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I am starting a new layout at my new house. I been think of getting MTH DCS system for it or Lionel's TMCC or legacy system. I'm not shore what's going to happen to MTH so I was thinking of getting that first. I been looking online for the DCS system but I can only see the TIU for sale. Do you have to get the TIU and the handheld remote separate? What the best way to go about this?

Last edited by David N
Original Post

What engines do you have?  That will help you decide.  If I were just starting now... I'd move forward, not try to figure out how to make something soon to be obsolete (or not depending on what you read) work.

With all of the uncertainty, I'd sit on the DCS bench for now, wait and see.  If there is a "new company" one would think they might update what they have or make a new product to sell.

This coming from an MTH DCS guy.  

Have Fun!


Yes.  MTH stopped offering the TIU/Remote set (50-1001).  You'll need to find both separately.  Or you can purchase a TIU and WIU.  The WIU will allow you to use a phone/tablet and the MTH app in lieu of the remote.  Your call.  The remotes were rumored to be phased out before MTH's closing announcement.  So they're getting tough to find at a decent price.  There is supposed to be a new version coming soon.

Okay.  I'm with Ron then.  Given the uncertainty of MTH, I'd just plop down $300 or so for a Legacy system and move on.  If DCS gets a new life, you can make that decision then.  My first answer still applies though.  If you want DCS, you'll need to get a TIU/WIU.  You can find a remote on the secondary market or hope that last batch finally gets delivered to dealers.

One thing you could do while building the layout is wire it for DCS. The difference is you want to run all feeds as twisted pairs power and return. TMCC/Legacy lets you get away with single wire feed to your various center rail locations with a common return. Its good practice anyway even though it will cost a bit more for the added wires.


Words from a rookie.

I bought TMCC less than a year ago because it is available for $100-150 less than a new Legacy system.   I bought a system that had been used one time, from a LHS, for less than $200.  Then for less than $60 I bought a second handheld. The TMCC system is well shaken out, and a used one (FROM A RELIABLE SELLER) is a good buy.   Everything is working fine, and after a year I still haven't used all of its capabilities.  I don't operate switches, accessories or have a PowerMaster power supply that can be controlled by the handheld. 

(BUT I understand that the ZW-L I DO use CAN be controlled by the handheld- I just haven't taken the time to figure it out.  I would like to be able to correct circuit breaker derailment trips w/o walking around to the transformer.)

Most important to me, in order:

- operation using a handheld     

- Odyssey speed control (!!) and remember- the early TMCC engines using AC/ open frame "Pullmor" motors (so- up to 2000 and later and including Century Club locos) cannot have speed control.   These will slow and speed up for grades and voltage.   Only DC motored locos can have speed control as I understand it.  Odyssey SC is a major feature in my mind.  (And the MTH system has only DC motors, so speed control is probably standard.)

- Traintalk and Trainsounds features.

You can still find new TMCC systems and pre-owned ones for very little- here's one:


TMCC locomotives are widely available, both new (NOS) and pre-owned.  They have for me plenty of features, especially for the $300- $500 price range- Lion Chief Plus territory.    BUT, remember that even the new  "in the box" TMCC locomotives are now up to 20 or more years old. 

So- I think when buying used, the previous owner has shaken out the bugs, generally.  I buy New Legacy locomotives if they are what I want and knowing that I can't use 100% of the Legacy features using TMCC.  But I would say used is even better for Legacy stuff- let the first owner deal with any issues.


Important:  the TMCC system including Odyssey and Trainsounds is also used for Atlas O, Third Rail,  and the  (now discontinued) K Line and K-Line by Lionel equipment.  Obviously Legacy will also run these.


Everyone has opinions, my layout is 24 years old this September/October, and we run all TMCC/Legacy, and one of my reasons for Legacy is that Lionel continues to repair it on a no charge basis, they send an RA, shipping label, fix it and return it in a fair time frame.  I’ve grown up with Lionel, I’m 76 real soon, and they’ve been a fun game to play.  TMCC began in 1994 and in 2006 it became Legacy and is upgradeable. I was out of the hobby for several years and in 1995 a friend told me about the new changes that Lionel was making in the way we run our trains, therefore I jumped back into the hobby. I have stayed loyal to Lionel and they have stayed loyal to me and many of my friends here in the middle Tennessee area. Lou Kovach enhanced Lionels System with many components that make it possible to utilize the Cab 1/Cab 2 Remotely operate switches, turn on and off blocks of track, operate accessories, uncouplers, that really enhances the way we run our trains with Friends.  Give a kid a remote and watch his eyes light up as he/she runs there trains... Its a really fun time in the Hobby.  One thing for sure, Legacy Steam engines  and Diesels run so smoothly and the sounds are so realistic. If your going to build a new layout, a good control system might make the hobby a lot more fun for You. Happy Railroading 

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