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As noted in the subject, I am trying to run my 1996 MTH BL2 Protosounds engine (FEC) with a Lionel Legacy Command base & ZW-L in command mode.  The sound comes up with a lot of static and the engine doesn't seem to run smoothly (starts, stops, starts again).  Do I need some sort of MTH controller instead or some sort of electrical filter or is this just not possible to do this.  I was hoping to actually run my old Protosounds (QSI) engines on the new layout.

I only have three of these early engines.  Would I be better off just selling them?  I haven't really used them since purchasing them in the late 1990's because trying to run them on a layout and controlling them with the Clinks & Clanks (remember those!) was just idiotic.

Any help, directions, or advice is greatly appreciated.


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The first thing you need to do is check the battery in your engine. If it is the MTH white battery, discard it and install an MTH 9-volt NiMH green battery (or equivalent) or a BCR. Second, you need to run the engine conventionally unless you have updated its electronics. I have numerous MTH engines with PS1 that run fine under conventional control. Also check the worm gears and remove any solidified lubricant and replace with new.


Last edited by MELGAR


I run my early Protosounds stuff using a TPC-300, 6-14189, powered by a PH-180, and controlled by a CAB-2.  Lionel has added some clever software (advance features) to the newest versions of the TPC's, and I would assume by extension to the ZW-L as well.  These make the clinks and clanks a little less stressful.

To run Protosounds engines your ZW-L should be powering the track in conventional mode.  In this configuration you'll use the big red knob to apply power conventionally, but you can select the Protosounds- related advanced features via the CAB-2, as follows:

    Using QSI/MTH Proto 1.0 features with CAB-1 or 2:
    Additional features have been added to the TPC Series
    making the operation of QSI/MTH E units easier. The first is the
    power up sequencer. This feature allows QSI/MTH E Units to
    operate with the TrainMaster system.

    Powering Up
    To power up track #1 with a QSI/MTH E unit press the following keys
    • (TR) (#1) select track #1
    • (AUX1) (#9) performs QSI/MTH power up After engine sounds begin to operate, press
    • (#4),(#5),(#8) Depending on the startup voltage you desire.

    Always press (#4),(#5),(#8) before selecting the direction key or the locomotive will take off.
    There are three different possible startup voltages. The first is (#8) which set the voltage to approximately
    ½ of the input supply. The second is (#5) which set the voltage to approximately 1/3 of the input supply.

    Lastly (#4) if you accidentally power up the unit without using the above procedure and the engine does not come out of reset, simply turn the power completely off and restart it using this sequence.

    The second is the programming button. This button toggles the voltage between 8 and full voltage  automatically .

    Programming QSI/MTH

    To use the programming function from the CAB-1 or 2. First complete the power sequence listed above.  Then perform the following:
    • (F) Reset engine by completely removing power
    • (AUX1) enable numeric entry
    • (#9) This places full voltage on the track.
    • (#7) Sends programming pulse to QSI/MTH units.
    Repeat the (#7) key sequence until the desired feature is selected then press the whistle. Again do not  press the (AUX1) between the selection of (#9) and (#7). Consult your MTH engine operating instructions for specific details.

For more see


@lionelflyer posted:

Hi Melgar,

It still has the white battery.  I'll check my other two engines, a Camel Back and a Cab Forward to see that they have.  If I'm changing one, I should change all three.  Do you know if it is at all possible to run using the Legacy Command system and access all of the features?



First off, get rid of the white battery!!!

If you have the ZW-L, you can use the whistle/bell controls to access the ProtoSound 1 features.

I'll order the BCR battery replacers later today or tomorrow.

What really drives me crazy is that I opened the box for the Camelback and the tender is missing.  I did have some theft a number of years ago but I can't imagine someone opened the box and swiped the tender.  I must have put it someplace else rather than back in the box with the engine so I must have put it in one of my storage boxes separately. 

I hate it when I do stupid stuff like that.


I am with you as my TCA number starts with 92!
So, I am running early protosound Alco Pa with powered A, 2 powered Bs and a dummy A with a cab-2, 135 watt powerhouse wired to a TPC 400 set in conventional mode. Works prefect as all units run together very well.
Whatever you throw at a TPC, you can run it with a cab1 or cab2!

Also, I changed the battery and put a BCR in the powered A unit.

Ok.  Trying again.  You'll find it at the top of the list in this posting:

(In doing a deep-dive search on the entire forum I've now run into several other instances of the link I originally posted, going back several years.  None of them worked, although they should have.  It was a simple cut-and-paste from the original listing.)


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