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Conventional mode means the speed of the loco is determined by the voltage on the track. Postwar locos are conventional. Two locos on the same track will run together at mostly the same time/speed.

Command mode means the loco sits on fixed voltage track and it listens for commands to tell it when to go and when to stop and how fast to go. With command locos, you can vary the speed on each loco on the same track.

All engines will run in conventional mode if there is no command signal present. If you have Legacy, but  do not have DCS, your MTH engine will run in conventional mode - just like a postwar engine. Does your Legacy system include variable control of track voltage, like a power master or a TPC? If so, you can run the MTH loco in conventional mode.

Last edited by RoyBoy

I don't think that's what I meant to imply.

Of course you can run them both on the same track, but if you run the MTH engine slowly, the track voltage might be too low to run the Legacy engine fast. You just can't run the MTH engine in command mode without an MTH DCS control system.

Maybe someone who is better at explaining things should step in here.

Last edited by RoyBoy

From what I understand, Lionel gave out their software/schematic on their legacy free and MTH inputed it into their system.  Thus, you can run legacy engines from a MTH remote but not vise versa. 

I find operating the Lionel trains via the MTH remote easier than using the Lionel remote (I have the previous release, TMCC, of Lionel's Legacy so I'm assuming the control is the same).

Thus, you have a constant 18-22 volts on the track and now you can run Lionel or MTH via MTH's remote.

I have several 3rd rail engines with TMCC and they are all downloaded into my MTH remote.

The MTH manual tells you how to do all this.

Of course, you're going to have to spend another 350 (or so) to get the MTH DCS system.

The MTH is nice in that you just pres the ENGINE button and all your engines are listed and you just pick the one you want.

I don't know if Legacy is now easier but the TMCC, you had to look at the engine number (assuming you used that) and then input that into their remote (not user friendly compared to MTH).  Easy to do with Lionel if the engine is sitting right in front of you, but if it's in a roundhouse or other side of the layout, good luck with reading the engine number.

Last edited by samparfitt

Obviously I am coming into this thread many years after it was first introduced.  In the past this has been the equivalent of calling a dead phone number and expecting the former owner to answer.  But I'll bite and give it a try.

I have been told by many different forms of information that Legacy runs Lionel, DCS runs anyone who has a Locomotive properly set up to receive commands.  Legacy uses radio waves where DCS is wired to a Track Interface that sends and receives signals to and from the Engine.  Since Lionel and MTH are the two most popular O gauge manufacturers, until MTH went through its restructure process after Mike retired, you don't see too many O gauge shops designing Command/Control systems.  I took a shot in the dark the other day and asked Google, "Can you run MTH Locomotives using Legacy?"  I found one tidbit of information that said this, and I paraphrase.  "Yes, Legacy sends the DCS signal through the track just like DCS", etc etc, and the world doesn't stop spinning....or something cute and quirky.

Thanks to this thread, which I found asking the same type of question to Google, and some further research, I discovered that what I found out back in 2017 was correct.  If you want to run both on a DCS layout, you simply need to buy a Base 1L component from Lionel and ground it to your ground wire that leads from the TIU to the track.  Exactly what I did.  I spliced the ground wire coming off the 1L to the ground wire leading to the track, and when I placed a Lionel engine on the track, entered it into my then remote, I use WIFI now, I was able to find it, select it, run it.  However.  I'm not sure why, but my Lionel engines, well, they had a sort of poltergeist, if you will allow me that phrase.  The room would be dead quiet, no sounds from any device, and suddenly a faint "sawing noise", I can't explain it, would begin to emit from one of the engines, then a sort of faint telephone ring.  All of a sudden, BANG!!, the engine would just fire up.  Problem was, the remote said it was off.  Another issue with running Lionel using MTH DCS remote, speed.

Now this has gotten me more grief than I feel it needs be given.  Speed.  It's this simple.  When I poke the plus sign on my tablet screen, engine go faster.  When I poke the minus sign, engine slow down and thus go slower.  When I poke the number 20 on the speed dial, engine run 20 Scale Miles Per Hour.  When I poke the 0, engine come to a screeching stop.  So no more questions about how I gauge speed.  I look at the dial on the ECS screen.......and read it.  Now, with that readers digest tidbit of knowledge.  15 scale miles per hour to an MTH Engine, is a slow walk in the park as it moves around the oval.  That same 15 SMPH to a Lionel Engine, is nearly terminal velocity.  Lionel Engines take power input seriously.  Just a few spins of the dial on my Lionchief remote and my Southern Mikado runs off like a startled rabbit.  It doesn't take much to get a Lionel Engine up to speed.  MTH is more methodical.  It usually takes a dial reading of 35 or so to get your train moving what we would consider cruising speed on a model train track.

Now, to try to keep from being accused of "hijaking"  a thread for my own benefit, what this has to do with the original question is this.  If you run Lionel engines, using DCS, I didn't see any mention of the Base1L device in any prior thread.  Thought that might be important to know.  Also, since I had run Lionel once before, stopped doing this not long after I started, I thought it might be helpful to a new user, to know, that speed control is not universal across party lines.  15 to Lionel is the equivalent of 35 or 40 to MTH.  Best guess.  So you might want to know that Lashup, MultiUnit, or "doubeheading", whatever your favorite phrase happens to be, is not a good idea between engines.  Lionel to Lionel, MTH to MTH.  Matter of fact, I don't think there is a choice in the set up steps for Lionel to MTH.  I could be wrong. 

I did not know that.  I'm glad I posted.  I've learned something new about how model trains work.  Not that this has anything to do with this post, but it does related to speed and movement.  Why do some locomotives have an issue with very low speed settings?  1 and 2 seems to confuse it.  It just sits there a few seconds and lurches forward then stops.  Then repeats.  I usually have to set it to 5 before it will move freely.

Re: speed step 1 and 2,  MTH's catalog claims their locos will run as slowly as 3 scale mph (and some will.)  But in my experience, due to what I regard as sub-optimal design, many will not.  As you found out, they tend to smooth out around 4-5 scale mph.  As Joe said, it may improve with break-in running.  To minimize the lurching and bucking, try to swiftly increase the speed from "1" to about 4 or 5.

The friction issue is probably the best explanation I've received as to what is going on.  It makes more sense.  As to breaking them in, so far, after 6 years, not much to report.  I did read in Barry Broskowitz book the part about MTH engines having problems with low speeds below 3.  Thanks to both of you for the information.  I do have one last thing to add on this sidebar.  My SD models, SD70 and SD40-2, two made during MTH hayday, and one made by Atlas after they acquired the Premier line, all seem to do fine at 2 or above.  One of them sort of spits a bit at 1, but the SD70ace I bought will poke along at 1 as if it were actually running on a real engine and transmission.  As for my ES44 models, well, they need a good 4 to get moving, but one will slow to 3 but when you hit 2, it begins hesitating.  As a rule I usually tap the plus sign immediately to 4 or 5 when I run the ES44's.  I have stopping points at the front and rear of the train to make sure my trains are off the mainline far enough as to not cause a collision when another train is circling the inner track.  Being able to slow one down to 2 makes it easier for me to hit my marks.

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