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I would be interested in your opinions on the
command, not conventional, 0-8-0's produced by
Lionel and MTH.

Features that are important to me are:
- detailed valve gear
- smooth slow-speed operation
- well designed, reliable eletrocouplers

Nice to have but not necessary:
- four chuffs per rev
- good smoker (but must be adjustable or on/off)
- directional lighting.

The engine is intended to be one of two shifters in
my yet-to-be steel mill layout, and I expect it to be
viewed up close during most of an operating session.

Also, I'm not tied down to any particular command system.

Thanks for any help,

Original Post

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     I do not own a Lionel Legacy 0-8-0 switcher but I do own a Legacy B6 0-6-0 switcher (first Legacy release) which is in my opinion the best switcher ever made. It will run all day at speed step one, smokes and sounds terrific and has a great whistle. I do not own any MTH engines but I do have friends at the club who do but as far as their switchers go both diesel and steam cannot compare with Legacy. Don’t get me wrong they are nice but not great. The Legacy B6 is great. I am assuming a Legacy 0-8-0 would be equal to a B6. My friend Kevin had a Erie 0-8-0 and he liked it very much.


I have plenty of both from a few model runs. 3 MTH’s and 3 Lionel’s. If I had to pick a best one. Right out of the box. It would be the most recent MTH Proto 3. Very well detailed and a very good runner. Typical MTH smoke. No battery.  Not great sounds. But okay for a switcher. 3 pickup rollers. 2 on the engine, one on the tender. It uses the drawbar for electrical connection. The very first Proto 2’s also had 3 rollers. Same detailing. Just the large looping tether. The later Proto 2’s only had rollers on the tender. I added rollers to the engine and now have 4. All the holes are still present to do it. I run Kadee’s. I used the wiring for the front coil coupler to tie the rollers together. Great runner but you still have the looping tether.

The Lionel’s aren’t as detailed. But they do feature a totally round boiler you can see under. Even the very first run came with 4 chuffs. Smoke is fan only. Not with chuffs. It does smoke well. Pretty good runner. Tie the rollers together and shorten the drawbar. The factory has a gap the size of the Grand Canyon. Probably the Best Buy of the bunch. The first Legacy version is a good runner.  You can tie the Rollers together. I didn’t. Can’t remember if I shortened the drawbar. I did add a ground wire between the engine chassis and tender chassis. It would stall when changing direction. Maybe the traction tires needed to seat better. Forget the recent Legacy version. Way over priced. Came with a Flyer style board. Not a true Legacy engine. Terrible in switching moves. 3 or 4 usable speed steps.

Last edited by Dave_C
@Dave_C posted:

John B, I thought the very same thing after running a friends B6. Best engine I ever ran. I assumed my new Legacy 0-8-0 where it featured a wired tether tying everything together would run just as well. What a dissapointment. $800.00 shelf piece.


  My friend Kevin’s Erie 0-8-0 was from the first Legacy release (no tether) but i never heard that he had any issues with the engine. My other friend Ray purchased the Bethlehem Steel set Lionel offered during the second Legacy release (had a tether) but never saw it running). If I remember correctly the second release of the 0-8-0s was before Lionel had the “steam switcher” option in the Legacy locomotive type options when setting up the engine in Legacy. I could be wrong on this but wonder if you tried this option when running your 0-8-0. I also remember the complaints when the second Legacy release took place but the died down quickly (unlike the Mogul’s complaints lasted quite some time.


John, my original intent was to use the engine as a switcher and also as a pusher or helper on grades. It started out as a Wabash and was repainted to a B&A. Looking back. I should have just sold it at a loss. I know the switchers are set up a bit different. They should crawl. Step 200 is equal to 100 in a road engine. When setup as a steam switcher. When used in helper service the steps readjust to match a rd. Engine when setup as Train in the remote. Sounded all good. Except these engines didn’t come with Legacy boards. They used a BEMC board that are used in the S gauge Flyer trains. I found that out when I added the engine. It ran way to fast. Somewhere on the screen there was a mention of Flyer. Read a post on a new Lionmaster with issues. Then figured out what was up with it. The same board might have found it’s way into the Shays. They either couldn’t produce the previous Legacy boards from the other run that ran super slow or they had an abundance of these. I thought I was buying the previous run Legacy with the new added tether. Impossible to stall. Just like the B6 0-6-0  If you do a search. The Lionmaster N&W Class A had the same issues. The throttle control just ramps up way to fast. On the switcher. You end up with about 4 usable steps out of 200. Very hard to control with a spinning Cab thumb wheel. I had the best luck using a DCS remote.

