Lionel Trains

Could someone tell me how to operate a whistle tender on a Lionel train 1955?

The engine light and smoke work fine, but when I hit the whistle button the train only speeds up but does not whistle. This is an "O" scale train. Thanks.

First of all, make sure you do have a whistle. If the tender weighs less than a pound, it doesn't have one. Also, the tender should have a model number stamped on the bottom. The number will end in "W" or "WX" if the tender has a whistle(assuming it hasn't been removed).

Contrary to what the previous response said, it is not and has never been the case that the engine has to be sitting still for the whistle to work.

The whistle works by putting a DC offset onto the AC going to the track. Normally, a postwar whistle isn't polarity sensitive, but sometimes they get that way after years of use. So, the first thing to try would be to switch around the wires going to the track.

If that doesn't work, the problem is probably in the transformer. The rectifiers sometimes go bad. If you have a multimeter, you can test this really easily. Take your multimeter, set it to read DC volts, and hook it across the transformer outputs. Then, move the whistle control. At some point, you should get a reading of a couple of volts(3-5) either positive or negative. When you get to the end of the travel of the control, you should have a reading of .75V or so.

If the transformer fails this test, you need to take it to an authorized service center or independent repairman to have it fixed. If you're not familiar with working on transformers, I'd suggest not attempting a DIY repair.

If the transformer passes the test, you need to focus your attention on the whistle itself. First, remove the tender shell. Depending on the design, it may have a screw at each of the four corners from the bottom, a screw through each end going through the plastic shell, or a single screw at the rear end and a tab at the other end.

With the shell off, you need to locate the relay. Put the tender on the track, and crank the power up. Then, take a screwdriver, and manually close the relay contacts. The whistle should blow. If it doesn't, you have a loose or broken wire somewhere in the tender. If you're reasonably handy with a soldering iron or gun, this will be easy to locate and repair yourself. Otherwise, you need to visit a service center.

If the whistle does work, you have a damaged relay.

Good luck!

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