Conventional operation with remote

Hey All,

As I am working on my Dad's layout in the train house, I got to thinking about his using a wired remote similar to the  Dual Power 027 power pack I read about on other posts.  I realize there are some problems with it and the newer model is suggested.  Dad will be running conventional postwar Marx and Lionel with the usual Marx remote switches and various accessories.  Since he needs a bit more power, I was thinking about getting him a transformer for track control that would enable him to operate it without being stuck in front of a transformer.

Thanks in advance,

Russell M.

TCA# 13-68704

Original Post

You could probably find at a discounted price a TMCC Cab-1 and powermaster ( I think that is the correct term) in the secondary market.  These are easy to hook up and will release the operator from the transformer.  I did use the dual power as mentioned with 3 hook ups around the layout previously.  It worked fine EXCEPT none of my MTH locos liked it at all.  I guess it depends on how big of a layout you have.  Mine stretches 26 feet along one wall and then into another room, remote operation was essential.

I use the TMCC system for post-war operation and it works pretty well, with smoother acceleration and deceleration than transformer control because power rises and falls at a slower pace turning the dial than twisting a transformer handle.  In addition to the CAB-1 and its base unit you will also need a TPC-300 or 400, which is what actually translates the TMCC command to track power.  You can use any good power source - the Lionel KW and ZW are the most commonly recommended postwar transformers or one of the contemporary Powermaster units (the PM 180 would give you plenty of power).  However, the TMCCs are getting harder to find in good condition and with all the components included, and will probably in the range of $150 to $200.  If you go this route, be sure to read up on all the components needed (including wiring harnesses that may be missing from TMCC sets).

The other option would be to find something like a variac to control the power output and put it in a throttle of sorts. I experimented with this when I was a teenager, the third rail power was routed from the constant power on my KW to the throttle input, then out to the track, and it sort of worked (the unit I had couldn't take the current/power draw of a typical post war pullmor engine, but it was something we had lying around). I think MTH also had a remote that worked with one of their transformers (maybe the z4000) that should work. Both DCS and TMCC/Legacy have the ability to control legacy trains through a gizmo that varies track voltage and allows the remote to work it I believe, that might be the easiest way. The throttle I came up with could only control speed and direction and would take a lot of work to turn it into a working system, I think the DCS/Legacy/TMCC is the way to go.

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Lionel TPC  (Track Power Controllers) can be programmed for conventional operation using a Cab 1 remote.  Two TPC 400's pictured.   Silver boxes.   

TPC 400 instruction manual   Click on the underlined phrase to link. 

TPC 400 requires a power supply.  Parallel PH135's lower left in the picture. 

One addition feature with the TPC 400 and a Command Base/ Cab1 remote, you can access a lot of the up-scale MTH features,  coupler control and, station sounds, (still conventional only). 

To use a Cab 1 with your own transformer, you need

1) LIONEL 12969 TRAINMASTER COMMAND SET W/CAB 1 REMOTE 12868 & COMMAND BASE 12911. Available on ebay for 99.95 + shipping    f:0" target="_blank">https://www.ebay.com/itm/LIONE...wfgRb8xrD:rk:12f:0

2) LIONEL TMCC POWER ADAPTER CABLE POWERMASTER (24130) power wire 6-12893. Connects you Transformer to powermaster. Available on ebay for $18.84 + shipping.  f:0" target="_blank">https://www.ebay.com/itm/LIONE...SwN-la-aaj:rk:6f:0

3) Lionel Trainmaster Command Powermaster 6-12867. I believe this is the 135W capable Powermaster. Goes between Transformer and track. Available on ebay for $59.00 + shipping.  f:0" target="_blank">https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lione...SwF31b56fZ:rk:8f:0

 

 

FWIW, the Legacy PowerMasters, either the 180 or 360 watt model, also include all the MTH control features in conventional mode.  In addition, they go one better than the old TMCC TPC, they offer more speed steps in conventional mode for smoother operation.  The Legacy PowerMasters also offer momentum settings for conventional operation.

