Skip to main content

Hi Everyone,
I am building a new layout that is approximately 24.5 x 10.5. It is a 2 track oval mainline with a few sidings, engine terminal, and industry. I have never built a full layout so I am at a bit of a loss when it comes to wiring.
I have an MTH Z-4000 transformer. I originally wanted to use DCS but now with the uncertainty of MTH I will be using Lionel Legacy. I intend to run everything in Command mode. My plan was to use the two outputs of the Z-4000 to control Main 1 and Main 2 via a bus wire from each output. I was going to purchase another power supply, maybe a Lionel 180watt powerhouse, to control the engine house and industry. I am using Atlas track and will use Tortoise Switch machines with Lionel ASC2. I also plan to use the Lionel Block Power Controller so that I can power down sidings etc.
I have a few questions around the wiring itself. Do I need a surge protector, circuit breaker, TVS, terminal block or any other similar items? If so, how should those items be applied?
Also, can I just run one wire from the Z-4000 output to power the track using suitcase connectors for the bus? Do I need a circuit breaker or TVS attached to the output? Should the wire first go to a terminal block?
What power supply should I get for powering the track sidings? Do I need another power supply to power tortoise switch motors, or will the 10v and 14v outputs from the Z-4000 suffice?
I know there are a lot of questions. Any help is appreciated. Thank you in advance.
- Jack
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Whether you use dcs or legacy is a decision based on brand of engines. I also believe dcs will be supported for many years.

As far as wiring, there are many options. I followed Barry's dcs book that recommends star wiring. Essentially you run the transformer out to a terminal block. You use multiple power drops and run those to the terminal block. You would use a separate terminal block for each transformer channel; in your case it seems like three.

If you are using the Z4000 and Lionel power brick, I don't think you need additional fuses. Some people still use tvs as additional protection for electrical spikes. If you were using the dcs system with a new TIU, there are tvs in each channel.

I don't use the asc2 or block controller so I can't comment on those. Also not familiar with tortoise switch machines and what voltage is needed for smooth operation.

It looks like we are both at about the same point in layout construction.  I've got a 28x8 layout with a 10.5x4 extension built on Mianne benchwork and most of the track down (still not sure about some sidings).

  I'm in the final stages of wiring.  I have 3 separate lines being powered by a ZW-L using the AU, DU, & BU to control the power districts.  The CU control is being used for the block controller and accessories.  I have 12 separate blocks with power and common drops every 10 feet or so but at least 2 drops per block.  Common is bare copper, although I'm not completely sure it will work with the Legacy controller yet.  I'll find out tomorrow.

To make my life easier, I used different color wires for each block and am very glad I did that.  I used a resistance soldering iron to connect the drops to the track and then suitcase connectors to connect the drops to the block wires.

One thing you probably can't do is use the Z4000 to power the Tortoise machines.  I'm pretty sure they require DC.  I had them on a previous layout 25 years ago but am using dz-2500 switch machines for this layout.  On the previous layout, I used old phone company relays to transfer power from the micro-switches on the panel board.  With the remote control systems, that shouldn't be necessary anymore.

I do use a surge protector but the ZW-L has pretty robust protection built in against shorts.  However, I don't think you can overprotect your circuits.

Let us know how things progress.

You do need dc for the Tortoise switch machines, 12 volts is standard.  Circuitron (Tortoise manufacturer) sells an AC adaptor (wall wart) that provides 12 vdc at up to 500 milliamps (0.5 amps) that lists at $15.95 but any adaptor that provides 12 vdc with at least 500 milliamps will work - there are cheaper alternatives such as this 12 vdc 2.5 A power supply for $4.95:

TVS placement is discussed in other threads on this forum.  I'd also recommend checking out the PSX-AC which has also been discussed on this forum:

Terminal blocks basically can make your wiring job easier and keep it neater and easier to trace when problems arise but they are not "mandatory."

I would not get a separate power supply for powering sidings.  You can use toggle switches or Atlas surface mount switches to turn the siding power on and off.

Last edited by PGentieu

Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.