Model Train Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
51 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have repaired all types of Lionel transformers for a few years and recently came across a collection of Lionel Z and V transformers. These transformers at 250 watts and 150 watts were the predecessors of the ZW and VWs with many parts shared. Z's and V's were produced from 1938-1942 before WWII and resumed production after the war from 1946-1947. The transformer design evolved from pre-war bakelite knobs with set screws to plastic knobs on knurled shafts postwar. Also the control plates were brass plate with nickel plating with red and black letters pressed deeply into the plate and at the end of production thin aluminum plate with the graphics printed on the aluminum surface.
Photos left brass plate w/nickel plating Right photo Aluminum plate
546299
546300

On the early one with the brass plate you can see where the nickel plate has worn away revealing the brass plate.
546301

Now I could leave this as is or I could remove the remaining nickel plating, polish the brass and clear coat it.
I chose to remove the nickel plating.
I rebuilt the transformer by stripping it down completely, cleaned and polished the case, replaced graphite rollers and power cord then reassembled. I made a jig to hold the control plate, set it in and used a 220 grit random orbit sander to take the nickel plate down to the brass.
Left photo before random orbit sanding Right after Random orbit sanding
You can still see some defects - dents and corrosion plus some remaining nickel plating.
546303
546315

Next step was to hand sand in one direction with a 220 grit sanding block.
546306

There are some remaining minor defects but the plate looks pretty nice as is. The original lettering is left untouched.
Next it was coated with four coats of gloss clear coat spray paint and reinstalled on the finished transformer.
546307

I had some fun but another 6 Z's and 2 V's to go. The nice nickel plate ones and the aluminum ones will be cleaned and left original while the not so nice nickel plated ones will get the brass look.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,078 Posts
Looks great Kent. I am surprised the plating is as thick as it is. I would have assumed sanding would have removed it. Did you replate the area under the knob?

Pete
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
51 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Looks great Kent. I am surprised the plating is as thick as it is. I would have assumed sanding would have removed it. Did you replate the area under the knob?

Pete
Heh Pete! It's been a long time.
I guess it's tough to tell in the photo but the final finish is a really nice brushed brass color. All nickel plating is removed. The original nickel plating is really thin which is a problem. The text is original as is.
Here is another photo
546313
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,094 Posts
...I would have assumed sanding would have removed it. ...

Pete
Yes. I've been polishing parts with a cloth wheel in a drill and jewel's compound. On prewar nickel journals, it doesn't take long to get to the brass.

And my next ZW will come from Tranz4mr. I already have too many tinplate restorations in the works
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,078 Posts
It must have been the light in the first picture. The second shows the brass tinge.
Back when I restoring post war I picked up a couple of Caswell brush plating kits. They include tin and nickle. It lays down a very thin coat but it will last on surfaces that don't rub on something.

Pete
 

·
Railroad Tycoon
Joined
·
23,975 Posts
A nice transformation. :)(y)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,370 Posts
The brass plate looks very nice. I have a Z with an aluminum plate that looks pristine. Most likely a reproduction.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
Nice! I have one of these that came with a 1945 set I bought from the original owner. I’ll have to take a closer look at the plate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
Finally got around to looking at the Z transformer I have, and it has the nickel plated "engraved" plate. I bought a 1945 463W set from the original owner locally several years back, and that's the transformer he had for it. So maybe these sets came with the nickel plated face plate on the Z transformer in 1945. Probably left over pre-war stock? No way to tell really. Wonder if anyone has a 1945 set with the aluminum Z face plate?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
51 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Interesting. I’m working on three type R 100 watt which were made from 39-42 and 1946. 2 have aluminum plates and the oldest is brass. Also 2 80 watt S postwar only with aluminum plates.
Finally got around to looking at the Z transformer I have, and it has the nickel plated "engraved" plate. I bought a 1945 463W set from the original owner locally several years back, and that's the transformer he had for it. So maybe these sets came with the nickel plated face plate on the Z transformer in 1945. Probably left over pre-war stock? No way to tell really. Wonder if anyone has a 1945 set with the aluminum Z face plate?
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top