I renewed my train interest in January by resurrecting my 1950s era American Flyer diesel engine set with its Gilbert #16B transformer, Gilbert track, and Gilbert 720A remote control switches. Since then I’ve added a lot of s-gauge rubber backed track, more 720A switches, a couple of vintage AC locomotives, and new MTH Z4000 transformers. Have been on a fast and very interesting learning curve and the OGR forums have been helpful in my seeing new opportunities. Over the summer I discovered the new FlyerChief Berkshire offerings of Lionel and was pleased with the added features that came with that. I really like the sounds, Odyssey Speed control, etc that come with FlyerChief. The mobility of the FlyerChief handheld remote is a nice feature, but not essential on my modest 10ft x 10ft layout.
After a good bit of research and pondering, last week I added a Legacy Command Set along with a couple of Legacy-configured locomotives. I was somewhat concerned that I’d have some trouble getting the Legacy system and Legacy engines to operate correctly on my vintage Gilbert track, switches, reversing loops, block wiring, etc. However, I was pleasantly surprised that everything operated without a hitch. So, I thought I’d share my experience and layout configuration with others who might be considering adding Legacy to a vintage Gilbert layout. It worked for me.
I have attached a pdf summary of my high-density layout to help someone else know what has worked. A photo of my layout is also attached below. My current layout has no scenery or landscaping; it is merely an operational layout. For now, I am more interested in running my trains than building scenery. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll add a tree or two.
Hope this is of some value to others considering adding a Legacy Command Set as I’ve learned a lot from the OGR forum and other online model train sites … Tuveson, Lionel videos, Portline, etc. I will emphasize that running modern engines on vintage Gilbert track and Gilbert 720A switches is a daily challenge. Switches require frequent retuning, track requires daily checking of connections. level, etc. Also, seems the newer Legacy engines are not as forgiving as vintage locomotives to vintage Gilbert track/switches irregularities. But, I’m still able to ‘make it work’ by tweaking here and tweaking there. I have found that the heavier the locomotive, the better it operates on my vintage Gilbert track and switches. Of course, my R20 curves are a challenge too, but my platform is just too small to go with a larger radius.
Couple of months ago I bought an MTH EMD F-3 with ProtoSound 3.0 and have been running that engine conventionally with my Z4000 throttles and accessing its nice bell/whistle/dialogue via the Z4000 included buttons. It’s heavy so runs well on my vintage track. I don’t have DCS so currently unable to use all of the ProtoSound 3.0 features. Considering adding DCS in the future, but that’s a ‘maybe’ at this point. More research needed to sort out running DCS on a vintage Gilbert layout like mine.