Transformer replacement for KW?

Hi. I'm running a Lionel 665 + tender + brakeman on the roof car + barrel car + tank car and lighted caboose under our Christmas tree
(small oval). My KW transformer circuit breaker may be faulty (when a short circuit occurred wires to track got hot enough to melt the insulation... immediately took the KW out of service!) and don't have time to troubleshoot until after the holiday. Can anyone recommend a modern transformer that could be used for this application which will allow proper function of the 665 and provide a whistle actuation for the tender? I tried using a MRC Tech II Locomotion 2500 but it didn't provide enough power to run the train... just allowed the tender to try and whistle (whirring noise only) weakly constantly and dim caboose lighting... loco would not move. I hooked into the variable 20 volt output but expect it doesn't have the amps to drive the 665. Not looking for anything too fancy just a single control with enough power to move the train well and blow the whistle. Any ideas? Thanks for the help. John
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Just a thought, but if the only problem you suspect your transformer may have is a faulty circuit breaker, you could always put in an inline fuse in the feedline. Any auto parts store would have the holder, and I'm sure somebody here could let you know what rating of fuse to put in it.
Dale
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Dale wrote:

Dale, Thanks for the suggestion. I did get the Tech II to work but it doesn't have enough watts to run the train with any load... the 665 runs by itself at slow speed only. On epay I saw a CW-80 transformers but it looks like these are 0 - 18 volt varialble AC output. I would think it a bad idea to attempt its use with the DC motor in my 1954 665 locomotive. Can someone confirm this? Also, if the CW-80 could be used in some way, will whistle and direction functions work? Real newbie here... other than my year 5 - 12 experience (1955 - 62). Thanks again for the help... maybe I should start tearing down the KW? If anyone has a rebuild/recondition site for the KW, would appreciate the link. John
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The Lionel 665 has an ac motor (unless you changed it). The whistle control does use a "burst" of dc as I recall.
The Lionel KW is a 190 watt transformer and the recent CW-80 is an 80 watt transformer.
I don't know what model Tech II you have but I believe all of the MRC Tech II power packs are dc. A dc device will not damage your ac motor, but the whistle will operate continuously I believe.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Books, Toys, and Trains: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,200 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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Opps! There is an ac Tech II model. 027 Dual Power.
Bill
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Bill wrote:

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Bill... mine does show DC output... I will leave it in the box and get the KW working. I checked the outputs on the KW and the A - U circuit looks strong at 6 to 20.4 volts. Just need to be able to get into the thing and check it out internally. Back to searching the web for KW reconditioning sites/tips. Thanks for the help.
John
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What size wire were you using? The Lionel Service Manual says the KW should deliver 10 Amps continuously, and that current is used in setting the circuit breaker. That means it takes more than 10 A to trip the breaker, and that the circuit breaker is sized to protect the KW, not whatever gets connected to it. In the instructions for the Lionel 5F test set, the test for the KW circuit breaker is to apply a small resistance yielding a 20 Amp current from the KW, and observing that the breaker trips in 15 to 45 seconds!
10 A is the maximum current for No. 20 wire. If you were using something about that size, the insulation could have melted even if the circuit breaker was working properly. As a kid many years ago a friend borrowed my KW to run his dad's old two motor Lionel Standard gauge set. I was worried about the power it would take to run the big train, and we used doubled pairs of the typical wires Lionel provided with its accessories to connect the KW to the track. As we were running the train, one of the paired wires came loose, and the current draw from the train melted the insulation on the single remaining wire.
The point of all this it that I think your KW is probably just fine. Geezer
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Geezer, Not sure of the size wire. It came with a clip on lionel track connector, wire size wasn't given. The train ran fine for a few minutes then when a set of wheels shorted out the wires almost instantly melted together and just missed burning the carpet. It was spooky and I am glad I had just returned to watch my 9 and 10 yr olds running the train. My dad had soldered a couple of wires to the underside of a section of track since we had evidently lost the clip on connector years ago. The KW also shows a bit of handiwork as there is a pigtail coming out of the case and connecting to the front of one of the posts... the post is loose and Dad had run a pigtail to it... this wasn't the post I used. So... now I know that the 665 is AC... I won't try the MRC dc transformer. Looks like I have to get this KW working properly. Any tips on how to take the handles off? I took out the 4 screws but the handles apparently need to come off. They don't seem to want to lift out and I didn't want to remove the nice round metal plate with specs from the top... my Dad got in without doing that apparently. Would be great if someone out there had a recondition site for the KW... I haven't been able to find one.
Thanks for all the help guys... and Merry Christmas. My holiday will apparently be spent getting these trains going. It was a gas to see my 9 and 10 year old playing, even briefly with them. There was the same magic in their eyes that I recall having in mine... priceless.
John
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The Olsen Toy site has Adobe .pdf copies of most of the pages from the old Lionel Service Manual. The KW pages are at:
http://pictures.olsenstoy.com//searchcd31.htm?itme7
It is best to take the handles off one at a time, lifting the top one first. Pry between the bottom edge of the top handle and the thin aluminum spacer. Don't pry with a screw driver as the concentrated pressure will permanently mar the bottom edge of the handle - I use a tough old wide blade paint scraper. Once the top is off, lift off the spacer, and then you can usually remove the lower control handle with your fingers. You also need to pry off the orange whistle control, then remove the 4 Phillips screws on the top, and lift up the bakelite case.
I suggest you carefully trace the wires and compare them to the wiring diagram on the Service Manual sheets, figure out what the loose wire coming thru the case is, and restore it to its proper position. Geezer
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harrrrrrr wrote: [...] Looks like I have to get this KW working