Running on a continuous layout it’s a nice little engine. Just not a good switcher. The original Odyssey version runs better at almost half the price. Curious as to how the New catalog 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 switchers are going to run. I agree on the B6. Best switcher I ever ran at a very good price.

Thanks to everyone who responded!

I especially appreciate the discussion of
the differences between makers, and the
differences between generations of
productions as well.

The videos are very helpful - short of
finding someone with an engine and a layout
to run it on, that's as good a
demonstration as I could ask for. And by
the way, you guys have some nice looking

The command systems mentioned seem limited
to Legacy and Proto 2 & 3. Should I
interpret that to mean TMCC and Proto 1
won't "cut the mustard"? Or are the
engines using those systems themselves
not as good of models?

Mike CT and prrhorseshoecurve: I hadn't
considered the Weaver due to conventional
Was your upgrade to TMCC? Legacy? Or..?

GG1 4877: I feel your pain! Trains
were just a passing phase...

Again, thank you all,


A couple of TMCC engines were in the videos above. Detail wise they are the same as Legacy. Main difference is fewer speed steps and sound not quite as good. As Dave pointed out Lionel’s came in two versions of Legacy. The later version does not use a motor tach and won’t lash up with other Legacy engines even though it responds otherwise to all Legacy commands.


@Dave_C posted:

Found another video of the most recent Legacy. You can see how fast it accelerates on the roller stand.


   What momentum setting are you using? I use H on my B6 as well on almost all of my Legacy and TMCC engines. I never ran my B6 in a Train with a road engine such as a Mikado or Consolidation but I do love the way it runs with the momentum on high.


John, momentum settings have little effect on this engine. I think I was doing that test on the bench with a DCS remote that shows what step your in. Most engines I run on heavy. Part of the problem on heavy with this one was you turn the Cab wheel in the normal fashion and next thing you are going at warp speed. Speed step 2  in this one is equal to about 20 in the earlier version. For switching moves I found it best to use a DCS remote. It gives you a positive click for each step so you don’t get carried away. The problem is the big difference in speed from one step to the next. Momentum may get you there a bit slower but it’s way to fast once you get there. Your constantly spinning the thumb wheel trying to adjust the speed.  I ran it in a drag race with the earlier Legacy version. Both programmed with the same I.D. . This one walked away from it. I did a lot of testing. I want to say that when the newer version is in step 2. The older version is somewhere between 15 and 20. The original Odyssey version ramped up very slowly through the first 12 steps. After that there was a dramatic increase in speed as you got to the higher steps. This one has a dramatic increase in speed right from step 1.

Dave, have you tried all the modes on the Cab2 including TMCC and R100 or just Legacy mode?  I don’t have any of theses BEMC engines to play with though I do have the boards for an upgrade someday. I know the older Legacy R4LCs respond differently if you give them the Legacy feature code of AUX1 1 vs a TMCC code of AUX1 4 for steam. Maybe the RCDRs do something similar????


I’ll have to dig it out again and play with it some more. I’ll give it a try. Seeing I don’t use smoke or coil couplers. I was wondering if lowering the track voltage would make any difference. Kind of negates the whole idea of running everything at the same fixed voltage.  I’m assuming the gearing never changed over the different runs. The original Odyssey version is a better runner with just 32 steps. They creep pretty good.  I thought of trying a cruise M. Which would give it a 100 steps. Not sure if in the end it would run any better than the Odyssey version for switching moves. Not sure how much I want to dump into this and still not be able to use it as a pusher with other Legacy steamers.

Last edited by Dave_C

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