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Repairing Your Model Train Transformers

Aug 2, 2008
A common issue with model trains over time is the malfunctioning of a transformer. When trains sit for a long period of time without use they will go bad. So what do you do when this happens? You can either pay someone to fix yours or you can spend your hard earned money to buy another one. If neither of these choices appeal to you then maybe you should consider fixing it for yourself. It will only cost you a little bit of money and use a little patience as well. Soon you will be able to say that you are able to fix them yourself.

You will have to get a few supplies together before you get started. You will most likely need each of these in the course of your model railroading hobby anyway so it is a good idea to go ahead and put them aside just for that purpose. You will need some tweezers, a pair of wire strippers, spare wire of different gauges, some oxidation remover, screwdrivers, solder, and a soldering gun.

Once you have your tools you are ready to determine exactly what your transformer needs in the way of repair. Carefully plug in your transformer and see if you hear any noise coming from either it or your model train. If you can hear noise coming from the transformer and not the train then most likely the contacts on the track will need to be cleaned well.

Once you have done this try running your train once again. If it works then you will know that you have successfully solved your issue. SAFETY ISSUE: Do NOT handle the interior of the transformer unless it has been fully discharged. This can lead to sickness or even injury. The next step involves opening the case of your transformer and examining the interior. If you are an adolescent then get your parent to help you with this step.

If the transformer itself appears dead then you will need to unplug it and get inside the case. Take the appropriate screwdriver and carefully open the case being careful not to touch your screwdriver to any parts inside the transformer itself. While you are doing this you must make sure that you are well grounded just in case of accidental discharge.

Check for burnt, loose, frayed or missing wires. Also make sure there is no oxidation on them as well. Corrosion can be a huge factor in malfunctioning electronics. Any that have gone bad will need to be replaced. If any are just loose then you can use your soldering gun to reattach them.

Any oxidized wires can be removed safely with the soldering iron. You also need to make sure that you remove any extra solder from the wires. Once you have done this then you are ready to remove the oxidation. Dip the ends of the wires into your oxidation remover and let it dissolve the oxidation completely. Make sure that you allow them to air dry and then you can safely reattach them with your soldering gun once more.

Close your transformer back up once you have replaced everything and cleaned it up. You are now ready for another test run. Check your AC/DC output and see if you are getting a proper output. If it is low or nonexistant then you should try replacing the plug itself. If this still does not work then you will have to buy another transformer for your model train.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for model cars, model trains, and model trucks. You will find excellent hobbying and trading resources here for model car tricks and tips, model train transformers, and model trucks.
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