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I've been considering an MTH steam locomotive with PS 3.0.  As I'm not interested in rewiring my layout for the MTH System, what features of an MTH PS 3.0 locomotive will my ZW-L Transformer, or TMCC, or Legacy operate?  Direction, Bell, Whistle, would be sufficient for this purpose, as I'm more interested in the particular MTH engine's attractive detailed appearance.

As always, many thanks!

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You will be operating in conventional mode, but direction, bell and whistle should be functional with the ZW-L.  TMCC/Legacy may require a later version Powermaster, as the early Powermasters from the 1990s did not play well with PS1 locos and might not do so with PS3.  No experience.  You'll probably just have to experiment, but my understanding is the ZW-L has the previously developed firmware to control PS2 and PS3 locos in conventional mode.  Might want to email Dave at Lionel and check, unless someone here has direct experience with the ZW-L and PS3.  I don't.

You'll need a Lionel TPC unit or a Legacy Powermaster.

( one of the newer zw's might have one already integrated into the transformer? Not sure)

Either component will allow Legacy handheld control of speed, direction, whistle,bell,electrocouplers, and some of the passenger/freight announcements.

I operated a few MTH PS 2 locos via a TPC unit. Once under way. It was hard to tell they weren't under cc. They ran very well. Also smoked like crazy, which is adjustable manually via the smoke "pot" on the tender

Additionally , since MTH locos already have a battery or bcr as part of the electronics. Lights and sound do not drop out during conventional direction changes.

@Landsteiner posted:

You will be operating in conventional mode, but direction, bell and whistle should be functional with the ZW-L.  TMCC/Legacy may require a later version Powermaster, as the early Powermasters from the 1990s did not play well with PS1 locos and might not do so with PS3.  No experience.  You'll probably just have to experiment, but my understanding is the ZW-L has the previously developed firmware to control PS2 and PS3 locos in conventional mode.  Might want to email Dave at Lionel and check, unless someone here has direct experience with the ZW-L and PS3.  I don't.

Thanks!  Since this is a Premier locomotive, I'll need to confirm functionality so I don't add an expensive "Shelf Queen". I haven't combined operating systems on my O Gauge layout, although my smallish standard gauge layout operates with a Z-4000.  Over time I may finally install my Command Control DCS system on the SG layout to access more of the functions on the SG locos.

@RickO posted:

You'll need a Lionel TPC unit or a Legacy Powermaster.

( one of the newer zw's might have one already integrated into the transformer? Not sure)

Either component will allow Legacy handheld control of speed, direction, whistle,bell,electrocouplers, and some of the passenger/freight announcements.

I operated a few MTH PS 2 locos via a TPC unit. Once under way. It was hard to tell they weren't under cc. They ran very well. Also smoked like crazy, which is adjustable manually via the smoke "pot" on the tender

Additionally , since MTH locos already have a battery or bcr as part of the electronics. Lights and sound do not drop out during conventional direction changes.

Thanks, Rick.  I never would have thought of a TPC unit for this purpose -Interesting!  I think the ZW-L has the Power Houses built into the transformer, but not the Power Master.  Worth checking, though.

Dennis GS-4: I generally share RickO's opinion, although my setup is slightly different than yours so I'd recommend that the first thing to do would be to read the Owner's Manual that came with your ZW-L (to determine its capabilities) - if you haven't done so already - to see what if anything it says about running MTH engines.

Using my CAB-1L, a BASE-1L and a Legacy PowerMaster (and, like you, I wanted to be able to operate a few MTH locos because of their attractiveness) I'm able to run my MTH engines in conventional mode and, like RickO says, can access 'some' MTH features.  The sequence that's stated in my PM-L manual - when starting up an MTH loco - is as follows...

1. Press TR or ENG on the CAB Remote.

2. Enter the ID# of the LEGACY PowerMaster unit into the numeric keypad on the CAB Remote.

3. Press AUX1,9 on the CAB Remote.

The power up sequence has been activated.

DO NOT PRESS THE DIR BUTTON; full power is applied to the track at this point.

4. After the engine sounds begin (or five seconds), enter the track voltage setting. Press 8 to supply 30% of full power.

NOTE: If you do not enter this number, your locomotive will take off as soon as you press the DIR button on the CAB Remote!

5. Move 'em out! Press the DIR button on the CAB Remote.

That's why I said to read your ZW-L OW first as there may very well be something alluded to MTH engines in it.

Good Luck!

Thanks, Rick.  I never would have thought of a TPC unit for this purpose -Interesting!  I think the ZW-L has the Power Houses built into the transformer, but not the Power Master.  Worth checking, though.

I believe that along with higher voltage capabilitiy than the original powermaster the main idea behind the TPC unit was to access MTH trains conventionally.

