Train Power Supplies

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Metalmann, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. Metalmann

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
    I haven't owned an electric train since the early 50s, but this low price made me think of using one of these for a cheap, low overhead, low voltage, power supply.:

    Anyone use these when starting out?:confused: Thought they may be useful for beginners wanting to go the cheap route at first.

    I already have a sweet PSU, but was wondering about this use? I remember running my trains for hours at a time, and the transformers would get a little too warm.

    Of course, I couldn't resist hooking up lights and other elec. garbage to them.;):D
  2. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
    Well that power supply is made for a certain scale of trains and aslong as your using that scale I see no problems ....But what I would try to do is to find a yard sale or flea market and tried to find one there cheep or a whole box of train stuff and sell off what you don't need ..
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  3. PackratKing

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2008
    Are train transformers rectified to DC to obtain the reverse mode ??
    They contain the same basic rheostat to control train speed, as the foot-rheostat that is used on sewing machines, though the latter I believe is only AC...

    I have my Dremel - Universal motor - wired through one of the sewingmachine units, and it works like a charm...
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  4. Metalmann

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012

    I still don't really understand the Science of most of the posts here, and I'm not sure how that transformer could run the train in both directions so smoothly. I used to think there was some Super Magical switch hidden in there that you couldn't see.;)

    Sure was fun hooking up other things using the variable voltage.

    Maybe some guys here know exactly how the voltages work. I just imagine some kind of rheostat.:confused: Just like the sewing machine foot pedals.
  5. Duane P Wetick

    Senior Member

    Apr 23, 2009
    I think the early Lionel units used a Rheostat and switch to switch and control power to the locomotive's DC PM (permanent magnet) motor. Later units may have used a variable auto-transformer (Variac) to control the engine, but I think a Rheostat was the control element because of cost. I seem to remember a bi-directional control lever; to the right was forward, to the left was reverse...and yes they did get hot! the point of smelling up the living I recall. This was long before solid state technology (transistors) as I was messing around with tubes and big Aria radios.

    Cheers, DPW [Everything has limitations...and I hate limitations.]
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  6. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    A resistor would be far more expensive then a transformer.

    An auto transformer is extremely dangerous to put inside a kids toy.

    Most trains run off DC, though I believe the traditional Lionel run off AC. To get DC they just full wave rectify the transformer output. The "reverse"switch is a DPDT for a polarity swap.
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