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Smoke burning smell for transformer

I have a KW, the circuit breaker stuck and it began to smoke, though it still works is it ruined? I have since put ina new breaker.

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  • ron goliber Mar 21, 2012

    To clarify my question, I had the shell off of the transformer and was checking it . I plugged it in and it was the transformer coils that began to smoking. I pulled the plug, and have replaced the breaker and it seems to work now. But I was wondering if this may have caused other damage to the transformer. Thanks for your reply.

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  • 17 Answers

YES! You must replace the breaker! Circuit breakers are made to prevent fires from over-current on the line that follows the breaker. If it was smoking, it means that too much current was flowing and it did not trip soon enough. Most breakers, whether they trip at 15 Amps or 150 Amps can handle a very quick pulse of up to 10,000 Amps, but that would not make them smoke: something went wrong. A circuit breaker is cheap. Your safety is not!

Posted on Mar 20, 2012

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SOURCE: The breaker itself does not seem to trip

It is a clear case of metal contacts getting heated/melted/burn out due to overload/short-circuit inside. Please get the circuit breakers replaced with a new one to avoid fire hazard.

Posted on Jul 31, 2010

  • 77 Answers

SOURCE: I HAVE A 3 PHASE 480V. 50 AMP TED134050 BREAKER

run an amp draw on the transformers input side with an amp meter clamp onto one wire L1 L2 OR L3 it does not matter it would help if you had a data logger then you could chart the amp draw. by checking the transformer you will be able to tell if it is a weak breaker or a transformer over drawing

Posted on Nov 16, 2010

  • 3287 Answers

SOURCE: We just started noticing that, when running the

A burning smell from an electrical panel is never a good sign. You did what a lot of people will do, and have the same results - the problem won't go away.

The circuit breaker relies on the mechanical squeeze pressure of its metal clips to maintain solid electrical contact with the panel's bus bars. The problem is likely due to a poor connection between the circuit breaker and the panel board bus bars. Over the years, the load presented by the dryer has heated those points, weakening the metal clips, changing the metal conductivity in some cases due to pitting and arcing. Changing the entire panel is probably not required - especially if there are other unused spaces for a circuit breaker to be installed.

If this is the case, I would remove the new QO230 circuit breaker and install it in a previously unused space in the panel, instead. The bus bar here should be undamaged (since it was never used before), as would be the new circuit breaker contact clips. The damage has been done to the bus bars at the original location, and that space should never be used again. The same holds true for the old QO230 circuit breaker. Install SQD blank plates in the panel cover to keep fingers from getting inside.

Next, a current reading should be taken with an ammeter or amprobe. A 30 amp breaker should have no more than 24 amps on each wire connected to it. If yours is more than that, something is wrong. If it is not more than 24 amps, measuring the voltage at the breaker and the dryer plug should be done as well. The voltage at the plug should not be more than about 3% lower at the plug.

If there is no more room in the panel, a secondary panel can be installed adjacent to and fed from the original panel, space permitting. Move the dryer circuit to the new panel and any two adjacent poles of circuits (for a 240 volt feed). The dryer circuit breaker space will be abandoned and the two additional poles will be fitted with a new QO circuit breaker to supply the new panel. Your electrician should do this work for you. This is "permit required" work and must be inspected for your safety.

I hope this helps and good luck. Please rate my reply. Thank you.

Posted on Jun 01, 2011

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2 Answers

I have a lionel ZW 275 watt transformer and I started to smell and see smoke coming from the right side of the Unit,it still works ok do you have any suggestions. Thanks


Hi,
Not everyone will agree with me on all of this, because many people are very cautious about electrical stuff, so do proceed with caution. But, I would start unplugging it. Then unscrew and open the top. You will probably need to remove the light bulbs under the green and red caps to get the top to lift off.
  • I would first look for anything looking burnt. You didn't say what kind of smell it was and whether it was running trains or accessories at the time. Ocassionally, under load, things get warm in one spot or another and just bending a wire away from a hot spot solves the problem. Over the nearly 50-65 years since these things were made there are a couple of things that can get moved around.
  • I would, really double check what you were running when the thing started smoking. Make sure there are no shorts or derailed trucks or pilot wheels. The original circuit breakers on the ZW's are not very good, and even less so after 50 years. They don't always do what they should when there is a short. Many people who use these ZWs want to protect their trains and they change the circuit breaker to something more reliable. Look up "Lionel ZW circuit breaker" on Ebay and sort by Price + shipping. $11 is the lowest I found and a pretty good deal. Most sellers send you instructions on how to install. What I'm saying is be sure your transformer isn't burning because of a short on the train table. If it is, then you probably need to change the circuit breaker.
  • The last thing I would do is, VERY CAREFULLY, with the top off, plug it back in and operate it like you did before when it started smoking, and then watch for sparks, smoke etc. Unplug it again before doing anything else.
  • There are service manuals and repair instructions out there on the internet. Go to this site linked below and scroll to the bottom of the page for complete repair manuals for the ZW and ZW-R. The pages are .pdf and you can download them individually. I have done that and then printed them and made a repair folder. Search their Library while there. There is a ton of great information.
Lionel Toy Trains Service and Repair Information Library from OTTP...

Good Luck, Dave

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1 Answer

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A burning smell from an electrical panel is never a good sign. You did what a lot of people will do, and have the same results - the problem won't go away.

The circuit breaker relies on the mechanical squeeze pressure of its metal clips to maintain solid electrical contact with the panel's bus bars. The problem is likely due to a poor connection between the circuit breaker and the panel board bus bars. Over the years, the load presented by the dryer has heated those points, weakening the metal clips, changing the metal conductivity in some cases due to pitting and arcing. Changing the entire panel is probably not required - especially if there are other unused spaces for a circuit breaker to be installed.

If this is the case, I would remove the new QO230 circuit breaker and install it in a previously unused space in the panel, instead. The bus bar here should be undamaged (since it was never used before), as would be the new circuit breaker contact clips. The damage has been done to the bus bars at the original location, and that space should never be used again. The same holds true for the old QO230 circuit breaker. Install SQD blank plates in the panel cover to keep fingers from getting inside.

Next, a current reading should be taken with an ammeter or amprobe. A 30 amp breaker should have no more than 24 amps on each wire connected to it. If yours is more than that, something is wrong. If it is not more than 24 amps, measuring the voltage at the breaker and the dryer plug should be done as well. The voltage at the plug should not be more than about 3% lower at the plug.

If there is no more room in the panel, a secondary panel can be installed adjacent to and fed from the original panel, space permitting. Move the dryer circuit to the new panel and any two adjacent poles of circuits (for a 240 volt feed). The dryer circuit breaker space will be abandoned and the two additional poles will be fitted with a new QO circuit breaker to supply the new panel. Your electrician should do this work for you. This is "permit required" work and must be inspected for your safety.

I hope this helps and good luck. Please rate my reply. Thank you.

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