I mentioned the TPC unit, not knowing what if any components you currently have.

As PH 1975 mentions. The new Legacy powermasters have taken the place of the older TPC unit , having the same capability.

The nice thing about the Legacy PM is that its programmable, and takes the commands remotely, Whereas the TPC unit needs a direct connection to the base.

The logical choice at this point would be a Legacy powermaster. I believe they can be had less than NOS TPC units on the secondary market. Having said that. If your pinching pennies. There was a member on the FS forum several weeks ago with TPC units at a very reasonable price.

The Legacy powermaster ( and TPC unit) contain instructions on how to set starting voltage for MTH as well as access the PFA'S  ( these say PS1 &2 but I presume should work for PS# as well)  

See page 20: https://www.lionelsupport.com/...EGACYPowerMaster.pdf

Last edited by RickO

I have the ZW-L but am only running Lionel engines at this time.  I do have a Williams trolley running on the inside loop, it is conventional and operates fairly well.

The ZW-L is programmed for tracks 1-4 and controls my Legacy H10 steamer and other Lionel engines very well.  Having read the manual there is no information on running MTH engines specifically, that I could find, only vague references to running other engines.

I also inquired if the built in Powermasters in the ZW-L were in fact Legacy Powermasters but I was not able to determine that.  An e-mail to Lionel only resulted with a response to read the manual.

I did read the Legacy Powermaster manual and there are instructions on running MTH PS2/3 engines but I’m not sure they are the same as the instructions for the TPC 300/400’s

Absolutely you can run an MTH PS-2 or 3 on Lionel power masters and modern ZW.  I do.  Direction, bell and whistle work fine.  What most likely won't work is the added features of conventional firing of couplers, activating PSA and such.  The latency of the controller and the lionel transformer make it hard to meet the time response.  But since you said that does not matter, you will get all the important features YOU want.  G

I can attest to the 'latency' or lag issue that GGG refers to, as I've tried many times to hit the bell & whistle buttons on my CAB Remote to trigger the PFA sounds and have NEVER BEEN SUCCESSFUL.  But, like Dennis GS-4 I'm quite content to just watch my MTH engines run and have the ability to blow the whistle and/or ring the bell whenever I want.

@PH1975 posted:

Dennis GS-4: I generally share RickO's opinion, although my setup is slightly different than yours so I'd recommend that the first thing to do would be to read the Owner's Manual that came with your ZW-L (to determine its capabilities) - if you haven't done so already - to see what if anything it says about running MTH engines.  


Thanks PH!975!  Boy, do I agree with that recommendation, and will follow the advice.  I actually made a copy of the manual that I keep in a binder in the train room.  It will be interesting to see if the ZW-L manual goes to that detail as to MTH PS 3.0 locos! I actually thought this would be a routine question, with a, "Sure, I do that all of the time!"  But as with anything Command Control related, there are often no simple answers!  
I do appreciate all of your insights, and those of the other Forum Members!
Last edited by Dennis GS-4 N & W No. 611
@PH1975 posted:

I can attest to the 'latency' or lag issue that GGG refers to, as I've tried many times to hit the bell & whistle buttons on my CAB Remote to trigger the PFA sounds and have NEVER BEEN SUCCESSFUL.  But, like Dennis GS-4 I'm quite content to just watch my MTH engines run and have the ability to blow the whistle and/or ring the bell whenever I want.

PH1975,

I'm still chuckling, as all of my Standard gauge engines have sophisticated MTH electronics, and I'm still running them after 6 months with the Z-4000 transformer!

@CAPPilot posted:

I deleted my post on the DCS Remote Commander Set.  While I still think it is a good idea, you need to come up with a power source for it increasing the complexity of the installation.

Assuming you recommend adding complexity, which makes me grin, I think perfecting "Star Wiring" on my layout would ably satisfy that threshold!  That's actually what I'm trying to avoid, and -- for one locomotive - that alone pushes me to "keep it simple".

Last edited by Dennis GS-4 N & W No. 611
@GGG posted:

Absolutely you can run an MTH PS-2 or 3 on Lionel power masters and modern ZW.  I do.  Direction, bell and whistle work fine.  What most likely won't work is the added features of conventional firing of couplers, activating PSA and such.  The latency of the controller and the lionel transformer make it hard to meet the time response.  But since you said that does not matter, you will get all the important features YOU want.  G

Thanks GGG,

I would have hoped that Lionel would have attempted to achieve that result with a very recent, sophisticated transformer.  I just wasn't sure if PS-3 as currently updated would be operable by the ZW-L.  

Given all of the incompatibilities between the systems even as originally introduced, I had just made a decision long ago to stick with Lionel -- not due to any superiority -- just due to familiarity.  I've had TMCC since the early days, before Rail Sounds had numerals!

