I have a post-war conventional train powered by a 175 watt TW transformer and running on 0-gauge tubular track with 4 remote control switches, this was given to me at Christmas in 1954.

I've been told I can now remotely control my train and the switches by purchasing either the Legacy CAB-1L / BASE-1L Set, or an older TrainMaster Command Control (TMCC) Set, and I would need to make "additional purchases" to replace my old TW transformer and a switch control unit.

I could purchase the TMCC on eBay for $100 - $150, or the Legacy CAB-1L / BASE - 1L for about $225 - $250. 

What I don't know - what are the "additional purchases" for either Command Set.  Can someone please provide me with specifics (product name, part # & cost) of the "additional purchases" I would need to make, how to set it up, and which is better - TMCC or Legacy

My goal is to set up my conventional train with some new Christmas rolling stock around the Christmas Tree and be able to control it and any switches from the comfort of my easy chair with the new hand-held remote set.  Maybe next year I would look at purchasing a TMCC  or Legacy locomotive and tender to take advantage of all the additional features, sounds, etc.

Thanks in advance for any help/advice --

 

Original Post

Father Christmas,

Provided you have enough wattage to power your trains, you can use your postwar transformer to power a command control environment. However, you should add a modern circuit breaker and TVS diodes. (Some people recommend fast-acting circuit breakers, but the circuit breaker is designed to protect the transformer. If you're using a postwar transformer, an inexpensive thermal breaker will work fine. I would recommend picking up a 3A and a 5A, and if the 3A trips too readily, use the 5A.)

The transient voltage suppression (TVS) diodes are meant to protect the sensitive electronics in modern trains. If you're not familiar with TVS diodes there is a lot of good information on this forum, such as here, which you can find with the search function. The quick'n'dirty is that they are bi-directional and are installed from hot to common or chassis ground. Ideally you would install them inside the locomotive from the center rail pickups to chassis ground, but they will also provide protection if you wire them between your hot and common terminals on your transformer, or at power lock-ons, etc. Most people probably install them at the transformer terminals or at lock-ons.)

An alternative to Legacy/TMCC would be to purchase a Lionel LionChief Plus locomotive, which uses a hand-held, wireless remote, but would not require a new power source—just add a circuit breaker and TVS diodes as described above. You can pick up a LionChief Plus locomotive for starting at a little over $200 for a diesel and $300 for a steam locomotive. Heck! you could even get an E33 electric locomotive for under $200 (see the TrainWorld link). TrainWorld and Charles Ro are two sources, but you might check other forum sponsors or your local hobby shop (LHS), too, for deals and further selection. (The LionChief Plus locomotives are not as feature rich as a Legacy or TMCC locomotive, but they have good sounds and remote controlled couplers. The system is much simpler, requiring no additional infrastructure, other than a circuit breaker and TVS diode(s). You could easily alternate between running your postwar locomotives and a LionChief.)

If you go the LionChief Plus route, for your postwar switches, extend the wires from your remote switch controllers to the switches with 18 or 16 gauge wire. If you haven't done so already, you might mount your postwar switch controllers to a small wood board for easy portability.

—Matt

You can control your conventional engines with the Cab1 remote or Legacy remote.  Since your engine is conventional, you would need either the TMCC PowerMaster or the Legacy PowerMaster.  The PowerMaster allows you to control your transformer via the remote (which is what you need since your engine is conventional). A powermaster, allows you to vary the track voltage, press the direction button, whistle and bell.   If you plan to get Legacy engines in the future, I would get the Full Legacy 990 set and a Legacy Power Master(6-37146).  You will then need a power master cable (6-12893) to connect you power master to you existing TW transformer. To control switches with the the remote, you'll need an sc-2 (6-22980).  The sc-2 can remote control up to 6 switches.  Instead of connecting the switches to the manual switch controllers, you would connect the switches to the sc-2 and control them via the remote. 

When you get a legacy or tmcc engine, the remote will work with engine without the need to get anything else.

Joe Fermani posted:

Matt is incorrect.  You can control your conventional engines with the Cab1 remote or Legacy remote.  Since your engine is conventional, you would need either the TMCC PowerMaster or the Legacy PowerMaster.  The PowerMaster allows you to control your transformer via the remote (which is what you need since your engine is conventional). A powermaster, allows you to vary the track voltage, press the direction button, whistle and bell.   If you plan to get Legacy engines in the future, I would get the Full Legacy 990 set and a Legacy Power Master(6-37146).  You will then need a power master cable (6-12893) to connect you power master to you existing TW transformer. To control switches with the the remote, you'll need an sc-2 (6-22980).  The sc-2 can remote control up to 6 switches.  Instead of connecting the switches to the manual switch controllers, you would connect the switches to the sc-2 and control them via the remote. 

When you get a legacy or tmcc engine, the remote will work with engine without the need to get anything else.