MED posted:

To use a Cab 1 with your own transformer, you need

1) LIONEL 12969 TRAINMASTER COMMAND SET W/CAB 1 REMOTE 12868 & COMMAND BASE 12911. Available on ebay for 99.95 + shipping    f:0" target="_blank">https://www.ebay.com/itm/LIONE...wfgRb8xrD:rk:12f:0

2) LIONEL TMCC POWER ADAPTER CABLE POWERMASTER (24130) power wire 6-12893. Connects you Transformer to powermaster. Available on ebay for $18.84 + shipping.  f:0" target="_blank">https://www.ebay.com/itm/LIONE...SwN-la-aaj:rk:6f:0

3) Lionel Trainmaster Command Powermaster 6-12867. I believe this is the 135W capable Powermaster. Goes between Transformer and track. Available on ebay for $59.00 + shipping.  f:0" target="_blank">https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lione...SwF31b56fZ:rk:8f:0

 

 

Russell,

If you decide to purchase the 12969 Trainmaster Command Set shown above, I noticed on his description he indicated TWO of the " Rubber Feet " were missing on the Command Base! I have several I could send you to replace those missing! Just let me know, OK ?

FREDSTRAINS

The GN Man posted:

Aren’t the variable channels of the MTH DCS TIU intended for operation of non-command trains? I’m surprised no one has mentioned it... A DCS remote is also required, or perhaps  a WIU plus a smart phone or iPad...

Don't forget the Z4000 transformer with a Z4000 remote commander set (however this part is discontinued but can still be found at online auctions).

 

H1000

The GN Man posted:

Aren’t the variable channels of the MTH DCS TIU intended for operation of non-command trains? I’m surprised no one has mentioned it... A DCS remote is also required, or perhaps  a WIU plus a smart phone or iPad...

Yes, but the granularity of steps is pretty poor.  It goes in 1/2 volt steps, so you only get maybe 20 steps from startup to warp speed.

Not to muddy the waters, but I see some erroneous or incomplete recommendations here based on my read of your questions and goals.

My understanding is that you'd like to run conventional engines with your existing transformers while using a handheld device for remote control. For that, you do NOT need a trainmaster command base. The command base is needed to broadcast the trainmaster command control (TMCC) signal for modern engines outfitted with command control electronics. Unless you own TMCC engines, you do not need a command base.

To run conventional engines with a handheld, you need: (1) Lionel powermaster, one per power block/loop, which can be bought aftermarket for $20-$30 if you shop; (2) CAB-1 handheld remote control device; and, (3) powermaster cable. The cable connects the transformer to the powermaster and normal track wiring connects the powermaster to the track. This enables you to control track voltage with the CAB-1 remote. CAB-1 can be purchased separately from the command base (you don't need) but they are easier to find together.

I have this setup on my permanent layout as well as my seasonal Christmas layouts. It's really simple and not too expensive.  

As others have suggested, you could purchase a TPC300 or TPC400 and those will give you additional features and room to grow.  I believe, but am not certain, they will allow also you control switches from the CAB-1 handheld. I've chosen to switch with old-fashioned postwar remote/toggle controllers for my switches and just use the CAB-1 to run the engines.

A modern ZW transformer comes with the powermaster capabilities built right in, so if you're contemplating a new transformer (I haven't but my brother-in-law did) then all you need is that and the CAB-1.

I would not recommend the old CAB1 and TMCC PowerMaster for a simple reason.  It's an unsupported product, and it doesn't have nearly the capability of the Legacy PowerMaster and command system.  You can reduce the cost somewhat by buying the BASE1L/CAB1L (aka Legacy Lite). system and the Legacy PowerMaster.

The TPC doesn't control switches, and it does require at least the TMCC Command system.  The boxes for controlling switches and/or accessories from the remote are either the SC2 or ASC, also requiring a minimum of a TMCC Command system.

GRJ is correct on several levels. I was suggesting older technology, aftermarket solutions but John's point is correct that the technology is no longer supported. 

If you want to go further (controlling switches) with the newer technology, go with GRJ's suggestions instead of mine.  Plus, his suggestion would provide you (I think) the capability of running Legacy ("TMCC 2.0") engines if you ever decide to buy one. Be aware, though, that could be addictive.

For me, I'm sticking with my TMCC 1.0 powermasters, command base, and engines without taking the Legacy plunge. I can run conventional and original TMCC engines from my CAB-1. Admittedly outdated by 2018 standards but good enough for my purposes.

Thanks for all the replies... Whew, I am overloaded right now as all I have ever run or owned has been conventional postwar Flyer, Marx and Lionel.  Dad has a 275 watt Z and may get a ZW.  I don't think he will get into any DCC or TMCC at all, so he would be looking at a remote for train operation and maybe one that would operate switches also.  His switches are all postwar Marx that his "fat gear loco drivers" will be able to go through.  

On another note, I will be starting a layout in a couple of years, and would likely use the same type of setup for my postwar Flyer.

So I like parts of each way to set it up, but right now I know barely enough to be dangerous, so I'll need to be walked through the process.  I do know I want cleaner power for the layout as well as fast acting circuit protection.