Last edited by Dennis GS-4 N & W No. 611

Assuming you recommend adding complexity, which makes me grin, I think perfecting "Star Wiring" on my layout would ably satisfy that threshold!  That's actually what I'm trying to avoid, and -- for one locomotive - that alone pushes me to "keep it simple".

Nope, was not talking STAR wiring.  DCS is working on many layouts with bus wiring, although STAR wiring is better.

The $60 DCS Remote Commander Set can be added to the layout fairly easy.  But hooking it up in passive mode means track power will not go through it, requiring another way to power it. That was the added complexity that I did not think you would want.

I used one on my test layout but had a Z-500 to power it.  That was a long time ago, but I don’t remember any issues.  Plus it gave me command control of my DCS PS2 engines (one at a time).  For me, I no longer have fun running engine in conventional.

@CAPPilot posted:

Nope, was not talking STAR wiring.  DCS is working on many layouts with bus wiring, although STAR wiring is better.

The $60 DCS Remote Commander Set can be added to the layout fairly easy.  But hooking it up in passive mode means track power will not go through it, requiring another way to power it. That was the added complexity that I did not think you would want.

I used one on my test layout but had a Z-500 to power it.  That was a long time ago, but I don’t remember any issues.  Plus it gave me command control of my DCS PS2 engines (one at a time).  For me, I no longer have fun running engine in conventional.

Thanks CAPPilot.  I appreciate your comments.  I'll bet that my O Gauge layout would satisfy the star wiring recommendations, since I was attempting to avoid voltage drop on the mainlines when originally wiring the layout, so I have what essentially amounts to "Star Wiring".  (Voltage drop is something I never considered as a young boy, since my layout was all Super-0 track with a copper center rail.)  

I just don't want to take a chance on purchasing a MTH Premier steam engine if the "simple" commands, like whistle, bell, and direction can't be operated without possibly requiring some more wiring.  Returning locos that have been "run" can be challenging -- or, not possible.

I am very pleased to report, that I can operate several features of an MTH steam engine with Proto Sounds 3.0 using a Lionel ZW-L Transformer!

I purchased an MTH UP 4-4-0 General #119.  The bell, whistle, direction, and general operation work fine. The whistle is exceptional, and there are some "sounds" that are operable, including shut-down, although I haven't fully "auditioned" the sound repertoire yet.

At the outset, the set-up and even the simple operation of the locomotive was becoming a significant challenge.  I could not get the "direction" controls activated for the locomotive, although I tried numerous possibilities, including fidgeting with the ZW-L's CMD/CNV switches.  

I did, however do what I often do -- I re-read the operative sections of the MTH operator's manual.  (I had already read the operator's manual earlier this morning.) The words, "temporary interruption of power" to activate the direction control gave me an idea.   I decided to try  to very quickly activate the direction button on my handheld -- or the direction slider on the ZW-L -- and that worked great for easily changing the direction.  I hope that procedure continues to work!

Last edited by Dennis GS-4 N & W No. 611

PH1975 mentioned the "latency problem" when using a TPC (or the equivalent inside a modern ZW-x), and RickO mentioned the MTH features listed on Page 20 on the Legacy Powermaster Operator's Manual.  Combine these two and you'll find the answer to solving the latency issue.

The latency problem occurs when you need to press the horn/whistle and/or bell buttons with precise timing between pushes, such as when configuring a PS1, 2 or 3, locomotive for advanced conventional features.  Doing so using the whistle/horn and bell buttons on a CAB-1, 1L or 2 is iffy at best.  The timing from your finger pushing the button, to the resulting signal going through the CAB-x and the command base, is normally not precise enough to support this.

To send out whistle/horn and bell signals with acceptable timing use the "Fast Horn" and "Fast Bell" functions seen on Page 20 of the LEGACY Powermaster Operator's Manual (thanks RickO), and also below from the operator's manual for the last edition of the TPC's (6-14189, 71-4189-250 from 04/2004).

2021-04-08_11-18-4412021-04-08_11-18-442

To use Fast Horn or Bell do an AUX1 - 3 button sequence for "Whistle/Horn", and an AUX1 - 6 for "Bell".

Mike

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As noted in my preceding post:

       "I decided to try  very quickly activating the direction button on my handheld -- or the direction slider on the ZW-L -- and that worked great for easily changing the direction.  I hope that procedure continues to work...."

Unfortunately, instead, the direction control using the hand held remote, or, the transformer direction slider, no longer sequences the direction, and the locomotive is currently stuck in neutral.  The locomotive does sound beautiful though!  She may become "the star of the siding" until I am able to figure this out!

Last edited by Dennis GS-4 N & W No. 611

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