Thank you for correcting me, Joe! I have removed my incorrect statements.

No problem Matt.   A lot people forget about the power masters.  Power masters is how I got started in TMCC.  I had a postwar ZW, a 2037 engine and tender.  It was a lot of fun controlling it with the remote.

Another good option on power would be to get a 180 watt brick and use the TW for accessories.  The TW is listed as 175 watts but that's not what you get at the track.  The TW is actually 2 cores and each core is only rated for about 80 watts.  You would get a lot more bang for the buck with a 180 watt brick and it would have the fast breakers to better protect the locs.

Joe

By "180 watt brick" do you mean a TMCC PowerMaster??   The PowerMaster would replace my TW transformer?? Sounds great to use the TW to power the accessories - lights, buildings, remote switches, etc.   

I am not familiar with how a PowerMaster works, does it provide power by direct connection to the tubular track, like my TW transformer did??   I suspect I will need to keep my lock-ons to provide power distribution around my layout - correct??

The Legacy CAB-1L / BASE-1L Set is more than adequate for my needs, I may only have 1 or possibly 2 trains running. Actually, the TMCC seems to meet my needs; the full Legacy 990 set having capabilities of running up to 99 locomotives is "over kill" - mine is a basic layout.  Besides, the full Legacy 990 set is expensive, I would rather spend the money on more accessories and/or rolling stock.

I just want remote control of my current train and switches, and later, if I purchase a TMCC/Legacy locomotive, i want to enjoy the features and better train sounds 

For a better idea of the power split on the tw, go to Olsens Trains find the library (upper left on one of the pages) look into transformers... then I think the very top selection is also labeled transformers (vs the specific IDs below that)  In there is a chart of amp expectations for all the old units (use volts and amps for the math to get watts, but amps are a bit more useful)  I think it's a 3.5a acc. and 4.5a track limit (thermal) about equal to a 1032 or 1033.  (of note, there is also an ultra rare twin transformer KW.... or I was sent the only test prototype with my LSA-Mercury set)

Another thread today had mentioned the new Legacy PM may also need the tui,command base or whatever they call the the command control module (I hate confusing buzzword titles)  Older ones and tmcc, just the PM is needed for conventional running of locos. 

 Im not sure if switch control needs a command module to send a command signal, but I'd expect so.

That is a big price jump for the whole Legacy shebang plus L-PM to run conventional only/with sw control.  If you can live with conventional running by remote and keep switches manual, that's the low buck option. (those deep into command tend to push you towards more than you may want or need IMO)

The tvs isn't needed for PW stuff. It is for modern electronics, mostly engines or acc./cars with boards. One between TW and PM, maybe another on the PM outputs would be what to do there, with no command things to operate on track or acc.  There may already be one inside too...? More doesn't hurt though.  On a command engine is the best place, on track here & there next best. Ie. as close to boards as possible.

I also think I recall the PM already has an excellent circuit breaker to supplement the TW thermal breaker.  I suspect the input side of the PM to be pretty stable though.

The bricks are cheap and powerful, but kinda useless without a working remote. A thottle transformer can always stand alone in a few secondz when a remote's battery dies one evening

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





Father Christmas posted:

By "180 watt brick" do you mean a TMCC PowerMaster??   The PowerMaster would replace my TW transformer?? Sounds great to use the TW to power the accessories - lights, buildings, remote switches, etc.   

I am not familiar with how a PowerMaster works, does it provide power by direct connection to the tubular track, like my TW transformer did??   I suspect I will need to keep my lock-ons to provide power distribution around my layout - correct??

The Legacy CAB-1L / BASE-1L Set is more than adequate for my needs, I may only have 1 or possibly 2 trains running. Actually, the TMCC seems to meet my needs; the full Legacy 990 set having capabilities of running up to 99 locomotives is "over kill" - mine is a basic layout.  Besides, the full Legacy 990 set is expensive, I would rather spend the money on more accessories and/or rolling stock.

I just want remote control of my current train and switches, and later, if I purchase a TMCC/Legacy locomotive, i want to enjoy the features and better train sounds 

A Power master is not the same as the 180 watt brick.  A power master allows you to remotely control a transformer.  A powermaster can be connected to a 180 watt brick or to an old postwar power transformer (TW, ZW,  V, Z, etc...).  The way it works is that you connect the 180 watt brick or postwar transformer to the power master.  The power master is then connected to the track via your lockons.  The power master regulates the power going to the track based the commands you send it from the remote.

The CAB1, Legacy 990, or the Cab-1l, ALL have the same ability to control up to 99 engines, accessories, or switches.  The CAB-1L is the modern replacement for the CAB1 as it is no longer made.  The Legacy 990 set gives you access to more features in a legacy locomotive.  The 990 remote has the whistle slider control as well as the train brake slider which the cab-1L does not.  The 990 also has an LCD screen so you can see which engine/accessory/switch you are sending commands to.

