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Discussion Starter #1
I've amassed quite a collection of FA and and F3 locomotives and dummies. The downside is I haven't been able to get the whistles to work in any of them. I've tried several batteries, so I don't think that's the issue. These are all older locos and the whistles are apparently not known for robustness, but some of these locomotives are in very good condition otherwise. I'm using a 1033 transformer. Any ideas on things I should check?
 

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Does the whistle work on your steam locomotives? A 1033 is a very old transformer. It's possible the rectifier is no longer good.
 

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The numbers off the locomotives would help too.

Perhaps we could point to a wiring diagarm, or help you do a search.
 

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Question to all ...

Are Lionel diesel horn relays triggered off of a positive DC voltage (like a whistle), or off of a negative DC voltage (like a bell) ???

TJ
 

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Whistle or horn doesn't make a difference. The reverse polarity Bell circuit did not come along until the 1970s.
 

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Thanks for the info above, guys. I have no experience with "horns", and wasn't sure if they operate (via relay) like a whistle (+ DC), or a bell (- DC). With that thinking/question, I wanted to rule out any trigger-signal polarity issues per Elj's original question.

Here's a related (clueless!) question ...

On Lionel postwar diesel locos with an onboard horn, I see that a battery is included in the circuit. Is the relay triggered via a DC pulse from the track, but then the horn powered off of the stand-alone DC battery, rather than from track AC power? (I.e., a whistle is powered via track AC, but a horn is powered via a DC battery ???)

Thanks guys ... stilll babbling on my end ... but still learning!

TJ
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Does the whistle work on your steam locomotives? A 1033 is a very old transformer. It's possible the rectifier is no longer good.
The only whistling tender for a steam loco I have needs a major restoration and isn't in testable condition.

The numbers off the locomotives would help too.

Perhaps we could point to a wiring diagarm, or help you do a search.
Models I've tried include:

2023
2033
2343
2353 dummy
 

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You can most likely get the wiring diagrams and parts list for those from the Lionel Supplements available on the Lionel site. I recommend getting the complete set.

Start here at Lionel Train Service Documents, O Gauge.

In the middle of the page you'll see Product Supplements with a pull-down and a Download button. Select each supplement in the pull-down and click download. You can save the whole set locally for easier and faster access.
 

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From what I gathered from this thread is the Whistle/horn circuit on your 1033 transformer has never worked. It's probably unlikely that all of your diesels have bad horn connections so I thinking your problem is the 1033 or the way you wired it to the track.

You should be connecting A and U to the track. Usually the proper connections are U to the outside rail and A to the center rail. If that is not working reverse it and put U to the center rail. If that does not work you probably have a bad rectifier. In any case, I would recommend retiring that ancient 50+ year old transformer and going with a more modern one. Because you are running F units, purchase the highest wattage transformer your budget will permit.
 

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All of the diesel horns that use a battery have the same circuit. They all use a horn relay that is identical to a post war whistle relay in a tender. They are not polarity sensitive. +DC or -DC will operate the relay. There are no bells.

There are three major problems with the horns, assuming that the relay is operating and the wiring is OK. The first problem is that the connections for the battery must be clean. We are only working with 1.5 volts, not 12 volts like we do for a whistle. Second, the relay armature does not always make a good contact with the relay frame. With a whistle at 12 volts, this is not so important. But with only 1.5 volts to work with, it is critical. My approach is to take a fine wire like 22 gauge and solder it across between the relay armature and frame. The wire has to be flexible enough so that it does not interfere with the operation of the relay. A short piece of small braid would be ideal. Third, the horn may need adjusting or it may have an internal failure. I have gotten some of them to work by tapping them with a screwdriver and adjusting the screw. I think there was a post some time ago about repairing the horns and/or a discussion of the internal failures.

I have had ideas about adding a small transformer and bridge rectifier to replace the battery, but I have never done it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I eventually got the horns working. I think it was just a matter of getting a better connection to the battery. The part that actually makes the horn sound doesn't seem to age well and takes a lot of TLC to get any noise out of.

I also picked up a whistling tender and it sounds fantastic. The good ol' 1033 transformer works like a champ!
 
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