So Gunnerjohn,  since he will be buying some new stuff, I will see what the most current current producing equipment can be used.  Currently, all his current producing equipment is older and no longer current.  Might as well keep all our current producing equipment as current as we can

 

Russell M.

TCA# 13-68704

I don't know how old your Dad is or how much he wants new challenges vs old ones, but it occurs to me he may want to stick with the old ways of doing things.

At his request, I built my Dad an HO layout in what turned out to be his final couple years. He wanted lots of switches, conventional block power, a conventional fixed panel, and the usual maze of wires. At the urging of me, Mom, his friends, and every LHS we visited, he went DCC. It was super reliable, he learned how to use it well, and never complained. He even wrote up instructions for visiting church and scout groups to use, which kept them occasionally visiting Mom for the 8 years past his passing that she could handle the house.

But I never shook the feeling that he missed the old days, when his sessions with his Dad were all about the planning, troubleshooting, and problem solving at the helm of an old-style home-made console and switch panel. Heck, we traded track plans by email for a year before we even started. It worked great for his "new reality", mind you - he didn't have anyone to crawl under the layout and fix things, and even re-railing cars was a challenge - and it was the only way my Mom could use it at all. Still, I'd give pause to consider the "good ol' days" you leave behind, as those may be a cherished memory worth re-living while he can.

Cheers, Bob  "Hauling Glory to the Dead Beat since 1996"

I second the recommendation not to go with a used Lionel Powermaster.  The new Legacy Powermasters or the integral Powermasters in a ZW-L are far superior and come with a warranty. . The original TPCs can control MTH PS1 locos, but the original Lionel Powermaster was largely incompatible with MTH PS1 locos, for one example.

Gunrunner John                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nearing 87 and lame (brain included) so I only buy real ripe bananas. Real obsolesce is when one's prostate is literally 20 years senior to ones age.  Congratulations on your new proposed layout and work space. I will be watching for electronic wonders with high stepping locomotives and a smokey room. My trains still run on TMCC and Conventional from the handheld  but I just fire it up once a week and ease a few consists back and forth. I now call that "operational".

A&Y RY[NC's Southern/N&W connector].

This video gives a basic overview of Lionel's command systems from the first TMCC 1 with Powermaster, to TMCC Command base, to Legacy and combining the systems.  As a non-command guy that wasn't paying attention to the hobby during the advent of command control, this video helped me understand how it all fits together and make sense of the advice above.  

Another consideration for you is to get him a Lionchief Plus locomotive that he could try out to see if he likes using a remote.  If he does like it, consider upgrading to a Legacy system or more LC+ locos.  If he doesn't you can still use the LC+ loco conventionally. 

 

William 1 posted:

You need a transformer, a power master, and a Cab1.  Couldn’t be any easier.

Pardon my ignorance, but this is all I need for running old postwar Marx and some Lionel?  Dad is 80, and does not want to go digital.  I take it that the powermaster goes between the transformer and track?

Russell M.

TCA# 13-68704

I run my prewar standard gauge with the aforementioned.  I use a 135 brick.  That’s the power source.  From my lazy boy.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Especially when you press the whistle button on your Cab1 and a 90 year old classic toy train engine answers back dependably with that one of a kind sound.  Keep it simple.  It works very well with simple trains.  Some people have graduated past this and can never think backwards. Have fun.

Kelpieflyer posted:
William 1 posted:

You need a transformer, a power master, and a Cab1.  Couldn’t be any easier.

Pardon my ignorance, but this is all I need for running old postwar Marx and some Lionel?  Dad is 80, and does not want to go digital.  I take it that the powermaster goes between the transformer and track?

Yes, that's all you need.

Good thread and thanks to kelpieflyer for raising this issue. Thanks in advance for additional input on a few questions, relating to varying track voltage for older locos.

Just to summarize the pros / cons of the two leading options, per this and other threads, it appears there are two primary choices on moving to remote operation of conventional (assuming you want to use currently supported equipment and don't want to do lionchief +) :

1) BASE1L/CAB1L (aka Legacy Lite as GRJ calls it). This will run legacy and tmcc with a limited set of features and will also control track voltage for conventional operation of MTH locos.  Is that correct?

2) On the MTH side we have DCS explorer which will allow the remote control using the MTH cell phone app for PS-2 and 3 locos, again with limited options. Based on the  manual,  it appears it will not vary track voltage for conventional operation of older or lionel locos.  Is this true? 