I worked four summers in a very dangerous industry when I was much younger, so I am perhaps paranoid about safety issues, but here goes my unsolicited advice anyhow:
Unless you are a qualified electrician/technician, I would _strongly_ advise against trying to repair the KW. As you have seen, the KW is not a toy. (In fact, it wouldn't be permitted on the market nowadays. Its slow-blow circuit breaker alone violates a number of regulations. Insurance companies do not look kindly on fires caused by unsafe equipment, BTW, which should give you pause if nothing else will.)
The fact that your dad already tried to fix it shows that there are problems inside it. It's quite possible that he bypassed some of the windings when he brought out that wire to the front post, in which case the KW is putting out both higher voltage and higher amperage than it was designed to do. Not at all safe, IMO. My advice is to get rid of it as soon as possible. In the meantime, as suggested by a another poster, put a 10 amp automotive fuse in line with one or the other outputs to the track. (And get a few spares -- they blow pretty quickly. :-))
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Geezer wrote:

Ayup. I also had a KW as a child. Powerful it was. Used to melt the stock Lionel hookup wire (green, about #22, came in neat coil) with ease. As I grew older and wiser I would use lamp cord between the KW and the lockon. Ten amps will toast anything smaller. To rework an old Lionel CB, you blow out the dust, clean off any old lube or crud. Clean the contacts. Googone is good for this. Be sparing with solvents 'cause the bakelite plastic, varnish insulation and god only knows what they used years ago for insulation, may not like them. If solvents are necessary, alcohol is the safest, in terms of not dissolving some essential part. The insulation has been drying out and getting stiff for a long time, so be gentle bending wires lest the insulation just flake off and die. Test the CB by screwing a good solid short circuit across the output terminals. Turn up the throttle and the CB ought to open and the overload lamp should come on. Do this a couple of times in case something is sticky or flaky.
David Starr

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Yes... thats the stuff I melted ; )
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You might find something in TCA's "e-Train" (on-line magazine):
http://www.traincollectors.org /
A book that should be helpful, "Greenberg's Wiring Your Lionel Layout":
(Amazon.com product link shortened)21603244/sr=2-1/103-0961217-9639034/billsrailroaempi/
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Books, Toys, and Trains: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,200 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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Hey Guys many thanks for the kind help. Any chance you can advice me on how to check the circuit breaker function of the KW... I have pretty strong suspicions that is where the problem lies. I am missing the 57 bulb for the overload warning light... can't believe a missing bulb would cause a problem... still looking for a 57 locally, can't seem to find one. If there is a good check method for the circuit breaker listed somewhere that would be great. I will now go and pry off the handles and see what is inside this baby. again... thanks. John
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harrrrrrr wrote:

It's an automotive bulb that was standard equipment before Mr Reagan gave in to the auto lobby and abolished standards for headlights so the designer guys could create cool front ends for our cars.
Any good auto supply place should have some, though, as they are still used in older trucks, etc. Or try a wrecking yard. Good hunting!

Wire up the track with some 12 or 10 gauge wire, place a screwdriver across the rails, and see how long it takes to trip the breaker. Do this on the workbench with some non-flammable material under the track. If it takes longer than a couple of seconds to trip, it is _unsafe_, and the KW should _not_ be used. (Yeah, I know, it was designed for a longer blow time - see my other post re: what I think about that.)
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Why do you want a 14v #57 bulb? When what is needed is a 6-8v #51. Radio Shack used to carry them in packages of 2 for less than a$1.00.
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Wow... man it truly is Christmas... you guys are great... I have a link to the service manual, great advice on taking the KW apart and testing the circuit breaker... MANY thanks.
Got the KW apart without a problem and things look very good on the inside. Dad, RHS, just carried the connector from the backside of the connector plate to the front side... it wasn't a pig tail. I will be replacing all the connectors. Bill, thanks for the tip on locating a bulb for this, Geezer thanks for the service manual and Wolf thanks for the concern and good safety advice + your circuit break test (like it). I lived through putting in 220 for both the new range top and the 60A hot tub circuit and get under the playfields of the pinball machines I have... so I will be ok with fixing this up but thanks for the but thanks for the safety concern... . I still suspect that the circuit breaker is flaky... it did work a few times before the meltdown... not sure if these can be intermittent. Any thoughts?
John
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harrrrrrr wrote:

The breaker will be more sensitive when the transformer is warmed up after some use, or sitting on wood or carpet or a table. Less sensitive when cold, on the floor or on concrete.
Rob
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The MRC Tech II Locomotion 2500 is a -DC- transformer/power-pack for HO and N scale trains.
A reasonable replacement for your KW would be an MRC 600 -AC- transformer. It's rated at 60 watts, but MRC has historically under rated their AC transformers. It also includes a whistle activation button for your tender. MSRP is $79.98, but you can usually find it a bit cheaper if you shop around.
Len
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Len replied,

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Here's the MRC Tech 4 600 AC for $57.65 (plus s/h):
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Books, Toys, and Trains: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,200 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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