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I bought a ZW-L several years ago and I am now getting to use it. I have a problem with the Lionel light on the front. It will not light up, so I can’t program it in command mode. I have a Legacy command base hooked up to it. The command base and cab2 have been updated to V1.6. I have the ZW-L switches set to command, channel 4 and program. When I switch the ZW-L on, the Lionel light doesn’t light up. What am I doing wrong or is something wrong with the transformer?

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Do you have a ground connection from the ZW-L to the output terminal of the Legacy base output? Any Common Binding Post will work, and the ZW-L has a separate Command Base Binding Post you can use (Common and Command Base Binding Posts internally connected together). ZW-L will not recognize Legacy signal without some type of ground connecting path from Base to ZW-L.

Base to ZW_L ground


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  • Base to ZW_L ground

Just to repeat what Lionel says in the ZW-L manual, you have to set the Run/Program, Command/Conventional, and 1Ch/4Ch switches before you turn on the ZW-L. Also, turn on the Legacy base a few seconds before you power on the ZW-L.

I would set the ZW-L switches to Run, Conventional, 4Ch - then when I turn on the ZW-L, I expect the Lionel light should be on, no flashing. If the Lionel light is off, something is amiss and servicing is what I would have to consider.

If the Lionel light was on above, the I would turn off the ZW-L, turn off the Legacy base, then set the Command/Conventional switch to Command, leaving the others at Run and 4Ch. Leaving the Legacy base powered off, turn on the ZW-L. I would expect that the Lionel light should start flashing, indicating searching for command signal. No blinking - something wrong and servicing is what I would have to consider.

If I got the blinking Lionel light, then I would turn off the ZW-L, leave the switches as Run, Command, 4Ch. Turn on the Legacy base, wait ten seconds, then turn on the the ZW-L. If I got this far, then hopefully the Lionel light will stop blinking (if it even blinked for a few seconds at all), Lionel light will be on. If not, time to consider servicing again.

So if I got this far, I would turn off ZW-L, leaving Legacy base powered on. Set switches to Program, Command, 4Ch. Power on the ZW-L, and I would expect the Lionel light to be off (if I understood the ZW-L user manual correctly). I would then do the set address sequence from the CAB2 remote - and when I hit the set button as the last step of the set address sequence, the Lionel light should blink for a bit to indicate the ZW-L executed the set address sequence.

I would now turn off the ZW-L, leaving the Legacy base powered on. Set the switches to Run, Command, 4Ch. Power on the ZW-L, and within a few seconds, the Lionel light should be on, and I can control from the CAB2.

Hope this helps!!!

@rrvics posted:

Lionel light has never been on. I have tried to program the ZW-L without the Lionel light on, but to no avail. It just doesn’t work. I just got off the phone with Lionel. The want it back and sent me an RA with a shipping label.

Did you buy it new from a Lionel dealer.  

I bought mine from a forum member and it works fine but I was jus wondering if Lionel is treating the ZW-L like the Legacy system in that they repair them regardless of where you bought it and don’t ask for proof of purchase.

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