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I am coming back into model railroading after 30 or so year timeout to raise my family. I just retired  and want to start my layout up with some modernization.

All my trains are 1950's to 1970's all Lionel ac engines. Can these be controlled with LCS? What about the O gauge switches? I only use Lionel O gauge and have not tried the new fast track stuff yet.

Any help will be appreciated.





Original Post

Even if they can all be controlled by LCS equipment, it is not cheap and you will not have access to all the digital goodies like cruise control (to maintain constant speed) or running multiple engines separately on the same track.  Unless you intend to buy new switches and new engines that make use of digital technology, why not just stay with the old analog transformer and controls?  Many modelers still run that way and enjoy the memories.


Last edited by PRR1950

If you really want to get into LCS, I would suggest buying a Legacy Lite ( Legacy L ) and a TPC-300 or TPC-400. These will let you run one engine on one track. ( some have run two on two loops with them, but you will not be able to run them as separate items. when you stop/start one, you will stop/start the other. But you will be able to control the speed and blow the horn/whistle with these and control the direction of the engine. If you upgrade to a TMCC or Legacy engine this control will operate both. This system will save you $125 - $200 instead of buying the full legacy system. Then you can get a taste of what you can do without spending $300.00+ for just the command system and still need the TPC-300 or 400

P.S. I use the legacy L and also have an original TMCC system I keep for back-up. I also run some trains conventionally. this is done by just putting a conventional engine on the track and controlling it with the throttle on the transformer, even thou the command signal is still going thru the track as the conventional engine can not read the signal. 

Last edited by rtraincollector

Where to start ?

As others have said, LCS is more like an advanced control system within Lionel's basic command control ("CC") systems. You wouldn't go from running conventional to an LCS system - you would want to first have the basic Lionel CC installed.

Lionel's wireless, remote CC systems range from the older TMCC/Cab 1 to Cab1L to the current Legacy/Cab2 system. Lionel has made their CC systems backwards compatible so, for instance, a TMCC locomotive can be operated on a newer Legacy system.

The TMCC/Legacy CC systems use remotes which can store many locomotives in them (up to 99) and you just bring up their individual ID # when you want to run one of them. Lionel also makes lower priced command control engines (Lionchief, Lionchief +) that operate through their own individual remote controllers. They also make a universal remote for these engines that can operate up to three of these kinds of engines.

With additional add-ons or depending upon what type of transformer you have, you can also control/operate your conventional engines on a layout that has TMCC or Legacy installed on it but, maybe not on the same track at the same time. 

As to track, Lionel's Fastrack (FT) switches work very well, but you would have to purchase adaptors for them to connect to tubular track and, depending on the kind of tubular track, there may be a height differential to compensate for. Depending on how much tubular track you now have, it may be more convenient to just change everything over to FT (you will get varying opinions on who likes or dislikes FT) and your conventional engines will run fine on FT. You don't need FT to run Lionel's CC systems.

Budget is also a factor in deciding how you want to proceed. If you had an unlimited budget and liked FT, I would just buy all new FT track and switches along with a Legacy system and the add-ons necessary to run conventionally as well as a new Legacy locomotive. If the budget were more limited, I would buy a Lionchief or Lionchief+ engine and run it on your existing track (you will need a transformer capable of delivering a constant 18 volts to the track) and see how you like it and if you want to keep going forward with digital technology. You can then add one of the Legacy CC systems and engines and sell (or keep) the Lionchief engine.

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