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I have a Canadian Pacific postwar celebration series passenger set that draws A LOT of power. It consists of an F3 ABBA totalling 4 AC motors, 2 Railsounds units and about 10 cars. I keep triggering the fold-back protection on my ZW-L as this train hits the 180 watt ceiling for a single throttle.

Is it possible to splice (dovetail) two output terminals on the ZW-L to achieve a combined 360 watts? Would I run the risk of damaging components like FET's with backflow if the throttle outputs aren't equalized?

I'm sure there are layouts out there with multiple loops powered by separate throttles. I'm also fairly certain that some of these people have trains crossing between blocks where there would be at least some momentary "bridging" between blocks when roller sets cross an insulated joint? What happens in this instance? Is a momentary bridging between outputs acceptable, but not a longer-term connection?

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The ZW-L is a very capable transformer.  Your questions are discussed in the manual available on Lionel’s support site( ZW-L manual )  If you don’t have it already, block control would help, if not solve, your problem.  See page 12.  If you operate conventional, handle A can be set up to control voltage on all four outputs.  See page 15.  Hope this helps.

You're drawing a ton of current.

The latest equivalent of the TPC 400 is the Legacy Powermaster 360.  Same idea, but better.

Whether you use the TPC 400, or the Legacy Powermaster 360,  you get the same functionality (for the most part) as one of the throttles on the ZW-L but you get 360 watts instead of 180.

Unfortunately you also get no throttle lever.  With these you need to use the controls on a CAB2 handheld (or CAB1L) through a Legacy Base to control the throttle.


I suggest you not try to combine the ZW-L outputs, bad things are likely to happen!  Since each output is independently electronically controlled, having different voltage settings on them can't be a good idea.  I know the MTH Z-4000 electronic transformer would shutdown if you connected the two outputs together, hard to believe it's a better idea with the ZW-L.

Thank you to everyone for the suggestions. I'm scrapping the thought of splicing the ZW-L outputs. I strongly suspected it was a bad idea.

I do have a Legacy Powermaster 360, so I will go that route, using a postwar ZW for input. Frankly, I suppose I could skip the Powermaster and just connect the postwar ZW  straight to the rails at 18V. But I could easily see myself frying a bunch of TMCC electronics.  I like the fast acting protection in the Powermaster.

@Rich Melvin posted:

You don't need FOUR powered units to pull only 10 cars. Get a couple of dummy units, or pull the motors out of two of the units you already have.

Converting the cars to LED lighting will help a lot, too.

Yes, four powered units would be unnecessary.  I only have two powered units consisting of a powered A and B (each with two AC motors) which pull a non-powered B and A, followed by ten cars. It's just enough to do the job without slipping.

I am considering getting another box of 25 direct replacement LED bayonet bulbs from Town & Country. Although these bulbs don't seem to stand up well to long-term AC power without a protecting diode, I'm sure that with limited use in a passenger set, they would be fine. An incandescent No. 57 bulb is about 0.20 Amps whereas these replacement LED's are maybe 0.02 Amps. So, right away that would probably cut out a couple of Amps, or almost 40 Watts from the power demand.

@ADCX Rob posted:

But, can you power it with two channels of the ZW-L?

You can't even use one channel of a ZW-L to supply a Powermaster because it requires input from a sine-wave transformer. The instructions are very clear. Nonetheless, that didn't stop me from experimenting. A couple of strange things happen when you try this. First, a DC offset seems to get produced, causing horns to blow non-stop. Placing a non-polarized capacitor across the ZW-L terminals seems to fix this issue. Secondly, the fold-back protection of both the ZW-L and Powermaster when wired in series like this seem to interact in a bad way, causing an extreme increase in sensitivity which causes trains to grind to a halt with every momentary roller spark. I never found a way around that issue and gave up. It's just not meant to be used that way.

It does.

The major difference is that it also has throttle levers in addition to to the PowerMaster functionality.

The four command-operated channels on the ZW-L are a nuisance to me for several reasons. First, whenever you are in command mode, all channels are in command mode (it doesn't matter whether it's set to 1 channel or 4 channel mode). Personally, I like using one of the ZW throttles for instant voltage adjustments to various accessories that require constant tweaking as they operate. However, that requires conventional mode, or the aggravation of fumbling around to address a separate channel using TMCC. Secondly, if you are using the ZW-L as a Powermaster, you'll quickly realize someone at Lionel forgot to include the Powermaster's AUX1-9  "full power on" function, which means you have to get busy dialing it up to 18 volts, every time. It would have been really nice if there was a choice between conventional and command for each individual channel.  My solution was to keep the ZW-L in 4-channel conventional mode, leave the B channel powered to 18 volts, and feed that channel into my Legacy Powermaster. That way I retain conventional control over the accessory throttles, while using the remote to address the Powermaster (and therefore track) separately. Of course, to get that operating, I had to add the capacitor noted in a previous post above and minimize shorts / sparks. In short, my ZW-L has never worked for me the way I had hoped (except for circuit protection perhaps). I'm often tempted to remove the ZW-L and just feed a postwar ZW into my Legacy Powermaster. But the ZW-L just looks so cool sitting there all lit up!

@Lionlman posted:

I replaced the bulbs in my passenger cars with the LED bayonet bulbs from Town and Country which produced a large drop in the current draw.

Neal Jeter

I bought a 25-pack of their bulbs and half of them died within a year. I was using them in lamp posts and other locations where they were constantly on. I added protecting diodes and never had another one die.   I experimented with using them in a 2500 series passenger car.  Despite being the "warm white" version, the lighting was very dim, cast shadows due to the LED directionality, and had a weirdly inappropriate color temperature. Not the warm lighting of a passenger car - more like the harsh lighting of an oil refinery or Siberian gulag. Nonetheless, I might come around in my thinking and try again.

GRJ - you're absolutely right. That is the best way to go as I have discovered doing my dispatch board upgrade (below). Just need to find the motivation to tear apart 10 aluminum passenger cars...

Original Incandescent bulbs (notice light concentrations at bulb locations):


Direct replacement LED's from Town & Country (notice dark region in upper half):


LED light strips around inside of frame perimeter (nice even lighting):



Images (3)
  • IMG_6155
  • IMG_6156
  • IMG_7987
@Gweedo posted:

Don't know how many bulbs are in each car. Had problem with running ten heavyweight passenger cars and Vanderbilt steam engine with smoke on. Would pop the breaker on the 180 powerhouse. Each car had four bulbs. Took two bulbs out of each car.  Cars still had plenty of light and the breaker stopped  tripping.

Finally, someone else in the +180 watt club! You had a good solution. I have 2 bulbs per car and can't go lower. So I'm looking at cranking up the power, or converting to LED's.

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