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Safety of old transformers

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Safety of old transformers

Postby » Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:07 pm

Hello, I just inherited boxes of old (circa 1980s) Ho and N scale trains and accessories. It has all been in storage for probably 25 years. There are 2 power packs, 1 is the small one that come with boxed starter sets, the other is a larger, more sophisticated pack, with momentum and some other features. I have plugged in both of them and they have power. My question is, are they OK (safe) to use, as old as they are? My wife is already unhappy with the amount of space I have appropriated downstairs, and would be even more unhappy did I burn down the house. Is there a way to verify the transformers are safe to use or am I simply being overcautious? Thank you.
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Re: Safety of old transformers

Postby dmaynard » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:18 pm

As long as they do not appear to have gotten wet, they should be fine. On the really old power supplies, the cord insulation would get brittle and crack, but since cord insulation has been changed from natural rubber to a plastic compound, that is no longer an issue. Some folks are still using the power supplies you have, on their railroads, and have been since they were new, without issues. As long as they don't get too hot to touch, or they don't emit any kind of burning smell, then you should not have anything to worry about.

As always, I would not leave them plugged in and powered on while they are unattended. But that should be true with any train power supply.
David A. Maynard
Shannon Car Shops of
Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon RR
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