Hokie 71

Chief of Operations, Free Union, Blacksburg, and Albemarle Railroad (FUBAR)

hokie71 posted:

Just to summarize the pros / cons of the two leading options, per this and other threads, it appears there are two primary choices on moving to remote operation of conventional (assuming you want to use currently supported equipment and don't want to do lionchief +) :

1) BASE1L/CAB1L (aka Legacy Lite as GRJ calls it). This will run legacy and tmcc with a limited set of features and will also control track voltage for conventional operation of MTH locos.  Is that correct?

Well, not really.  You'll need one more component to control track voltage with the "Legacy Lite" setup, the Legacy PowerMaster.

It actually comes in two flavors, the Legacy PowerMaster 180W and the Legacy PowerMaster 360W versions.

The PowerMaster goes between the track and the transformer and allows you control of track power using the TMCC or Legacy command system.

I hope I am not taking this tread on a tangent. I too would like to control my conventional operations with a remote or with a phone app. I have two ZW-C units with meters and PH 180 power supplies. I love these two units. They work well for me. Each has 4 powermasters inside. I have a TMCC base and Cab-1 remote. I am able to control them from the Cab-1 remote. I don't enjoy using the Cab-1. It is not user-friendly and it's hard to remember the commands and it gives no feedback to what setting you have it at. You still need to look at the meters. I also have DCS, but the TIU variable channels are terrible for conventional in my opinion. Also, while DCS can control a TMCC engine, it can't control a TMCC track. So, I am willing to upgrade to Legacy and LCS Wifi, but I have read that it will not talk to my ZW-C units.

Am I stuck? I don't want to upgrade my ZW-C units, so please don't suggest that. 

George

George,

I am certainly the worst one to answer you but having looked at Eric's trains and Mike Reagan videos, until the experts ring in, I don't think DCS can control TMCC- you need the lionel system tacked on to DCS. Check the Eric's trains video on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caIPXwkqNb4 

In my case, by the time I buy a powermaster (thanks GRJ for the reminder), base 1L and cab 1L, I have spent $250 (and like you I am not big on the CAB 1L controller),  and a legacy system is $300- $350.  The MTH dcs explorer is $130 on line more or less and you can get it in a ready to run set total cost = $329 ( and you get the loco two cars and a caboose, along with a 50 watt transformer).  I only have two legacy engines....Hmmmm....

I may need a $329 Christmas present?

Hokie 71

Chief of Operations, Free Union, Blacksburg, and Albemarle Railroad (FUBAR)

I spent about half an hour tonight running two conventional locomotives using the two variable channels on a TIU. Worked fine for me. Horns blew, bells rang, and diesel engine rpm went up and down based on speed. If you have a TIU and remote sitting around it's stupid easy to control conventional locomotives. Wire transformer to variable 1 or variable 2 input. Wire the output to the track. Select whichever channel your track is wired to, turn up the thumb wheel to raise voltage, train moves. Use the direction button to change direction and use the whistle and bell buttons to activate those sounds.

Santa Fe, All the Way

What's with all this complication? Run conventional like me but want the freedom of a remote and need more power? 

HANDS DOWN it's the MTH Z4000 with the remote plug in on the transformer itself.

transformer-Z4k

A simple plug and play operation. The remote has a receiver box that plugs into the Z4000 with a simple telephone jack. Add batteries to the remote and you can run two tracks with the remote. Done!

 

member:Golden Spike Club Charter Member

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bobdavisnpf posted:

That Z4000 with add-on remote + receiver looks like the most elegant solution to the original ask.

I couldn't agree more Bob. It was mentioned early on.

Also to note that the Z4000 remote controller can actually control up to three Z4000's (each will need a receiver) for up to six conventional tracks from one handheld.

H1000

3 Z4000's for 6 tracks? Not bad. That'd be enough for most layouts, maybe enough for most of us forumites too.

I got into those Lionel Heritage Series trains, and wanted to set them up for on-layout display plus occasional running; the rest is all Lionel TMCC & Legacy. I got IC Controls BPC's to add to the mix, along with the existing Legacy base/controller, TPC's, AMC's SW3000's, etc etc. Never even got the BPC's and separate Heritage loops set up, it was too complex to bother with given other priorities. One of these days I'll get to it, but 's gonna take a lot more wires than 2 or 3 Z4000's would

Cheers, Bob  "Hauling Glory to the Dead Beat since 1996"

The z4000 is a good option and I did that a few years ago. My only issue was my four legacy locos put out reduced smoke on the full sine wave, compared with a z1000 chopped wave. As they say, life is a series of compromises. 

Hokie 71

Chief of Operations, Free Union, Blacksburg, and Albemarle Railroad (FUBAR)

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