How do I determine the capacity needed in a transformer,
what price range is fair, and where do you suggest I source such a thing?
I have Lionel Standard set with a #8 engine that was my fathers when he was
a boy. I figure sooner or later my son will have kids, and so want
to gradually restore and add to the set with a view to passing it on.
Time is NOT of the essence. I have enough track to get started,
but really want to power then engine up and get it working before I do
I'd appreciate if someone can point me in the right direction.
The Lionel postwar service manual provides some useful guidance - add up the
loads you expect from the following table:
"O" Gauge Locomotive - 20-25 Watts (for a smaller Standard Gauge loco like
the No. 8 with a 2-3 car train I would up this to 30-40 Watts)
Automatic (solenoid type) accessories - 12-15 Watts
Operating (motor driven) accessories - 15 Watts
Each 6-volt lamp - 1.5 Watts
Each 12-volt lamp (small) - 2 Watts
Each 12-volt lamp (large) - 3 Watts
Each 18-volt lamp - 5 Watts
Don't forget to count each headlight bulb, each bulb in every passenger car
or caboose, each bulb in your turnouts, and all accessories that will be
running while the train is running.
An alternate approach is to look at a 1928 catalog from when the No. 8 was
being sold and see what Lionel recommended to the public - they touted the
two transformers rated at 50 Watts or less as only being suitable for "O"
Gauge train sets. The 100 Watt transformer was the lowest rating advocated
as suitable for a Standard Gauge train plus a few accessories. The 150 Watt
model was listed as suitable for two trains or one train and more
accessories. If you plan to run longer trains and have grades, you should
lean to a higher wattage rating.
Newer post war "O" Gauge-era transformers will operate older Standard Gauge
trains just fine, EXCEPT. Lionel designed O-27 trains for full speed at 16
volts, O trains for a max of 18 to 20 volts, and Standard gauge for up to 24
volts for the larger locomotives. You should avoid any of the transformers
like the ubiquitous 1033 which were design for sale with O-27 sets with a
16 volt max output.
The No. 8 never had a whistle, so you also don't need to pay the extra
premium usually built into the price for any transformer with a "W" in its
name, indicating it has a built-in whistle control.
You should check whether your loco is a No. 8 with a manual reverse, or a
No.8-E with remote control reverse. If you have the former, you could use a
pre-war transformer like the 100 Watt Type "T" with separate discrete speed
control posts exposed on the top of the transformer. These were very robust
transformers, and usually still work fine (with a new line cord), but cause
a momentary interruption in output as you change speed settings. This is OK
with manual reverse locos, but will cycle the reverse unit on "E" model
locos. So if you have an 8-E, you should look to a model with a continuous
secondary tap like a type "A" (90 Watt), type "R" (100 Watt with two
adjustable outputs), or type "V" (150 Watt with 4 adjustable outputs). Note
all of these will deliver up to 24 volts.
Hope this helps. Gary Q