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Discussion Starter #1
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.net/29/9-1-2019/5706851114245JMoz.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. :smokin:
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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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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #7
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.
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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Discussion Starter #10
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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If you have to boost the voltage to certain portions of the track using the whistle control to get your trains to run, then you are getting a voltage drop at that point of your layout.

Take apart the layout, and make sure the connections between each track are clean and tight. You may also need to run wires from the transformer to additional Lockons at the farthest point of your layout to better distribute power. Your trains will run at a consistent speed then.


Larry
 

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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.
Watts and voltage are two different things. Engaging the whistle applies an additional, rectified 5 V on top of the throttle voltage. That was making up for a voltage drop at certain points in the loop; likely from poor inter-track connections on the center rail.

Having a 1,000 W available won't matter if the the voltage is insufficient for the loco vis-a-vis track issues. However, at any given voltage, having more watts enables more power if the loco needs it (or for the additional load of passenger car lighting).


As Larry mentioned, I'd revisit the track making sure the center rail has a solid connection track to track. And run an additional center rail feed (wire) to a far point on the loop always helps. One trick is to use wire cutters.

If you look closely, you can see an "indent" in the rails where the pin was inserted by the factory on tubular track. About 1/4" back from the edge of the rail. Use the wire cutters at the same location to give an additional crimp and repeat on the adjoining track (the one without a factor crimp). You won't damage the track with the pin in it.

The KW has it's posts on the back. Most anyone here can talk you down on the wiring. It's quite simple. The KW also puts out 20 V where as the 1033's maximum output is 16 V.

And the KW is the essence of a cool looking transformer -baby boomer drool :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Watts and voltage are two different things. Engaging the whistle applies an additional, rectified 5 V on top of the throttle voltage. That was making up for a voltage drop at certain points in the loop; likely from poor inter-track connections on the center rail.

Having a 1,000 W available won't matter if the the voltage is insufficient for the loco vis-a-vis track issues. However, at any given voltage, having more watts enables more power if the loco needs it (or for the additional load of passenger car lighting).


As Larry mentioned, I'd revisit the track making sure the center rail has a solid connection track to track. And run an additional center rail feed (wire) to a far point on the loop always helps. One trick is to use wire cutters.

If you look closely, you can see an "indent" in the rails where the pin was inserted by the factory on tubular track. About 1/4" back from the edge of the rail. Use the wire cutters at the same location to give an additional crimp and repeat on the adjoining track (the one without a factor crimp). You won't damage the track with the pin in it.

The KW has it's posts on the back. Most anyone here can talk you down on the wiring. It's quite simple. The KW also puts out 20 V where as the 1033's maximum output is 16 V.

And the KW is the essence of a cool looking transformer -baby boomer drool :)
The train needs the boost at the farthest point from the trans. which is also part of a slight incline that goes through a covered bridge.
I have already done the extra wire and lock ons.
Does it matter what gauge the wire is?

I think the first step in troubleshooting is getting a "new" trans. and see what happens then go from there.

In regards to power and transformers: So the one I have is listed at 115 volts. You claim the 1033 is 16 and the KW is 20.
So does that mean those two are weaker than my current trans.?
And any reasons why I shouldn't be looking to replace my 4090 with another 4090?
 

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Tim, You are slightly confused, with the 115 volts, and the 16-20 volts.

In regards to power and transformers: So the one I have is listed at 115 volts. You claim the 1033 is 16 and the KW is 20.
So does that mean those two are weaker than my current trans.?
And any reasons why I shouldn't be looking to replace my 4090 with another 4090?


The 115 volts is the input from the outlet, to the transformer, where the 16 volt & 20 volts are the maximum outputs, coming off the transformer. I would recommend replacing the 4090 to a KW at 190 watts, that will run 2 trains, and is more reliable. Just a personal preference. I own two KW's and a ZW, all postwar, without issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Tim, You are slightly confused, with the 115 volts, and the 16-20 volts.

In regards to power and transformers: So the one I have is listed at 115 volts. You claim the 1033 is 16 and the KW is 20.
So does that mean those two are weaker than my current trans.?
And any reasons why I shouldn't be looking to replace my 4090 with another 4090?


The 115 volts is the input from the outlet, to the transformer, where the 16 volt & 20 volts are the maximum outputs, coming off the transformer. I would recommend replacing the 4090 to a KW at 190 watts, that will run 2 trains, and is more reliable. Just a personal preference. I own two KW's and a ZW, all postwar, without issues.
You are right that I am confused because there is lack of information. Such as not seeing numbers for the output and trying to figure out what they all mean and I dunno the difference between volts and watts.
Which one should I take into consideration or that shows me what has the most output of power? :confused:

Is there an online source or anything on this forum that shows ALL the info I am asking for with regards to the output of volts for the variety of transformers?
Again, which one is more powerful between the 4090 and the 1033?

My hesitation at getting a KW is that I am only running one train at a time and the price.
At about $100 I may as well and see if I can get my 4090 repaired again. :dunno:
 

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Yes, the wire gauge matters. Depending on the length, 18 gauge is the smallest I would use for a short feed (< 5'). Over 5' and I'd opt for 16 gauge of 14 gauge.

We're working in the dark here, getting bits of info at a time. A picture of the layout with rough dimensions would help, also the trains you're running.

