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Power and command

By | October 29, 2010

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Q. When I got back into the toy train hobby six years ago, I bought an MRC dual-contact transformer. Now I’m building a 13- by 16-foot layout with three track loops that are connected with switches. When I run several trains, things slow down. Should I consider buying a new Lionel, MTH, or MRC transformer? Also, should I consider converting to one of the command-control systems? If so, which one is better? – Bob Becker, Crown Point, Ind.

A: Bob, while we hesitate to recommend one brand over another when their benefits are comparable, it is clear that you need more power for your fairly large layout. Any of the three options you list will probably work well.

Or, you might consider buying two additional transformers and assigning independent power sources to each of your loops.

Regarding command control, both the Lionel and the MTH systems work well, particularly when used with their own locomotives, or, in the case of TrainMaster Command Control, Atlas O and Weaver locomotives that come with TMCC. I’d recommend doing some research before making a decision.

Neil Besougloff’s book, Command Control for Toy Trains (available at hobby shops or from Kalmbach Books, 800-533-6644), is an excellent place to start.

The whole command-control matter boils down to a personal choice. You don’t have to go there yet. Get your power shortage fixed first.

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4 thoughts on “Power and command

  1. I am just getting back into the hobby of toy trains. I purchased the Lionel
    Canadian Maple Leaf set. Then I bought a Williams F3 A B B A Golden Memories with 7 passenger cars. The 80 watt transformer lacks the power to run the Williams trains. So I dug out my old kw transformer. It will run the
    Williams. I'm a little scared to use the KW with the new Lionel. So I ordered the 270 watt MRC dual control transformer. Will everything be compatible? Will I be able to mix in MTH equipment too ?

  2. To: Bob
    Can I make my own brick for the 64 watt MRC Throttlepack? I would like to make the 100 watt transformer in the 100 watt Thottlepack into a useful brick since it is too unpredictable for me. On its own it will creep or run at derail speed when I least expect it. I don't want to waste the postage or service fee on having it looked at. It never was reliable from the day I got it. Instead of wasting money on it I just ordered a simple 64 watt Throttlepack. I figure I can just bring a connector lead directly from the 100 watt transformer case to attach to the 64 watt throttlepack control box. I assume the boost button is only for a limited time or you burn the box up? How many watts is the boost? Airplanes had a boost button for takeoff only or getting out of danger at the risk of blowing the engine.

  3. For the main question, I'd say add feeder wires spaced evenly around the layout.

    Ralph, the components you have, are probably the Cab-1 remote, the TMCC Command Base, the TMCC powermaster (the second base you mentioned, which allows you to run conventional locomotives with the Cab-1), and the Power brick.

    The brick should have a plug that fits into the powermaster, the powermaster has two posts on the back, one labeled A the other U, U is your ground and gets connected to the outside rail of the track, A is the hot which goes to the center rail of the track, from the post on the command base, you run a wire to the U post on the powermaster and the obvious seperate power supply for the command base gets plugged into the wall. This should help you out.

  4. i just purchased the cab1 command tmcc used system and have no idea of how to hook it up it came with the brick power house power supply and all the base and another base or something , any ideas on a wiring diagram?dont know if command control is for me never seen it in action i have a tmcc locomotive i just bought.

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