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Getting close enough to the time I need to make a decision with my layout under construction (which means likely sometime this decade. Anyway, right now pretty much all my engines are conventional, eventually I hope to upgrade as many as I can to command control. My question is, with the powermasters, the new legacy ones are 360 w, the old TMCC ones are 135. My question is if I went with the TMCC powermasters (which I can get at a reasonable price) is having the 135 watt unit going to be a big liability?  Frankly given the way I plan on using them I will be using 4 of them, and if people have found the tmcc unit to be underpowered, 4 legacy powermasters these days would be nearly the price of a ZW-L.  I have two decent transformers (a ZW and a KW) that I can work with , and could get the legacy TMCC units at a relatively decent price, but if they are underpowered it makes no sense to get them. The other thing is I would expect as the layout becomes more command control oriented that they will get less and less usage, which is another factor, too. Obviously I have to get the legacy command system, too, but would in any case.



Thoughts from the folks on here?

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Just to point out that there are 180 Watt Legacy Powermasters SKU: 6-37146 and have a 135/180 switch next to their inputs.

Now, getting to some more details on the pros to the Legacy Powermasters over TMCC:

  • 200 speed steps
  • Conventional control macros, including access to many MTH locomotive features
  • Improved circuit breaker
  • No need for the slow powermaster bridge
  • Will come with warranty (if new)

I would steer clear of the original PowerMaster. I highly recommend any of the newer LEGACY PM’s either the 180 or 360W depending on your needs. If your wanting to check the used market then also look for either of the IC Controls/ Lionel TPC’s (Track Power Controller) these things are practically indestructible, but do require a wired serial connection from the Legacy base.

I love using the TMCC Powermasters to run conventional locomotives.  The old CAB-1 remotes talk directly to the TMCC Powermasters so no command base needed, which also allows TMCC and Legacy locomotives to run conventionally.  But they do have issues with older MTH PS-1 locomotives, but there is a simple fix.  As long as you aren't trying to run 4 long passenger trains with smoke on the 135 watts is plenty.  So I prefer the older TMCC Powermasters over the newer Legacy ones.  But then I do have a ZW-C as well that I use on my layout.  I use the TMCC Powermasters for running trains under the Christmas tree and other times around on the floor.

Sinclair,

What's the simple fix?

(I know that there's a fix for TPC's but it's not simple.)

Mike

I'd have to look for the details, but gunrunner John knows it, it's a bi-directional cap across the output on the TMCC Powermaster.  Once I did that I could run all my MTH PS-1 locomotives all day long without issues.  I just don't remember what the specs the cap needs to be, but it has to be bi-directional or else it'll burn up after a while.  You just screw int eh leads the same time you screw in the track wires and you're set.

@sinclair posted:

I'd have to look for the details, but gunrunner John knows it, it's a bi-directional cap across the output on the TMCC Powermaster.  Once I did that I could run all my MTH PS-1 locomotives all day long without issues.  I just don't remember what the specs the cap needs to be, but it has to be bi-directional or else it'll burn up after a while.  You just screw int eh leads the same time you screw in the track wires and you're set.

Thanks for the detailed response.  What you're describing is the hardware fix.

The reason I asked is because there is also a software update that was applied to the older TPC design to add several MTH-related features, at least one of which has to do with ensuring that PS1 locomotives come out of the reset state (the state entered after powerup) successfully.

When Lionel bought the product line from IC Controls it's my understanding is that this update was being installed in current production before the transfer.  It is definitely in the Lionel manufactured versions made afterwards.

And then there was a period after the transfer when some folks were apparently lucky enough to have their older IC Controls TPC's updated by IC Controls' Lou Kovach if they contacted him about it.

Click here for more details:

    IC Controls TPC vs Lionel TPC | ANTHONY

I have several the early ones, including some that could benefit from Lou's update, if I can find out where to get it in today's world.  In my opinion these are the most economical, because you can currently find them at lower prices.

Adding the hardware fix is only a slight roadblock.  Getting Lou's update is probably a little harder.

Mike

Last edited by Mellow Hudson Mike

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