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Discussion Starter #1
I can't find the posting concerning the Lionel 27ohm smoke element in a flyer unit. Someone here suggested using the 18ohm resistor instead as the 27ohm element seems to take a while to heat up. I can't find any 18ohm resistors, and the only one I did find was $15 bucks!! I will not pay that! Secondly, is that small fiberglass sleeve that goes around the element,(resistor) the wick??? It seems like it wouldn't hold much fluid..
 

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The title of the thread is steamer nichrome wire gauge. I do not see anything about an 18 ohm resistor. 27 ohms is less than the original smoke element resistance so it should work ok in most engines. The Lionel resistors are designed for Command Control operation where the track voltage is assumed to be 18V. My Legacy engines with this resistor smoke very well at 10V.
 

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That sleeve, I think, is just to hold the wick close to the resistor. I wrap the resistor with the wick.
Yes, AF called for 40 ohms. The 27 should work fine. The original set ups took awhile to heat up also.

The sleeve is not the wick.
 

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When you take a loop or 2 off a prewound wick and wire you are lowering the ohms. The lower the
ohms the better the smoke but you lower the life of the wire. Not sure how that works on a resistor.
The wire is much thicker. Tom's power system is much better for smoke. He has a constant higher
voltage to the track. We know higher voltage is better for smoke.

 

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It is hard to accurately compare command control engines smoke output with Gilbert engines running conventional. When I operate with Legacy there is a constant 15V on the track, on the actual Legacy engines I set the smoke level to low and get a lot of smoke. TMCC engines are not adjustable (just on or off) so some of them put out clouds of smoke.
As I stated earlier, I do run some Legacy engines on a conventional layout with a transformer. Track voltage when running is about 10V. In conventional mode a Legacy engine defaults to the High smoke setting. At 10V on High the smoke output is the same as at 15V on the low setting, which is to say, more than most Gilbert engines. What makes this comparison unfair is the Legacy smoke unit is fan driven with a far better arrangement of the wick chamber to get the fluid quickly to the heating element. Sound is generated by electronics so there is no need for tiny 1/8" wick holes and baffles.
After saying all that I think the next best thing you can do for smoke output is to run a 5th wire from the smoke unit back to the tender. In a four wire engine with 10V on the track the smoke unit sees 9V, one volt is dropped across the field winding. with a separately powered smoke unit as in the 5 wire design the smoke unit sees the full 10V. Additionally the smoke unit is powered when the tender reverse unit is in neutral so it can be preheated. Increasing the smoke unit voltage from 9V to 10V is an 11% increase. However what makes smoke is the wattage dissipated in the smoke unit. Assuming a 40 ohm smoke element, power is E squared over R. 9V squared over 40 ohms is 2 Watts. 10V squared over 40 ohms is 2.5W, a 12% to 13% increase in smoke for the addition of one cheap wire. Using 27 ohms and 10V the wattage generated in the smoke resistor is 3.7W. That should make a whole lot of smoke. The issue may be the smoke fluid feed to the wick at the resistor is inadequate. I think the 1/8" wick holes need to be drilled out if the 27 ohm resistor is used.
On additional thought. For years I used Supersmoke. Last year I switched to Challenger because Supersmoke was causing the Lionel and MTH smoke units to gum up and fail due to its high viscosity. Challenger has close to the original Gilbert smell and is much less viscous. This change, at least in the fan driven units increased the smoke output. It also seems to work slightly better in the Gilbert units.
 

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I might try the wires direct to the smoke unit instead of through the motor first. Every volt
helps on smoke. I did drill out the wick holes some, not much. I did this to thread the wick easier.
I guess it will help the fluid flow also.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I still have mixed emotions concerning the Lionel resistors. I get more smoke and almost immediate smoke with my original-style Gilbert wicks and nichrome wire.
 

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flyernut, now you know which method to use. I just hate messing with that thin wire.
The resistor is easier for me. If you are getting more smoke than my video, go with
the thin wire.
 

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Other than the pain of messing with the thin Nichrome wire there is nothing wrong with the original Gilbert design.
 

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I bought some of those Lionel resistors but have yet to use any of them. Still got the original Gilberts in my engines. Some engines smoke better than others. None have ever been replaced either. I'm thinking of using one of those Lionel resistors in one of my weaker smokers. I first have to determine if the difference in smoke output has anything to do with running the TMCC and the ZW set on 18 volts. I did run one of my better smoking engines straight off the ZW at 18 volts without the TMCC involved and had adequate smoke. I would have liked more. There can never be too much smoke is what I say. Of course running that way the engine was running at a higher rate of speed more than I like.

Kenny
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've given up on those Lionel resistors. I have 2 engines I working on for a customer, and I installed one of those resistors in his 303. It smokes but almost at full throttle on my test bench. On the layout I get just a wisp of smoke, nothing compared to the original wicks Gilbert installed.I can't run the engine at full throttle on the layout as the loco will not hold the curves. Anyone need them??..I have 9 of them, will trade for a pre-wound kit.
 

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I have to admit I have not run my Lionel resistors on a layout. In my video there is plenty of smoke.
I may have had more throttle on a test stand than you can use on a layout. I need to lay some track
on the floor and see how they work. I knew they were too easy. I would like to run the extra wire Tom
mentioned. I will have to buy some single flex wire. I am not fond of that 5th wire on engines. But the
preheat idea sounds interesting.
 

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As I explained above, the Legacy engines with those resistors will put out all the smoke you need at 10V in Conventional. But that is with a fan driven smoke unit optimized for those resistors, and it does not have to make choo choo sounds at the same time. I understand some have tried breaking off the ceramic to expose the wire windings in the resistor with good results. Legacy engines also have smoke at idle. The way it works in Conventional mode is the engine "wakes up" with about 4V on the track all the lights and sounds as well as the smoke turn on. The engine begins to move at about 7V, this is set by the Legacy control system programming. The engine is already smoking before it starts to move. This feature is replicated with the 5 wire design. It is possible to put voltage across the smoke unit for as long as you want in neutral. Then change to forward and we have instant smoke from a hot wick. Make sure the wick is freshly wetted with 10 or so drops of fluid before using the engine this way. It does not work as well as fan driven unit but much better than a 4 wire design.
 
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