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Ok, I've been getting into this slowly. Started with Mickey's Holiday to Remember Set. It comes with a 54W wall pack power supply. I also bought a 72-Watt power supply 4 amp. Both are obviously DC.

This year I'm running a 4.5 x 8.5" outer loop. See images below. I can tell you that my 54 W power pack runs everything very well. There are couple places where the trains have issues but I think that's because the tracks are connected well (due to my own mistakes but that is another story). I could easily run more tracks or install a block and add a second DC power source to run more track. I don't think powering additional trains or track is a major reason for switching to AC at this point.

However, I can see wanting to use some O Scale legacy locomotives or wanting to power some accessories that seem to only use AC power. I really want to get something like this operating freight terminal. I want to keep my setup Christmas themed but Lionel has many operating accessories where they just put a Christmas theme on it. Eventually I'm going to do a snow village, etc. I've been looking at the manual and it looks like it needs AC power.

I'm also adding some uncoupling tracks....(I'm going to try them to see how it works). However, I think those will actually use DC power.

Is anybody running DC power only? And when you switch to AC, what is the best Lionel transformer to use? And how do you operate the Lionel Lionchief/Plus/2.0 locomotives using the bluetooth apps while the track is powered?

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You'll get many replies about which is the best transformer to use. It's like asking which golf clubs or tennis racquet should I buy. Part of it depends on how heavily you will be getting into the hobby. IMHO, the new Lionel CW-80 is a good all around choice between a beginning/starter layout and a larger, advanced layout. However, I'm not sure if it is out yet.   

To run LC, LC+ or LC+2 via bluetooth, you need to first download the Lionel App to your device. It's a free download. Once downloaded, it should recognize your engine once it's powered up. You may need to switch bluetooth on if your engine has a switch on the bottom.

Last edited by Richie C.
@Aaron G. posted:

I'm using the Lionel BT app now. My question was more about interference about what happens when I "throttle up" to 18 and whether that would override my App.

No - setting track power to 18 volts AC will not override the app or the remote (if so equipped). In fact, my recollection is that the manual for LC/+/2.0 engines says to set the power at 18 volts and then use the remote or App to command the engine.

LC/+/2.0 engines take their commands from the remote or the App, so increasing power by throttling up should have no effect on engine movement.

Also, forgot to add that the MTH Z-1000 would also make a good choice for an AC transformer; however, MTH is going out of business so repairs, supplies, etc. may be problematic. OTOH, it is generally a very solid and well performing transformer that should give you years of great performance.

Last edited by Richie C.
@MartyE posted:

According to the manual the operating tracks require AC voltage.

Operating Track Manual

Yes, I was hoping it would still work on DC like the control switches which say something very similar on Page 8 of that manual. I run them on DC power.

However, based on my limited research and based on the AC power ratings it wants to make the magnet work, I think the uncoupler will require AC power from an accessory terminal (given most other things want the AC on the track up to 18volts). So maybe I'll be switching to AC power next year (I could still run my plug and play accessories on DC power I think. I assume by switching the accessory track to aux power it will use the DC only for the accessory jacks and remain isolated from the track).

The biggest problem I have with AC and maybe that's because I don't know better...is what happens when I switch everything off? Do I have to adjust the transformer to the correct voltage each and every time I start up? Or does it remember its last setting?

Last edited by Aaron G.
@Aaron G. posted:


The biggest problem I have with AC and maybe that's because I don't know better...is what happens when I switch everything off? Do I have to adjust the transformer to the correct voltage each and every time I start up? Or does it remember its last setting?

If you don't move the handle it should come back on at the setting you left it.

I believe it depends on the type of transformer. Some modern transformers will not turn on with the throttle in the up (on) position. This is for safety and protection. They do not remember the last setting.

Both the CW-80 and MTH Z-1000 have marked graduation lines so that you can remember where the throttle has to be to achieve a particular voltage level.  More expensive transformers have on-board displays to let you know what voltage you are dialing in.

You can always put a sticker on to remember where 18 volts is. On my old CW-80, 18 volts was always with the handle perfectly straight up and perpendicular to the base so that it only took a second to set to the correct voltage. 

The LC/+/2.0 engines are not overly sensitive to voltage. Mine always ran ok anywhere from about  15-18 volts so, if you're off a little on the down side it should operate fine.

The issue with the CW80 is that if I want to set the accessory voltage to 10-12 and the track at 14-18 do I have to set the voltage for my accessory each and every time I turn on the power?

What I want is for my kids to be able to turn on the track and operate it without a lot of room for error.

Right now, I can operate virtually everything from DC power. All the new stuff coming out is "plug and play" which operates off DC power. So I'll have to evaluate what to do.

Meanwhile I have a uncoupling track I can't use and don't know if I will use based on how the AC environment is operating.

Last edited by Aaron G.

So why do the accessory pieces need to have transformers that are phased the same as the track power? I'm guessing because they use the same ground and therefore, need to have the hot the same otherwise it sees two hots. But if it were truly using two different power sources then it wouldn't matter.

Like the accessory plug and play power track. That uses a separate DC power. So it takes power from a complete different source. Or am I missing something?

@Aaron G. posted:

The issue with the CW80 is that if I want to set the accessory voltage to 10-12 and the track at 14-18 do I have to set the voltage for my accessory each and every time I turn on the power?

What I want is for my kids to be able to turn on the track and operate it without a lot of room for error.

Right now, I can operate virtually everything from DC power. All the new stuff coming out is "plug and play" which operates off DC power. So I'll have to evaluate what to do.

Meanwhile I have a uncoupling track I can't use and don't know if I will use based on how the AC environment is operating.

No - once you set the accessory voltage it will stay at that voltage every time you turn the transformer on and off.

Aaron,

I like that fastrack layout you have. I'm just getting back to the hobby and looking at ideas for a small layout as I don't have much room yet. Is it the same 4x8 layout as this one?  I've seen similar on other sites as well. Or is it a bit smaller?

https://www.legacystation.com/...rossover-layout-plan

Z

gulp... wow... never looked at the pricing of Fast track. sticker shock

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