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Can 12v trains be used in the United States?


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#1 gary_sabol

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 02:43 AM

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I have used the 9 volt train system for years. However, there are features I like from the 12 volt train system. In particular, I like the Electric, Train 220V - 12V Transformer Type 1 but I don't know if there is any way to use this transformer in the United States since it's 220V and the US uses a 110V standard. I obviously wouldn't use this transformer to run the train; it would power all the lights, etc. that would encircle my 9 volt layout.

Thanks!

Gary

#2 TheBrickster

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 05:51 AM

This is a good question Gary.  When I was a kid, my grandparents had purchased a 12V train for me while visiting Germany.  I ended up taking it back thinking that the 12V transformer would not work in the US.  To this day, I wonder if I could have done anything to get it running at 110V in the US.

I'd be interested in hearing what some of the other train fans know in regard to this power conversion.

#3 gary_sabol

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 06:01 AM

View PostTheBrickster, on Sep 15 2009, 09:51 PM, said:

This is a good question Gary.  When I was a kid, my grandparents had purchased a 12V train for me while visiting Germany.  I ended up taking it back thinking that the 12V transformer would not work in the US.  To this day, I wonder if I could have done anything to get it running at 110V in the US.

I'd be interested in hearing what some of the other train fans know in regard to this power conversion.

In the early 80's, I received a Fischer Technik electric train set from my dad for Christmas. I remember it had the two prong, UK plug and it had an adapter so it would fit into a US 110v outlet. It seemed to work fine but maybe it was because the transformer was so small??? I don't believe there was any converter connected to it; just the adapter for the US outlet. I would imagine the LEGO transformer would be similar but would love to hear from anyone who has actually made this work. There are just so many great 12v features that I'd love to add to my 9v layout!  :tongue:

#4 Beej

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 06:23 AM

That's an interesting idea and I problem I never realised existed before (Australia uses 240V so there are no problems using European equipment). A lot of equipment these days can auto-switch between common supply voltages - I'll check if the 12V transformers can do this as it negates the rest of this post, but due to their age I doubt this is the case.

The way I see it there are two ways you could solve this - use a step-up transformer to convert the 110V to 220V to supply to the Lego transformer. Or if you know what you're doing (ie. are a handy type of person and have a good knowledge of electricity and it's dangers) you could open the transformer up and replace internal transformer with one suitable for plugging into a US outlet.

Unless you get confirmation that it will work, don't go trying to use a travel adaptor to plug a 12V transformer straight into 110V mains - you might release all the smoke they packed in!  :tongue:

Edit: you can negate all of this messing around if you're happy to go with non-Lego parts. Just buy a 12V 1 amp wall wart and you're off and running...

Edited by Beej, 16 September 2009 - 06:26 AM.


#5 AFOL12v

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 07:20 AM

I guess there are things, which can convert 110v to 220v un USA. Ask an electricity shop, maybe they can give you an answer.

I hope I didn't wake up people to start collecting 12v now? If demand rises, the prices will go sky high. Realize that, when starting collecting 12v. If you are a bit handy, you can add 12v things to your excisting 9v system. You only need switches for the signals and crossovers from 12v. The switch in track can made for 9v.

Controlpanel:
Posted Image
Click on pic to get a bigger one

And here the 9v switches:
Posted Image
Click on pic to get a bigger one

Edited by Panda9001100, 16 September 2009 - 07:20 AM.


#6 gary_sabol

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 02:30 PM

View PostPanda9001100, on Sep 15 2009, 11:20 PM, said:

I hope I didn't wake up people to start collecting 12v now? If demand rises, the prices will go sky high. Realize that, when starting collecting 12v. If you are a bit handy, you can add 12v things to your excisting 9v system. You only need switches for the signals and crossovers from 12v. The switch in track can made for 9v.


Thanks, Panda. Wow! It looks like you have most of the 12v stuff out there already.  :tongue:

I really like my 9v layouts. It's just that there are some great features of the 12v that I really like that were never made for the 9v sets like the signals and remote control crossing gates. If there were some way to incorporate these into my existing layout, it would add to its accuracy and playability. I'm just trying to figure out if that 12v transformer will work to power the lights. I would prefer this over a battery box.

I stumbled across this article on how to incorporate the signal lights into an existing 9v layout:

12V Signals in a 9V setup

#7 BMW

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 03:35 PM

Panda - I am a big user of 12v motors... but I power these usually through a 9v train motor in the tender which has had it's actual motor removed allowing it to simply supply power.  So I use 9v track and pwer supplies.  Since you run actual 12v extensively a couple questions for you:

A) Do you find the 12v track oxidizes more rapidly than 9v?  I had heard about this from someone who was very pleased when the 9v system was first introduced as he claims that during the summer when it was humid, his old 12v tracks would quickly oxidize making the trains run poorly for some time until the track became clean.  He claimed the 9v system was a big improvement in this regard.

B) I have purchased old 12v train motors where the bronze contacts have worn down badly.  Can you quantify the lifespan of these?  Again, I run on 9v track so my bushings are taped back and never used... but it would be nice to know how long these would last.

- BMW

#8 Greg Kramer

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 04:27 PM

View Postgary_sabol, on Sep 15 2009, 09:43 PM, said:

Posted Image

I have used the 9 volt train system for years. However, there are features I like from the 12 volt train system. In particular, I like the Electric, Train 220V - 12V Transformer Type 1 but I don't know if there is any way to use this transformer in the United States since it's 220V and the US uses a 110V standard. I obviously wouldn't use this transformer to run the train; it would power all the lights, etc. that would encircle my 9 volt layout.

Thanks!

Gary

It is definitely possible to use the transformer in the US.  You can buy a 110-220 converter, then plug the converter into our 110 outlets and the Lego 220 transformer into the converter.  They are available online and probably at Radio Shack.  A quick google search turned up this example (I have no idea is this is a good brand or not, it's just an example)

http://store.sundanc...channelid=FROOG

-Greg K

#9 The Green Brick Giant

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 04:43 PM

As Greg said now-a-days you can buy a converter ad there will be no issues.  I don't understand why there are different volts in different parts of the world anyways.

#10 gary_sabol

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 04:47 PM

View PostGreg Kramer, on Sep 16 2009, 08:27 AM, said:

It is definitely possible to use the transformer in the US.  You can buy a 110-220 converter, then plug the converter into our 110 outlets and the Lego 220 transformer into the converter.  They are available online and probably at Radio Shack.  A quick google search turned up this example (I have no idea is this is a good brand or not, it's just an example)

http://store.sundanc...channelid=FROOG

-Greg K

This is the best news I've heard all morning. Thanks!

#11 FreeBee

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 12:48 AM

Or use this.
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image



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