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Discussion Starter #1
All of the motors in my S gauge locomotives are AC. They include American Models, American Flyer as well as River Raisin. All are, or were converted to run on AC. I am in pursuit of a high-quality transformer to power these locos. Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated.
 

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A couple of questions. By American flyer do you mean Gilbert or American Flyer by Lionel or both? How may trains do you want to run at the same time on separate loops of track? Do any of the engines have any electronics in them such as sound, cruise control, TMCC boards? And most importantly, is there a limit on how much you will spend?
 

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I run my AF trains with a LIONEL ZW transformer. Love it. Start volts are 2 volts for great slow speed running up to 18 volts on the high end. Thats a tad high for AF engnes. So I never run wide open. The ZW has 4 throttles.
They are old. From the 50s. I paid around 130 for mine. Many of the guys here run a ZW. I have replaced some rollers in mine. It was very easy.
 

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Neither of you fine gentlemen are running American Models or converted River Raisin engines. A ZW can be a good choice but unlike a Gilbert engine that can tolerate some running at 21V an AM engine can within a few seconds release lots of magic electrical smoke from its electronic control board if supplied with 21V. A 30B is not always a good choice for AM engines because the minimum 8V it puts out sets the engine off from zero to a scale 45mph with nothing in between. Of those two the ZW is the better but riskier choice. If his RR engine has an ERR sound board then at 19V an $85 replacement will be required.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
All of the motors in my S gauge locomotives are AC. They include American Models, American Flyer as well as River Raisin. All are, or were converted to run on AC. I am in pursuit of a high-quality transformer to power these locos. Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated.
A couple of questions. By American flyer do you mean Gilbert or American Flyer by Lionel or both? How may trains do you want to run at the same time on separate loops of track? Do any of the engines have any electronics in them such as sound, cruise control, TMCC boards? And most importantly, is there a limit on how much you will spend?
1. Gilbert AF BUT a couple, not all of them have been replaced with cam motors.
2. No more than two trains at the same time.
3. Yes, a number of locomotives have soundboards.
4. Price. PLEASE share with me your recommendation(s). Everyone has limits but I will do the shopping for price. This may not be a professional question but what should I avoid?
 

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If you use any postwar transformer it is essential to add a fast acting fuse and zener diode protection at the output of each channel. For the mix of engines you have the best PW transformer would be a Lionel ZW because of the lower start voltage, I think you may not be happy with how the AM engines run with the Gilbert 30B or similar. I use MRC AH101 power supplies when I run conventional. The problem is they are long out of production (but are easy to find at $100) and cannot be fixed if something fails. Their output protection is excellent and they have an adjustable starting voltage. The absolute best supply made is a ZW-L but discounted they run $700. They have a zero start voltage and the best output protection ever put into a model train transformer. Max output is 18V so nothing will be damaged. I have two on my Legacy layout. Plus if you add a Cab1L or a Legacy Cab2 all the trains can be run wirelessly with the handheld.
Some people put a string of cheap 5A diodes in series to drop the voltage with PW transformers. Each diode drops the voltage about .6V. Five to seven in series drops the 8V to 4V starting voltage on a Gilbert transformer and the max output to 14V, more than you will use. Put two strings in anti-parallel because you do not want to rectify the AC. None of this stuff is required for the Gilbert engines, even with can motors. With sound boards I would not take any chances.
 

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Like flyernut and mopac I too use a ZW for the reasons mopac stated. However, The sound boards you have may not be compatible with the ZW. AmFlyer Tom would know more about that.
As to pricing, with no train shows to attend now days, you will have to contend with on line buying. My suggestion for a pricing guide is to go to ebay and scroll down the left side of the screen to check what the selling prices have been on completed sales. Keep in mind there is a newer ZW-L that is for Lionel's newest electronic systems that are in the $700-$900 range. That is not what flyernut, mopac, and I have or need and you probably don't. Models we use are the ZW 275 watt version from the 1950's. I did a quick eBay check and the sold range is from $70-$202. Some are higher but the majority are in that price range I stated. Read the description carefully because while these transformers are very reliable, they sometimes need their rollers replaced as mopac alluded to. Good luck in your hunt.

It looks like Tom posted the very information I mentioned regarding the newer ZW-L plus additional information. He mentioned the addition of TMCC Cab1L or Legacy Cab2 which gives you the ability to run trains with a wireless hand held. I have the Cab 1 L. It works great with my ZW and all of my American Flyer engines from 1946 to 1960. All of my engines have the regular AF power. No can motors.

Kenny
 

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I agree with what Tom said about circuit breakers. The normal breaker that was standard in the ZWs
took 10 seconds to blow. Lots of bad things can happen in 10 seconds. What you want is what is
called a modern breaker. Mine has been changed. It blows in about 2 seconds.
 

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What Kenny said. Most sellers will mention if the breaker has been changed and maybe mention the rollers.
If it says serviced I would think the rollers will be fine. Lke I said they are not hard to replace.
 

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Kenny, how are you running conventional with the Cab-1L and ZW, are you using a Powermaster? One of the cost benefits of a ZW-L is it has four Powermasters built in so nothing else is needed.
 

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Kenny, how are you running conventional with the Cab-1L and ZW, are you using a Powermaster? One of the cost benefits of a ZW-L is it has four Powermasters built in so nothing else is needed.
What I have is a Trainmaster base running with a Powermaster set to conventional run. Back years ago when I bought the TMCC system, I already had a ZW so rather than spend money on the
ZW-L which had just come out, I went with the Trainmaster base, the Powermaster base, and the Cab1-L set up. I think all in I have just under $400 dollars invested.

Kenny
 
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