Question about Lionel Cw 80 Transformer

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My new Lionel CW-80 trans former stopped working

This transformer came in the Polar Express 6-31560 train set. The transformer worked for a short period of time and stopped. No hum no any thing, I checked the power outlet and put a meter on the out put terminals and nothing. Also no light goes on. Is there a reset button some where that I'm missing?

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  • trainwrecker Dec 01, 2008

    Mine

  • jules3333 Dec 02, 2008

    We just took our train out to play and the same thing, it won't do anything either although we do have a humming noise but does not sound good, my son has only used this a few times.

  • Anonymous Dec 03, 2008

    have the same problem. cw-80 suddenly stopped working.

  • youngwarrior Dec 05, 2008

    Same problem, this train set worked for 2 years. (Polar Express) The transformer light does not work. The fan works but no powre to the track.

  • mbelleville Dec 06, 2008

    Mine has worked for five years or so. (Different train set -- Riding the Rails Hobo Train -- but same transformer (80-Watt, Model CW-80, P/N: 6-14198)). Worked for a few hours this year, then just stopped. No light. No power. Nothing.

  • trainless Dec 06, 2008

    We've had run the North Pole Central Christmas train set with CW-80 transformer for three years now. I set it up today under the tree. My 6-year old son ran the train for about ten minutes then it just stoppped. Of course, at first, I blamed him. But now I don't think he broke it. When I throttle up, the light on the transformer blinks but the engine doesn't get any juice. It just sits there. I tried setting the accessory voltage output like it says in the instruction manual, but it didn't help. I tried changing the Reverse unit ON/OFF switch on the engine but it didn't help either. Does anyone know how to fix the problem?

  • brian-sw Dec 07, 2008

    CW80 from polar express worked for about half an hour then stopped working.

    green light doesnt come on & no power to the track. Primary coil is okay.

    from what I have seen on the internet the secondary side may have a pulse width modulation circuit running at 60 Hz.

    could problem be the IC blown or a bad potentiometer controlling the pulse width. Due to the green light not being on I was wondering if there was an internal fuse which may have blown.



    Please help



    dont want to open due to possible warranty. plus has tamper proof screws.

  • Anonymous Dec 09, 2008

    The train has been around the track about 20 times and now the transformer no longer works - the green light won't light up, the train won't go anywhere. I bought it last year shortly after Christmas, and didn't set it up until this Christmas and the store won't take it back. My 3 year old son is heart broken.

  • Peter Cizmich Dec 18, 2008

    I spoke to a local service agent for Lionel. He said if the unit is plugged in and the fan works, it's probably a blown fuse. If the fan doesn't work, it's probably a bad printed circuit board. On mine, the fan doesn't operate when plugged in. Anybody else get similar info?

  • elliottmail Dec 20, 2008

    same problem. worked for 15 minutes. unplugged it. when i came back to use it, plugged it in and no green light. there is a hum. so there was no stress to short or blow anything. this happend last year too, but after a rest it would start working again. frustrating.

  • Spit51 Dec 20, 2008

    Had my Lionel Train set for a year. Everything was fine until yesterday when the train wouldn't run and the Transformer Green Light started blinking. The train won't move. I messed with the wires, changed the connection to another Fast Track. Pretty much trouble shot everything. Last resort was to see if anybody else had the problem. And looky what I found. Is the blinking green light the Lionel equivalent of the Xbox 360 Red Eye of Death? Can anybody say quality issues? Shocker that both products are manufactured in China. Total piece of ****. Time to buy a Bachman. The Lionels probably have lead paint too!

  • HO_TrainDad Dec 21, 2008

    I set up my daughter's two-year old Polar Express today, a barely used Christmas treat. Ran it for - maybe - 5 minutes, then the CW-80 transformer just stopped - dead, no green indicator light, no hum, dead as an anchor. Checked wall recepticle etc. From this post, this seems to be a very common CW 80 Lionel problem. Where do I find a triangular security screwdriver to open up the unit? In a large sense, this small problem is a microcosm of the American economic/manufacturing system - formerly rugged, well-built iconic products are now made overseas to increase the companies profit. Then, they cut all corners, create cheap product and now - pieces of junk. My advice Lionel? Ditch the marketing blather and fancy catalogs, just make a decent product. I see a future parallel universe...Lionel=Big Three Automakers.

