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I noticed that on the original box for the Lionel #81 rheostat, it shows the rheostat wired between the track and the transformer. BUT the transformer shown has a throttle.

What is the purpose of the rheostat, when your transformer has a throttle? Thanks.
 

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I noticed that on the original box for the Lionel #81 rheostat, it shows the rheostat wired between the track and the transformer. BUT the transformer shown has a throttle.

What is the purpose of the rheostat, when your transformer has a throttle? Thanks.
I believe that early transformer only has four contact points, or four speeds. With the rheostat wired in beyond it you'd have finer speed control. Just my best guess.
 

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I thought the rheostats job was to create a different fixed voltage, 6v for lights for example.
If left alone, yes. But the sliding nature of the control arm allowed it to be used for speed control when attached to a fixed voltage output.

But to answer the OP's original question, I don't know why it would be used on a variable voltage output.
 

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I believe the rheostat was also used to run trains off batteries as not every house had convenient AC outlets (or outlets at all). I saw a Lionel pic of an early transformer that came with a light bulb adapter attached to it's AC plug for use with light sockets.
 
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