 but haven't
received a response yet.  The GG1 and the PRR solid pilot K4 were part of my childhood and finally getting my hands
on the scale models is a dream come true.


         Tonino
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poliss

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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2013, 02:30:02 PM »

How old is your transformer? If very old the wiring inside could be perished and may not be safe to use.
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richg
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2013, 03:12:36 PM »

How old is your transformer? If very old the wiring inside could be perished and may not be safe to use.

Very good point. Metal or plastic case? None of the old ones had a polarized or three prong plug.

Rich
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Doneldon

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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2013, 12:57:42 PM »

Tonino-

I'd worry a whole lot more about the safety of your old transformer than whether it will run your new model. It will work fine as long as the GG1 is a three-rail loco. You shouldn't need separate tracks for your new and old equipment unless some is three-rail "O" and some is two-rail "O". Under no circumstances should you attempt to fudge a system which tries to run three-rail and two-rail power on the same trackage.

I know many people who still use old transformers and there are always a bunch at train shows, but I'll bet many have had their works upgraded. It shouldn't be difficult to rewire the insides and you shouldn't have to replace the controllers and actual transformer as long as they work. You can ground a metal case by attaching it to the green or bare wire in a new three-wire supply cord.

                                                                                 -- D
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GG1onFordsDTandI
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2013, 07:56:58 PM »

Old ZW's are my fav's but now are getting old enough to have dry rotted power plugs on most. The link here is about the horn circuit but I touched on some things about the old zw throttles you should know about. I have two replies in this thread read both. http://www.bachmanntrains.com/home-usa/board/index.php/topic,22741.msg180736.html#msg180736

You may need a little new track too. If you bought the full scale vs semiscale. The full scale GG wont make an o-27 turn.
Im not sure about O (31"), but I read 36" fastrack is a no go, the tightest turn Ive seen them on is 48" and the overhang was very big. Turnouts may be another issue too. http://www.bachmanntrains.com/home-usa/board/index.php/topic,22741.msg180736.html#msg180736
 
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 09:35:43 PM by GG1onFordsDTandI » Logged
GG1onFordsDTandI
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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2013, 08:50:42 PM »

Oh, almost forgot. Oil and grease your old engines and cars ASAP so they last another half century (or more). That old stuff has probably turned "chunky" by now. Modern train lubes are best, safer on plastics and paint. Lots of videos on youtube about doing this. A overall cleaning and checking of old motor brushes is a prudent move also. When your out of smoke pellets, original and aftermarkets can be found on auction sites, but smoke fluid can be used on most if wadding/wick is OK. Fluids come in scents now, like "smoke pellet","chocolate", or "scent free". Read this thread too  http://www.bachmanntrains.com/home-usa/board/index.php/topic,22923.msg181478.html#msg181478
One final thought, depending on the loco, the new train may have sounds which can only be used if you have a modern power control. The horn will work, and some engine/brake sounds might, but that's usually it. Research on the new engine will answer that better. Oh, reversing the track leads will either work bell, or horn, not both. And modern power units dont work the old whistles the same/as well as the old transformers, but thats another book long subject in itself. (oil & check brushes on old whistle tender motors too.) I love my old Lionels too, but wait till you get used to modern WbB(Wlliams by Bachmann) they are better in many ways. WELCOME BACK TO THE WORLDS GREATEST HOBBY! 
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phillyreading

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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2013, 06:21:08 PM »

Most Lionel O gauge is AC powered. There were some Lionel starter sets made during the 1990's that were DC 3 rail, that is correct DC 3 rail track, so be careful.
To know for sure look up the Lionel engine number and find out if it was a DC version.
Also American Flyer trains made by A.C. Gilbert were AC with two rail and can be used with the Lionel ZW transformer. So there is no real hard and fast rule that says all two rail are DC or all three rail are AC. You have to do some homework and find for sure!

DC will not harm an AC motor, it may run if it is a universal motor. But AC will ruin a DC only motor very quickly!

The ZW we are all talking about is the post-war version 250 or 275 watt label on it, basically the same transformer but with a diffferant label due to the year it was sold.
AC transformer with four outputs, two whistle and direction levers, one on each side.
Post A & D have the whistle and direction control, post B & C just have variable voltage.

FYI; the polarized plug is basically garbage! Sort of like selling a freezer to an Eskimo! If you know anything about AC voltages and wave ratio you know that AC can not be positive or negative in a true sense because it alternates polarity 120 times a second.

Lee F.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 06:26:51 PM by phillyreading » Logged
GSXR1000

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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2013, 05:28:00 AM »

Hi,

I have a thought, my rule is, when in doubt error on the side of caution!!  If you have a newer home it most likley has a GFI outlet close by, I would use that one.  If not they are easy to install, any Home Depot can set you up.  I to was into trains a very long time ago, lots of memories, I was able to get almost all of them working again.  I baught a lot of new ones to, almost fifty now and growing.

Live you're dreams because no one will do it for you.... Cool
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r0gruth

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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2013, 12:28:20 AM »

The Williams scale GG1 according to the catalogs would operate on 42" diameter curves.

Lee,
IMO the polarized plug is useful for phasing if more than one transformer is in use.
I agree that in actuality that may be be the only use it is in AC three rail.
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Roger
phillyreading

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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2013, 04:18:16 PM »

The big drawback to the polarized plug is that you have to swap wires on your cord to properly phase a transformer with the polarized plug on it, or change the plug over to a non-polarized one.
Another issue that most guys don't think about when putting transformers in phase, the common wire is sometimes has under-sized wire because people think that the common does not carry a load when in actuality it returns the load and must be rated accordingly(the same as the positve wire), or you need to run a common wire(same size as the positive wire) for every positive wire to the track if running  branch feed wires.

Lee F.
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phillyreading

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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2013, 12:27:54 PM »

Hi,

I have a thought, my rule is, when in doubt error on the side of caution!!  If you have a newer home it most likley has a GFI outlet close by, I would use that one.  If not they are easy to install, any Home Depot can set you up.  I to was into trains a very long time ago, lots of memories, I was able to get almost all of them working again.  I baught a lot of new ones to, almost fifty now and growing.

Live you're dreams because no one will do it for you.... Cool

While GFI outlets are good to protect your transformer or other AC appliances, they don't protect your trains. To protect your newer trains you need a TVS or transient voltage supressor, they are only about $2 to $3 a piece from Mouser Electronics. Be sure to get bi-directional 32 volt TVS for use with lower AC voltage for model trains.

Lee F.
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