A New Beginning

I have finally got a house with a dry basement and have collected all kinds of material for the dream layout. My challenge is how to put it all together. Previous layouts were conventional with simple wiring with transformer control. I now want to incorporate TMCC/Legacy in addition to conventional. My inventory of control systems is pretty extensive; Cab-1, TMCC Command Base, 2-135 to 180 Watt PowerMasters, ZW-L?(6-32930), #990 Legacy Control System, 4 180 watt bricks plus PW ZW and KW's. Enough to power New York City. I bought a lot of stuff.

First idea is to have two separate loops, 1 - conventional, 1 TMCC/Legacy. Believe I can control conventional loop with Cab-1 and other with Legacy. They will not interconnect at least to start. All accessories will be on a separate circuit not off the track power.

I'm looking for best options for pulling this all together. Do I give up using the Cab-1 and go with Legacy for both loops using the Powermasters to set Conventional vs. Command? How do I do it wiring wise. Can multiple tracks be addressed separately with the Legacy remote or keep the whole thing separate? 

This may be a no brainer for most of the experts here but know this is the place to go to get the right direction.

Any help appreciated. Thanks

Original Post
The possibilities with command is really only limited by imagination and wallet. Mixing conventional requires isolating where the conventional runs.Not necessarily not connecting loops with rail, but ability to go from 18v constant to a variable when needed. The question has too many answers and variables, including your personal running style, to have any one best answer.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"


"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.


Maybe I got too deep. I need to know how to wire my planned layout so I can run both loops independently of each other. I believe the Power Masters provide a switch between conventional & command. With each loop set to this configuration, how is it wired from the transformer? Each loop being on a separate handle/brick from the ZW. I may be wrong, but just looking for a starting point as I plan this thing out. Thanks

Have you tried looking at the Lionel website.  They have plenty of info and videos for beginning users of their command control equipment.

One important question you need to ask yourself is will there be any connections between the two loops?  If not, the wiring becomes much easier.  Again, however, look at the Lionel website for info.


Columbus, OH Union Station
Columbus, OH Union Station



Chuck - Thank you. I began this journey at Lionel but became frustrated as early videos don't load.

Not planning any connections between loops to keep it "simple" and straight forward. I have many conventional locos and some TMCC so I'm hoping I can run those with Legacy for its benefits. Legacy locos may be in the future and as I learn, adapt.


You are overthinking the wiring.  First, you wire the two loops to two of the controllers on the ZW. That way you can run conventional (using the handles) on each loop if you want.  Second, the ZW-L responds to TMCC/Legacy commands so you can use your controller to operate the loops.  And, third, since the grounds on the ZW are interconnected, you can operate TMCC/Legacy engines on either or both loops when you set their respective  ZW controllers to a full 18 volts.

If you have any crossovers between the loops, you'll need to inset an insulating pin in the center rail of the crossover.


Jan has simple pretty much cornered.

  The bricks belong where you wont ever run conventional.  If that track doesn't exist, don't use bricks, just use transformers. The brick is just a compact easy to hide item. Thats important to some folks. It also keeps you from needing to touch a throttle handle... also important to some folk. Their goal is often to seperate themselves from the convetional world as much as  possible. Be mindful of this as you heed advice on command; not everyone will be thinking about conventional operations being side by side.

  The only real difference on power is a brick output isn't variable. ( But there is prudence in checking the actual output on transformers to make sure you don't exceed the 18v command voltage max. There are a few ways to ensure a bump to full throttle only gives 18v. Some may put out over 20v and for sure if the transfor.ers  whistle circuit is engaged)

  The ZW&ZW-L are two different animals. With a lot of electronics on the line, the ZW,KW etc. can use a breaker update (inline magnetic vs thermal) and TVS addition, to speed the disconnect on shorts and sponge up any voltage spikes (TVS)  .

If the ZW is a ZW-L say so. It has features not seen elsewhere. 

How big an area?  A run around you? Or you in front of a bench? (even a big one)  (This is for wiring.)

    A ZW (or KW) can channel all the power into one throttle and equal a couple of bricks on one line if you had plans for a huge ABBBA with 5-7 motors and two dozen lit passenger cars or something.  A KW handles my12x15 ceiling loop pretty easily. A Z (prewar ZW in a different case) laughs at 12x15 and grades to boot. As you suspect, you have a ton of power there. 

To step up power from Jan's version of Z+command, Using one throttle on each of the two transformers(zw&kw),  for two loops would max the watts available to the tracks and retain varibility on both lines too. (if thats a goal.)

Another option is simple toggles to swap which power feed goes where. (transmission of the commands to all track all the time isnt an issue. Only the 18v non varible is an issue.)

To avoid toggles there are command accessory controllers so you could do switches by remote. (ACS?... too many fancy buzz-word names I never bothered to learn. That kinda crap puts me to sleep, lol.)

  You may want to search YouTube to see what Lionel has posted there too. While you're at it, if you use two transformers, bricks, etc. watch the "phasing of two transformers" video. It's a must.   If not, you may want to watch anyhow. Some deeper electrical basics are nicely covered by Mike and he isn't boring either.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"


"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.


In reading the original post again, P&L has a ZW-C with 4 180 watt bricks. That's all he needs. Power the two loops each from a different handle. Note that you have to turn off the legacy if you are running any TMCC or Legacy engines conventionally. If you have TMCC turned on, any TMCC engines will pick up the signal even though they are not on the intended TMCC track. Otherwise, with just conventional engines on the conventional track and TMCC engines on the TMCC loop, you can operate them at the same time using the remote on the TMCC loop and either the TMCC remote  or the ZW-C handle to control the conventional loop.


I hesitate to add my three cents to this discussion, but it appears that you want to run your layout with the handhelds.  You therefore don't seem to be interested in running from turnout to turnout flipping them one way or the other.  I did not see in your mix of equipment any ASC's or ASC2's.  With these units you can flip your turnouts any way you want from your handheld.  And if you go that far you may want some BPC's (not to be confused with the newer BPC2's, they are not the same).  The BPC's can turn power to track blocks off or switch the CABs (each control handle) of which you are thinking of Two.  I have one CAB setup for conventional service and the other CAB for TMCC/Legacy operation.  Doing this is somewhat (it always seems) confusing for the first time layout builder.IMG_20180326_145248676

This is my control board.  The rectangular boxes toward the front (5 of them) are my BPC's.  They route the power from my "Z" and "ZW" through my TPC's (the silver boxes, your control handle 1 and control handle 2 in essence) to my various Blocks.  The ten rectangular boxes in the back are my ASC's and one (1) ASC2.  And of course the two Black boxes to the right are my TMCC and LEGACY controllers.



Hauling Coal and Tourist to Sodus Point on the PRR-Elmira Branch


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