Power supply for Lionel 11540 Electric Train Set

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by tjohnson, Jul 4, 2015.

  1. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    I've inherited an old (1965, I think!) Lionel 11540 electric train set with several pieces of track and the transformer missing. I thought it would be neat to try to get it to run, but I have absolutely no experience with Lionel trains, so all of this is completely new to me and I have several questions:
    1. What is the voltage and current rating of a Lionel? Is it possible to make a power supply for one out of batteries?
    2. How should I connect the power supply to the track? I've watched some of Lionel's Getting Started videos, and it seems like they've changed the power connection method somewhat.
    3. Must the track form a complete circle in order for there to be a closed circuit so that the train can operate? If so, I'd need to get replacements for the missing pieces, but I don't know if it's possible to obtain compatible parts cheaply for such an old train set.
    4. There isn't a switch labeled on/off for the smoke as shown in one of the videos, but I want to turn it off because I don't have any smoke drops either. However, there is an unlabeled switch on top of the locomotive that can be pulled up and down. Which setting would be off?
    If any members of this forum who are knowledgeable about Lionels could answer these questions, I would appreciate it.
     
  2. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    There is a section of track with terminal screws. Left track is a terminal and right track is a terminal. The engine (motor) completes the circuit. You do not need the track to make a loop.

    These are the era of transformers you want. 1945 to 1969.
    http://www.ebay.com/bhp/lionel-transformer
     
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  3. BillB3857

    Senior Member

    Feb 28, 2009
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    GopherT, are you sure you aren't thinking of the Gilbert trains with only two rails. Lionel's had three rails on the track with the two outer rails connected with the tie bar. The center rail was insulated from the tie bar and carried one power lead.
     
  4. djsfantasi

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
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    Does your track have two or three rails? Batteries won't work, because classic (026) Lionel ran on AC. A typical transformer (power supply) put out 0-18VAC at about 5A of current. Do you have a Lionel power supply? Can you share the model number?

    Typically, there are multiple output terminals: one variable output for controlling the trains and other fixed voltage terminals for accessories. You connect one variable output wire to the center rail and the second to an outside rail. Either one. Lionel made track clips for this connection that clipped onto the center and an outside rail. Caution: only connect to one outside rail, otherwise you risk a short.
     
  5. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    My search found this:

    http://www.thortrains.net/manual3.htm

    That gives some idea of the required voltage, someone else gave an Ebay link which gives a good idea of transformer VA rating.

    Looking at the prices - I'd seriously consider a DIY build, all the original units would have controlled power with a rheostat, they get pretty hot with continuous use. Designs for efficient PWM controllers are easy to find online.
     
  6. ericgibbs

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 29, 2010
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    If you enlarge the image from 'Ian's link, it show the speed controller, its terminals are marked '+ and - , so I would put my money on DC supply.
     
  7. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    There could well be various models with an all in one or just the transformer/rectifier and the rheostat/direction switch in another box.

    The Triang-Hornby, popular in the UK that long ago had an all in one controller - transformer, selenium bridge rectifier and the rheostat - the rheostat was a sheet of mica with resistance wire wound on it, it was arranged behind the direction/speed knob so the off position was straight up - turning either CW or ACW moved the wiper down one side or the other of the lines of resistance wire, the direction switch contacts were also on the back of the knob and set the output polarity.

    Whether its in the transformer unit or the speed control unit - there's bound to be a rectifier in there somewhere.

    Reversing a 2-wire AC motor wasn't trivial back in the 50s.
     
  8. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    I have my old copy of the GE Experimenters Circuit Manual using Triacs and SCR's.
    They have a model RR controller project that uses an SCR controlled DC bridge source.
    I could post it if you think you can use it.
    Max.
     
  9. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    Doing a little research I discovered that early Lionel RR ran AC and used Universal motors, which made for cheaper simpler controllers but being Universal they will run on DC and can be reversed by polarity.
    So whether Universal or DC motor, a DC controller should work.
    Also this site has much info.
    http://cs.trains.com/ctt/f/95/t/162093.aspx
    Max.
     
  10. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    Those were probably pinched by Graf and Sheets for their 6 volume encyclopedia of electronic circuits.

    Parts for those old SCR designs are getting rare as rocking horse manure - the old regular unijunctions are all but extinct, AFAIK: you can still get PUTs, but you can make your own out of a complementary pair anyway - diacs seem to have made a bit of a comeback - they're frequently used in the start up circuits in CFLs.

