Frankentrains, 1950s Model Trains updated

I have a design to add digitally controlled smoke to model trains from the 1950s. I have used Fusion 360 to design a .STL model of the Smoke Housing that fits in these American Flyer Trains and provide for DC Can Motor driven fans to blow smoke out. I have a heater coil to boil smoke out of the conventional train oils commonly used in the hobby. The tight spaces have been accommodated and the systems have been tested and work quite well.

todays challenge is the control of the heater coil voltage in two types of model train configuration. There are Vintage Conventional config where track voltage (AC 5V to 15V) is used to heat the coil. In more modern operations the Heater is power from a Digital Control Board that runs approx. 50% of track volts to the heater. The Heater coil in older units was thin Nichrome wire wrapped around Angle Hair soaked in scented oil. The power to the coil was normally routed from the AC open frame motor which absorbed about 50% of the track power. But many of us train enthusiast learned to bypass the motor and rewire the heater coil directly to track power. Bot did that wake up the smoke generator! but we were quickly burning out heater coils if the engine was operated at full speed for very long.

All of my testing of the newer Smoke Housing over the last 4 years has resulted in a 3D printed Housing from PETG High Temp Tolerant Filament. When assembled with Digital Controlled Systems the housing works perfectly. However, as the prototypes are being prepared for test release to Value Add Rebuilders. They are all experience train repairers and builders but I worry about users rerouting the heater coils to track voltage and melting down the housings. I am now searching for low cost methods that could be added to the assembly that will protect the housing from track voltage. I have a few options.

Option 1 Include a Voltage regulator to limit incoming heater volts to 7 volts. (I also need 5V for the Fan Motor)
Option 2 Include a Digital Control System for Heat Power Conditioning
Option 3 Included devices to add in a second resistor heater to handle track power if it comes to the Smoke Assembly
Option 4 ???

I am truly searching for cost effective solutions to the heater voltage control issue. I am not even certain adding a second heater is parallel would help but it seemed like it should half the volts? If anyone has knowledge or interest in this topic I am wide open to solution. I was trying to release the prototype Beta Housing this week but I now have a filament shortage and can not print any more housing. In the time it takes to get the new Filament I wanted to find the remedy for the Heater coil handling track power. Anyone???


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Dennis Murphey
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