Your original transformer was rated at 16 V output but only 40 w (40 volt amps). That's printed right on the face plate of the transformer. Same goes for the 1033 16 V 90 W (more like 75).

But the incline will cause the loco to draw more power and the lightweight 4090 may not have been able to give any more. Hence, it's voltage sagged - outputting a lower voltage when it the train needed it the most at the incline. The Lionel 1033 outputs 16 V at 90 W (more like 75). That extra wattage may help keep the voltage somewhat even as the train hits the incline. If not, you'll need more voltage.

Maintenance may help. Are the Loco's gears, axles, rollers, and bearings all cleaned and lubed? The wheel faces and flanges clean? Are the axles on the rolling stock cleaned and lubed? Are the problematic tracks nice and clean?

That may make an enormous difference if they haven't been lubed in some time (not run time, just time as the some of the older grease hardens overtime).

As for repairing the current 4090, you'll just be throwing good money after bad. And the guy that "lubed it", I'd give him an amount appropriate a response like: "I looked at it. It's not worth it to repair."
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yes, the wire gauge matters. Depending on the length, 18 gauge is the smallest I would use for a short feed (< 5'). Over 5' and I'd opt for 16 gauge of 14 gauge.

We're working in the dark here, getting bits of info at a time. A picture of the layout with rough dimensions would help, also the trains you're running.

Your original transformer was rated at 16 V output but only 40 w (40 volt amps). That's printed right on the face plate of the transformer. Same goes for the 1033 16 V 90 W (more like 75).

But the incline will cause the loco to draw more power and the lightweight 4090 may not have been able to give any more. Hence, it's voltage sagged - outputting a lower voltage when it the train needed it the most at the incline. The Lionel 1033 outputs 16 V at 90 W (more like 75). That extra wattage may help keep the voltage somewhat even as the train hits the incline. If not, you'll need more voltage.

Maintenance may help. Are the Loco's gears, axles, rollers, and bearings all cleaned and lubed? The wheel faces and flanges clean? Are the axles on the rolling stock cleaned and lubed? Are the problematic tracks nice and clean?

That may make an enormous difference if they haven't been lubed in some time (not run time, just time as the some of the older grease hardens overtime).

As for repairing the current 4090, you'll just be throwing good money after bad. And the guy that "lubed it", I'd give him an amount appropriate a response like: "I looked at it. It's not worth it to repair."
Oh boy.
This is getting more complicated and overwhelming then I wanted it to be.
I just want to know if the 1033 is going to be more powerful than the 4090 and if it will meet my needs.

Was it "wrong" for me to have boosted the power by using the whistle switch on the 4090?
If it is a normal alternative then why not get another 4090.
I don't understand why no one isn't suggesting that.

And as I wrote before: One thing at a time. First replace or repair the trans. and then troubleshoot as it comes up and I'll be back with my questions on that as they may come up.

Right now I just need the best advice as to what transformer I might need between the 4090 and the 1033 which looks like the latter.
 

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Tim, Going back to your original post, the transformer should be replaced because of the "Smoking" issue. The value of that numbered transformer is not worth the cost to repair it. A replacement is worth about $35-$50 range, which is also the same for a 1033. The 4090 actually puts out 90 watts and not 40 watts, as was mentioned. Both transformers are 90 watt transformers, and both function the same. I would junk your present transformer, and buy either of the two transformers.
 

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Oh boy.
This is getting more complicated and overwhelming then I wanted it to be.
I just want to know if the 1033 is going to be more powerful than the 4090 and if it will meet my needs.

Was it "wrong" for me to have boosted the power by using the whistle switch on the 4090?
If it is a normal alternative then why not get another 4090.
I don't understand why no one isn't suggesting that.

And as I wrote before: One thing at a time. First replace or repair the trans. and then troubleshoot as it comes up and I'll be back with my questions on that as they may come up.

Right now I just need the best advice as to what transformer I might need between the 4090 and the 1033 which looks like the latter.
Did you have the "throttle" maxed out and needed to use the whistle lever to get the train up the incline? If so, then you need a transformer that puts out more power. You weren't wrong, you were compensating for a lack of power. This is assuming that your tracks are clean, and you have sufficient wiring drops to overcome voltage sag.

As others have stated, your existing transformer has issues. Do not throw any more money away by trying to have it repaired. Look online for a post-war KW, or similar, which will have sufficient power for your needs.
 

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Your layout being on an incline changes the equation.

First of all, the output of transformers is measured in watts and volts. The more wattage, the more of a load it can handle. Higher voltage will make the trains run faster and bulbs burn brighter.

The 1033 will handle a bigger load than your 4090.

Now getting on to your incline and the reason you are boosting the voltage. The easiest solution, and one that I used on my personal layout on an incline, is to get a second transformer (4090 or whatever you have or prefer).
Take apart the one track at the beginning of the incline, and the one track at the end of the incline. Remove the center steel pins and replace them with an insulated pin. Replace the tracks on the layout. Install a Lockon anywhere on the incline between these two insulated tracks. Phase the two transformers together
http://https://lionelllc.wordpress.com/projects-and-tips/wiring-your-layout/phasing-transformers/ and wire the second transformer to the Lockon on the incline. Turn on the second transformer on the incline a bit, and run your trains on the layout. When they get to the incline, adjust the second transformer to get the train to run at a normal speed.


Larry
 
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