    ModelTrainDad

  • kobie413 Dec 24, 2008

    exact same thing happened to me today...

  • Dale Leanna Lewis
    Dale Leanna Lewis Dec 27, 2008

    Samething. This is the 2nd or 3rd year we put the train together. It worked for a couple days this season. Today, nothing. No "humm", no light, no power. Also, confirmed the outlet and even plugged it into other outlets that were working. Please help!

  • jgaryo Dec 28, 2008

    My problem is similar but somewhat different. I have a green light but no power to the track. Even the auxiliary circuit works. Where do you buy a triangular screw driver?

  • jimagpag2 Jan 04, 2009

    I purchased on Ebay, a new Lionel CW-80 80 watt transfomer. In addition I bought a small FasTrack oval; running a never used K-Line switcher and three freight cars.

    The train ran fine for about 15 minutes and then went dead No green light and no power.Tested it with volt meter, no reading.Looking to fix this. Yours truly, J B.

  • ootpa Jan 06, 2009

    Have had two of my four units die like this, presumably when a car derailed or a piece if tinsel fell off the Christmas tree and wasn't removed within a few moments of the flashing green light. One unit was replaced under warranty. The other is sitting on my bench while I try to find a tool to open it up. I'm quite disappointed in Lionel for selling a $125 transformer that will die and must be taken to a repair shop to change a fuse. I also can't believe they make it nearly impossible to open the unit up. My solution was to switch to MRC Tech II - 600 units. They are half the price and very reliable, though they are only 50 watts rather than 80. So if you need a doorstop, buy a CW-80; if you want something reliable, buy an MRC.

  • bunsers Jan 11, 2009

    I received my Polar Express train as a christmas present in 2008 as a present from America. I set up the track and the train with my 5 year old son, who was very excited and could not wait to see the train in operation. We had about 15 minutes of fun with the train set and then it just stopped working. I thought it might have been the transformer I had to buy to convert the voltage as I live in Ireland but I learned it wasn't. The green light on the CW 80 transformer stopped working. There is a humming noise coming from the transformer but the train will not work. Can anyone please help. Thanks

  • Anonymous Apr 24, 2009

    I too had same problem. Major derailment caused CW 80 to die but still hummed. I'll try the replacement fuse. Living in Australia I too thought it was my step down transformer (240V to 120V) but confirmed this was still good. I hope it's the fuse because I like the transformer. External fuse holder sounds like a winner.

  • Laura Loder
    Laura Loder Jan 07, 2014

    I need a video!

  • Anonymous Mar 13, 2014

    I recently purchased a Rail King C&O 4-6-4 Hudson steam engine would the Lionel CW-80 transformer be compatible?

  • Anonymous Mar 16, 2014

    the light is blinking on the rw transformer

  • Anonymous Mar 16, 2014

    my lionel rw transformer light is blinking

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I have had the same problem with my polar express, which i just bought recently. Having to send it to the USA from the UK would be very expensive so i decided to open it up myself. The tamper proof screws were a bit of a problem getting into it. I ground down an old screw driver into the triangle shape to undo them. I then replaced them with self taping srews the same size.
The Problem I found was simple, there is an internal (250V, 8Amp) fuse soldered onto the red wire on the secondary winding of the transformer. The red wire going from the transformer to the PCB, the fuse has black heatshrink over it.
There is no room inside the housing of the controller to fit a fuse holder. I fitted a box on the side of it with a panel mount fuse holder. drilled a hole through the housing, fitted longer red wires, so they could go through to the terminations on the back of the fuse holder.
At least now I can change it simply if it blows again.

hope this is of help to you.