    Most people these days go for some form of MOSFET PWM circuit, the PWM can be simple as a dual op-amp - if you just happen to have any old single op-amps and a unijunction laying around, you can use the unijunction as the sawtooth generator.

    BTW: My spell check doesn't recognise the word; "unijunction".
     
  11. ian field

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    I think you might find a universal motor only runs one way.

    Just for fun one day, I tried a Black & Decker electric drill on a car battery (in the days before variable speed triggers) - although very slowly, it turned the normal way, reversing the wires didn't make it go backwards.

    AC mains keeps reversing the polarity quite rapidly - I think a polarity sensitive motor would produce more smoke than torque.
     
  12. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    Lionel trains do reverse for switching cars. There is a rectifier diode (selenium on the old ones) and a dpdt momentary switch for reverse.
     
  13. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    Yes right a Universal motor has to have the series field reversed to reverse direction.
    For some reason they used a 3rd rail on these types?
    I would suspect the later DC types were easier to control due to the Universal essentially operate in a run away condition, but high torque/ load control.
    Max.
     
  14. ian field

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    Oct 27, 2012
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    Not had much experience with the 3rd rail variety - but the few I've seen, both normal rails were ground and the middle one live.

    AFAIK: there was a 3rd rail type in the UK - but it was pretty much extinct befor my first train set came along.
     
  15. crutschow

    Expert

    Mar 14, 2008
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    I had a Marx train when I was a kid. I used it so much that the gear that drives the wheels wore out. Amazingly I was able to send it back for repair where they replaced the gear and drive wheels.

    That train had three rails, like the Lionel and used AC for the tracks (center rail hot and both outer rails common).
    There was some kind of alternate-action reversing relay in the motor, which would reverse direction every time you stopped the train and then restarted it.

    I think the control transformer had an exposed winding with a sliding brush contact, similar to a Variac to control the voltage (except it must have been a separate isolated winding). The transformer never got hot so I'm pretty sure it didn't use a rheostat.
    Certainly one simple way to control the train would be to use a small Variac connected to a transformer of the desired voltage and current rating. The transformer would also provide the required isolation.
    Of course Variacs tend to be expensive unless you can find a cheap used one.

    A side note showing I was a Dilbert even as a kid:
    I have a fairly long train track such that the resistance of the track would cause the train to slow down at the far side of the track and speed up as it got closer to the point of transformer connection at the near side of the track (which annoyed my engineering sensibilities no end).
    Then it occurred to me that if I ran the hot wire to the far end and kept the common connection at the near end, then the total track resistance between the transformer and the train would tend to be the same anywhere on the track.
    I tried that and it worked, with the train now showing no significant change is speed as it went around the track.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2015
  16. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    From what Iv'e read, there was switching done in the locomotive? as the AC controller itself would not be able to reverse etc, especially on a universal motor.
    Max.
     
  17. crutschow

    Expert

    Mar 14, 2008
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    Yes, that was true for my Marx train.
    Obviously to reverse the motor direction by reversing the controller polarity would require a DC motor that is polarity sensitive, since a universal motor is not.

    I think modern model trains have a steady DC on the rails and send some form of coded control signals through the rail to an electronic receiver in each locomotive on the track which controls its speed and direction.
     
  18. ian field

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    The only one I ever remember seeing myself was a larger gauge than the one I had and was very cheaply made, the sleepers were just formed pressed tinplate with gussets that rails slid into - the gussets for the middle rail were bigger to also accommodate an insulator clipped onto the rail.

    Apparently in some countries many years ago - train sets used to have live mains on the rails!
     
  19. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    One I can think of is the Marklin type - Elektor used to publish a steady stream of projects for it.

    ETI did a microprocessor based train controller way back when.
     
  20. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    The Lionel transformer that I found recently had three wires and a reverse button. I already sold it but here a photo and schematic. The picture shows 5 terminals - two were common, one was "U" and b (18 volts) and c (14 volts) from common.
    image.jpg
    image.jpg

    One button causes the whistle to blow, another orange button causes the train to reverse.
    I don't have the engine schematics or the track connection schematic. It looked to me like the diode is used for reverse. I'll leave it up to the motor experts to interpret the rest.
     
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