To control your existing postwar trains, the Cab-1L will give you everything you need.  It will also be able to control TMCC and Legacy locomotives.  The Cab-1L will fall a little short in controlling Legacy locomotives but you will have access to all the sounds.

Thanks for clarifying the issue of the TVS breakers - I was told if I purchased a new TMCC/Legacy locomotives and tried to power them with my old TW transformer, I must install a circuit breaker to prevent potential "boards" being "fryed" if the train derails, nothing was said about also installing TVS breakers.   If I understand this correctly, the circuit breaker only saves the transformer, while the TVS breaker saves the "boards" ??  

I am not "electrician smart" - how does the TVS breaker work??   How does it protect the "boards" from being "fryed"??  Do I need to install them at the transformer and every lock-on??   My understanding of how a circuit breaker works is that when it gets a voltage spike, it shuts off;  how do you reset the TVS breakers, or do you simply replace them everytime??  Also, how can you tell if the TVS breaker has shut off - what changes in its' appearance??

Would it make any difference if I used FasTrack instead of tubular track??,  or, got a current power supply (not sure which one I need, hence, my question from above)??   

I looked up on-line for a "180 watt brick" and was told it is a Lionel 180 watt PowerHouse, #6-85226.  From what I understand, if I have the TMCC (or the Legacy CAB-1L/BASE-1L) hand-held remote, via the base unit, it is hooked up to the appropriate PowerMaster, which in turn gets connected to the track.  The PowerHouse is connected to an electrical outlet and to the PowerMaster.  Now, the PowerHouser provides the power, the hand-held remote will control the power to the track via the PowerMaster and allow me to run my conventional locomotive - is this the proper set-up??   

Is this also the correct set-up if I used FasTrack, or purchased a TMCC/Legacy locomotive??

Lastly, the 2019 Lionel catalog describes the PowerHouse as "perfect for your TMCC Track Power Controller or Direct Lock-on  ---  WHAT GIVES, WHAT IS A "Track Power Controller" ???       In a different forum (modeltrainforum), gunrunnerjohn did NOT recommend using a Direct Lock-on, something about the PowerHouse "having a very fast electronic breaker"

For a newbie, this is quite confusing -- HELP           

Again, all I want to do is be able to remotely run my current conventional train and switches with a hand-held remote.  If the grandkids really get a kick out of it at Christmas, I might spring for a TMCC or Legacy locomotive for next year - please HELP 

It is confusing. Answers to a couple of your questions:

TVS explanation, from a layman to a layman: The TVS (transient voltage suppressor) is meant to deal with voltage spikes which are too brief to trip a circuit breaker, but may be severe enough to damage electronic components. These spikes can happen whenever there is arcing, such as during derailments. The way they work is counterintuitive--you install them with one end connected to common and the other connected to power. This looks like it would cause a short circuit, but it doesn't. The TVS is "open" (not connected inside), until a high-voltage voltage spike occurs. Then it closes and creates a short circuit. This sounds bad, but what the short circuit does is prevent the spike from reaching your engine's electronics. Instead, it attacks your layout wiring and transformer. But the wiring and transformer are pretty tough, and the spike is very brief, so no harm is done. You do not reset a TVS. They reset themselves. You would want one on each circuit, and the closer you can get them to the electronics, the better. Between the clips on the lockon is good. Inside the engine itself (if you know what you're doing) is even better.

The main purpose of a circuit breaker is to protect your wiring from a situation where too much current is flowing through it (like in a short circuit condition). Because the same derailments that cause voltage spikes often cause short circuits, too, a fast breaker can help protect the locomotive by limiting the number of those voltage spikes (open circuit = no voltage = no voltage spikes). But a TVS can, in principle, prevent any voltage spikes from ever reaching the locomotive's electronics at all.

Like Adriatic said, engines without any electronics do not need a TVS to protect them.

Electrically, all track types are the same. The only difference is the ones with individual wood or plastic ties do not have the two outer rails tied together from the factory. Fastrack and tubular both do.

The way you described the Transformer/Power House > PowerMaster > Layout + Cab > Command Base setup is correct.

A Track Power Controller (abbreviated TPC - there are two models, TPC300 and TPC400) is a newer version of a PowerMaster. The TPCs are supposed to be better, but on the layout at my parents' we use a PowerMaster; it must be 20 years old, and it does the job fine.

Aaaaand one more wrinkle: you mentioned operating switches with the remote. You can buy Fastrack switches that are wired for TMCC/Legacy. If you use other switches, you will need an accessory controller. Basically, you send a command to the controller, and the controller lets the current through to operate the switch motor. But I have never used these, so unfortunately, I can't give you any specifics.

Hope that helps some!

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