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Old 12-08-2019, 02:15 AM   #1
TimTheTrainMan
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? of a problem with a transformer

The transformer:
A Lionel Type 4090
40 VA
115 Volts

The link to the image is not mine.
It is what it looks like.

https://sgwproductimages.azureedge.n...114245JMoz.JPG

The Situation:
The Direction/Whistle switch on the left broke so I sent it to a Lionel repair expert for service who had helped me out before.
When I got it back I think that it was getting hotter than before, was giving off an odor and then smoke started coming out of it after running the train for a bit.
The repair man told me that he had sprayed some kind of lubricant in there.
I gave it back to him to see what he could do and to test it out.
He didn't see any smoke.
But I did again when I got it back.
I tried to remove as much of any lingering lube using Q-Tips, ran it again, there was less smoke but it seems to start after about 30 minutes and again after it gets really hot.
The questions:
1) Is it normal for this transformer to be getting hot at about 20-30 minutes of playing with the train?
2) Any advice on how to get it to stop smoking would be helpful or if you think the lube may all burn off on it's own.
3) I have not paid him yet for his service. Do you agree that I should not pay full price since I am having these problems and to try and work something out with him?

I realize this might be a unique situation so any replies will be welcome and it will be interesting to see what they may be, if any.
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Old 12-08-2019, 10:13 AM   #2
gunrunnerjohn
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The transformer should NOT be getting really hot. That either indicates a shorted turn in the coil or possibly a poor connection that's generating heat. My bet is a shorted coil in the secondary, that will really create a lot of heat, and yes it'll smoke.

Truthfully, I'd retire that transformer and move on. It's not really worth spending money, any repair you have to pay for will certainly exceed the value of the transformer.
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Old 12-08-2019, 11:45 AM   #3
TimTheTrainMan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn View Post
The transformer should NOT be getting really hot. That either indicates a shorted turn in the coil or possibly a poor connection that's generating heat. My bet is a shorted coil in the secondary, that will really create a lot of heat, and yes it'll smoke.

Truthfully, I'd retire that transformer and move on. It's not really worth spending money, any repair you have to pay for will certainly exceed the value of the transformer.
Thank you for the reply.
Which leads to a few more questions.
1) By a poor connection, do you mean something with the plugs?
I have it plugged into an extension cord and then to the wall.
Could it make a difference of plugging directly into the wall or a heavier duty extension cord? Such as one of those round orange three pronged ones for the socket...
2) Any suggestions for another transformer if not the very same type?
We have an annual train show coming up in Feb.
Any suggestions of what I should look for?
3) If the cause is a "shorted turn in the coil," could that have happened during the repair which was replacing the spring under the switch that broke?
I have noticed that it looks like it was replaced with a different looking part and the switch does not spring back as quickly as it did before. It works but it isn't the same after the repair.
4) Any ideas for what the worst case scenario might be?
Could it catch on fire? Just get all burnt and black? Or what?
Is there a risk of breathing in toxins even if I don't see smoke? It also gives off an odor that smells like a combination of burning plastic and oil.
If this was yours would you not run the train at all or just for short periods of time until replacing the transformer?
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Old 12-08-2019, 02:06 PM   #4
Millstonemike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn View Post
...Truthfully, I'd retire that transformer and move on.
Especially if your not up to the task to debug/repair it yourself.
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Old 12-08-2019, 03:02 PM   #5
TrainLarry
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Your transformer is a very low power unit, about 40 watts, and as stated, would cost more to repair than to replace it. Transformers generally do not need any kind of lubricant.

Step up to a more powerful transformer, such as the 90 watt #1033.

There are plenty of these available on the auction sites. Type in "Lionel 1033 transformer".

This is the unit I have for my small layout.


Larry
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Old 12-08-2019, 06:00 PM   #6
Millstonemike
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Originally Posted by TrainLarry View Post
Your transformer is a very low power unit, about 40 watts, and as stated, would cost more to repair than to replace it. Transformers generally do not need any kind of lubricant.

Step up to a more powerful transformer, such as the 90 watt #1033.

There are plenty of these available on the auction sites. Type in "Lionel 1033 transformer".

This is the unit I have for my small layout.


Larry
+1. And since you don't seem to be proficient in them, you can buy a nicely restored unit from a well respected restorer. Here's the Link, scroll to the bottom of the page for the 1033 model.
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:16 PM   #7
TimTheTrainMan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrainLarry View Post
Your transformer is a very low power unit, about 40 watts, and as stated, would cost more to repair than to replace it. Transformers generally do not need any kind of lubricant.

Step up to a more powerful transformer, such as the 90 watt #1033.

There are plenty of these available on the auction sites. Type in "Lionel 1033 transformer".

This is the unit I have for my small layout.


Larry
Quote:
Originally Posted by Millstonemike View Post
+1. And since you don't seem to be proficient in them, you can buy a nicely restored unit from a well respected restorer. Here's the Link, scroll to the bottom of the page for the 1033 model.
Thank you for the advice and the link.
Seeing how inexpensive that might be I will take that into consideration.
I did not know that transformers could be that low of a price.
I was expecting to pay $200 or more.
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:26 PM   #8
gunrunnerjohn
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The 1033 at $35 is hard to beat if the 40W one was sufficient.

OTOH, my personal favorite for PW transformers is the bargain priced KW, 190 watts for $80.
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Old 12-09-2019, 04:06 PM   #9
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+2 on a KW. I have mine from the 60's and it's powering 3 Lionel Legacy locomotives.
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Old 12-09-2019, 04:33 PM   #10
TimTheTrainMan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn View Post
The 1033 at $35 is hard to beat if the 40W one was sufficient.

OTOH, my personal favorite for PW transformers is the bargain priced KW, 190 watts for $80.
I had to move the left lever onto "Whistle" to boost the power on certain points on the track.
I take it I may not have to do that anymore with 90 watts?
That is probably why that switch wore out or broke.
How it relates to the overheating, I dunno.

I only run one train at a time so I doubt I would need the KW.
And I dunno what all those levers do and I don't see the connecting posts for the wires.
So I think I should stick with something I am familiar with.

Thanx for the advice and suggestions though.
It is always appreciated.
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