Over the years Lionel and other manufacturers have designed and made many different transformers. Some of them were really nice transformers, but by and large the 2 most desirable transformers were the original 250/275 watt ZW transformer and the 190-watt KW transformer. We have dedicated ourselves to making these two transformers better than new. We did this by taking the best that they were originally, and adding some additional features that really make them outstanding.

What we do:

First things first, every KW or ZW transformer we sell goes thru a complete renovation process that starts with all of the below:

  • Step one is stripping down and given a complete inspection, and checked, for voltage, and current capabilities. All transformers must produce a minimum of 19 volts or they are rejected.
  • The coils are cleaned and checked to make sure there are no shorts between the windings, and will make good connections with the rollers. They are then cleaned and all old residues removed.
  • The rollers are inspected and if not perfect
  • Circuit breakers are checked under load for proper operation and if necessary replaced.
  • The power cord is replaced with a 3 prong power cord and all transformers are wired exactly the same to make sure you will not have any issues with phasing when multiple transformers are used. There is a complete explanation for phasing transformers in the “tech tips” section.
  • The control arms are checked for smooth operation and contact with the coils. Voltage checks are done to make sure throttle controls are smooth and uniform

Lastly, let’s make it more better!

After our transformers pass all our inspections, we add our exclusive “bells are ringing” feature.

What is that?

When these transformers were first built they each have a whistle control, that will activate your trains, whistles or horns. Eventually more and more unique toys have been added to our trains that just make them a lot more fun to operate. One of those features is the ringing of train bells in the engines. To turn on the bells feature requires different electronics in the transformers. Up until now, they only way you could get this feature was by adding separate control box, or purchasing a new transformer. Our “there’s gotta be a better way department” came up with a way to install a new much heavier duty whistle control circuit, that will also operate the bells as well as the normal whistles.  This new feature requires the addition of an additional switch(s) be installed on the transformers.  The way that it works is in the up position, the normal whistle control operates the horns or whistles. In the down position, it will activate the bells.

And effective immediately:

All our ZW transformers will now come with an added power tap as shown below which will give you a constant 20V source not subject to any of the controls on the transformer.

Warrantee: We guarantee all our transformers for a minimum of 1 year. We will either repair or replace your transformer at no cost to you other than shipping cost back to us. What is not covered are broken plastic parts.

KW Transformers

This transformer is designed to operate 2 different trains at the same time. It also has power connections on the back to use for various accessories, for example switches, remote control tracks, lights and other toys. It has plenty of power to handle any nice layout where you will want to run 2 trains at the same time. Using multiple of these transformers for larger layouts works out well.


The ZW is the undisputed king of Lionel’s transformer line. It was designed to operate 4 trains simultaneously, however if you do that, there is no provision for separate accessory power.  A popular solution to this is to add a small 50 to 90-watt transformer just to handle your accessories.

What is the difference between the 250-watt vs the 275-watt version? Frankly not much, the difference of 25 watts divided by 4 controls is like 6 watts, not terribly significant. The 250 watt will of course be more energy efficient.

Other transformers

Thru the years we have massed quite a collection of other transformers. If you need another transformer for accessories or a tree layout, email us with what your needs are and we can supply you with a good dependable unit for between $20 and $100 depending on size. There are just too many to list here, and the inventory changes frequently.