Lion Chief Plus or LC+ 2.0 vs MTH Imperial

With the Lionel's newly updated pricing, I've noticed that LC+ and MTH Imperial prices seem to be nearly equivalent so I'm curious about how the detailing on the steam engines of each compare. Does anyone have experience with both?

I'm running mostly conventional Lionel & Williams but within the last couple of years added some LC+ engines. I like the remote operating so much I've been thinking more about TMCC or DCS.  I wouldn't do it without a really good reason but that reason could be better detailed engines. My layout really can't accommodate the wide radius curves of the higher end Lionel equipment since I have a couple of tight turns and a 42" diameter return loop so the Imperial line would fit the bill.

I'm wondering also if there would be any problem running DCS and LC+ at the same time on the same loop of track.


In no particular order; Aviation (Pilot), Golf, Amateur Astronomy & Cycling (when it's nice out) and Trains (when it's not).

Original Post

It will be interesting to see what the LC+ 2.0 product line looks like, from the features list, it seems they're going to be upscale from the existing LC+ product line.  I won't rush out to buy them at first, but I like what I see so far in the ad copy.  Time will tell if reality is the same as the ads.

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Limited perspective here, as GRJ notes, we do not know the 2.0 product. BUT if they are like the lionel NS SD60, they will be a leap ahead of the imperial line. I love both but I really like blue tooth and the LC system. Like bnsf Matt notes, we may have a super star.

 

 

 

Hokie 71

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

If you are primarily interested in detail and scale-like appearance you are probably going to have to compare individual models since these vary over time.  From a control system standpoint, LC/LC+ is a simpler, less capable system that is strikingly less complicated and more reliable/easier to implement in my experience than DCS.  There is a cost issue in the control system if that matters to you.  DCS with wi-fi is going to be much more expensive than the Lionel LC/Bluetooth universal remote, with much greater capabilities to go along with that expense.  Figure $400 vs $40.  

That said, if detail is your main interest, the MTH line tends to provide greater detail at lower price points than the Lionel line, in general.

TexasSP posted:

A DCS Explorer which gives you many of the DCS capabilities and WiFi built in is 110.

https://www.modeltrainstuff.co...rack-interface-unit/

I bought one at a train show not long ago for $65. The seller did break ups of some RTR sets and sells the left over explorers, power supplies, and track separately.  He had about 8 of them there and wanted them gone as they were beginning to clutter up his work bench.  I've seen them go for even less than $65 on that popular online auction site.

I suspect that eventually these DCS Explorers will be so common that spare parts drawers everywhere will be full of them along with the previous IR remote systems used.

H1000

"A DCS Explorer which gives you many of the DCS capabilities and WiFi built in is 110."

Good point.

Just some details for those unfamiliar with these systems.  You'll need a smartphone or tablet to communicate with the DCS Explorer.  And you cannot use it in passive mode the way you can a TIU.  It will be the only source of power for the trackage it's connected to, so you will not be able to run conventional locos at the same time.

One feature of the LC/LC+ locos in command mode is that they can co-exist with DCS/TMCC/Legacy locos, both on a conventionally powered or command layout.  No separate device is needed,  other than the remote they come with. For LC+2.0, it no longer includes the separate one loco remote, as with LC and LC+, so you have to choose among the separate sale universal remote ($40), conventional, TMCC, Legacy or the Lionel app on a smartphone or tablet.  My thought is that LC/LC+ is a little less complicated and restrictive than the Explorer in these respects.  Place loco on track, have at least 8-10 volts on the track, and use the remote (single engine or universal) to control the loco independently of whatever else you've got running.

TexasSP posted:

A DCS Explorer which gives you many of the DCS capabilities and WiFi built in is 110.

https://www.modeltrainstuff.co...rack-interface-unit/

Yeah, that's along the lines of what I was thinking. I watched Eric Siegel's video on this and it looks like it's the least expensive way to control an MTH engine remotely. I don't think I need all the bells & whistles of a full blown DCS system. But I guess I'll have to wait until either one of you early adapters buys an LC+2.0 and lets us know or it starts turning up in one of the LHS's around here. I wonder when that will be.


In no particular order; Aviation (Pilot), Golf, Amateur Astronomy & Cycling (when it's nice out) and Trains (when it's not).

xrayvizhen posted:
TexasSP posted:

A DCS Explorer which gives you many of the DCS capabilities and WiFi built in is 110.

https://www.modeltrainstuff.co...rack-interface-unit/

Yeah, that's along the lines of what I was thinking. I watched Eric Siegel's video on this and it looks like it's the least expensive way to control an MTH engine remotely. I don't think I need all the bells & whistles of a full blown DCS system. But I guess I'll have to wait until either one of you early adapters buys an LC+2.0 and lets us know or it starts turning up in one of the LHS's around here. I wonder when that will be.

Based on the above posted chart Lionchief + 2.0 should be pretty much identical to Lionchief +, but with some added sounds and TMCC compatibility. If you are currently running Lionchief + with the remote or app there shouldn't be much if any difference between what you currently have and Lionchief + 2.0, as far as control goes.

