Lionel H0 Train Control

Lionel’s H0 trains used traditional Direct Current (“DC”) power to run the locomotives and traditional Alternating Current (“AC”) to operate accessories such as track switches, lights and the operating cars. Power was provided by several different Lionel-manufactured transformers, but most any H0 power pack could be used.

Power Supplies

Lionel offered a number of power supplies for their H0 train line.

0103 800 milliamp Power Pack

The 0103 was commonly found in starter sets, but was also available separately.  Rated at 0.8 Amps, Lionel described the unit’s output in milliamps to make it appear to be more powerful than it was.

The 0103 incorporated its reversing switch into the control handle; the handle is shown in the “off” position.  Turning the handle in one direction or the other would increase the voltage to the track.

0101 11/4 Amp DC, AC Power Pack

This power pack had a similar design to the 0103, but provided more output power along with an AC tap for accessories.

0100 “Multi-Volt” DC, AC Power Pack

The 0100 had an output power rating of 21/2 Amps. One handle controlled track voltage while the other controlled train direction.

0104 “Multi-Volt” 2 Train Control DC, AC Power Pack

The 0104 was also a 21/2 Amp power pack, but had two throttles.

0102 Fixed Voltage DC AC Power Pack

The 0102 used the same case as the 0104 (which used the same case as the Lionel 0-Gauge TW), but was simply a power supply without train controls.  It disappeared from the Lionel H0 product line in 1960, making it a very uncommon item.  The 0102 was rated at 5 Amps, and was meant to be used with the 0181 Cab Control (below).

0181 Cab Control

Although not unique to Lionel H0, the 0181 Cab Control was unusual for H0 model trains of the day. It connected to a power supply such as the 0102, and then was used to regulate train speed and direction on a segment of track. Like the train set packs 0101 and 0103, the red handle regulated both speed and direction. The 0181 featured a circuit breaker and power-on lamp, along with a power-off button to be used in uncoupling operations. The power off button helped the train operator stop on top of the 0919 uncoupling track.  

Since the Lionel H0 trains of that era were equipped with the maligned X2f coupler, it is questionable how effective this might have been.

The 0181 was also unique in that it could be connect to additional 0181’s, all drawing power from a common source but allowing for independent control of different segments of track.

1144 Multi-Volt” Transformer

While not meant to control the DC powered Lionel H0 trains, the 1144 was marketed with their H0 product line as an independent source of AC power for accessories. By doing so, the power resources of the train operating transformers were not reduced by the presence of streetlights, operating accessories and such.  The 1144 disappeared from the Lionel H0 product line by 1962.