The desire to collect old, beautiful toy trains and sets can be due to a feeling of nostalgia or the desire to make money buying and trading them. Every train set is powered differently, but many of the antique pieces are best paired with AC current switches. Continue reading to discover why.
AC and DC Power
AC, or alternating current, is the way most modern homes deliver electricity to your electronic devices and electric appliances. Alternating current has, over time, been shown to be safer for delivering large amounts of electricity to power the major machines we use. DC, another way of delivering electricity in which electricity moves in one direction, such as with batteries, is these days left to smaller devices like remote controls and flashlights. Many toy trains, especially very old antiques, run on direct current and it's likely that many of the older sets and trains you run into will be configured for use with direct current. This can present a challenge that requires you to pick up an AC switch or adapter.
AC Could Be Better
Your first thought is likely that it's acceptable for you to get one of the many DC adapters on the market and plug it into the train track. This is what many enthusiasts do. They imagine, correctly, that AC will be transformed into DC that will power up the track. However, if you do this, you may discover that you run through adapters rather quickly. Adapting alternating current into direct current is not always efficient because of the amount of electricity coursing through the wires and mechanisms. Spark risks also exist. This is especially true if you plan to use your train tracks and sets often.
AC switches, on the other hand, work more seamlessly with the kind of electricity your house is already using. Electricity delivery to your track will be smooth and efficient, and you don't have to worry that you'll be buying new switches every few weeks if the set gets a lot of use. You might consider including AC switches with any set you sell to other people as well.
With the right AC switch, your train play will be better and you can avoid any electrical issues. You should contact train set manufacturers to determine the correct switch for your sets and trains, if you can. You may also reach out to industrial suppliers in the area that can advise you.