Need Advice: Lionel or MTH for power?

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Need Advice: Lionel or MTH for power?
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, June 28, 2002 3:18 PM
I've got a dilemma. I love Lionel and have always wanted a ZW, but after seeing the new MTH Z-4000 operate with the DCS system and 2.0 locos, I'm blown away. I've only been operating O-27 Lionel for a couple of years and now me and my son want to build a "real" layout in a spare room that will hold a little more than 2 4X8 sheets of plywood. We love Lionel's operating accessories and want to be able to run two trains on a mainline while switching another in a yard. Since I'm fairly new to O-gauge, having operated HO mostly back in the 1970s, I'm in need of advice. Should I go with Lionel's ZW (which looks better to me) to provide power for the MTH DCS system or go with MTH's Z-4000? I want to use Lionel O-gauge sectional track as well. Any thoughts or comments to help me get started are appreciated. I have a chance to get a brand new Z-4000 for about $325 and then add the DCS for another $250. I need help quick before this deal passes me by and I can't wait for the review in Classic Toy Trains in the Sept. issue. Everything I've seen tells me this is best, but some people are telling me, well, MTH has some really great stuff, but, it's not "Lionel," and I can see some merit to this as well. What does the community out there think? Please help clear up my confusion and indecision.
Sincerely,
Tintrains
  • Member since
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  • From: Chicagoland
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Posted by cbq9911a on Friday, June 28, 2002 5:04 PM
I mix and match all three brands - Lionel, MTH, and K-Line - on my layout.

Get an MTH Z-4000 and a Z-4000 remote to start with. Later, when you've got some DCS compatible engines, go and buy DCS.

When you're building your layout, use heavy wire for feeders, #18 or #16 (ordinary lamp cord). Lighter wire won't handle the load.

For your accesories, small transformers (like the small K-Line transformer) can be gotten inexpensively; you can almost use one transformer per accessory. You will need a bigger transformer for lights and for switches.

Hope that helps.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, June 28, 2002 11:19 PM
Thanx for the reply! I didn't know there was a remote for the Z-4000 -- just thought there was the new DCS. As you see, I'm pretty new and am trying to avoid buying stuff I won't use, or don't need. As for track, since I want to use traditional Lionel O-gauge, what is the least radius curves and switches I should use, if I want to run everything but the really big Challengers and Big Boys, etc.?
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Posted by Algonquin on Sunday, June 30, 2002 8:23 AM
Hi Tintrains,

Take a look at the article of this site titled "Power Trip". It provides a lot of information to help you select the right transformer for the layout you are planning.

If you want command control via TMCC or DCS, this can generally be added to the layout later with just about any power supply.

Regards,

Tim Pignatari

A penny saved is a penny earned. But every once in a while it is good to treat yourself to a gum ball.

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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, June 30, 2002 7:10 PM
Thanx Tim. I'll take a look. I appreciate everyone out there pitching in to help me. I'm sure I'll have more questions as well. Sincerely, Jonathan Baggs (tintrains)
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Posted by BR60103 on Sunday, June 30, 2002 9:55 PM
Track radius could be a real problem. Check Classic Toy Trains -- see if you can get back issues -- and see what the reviews say about radius. Remember minimum radius is only a minimum and you can mix bigger stuff in.
If you do get something that is over your limits, it will probably be a main line engine and you can put the smaller stuff in yards and sidings. Might be an idea to have a large radius mainline anyway.
(Note that I haven't used any numbers!)
--David

--David

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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, June 30, 2002 10:45 PM
Thanx David. I would love to have 72-inch radius curves but the 54-ince will probably be as large as I possibly can go. However, is it OK to use the 0-72-inch switches throughout with smaller radius curves to decrease the likelihood of derailments?
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, July 25, 2002 6:49 AM
Run, don't walk to your local dealer and jump on the MTH power supplies. Do you wi***o run and enjoy your trains or collect vintage gear? (the ZW is a great piece of nostalgia,the new version is just that, new!) MTH I have found to be much more consumer friendly, and as far as the gear needed to use the DCS system , MTH works out to be much less expensive. If that deal is still open to you,go get it. Good Luck!
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, July 27, 2002 12:11 PM
The Z-4000 is a fine power supply and is the only easy way to program MTH PS-1 locomotives. It also has a plug in recepticle for the 900 mhz Remote Commander. This is a basic remote throttle that will let you do anything on the Z-4000 from anywhere in the room. The only drawbacks to the Z-4000 are it is physically huge. It also can only accomodate two variable voltage outputs.

The new ZW can handle 4 variable outputs and up to 720 watts of power by adding an additional two PH 180's. It will interface with the TMCC command base and CAB-1 and act as a remote throttle for conventional trains in this scenario as well as control command equipped engines.

Primarily, what type of engines do you own or plan to buy? Do you own a lot of MTH PS-1 engines. Do you own a lot of MTH PS-2 engines or plan to buy a lot of PS-2 and plan to run them in true command mode (not jsut walk around throttle capability)? Do you own or plan to buy a lot of TMCC engines from Lionel, K-Line, Atlas, Weaver or Third Rail? Answeres to these questions would be better indicators of what to buy for the long haul versus what may be good deal in the short run.
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, August 01, 2002 4:44 PM
True enough, what type of layout and equipment you own and run are primary considerations, however, the size of the old or new ZW compared with the Z-4000 is about the same. If you consider the extra add on gear needed to run DCS or Lionels older, limited system, the MTH win out, hands down.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, August 02, 2002 9:31 AM
Thanks everyone for taking time to help me decide. I just took delivery of a brand new MTH Z-4000!!!! Man, it is huge! I compared it hands on against a new Lionel ZW, and, though I hate to admit it, the new Lionel ZW -- especially the throttle handles, seemed flimsy. I like the ZW because you can add more and more power blocks to it, but again, after comparing to the Z-4000, I knew that's what I had to go with and at $325, brand new, unused in the carton, I can't beat it. As for what type of equipment I have -- right now it's just some old Lionel steamers, a few new O27 diesels for my son and a lot, I mean a lot, of 027 track and switches left over from my childhood, but it all still works nicely. Right now I have a room that is about 10 feet by 12 feet that my wife is letting me have to build a layout. I plan on using Lionel sectional O gauge track with my largest curves at 54 inches and want to run the new Lionel Command Control and MTH Proto 2.0 engines using DCS. That's my plan, anyway. We live in a 100-year old house that we may sell and move to a one-story we found that has a two-car garage that my wife says I can have for a train layout -- in that case, the layout I have in mind will be somewhere in the 16 by 30-foot range, but it would take some time to build I know. Right now, however, I have my little room and want to get hold of some rrtrack planning software to begin designs. Anyone have more advice for me? I'm just getting back into trains after more than 28 years out of it. I like operating accessories, etc., and am not that concerned with "realism" in the "scenic" sense since primarily it's for me and my soon-to-be 5-year-old son to operate. I'm going to keep some of the low-end engines since my son likes to operate those, but plan on buying two or three nice Lionel or MTH new engines for myself.

Sorry for the long post, but I am very excited just looking at this huge box with my new Z-4000 in it.

Sincerely,
Tintrains
Decatur, Alabama

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