Posted on Dec 08, 2008

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Inside the unit is an 8 amp fuse, connected between the transformer 16V output and the electronic control board. This has probably blown. Seems quite a common fault.
If you can remove the four fixing screws with special heads that hold the top and base together, you can replace the fuse.
I had to drill the heads off these screws, remove the studs after filling flats on the and replace with standard screws.
I replaced the fuse with a 4 Amp polyfuse type RUEF400, (which resets after you unplug the unit for a few minutes) but you could drill a hole in the case and fit an accessible fuse holder.
The fuse shouldn't blow, because the overload cut out should prevent excessive current in the event of a short circuit, but maybe some units operate at too high a level.
CAUTION: Do not remove protection, the transformer could overheat and catch fire.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009

  • Frank Caves
    Frank Caves Jan 02, 2010

    If you are using the CW80 on 50Hz, (It's 60 Hz in USA) that may be part of the problem. Apparently the design is critical in this respect. I have also read that Lionel has altered the design so that it works better at 50Hz. You still need a transformer to convert 230V to 115V.
    A better way might be to connect an 80W inverter having a 115V 60Hz output to a 80Watt DC power unit.


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I did the same thing as brian-sw. Opened the unit, removed the old in-line fuse and added an external fuse holder to make it easier to replace in the future. Transformer is difficult to open unless you have the triangular security screw driver. Security bits can be purchase from Harbor Freight but you will need to adapt them to fit into the channels where the screws are recessed. It certaintly would have been nice if Lionel installed an external fuse or circuit breaker. Guess they didn't want to loose the repair business.

Posted on Dec 19, 2008

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Just a suggestion....if you're looking for the fuse....it located in the corner of the case under the green light. I used a dremel tool and cut a 2 inch access into the case to access (on the side of the rear corner not the top) the fuse since I was unsuccessful at finding the screw driver. I snipped the wire at each end of the fuse and replaced it with a 250V 8amp fuse (and heat shrink covering and a fuse holder for future access). I had a plastic body from an old toy that I used to make a removable cover from too.

Posted on Jan 04, 2009

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Sounds like the problem has been properly diagnosed, maybe I can help with the tools... Harbor Freight has a very nice and fairly complete set of security bits for about $12.99

Posted on Dec 24, 2008

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I contacted Lionel Customer Support. They are sending me a replacement transformer at no charge. I suggest that you do the same.

Posted on Jan 04, 2009

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SInce my transformer was out of warranty, I found a Lionel certified merchant who replaced my transformer with a brand new one for $29.
BTW, I had a Lionel dual crossing gate fail after about 5 times around the track. I called Lionel and they are replacing it for free since it was new and under warranty. I would recommend all of you contact Lionel first with this problem, they may make you whole without much fuss. You can find the customer service number at lionel.com.

Posted on Jan 05, 2009

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Sometimes when the green light blinks, the track has just come apart. Unplug the transfomer and check all the tracks. Make sure the locomotive and the rolling stock are all properly alligned with the track. Plug the transformer in and give it a go.

Posted on Dec 19, 2010

  • bigjimmiey Aug 01, 2011

    I took mine apart moments ago and found that a Torx T-10 took the triangle screws right out! Hope this helps, James Weigand

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Our train did the same thing. The solution was to wipe the track down with a wet cloth and clean it. The track was dirty and all of our problems were fixed!!!! The train connection were also dirty with dog hair. Easy fix hope it works.

Posted on Dec 24, 2008

  • Andrew Dec 21, 2012

    Are you sure because My cw80 won't turn on. When I plug it in the green light won't go on. Does anyone have a solution to that and I don't think where the wires plug into the track are right does this even matter?

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1 Answer

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On the base of the transformer you will find 4 tamper proof screws that you will need to remove to open the case. A triangular blade screwdriver will be need to do this. Once removed the tamper proof screws can be replaced with self tapping screws.
Silverhill Tools ASDTR1 Triangle Screwdriver

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