I am going to build a 12 x 8 foot fast track layout as attached. I will run Lionel Chief Plus and Lionel Legacy Control System. My local hobby store informed me it is best to block each mainline with each having a separate transformer. I will run 3 engines at a time. What do you think? Suggested transformers to use?


Original Post

I run 3 engines at a time, LionChief Plus and Railking, with one Lionel GW 180 transformer through a DCS TIU. The GW 180 has plenty of power to run 3 engines. You can create blocks if you want to run conventionally as well as LC+ and Legacy but in my experience it's not necessary.

By the way, you have a nice trackplan.

Joe B.


President Emeritus of the Olde Newburgh Model Railroad Club, now retired and living the dream in Florida.

Blocks also make it easier to diagnose electrical issues, but I don't think you need it for that layout, especially where you are not running DCS.

You might want to check out the MTH Z-4000, which is little on the pricey side but which offers some nice benefits. First, there are two separate track out puts, each controlled  by its own throttle. That mean that you could electrically separate at least two of your loops, each with its own power supply. Put the longest on one output and the two shortest on the other. It also doesn't produce a chopped sine wave. It also has two accessory outputs for buildings, structures, lights, etc - one for 10v and one at 14v.

Finally, no matter which way you go, you should consider (a) putting in plenty of power drops to the tracks and (b) putting the yard and/or each siding on a separate switch.

Thank you for the reply. I will use 14 gauge wire not Lionel thin 20/22 gauge wire and or course plenty of drops. What do you mean by "putting the yard and/or each siding on a separate switch"? Do you mean toggle and why if I am using CC or Chief?

I put all my yard storage tracks on switches so I can park engines there and turn off power to the tracks.  If you will only park cars there then I wouldn’t worry about it. I use one PW 180 on my medium layout and and it works great. I’ve ran 5 engines at the same time and no issues. I don’t use smoke and I don’t have lighted passenger cars. If you do that could affect how much power you need. I agree, that is a nice track plan. 

Jim J

I agree with Country Joe - one Lionel GW-180 or a Lionel PH-180 power supply should be just fine for the whole layout running 3 engines. You have a plan if you run into power issues to create new power districts if needed. If you can spend the bucks now- use 3 - Lionel PH-180 as shown in your diagram. They will all be phased and very close to the same voltage. There shouldn't be any power issues crossing districts.

1 3/8" tracks have a center rail jumper that makes it easy to create power districts. You have some from blue to orange at the crossover. orange to green needs some at the O-72 switch. (which you omitted from the track plan) . FasTrack O60, O72 and 22.5° cross have 1 3/8" fitters that must be added when using SCARM. The pieces are included with track when purchased.

So, add those where they should be, refit the design, and you'll have your power districts ready to go if needed.


Arctic Railroad

Thank you everyone. This has been very helpful. I will go with four power districts. The forth being the future yard and turntable. I will have a lot of accessories with activator/uncouple tracks for the grand-kids and me to play with. May need a 5th power source for that. We all know O Gauge Lionel/MTH is not an inexpensive hobby to craft correctly with fun accessories. For the last seven years, every month, I had a direct $$$ deposit which went automatically into a train account. In addition I was picking up accessories as they became available. Let's just say I had an O Gauge 401K !!!!!!

Thank you Again. D

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