One drawback/issue of the DCS explorer is that all power has to flow through the DCS Explorer for the unit to operate. You are limited to 6 amps of draw through the DCS Explorer. Any draw above 6 amps and the unit will shut off. However you can power the DCS Explorer with any power source. All you need is a 5.5 mm od diameter/2.1 mm id barrel plug with two leads (something like this https://www.monoprice.com/prod...rnB_5XxoCQXkQAvD_BwE ) and you can power the DCS Explorer with any transformer, even a Postwar ZW if you want. 

Santa Fe, All the Way

As of yesterday, I can say I put my money where my mouth is on this debate.  In 2002, I started with PW conventional and then some modern conventional but quickly started adding TMCC 1.0. I've been satisfied and even added an LC+ two years ago. Zero MTH/DCS in my stable until now.

I'm 100% semi/non-scale.  No space for full 1:48.

I saw and ran my brother-in-law's MTH engines over the holidays and loved them. Then I saw Lionel's LC+ 2.0.  $500 for Jr. Berk?! I have two Jr. Berks and have always felt their small size (19") is a distraction. They are nice models of the original but how can a Berk be my smallest steam, even in semi-scale?! The 726 model Berk isn't a close enough model of the real thing but just happens to have a 2-8-4 wheel arrangement. No way I'm laying out $500 for a Jr. Berk just to get a few extra lights and 4 chuffs per revolution. It's still just mini steam engine smaller than my traditional Pacific and even my traditional Ten Wheeler! It's killing me.   

So, short story long, I just bought three Imperial Rail King engines, one with PS2 from a forum member and two with PS3 from a forum sponsor (Mr. Muffin's Trains).  Total outlay just a tad over $1,000.

The NKP Berk is 22" long and will be my biggest steamer (right along my Lionmaster Hudson) as it should be. Having seen the 765 in person, I have to insist on it being big.

For me, there was no question between the PS3 Berk and the LC+2 Jr. Berk.  It was enough to get me to switch long-held loyalties.

I am also 100% semi-scale and 100% steam.  Although I run semi-scale, I like my models to be reasonable caricatures of the prototype rather than generic.  MTH RK Imp steam fits my high rail modeling philosophy, budget, and available space nicely.  I also run DCS (TIU with wifi).  Love the features.  I have stayed away from LC + because the models are either generic or don't have the sound & control features I like.  LC+ 2.0 could change that for me.  The features list as posted by GRJ above are more to my liking, especially the 4 chuffs / revolution.  For example, a LC+ 2.0 version of the LC+ 2-8-2 would work for me.  To my eye, that model is a great semi-scale version of a USRA light Mike that would blend well with my MTH RK steam.  Hopefully, Lionel releases a comprehensive line of LC+ 2.0 steam, similar to what was the Lionmaster line.  

There is nothing wrong with mixing control systems. All my diesels (7) are scale sized Lionel, MTH, or Williams locomotives equipped with TMCC, 6 of which I upgraded with either AC Commander or Cruise Commander boards from ERR. My 3 steam locomotives are all MTH Premier and are PS2 3V (DCS). Everything works fine together and I usually run everything from the DCS remote, but plan on upgrading to the WIU and app at some point. 

My point being run what you like. There is no point in being loyal to one brand just because. 

Santa Fe, All the Way

david1 posted:

No problem running dcs and lionchief+ On the same track. The imperial MTH steam engines are a step above Lionchief + locomotives. The diesels are way above Lionel's LC+ diesels. 

Dave

 

Can I get a clarification / confirmation on this about running an MTH & LC+ engine on the same track at the same time? I'm not sure this is correct. According to this post on a thread from last year by Barry B. (RIP) in answer to a somewhat related question,


"You'd connect the DCS Explorer up in addition to your Lionel devices, however, you'd have to disconnect your existing transformers and only get track power via the DCS Explorer.

The DCS Explorer is really not intended to be added to a layout, rather, it's intended to be the power and control for the layout."


 LC+ requires a constant18 volts applied to the track. Does the DCS Explorer do that or does the DCS Explorer vary the voltage to the track?

 


In no particular order; Aviation (Pilot), Golf, Amateur Astronomy & Cycling (when it's nice out) and Trains (when it's not).

" LC+ requires a constant18 volts applied to the track. Does the DCS Explorer do that or does the DCS Explorer vary the voltage to the track?"

(1) The DCS Explorer does not vary the voltage to the track, if I recall correctly.  Designed strictly for DCS operation in command mode.

(2) LC+ when set in LC mode (command) does not require 18 volts. Anything between 8 and 18 should work fine in most instances.  Something along the lines of 12-14 should be fine for most situations.  18V is good too.  This is true of most command locos that have been produced with TMCC, PS2 and PS3, Legacy as far as I've seen.

 

Bottom line the explorer and lion chief plus should be compatible in command mode,  although the The power limitation has to be considered.

The DCS Explorer is really not intended to be added to a layout, rather, it's intended to be the power and control for the layout.

The Transformer is the power for the Explorer. You connect your power supply into the Explorer and then connect the Explorer to the track. Unlike say, the TMCC base. Were you connect the power supply  to the track AND the base is connected to the outside rail separately from the power supply.

I have had no problems running LC with the track powered through the Explorer. you just have to use the MTH app to turn the power on to the track, then use the Lionel app to run the LC engine.

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