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I want to buy a Lionel ZW-C that comes with the two bricks, but I have also been looking at the MTH z4000 and the MRC Pure power. I'm not real familiar with either one of them so those of you who use them can tell me how they are working out for you. I have used the ZW-C at a couple of friends homes on their layouts. I plan on looking for a ZW-C at York in October, but if I don't find one, the z4000 or the  MRC are my back up plan. The ZW-L cost way too much to even consider



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Last edited by Rich Melvin
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I have a three Z-4000's and a ZW-C with 4 bricks.  I strongly prefer the Z-4000 for many reasons, especially the voltage and amperage readouts.  I find the breakers on the ZW are a little too sensitive and I've never had an electronics failure due to the slightly delayed tripping of the Z-4000 breakers in the event of a derailment.  Other folks have had some issues with MRC transformers running conventional locomotives, especially those with QSI electronics.  You're mileage may vary.


     Picking a Transformer is definitely a individual Engineering opinion, Guns and I have bantered back and forth about Brick type Transformers for many years.  He likes the bricks, I probably will never own one.    Both type of Transformers get the job done quite well, each in a little different way.  

I highly recommend a Z4K, in fact more than one.





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I think it has been a long time since any of the magazines did a transformer article.  Would make for a good update!

I think the MRC Dual is the most economical of the bunch and that is why I purchased one several years ago for my layout.  I do like the dual amp/volt gauges.  I bought a second MRC to power an expansion of my conventional layout, but since I am moving to Legacy have decided to keep it as a spare.


I don't understand MTH not liking the MRC either? I thought the MRC was supposed to be a good pure sine wave transformer? I am sold on the Lionel PH-180's for powering all my trains. IMO, those can't be beat for fast breakers, power output and value. However, I do like the looks, size, power rating and prices of the big MRC. I have been thinking about getting one to use for all my accessory power.

I agree with the poster above about one of the magazines doing a review comparing the ZW-L, Z-4000, MRC and including their test results. I would also think that should be an article of interest to many readers. I remember the OGR ZW-L review, but none of the others, at least since I got back in the hobby a few years ago anyway?


I wonder if MTH is confusing the MRC Pure Power Dual with the older MRC "Dual Power 027"?  The older unit was a chopped-sine-wave (triac controlled) power source. 

I selected the MTH Z-4000 because of the number of units I see running all day on the large modular layouts at train shows. Reliability, sine-wave output and remote control capability were important considerations for me.  I have no regrets!  I think the MRC Pure Power Dual is also a good unit, however. 

FWIW John, I can't really understand why the MRC would affect DCS.  I had the MRC Pure Power Dual 270, and I took it apart to see what was in there.  A large toroid transformer with dual wipers and a sea of diodes to the whistle and bell circuits.  I can't imagine how that affects DCS.

Does the MRC have one 270 watt unit with 2 wipers on it like a Postwar ZW?

Or does it have 2 separate 130 watt transformers inside?

What does the Z4000 have inside?

I have been using a Z4000 and a MRC Dual Power on my home layout for 10 years.  I haven't had any issues with TMCC, Legacy or DCS with either of them.  I prefer the digital readout on the Z4000 over the analog meters on the MRC.  The MRC was certainly the most economical 10 years ago which is the primary reason that I bought it.

My club uses two Z4000s.  Again there are no problems with TMCC, Legacy and DCS.  They were expensive.    

I thought that MRC no longer makes the Dual Power and that MTH is stopping production of the Z4000.  Both are excellent units and it is a shame that they may no longer be available except on the used market.  NH Joe

I bought my first MRC transformer 40 years ago. A dual power 2700 for HO, I still have it and use it. I bought there DCC 10 amp system 4 years ago, no problems. If you are looking for best bang for your buck, go with the MRC. A friend of mine has a old DC transformer MRC made when they were in Brooklyn back in the mid 1960's. Works like it came out of the box yesterday, they never had to have it repaired once. My vote is MRC...

The MRC Pure Power Dual has one giant toroidal transformer with two wipers, one for each handle.  It has a diode array for the whistle/bell controls.

The Z-4000 has one large transformer core and a large and complex circuit board that synthesizes the sine wave electronically.  The MRC and the MTH transformers are vastly different in internal operation.


How close is the MRC to a Postwar ZW then? A friend has one and they have been telling me it has two separate transformers inside so that they can get 275 watts to each handle. Always thought that was hard to believe.

They claim a Z4000, like a Postwar ZW, pilfers total power to the handle drawing the most current. Am I understanding all this correctly?

Last edited by BobbyD

Bobby, that's baloney.  There's a single core with two wipers, and the total output capability is 270 watts.  One part is true, you can draw most of that power through either handle, but typically that's not the way it would be used.  Obviously, since it's a toroidal transformer, it's a totally different shape than the ZW transformer, but the pickups are the same idea.  The MRC has some really beefy wipers, not like the tiny rollers in the ZW, it looks like it's meant to deliver that much power.

Here's a shot of the core and the wipers.  Above is the meter and diode board.  The diodes handle the whistle/bell functions.


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Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

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