Operating Lionel Legacy and MTH DCS together on Same Layout?

Want to post a reply to this topic?
Login or register for an acount to join our online community today!

Operating Lionel Legacy and MTH DCS together on Same Layout?

  •  Hi folks, so here's the deal. I'm in the process of building a 16'x20' O-72 layout with thre lines. One is dedicated solely to passenger service and will be fully automated; running 3 trains simultaneously using MTH DCS. The second line is a small conventional O-27 line for Post War trolleys, gang cars, etc, and the third is my O-82 freight line with switching yard and turntable, along with a bunch of industry. Up to now, I've only collected and run Post War Lionel and Modern MTH. I figured I would stick with MTH DCS. However, I just saw my first Lionel Vision Line Challenger and am absolutely astounded. I gotta have one! And the Vision Line 700e is also amazing. Problem is to get all the full features, I need a Lionel Legacy control system to run these. I understand DCS will operate them, but not to the full extent. I am not all that familiar with Legacy. Will it operate MTH with all its features or is it limited in this scenario also? I guess where I'm going with this is that if I want to run top-of-the-line MTH and Lionel Vision Line at the same time with all the available features, do I need to have both DCS and Legacy?  If so, how well do the 2 systems work together? Is it as simple as sharing the same 18V on the track and then using the correct handheld for the correct brand of engine? Or is it "either-or", but not both brands at the same time? I'm sure someone out there runs both systems. Ay guidance?


    Replies to this thread are ordered from "oldest to newest".   To reverse this order, click here.
    To learn about more about sorting options, visit our FAQ page.
  • The best person I suggest you contact in here is Don Baker If I'm correct he has both running on one line

      Charter member of Tardis Train Crew (TTC)


  • Terrific and I will contact him.


  • I have them both connected on my layout and there is no issues. All works great both MTH and Lionel engines run just find. Use the Cab2 for legacy engines and DCS controller for MTH. I run all the power thru my TIU and use the MTH cable to connect the TIU to the Legacy base so I can use the DCS controller to run TMCC for Lionel engines if I want to. The Legacy unit connects only one wire to the common side of the rail. I use two 180 Lionel bricks to the 1 and 2 inputs of the TIU then out to the two main lines. I hope this helps. Smile



    Southern Serves The South

  • Terrific! Thats exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks!

    Is there a manual or a video / book out there that shows / explains the actual configuration and wiring diagram, or is this something you engineered on your own?  I should probably get off my rear end here and go to both the Lionel and the MTH sites to do a littlel research in their help forums.  Think I'll go do that now!

  • My layout is connected similar to what wmwalker posted above.  I don't have any issues either they both work great together.

    The MTH engines will only operate as either conventional or with the DCS Remote controller.  I operate my Lionel TMCC engines with either the Cab 1, Cab 2, or the DCS Controller.  The majority of the time I use the DCS Controller because of its flexibility.  I have two Lionel Legacy engines, again the majority of the time I use the DCS Controller for them as well.  About the only time I use the Cab 2 Legacy controller is when I need a 3rd controller for someone to use.  Or to "show off" the Legacy features.  In my opinion those features are rather minimial.  (Vibrating hand set, Quillable whistles on a few engines, Braking feature.)

    The other BIG advantage is I have ALL my switches AND accessories connect to two AIU units.  Thus with the DCS controller I can control all my engines, switches, and accessories with the one controller.

    The advantage of having both systems is significant!  I can purchase ANY engine I desire (assuming $ is not a concern)  The systems coexist fantastically.

    As you mentioned a line dedicated for Conventional.  I too have some conventional engines I wanted to be able to run.  A HUGE advantage of the DCS system is that you can define two lines as "Variable" lines meaning you can vary the voltage on that line WITH the DCS remote.  Makes the conventional trains operate as IF they were command control.  Of course you can only have one engine at a time on that line.

    As you discussed whether you should get both systems or not?  I have all 3, TMCC, DCS, & Legacy.  If you plan on being around in the hobby for awhile, and see a possibility of adding to your roster, or interested in a lot of the new features that are and becoming available, there is no decision.  I strongly recommend having both systems!  Even if it means not getting an engine that you want in order to get the system.  It will pay off in the future.

    You also asked about running the systems together.  I routinely run on the SAME track DCS, Legacy, and TMCC engines at the same time.  No problems! .  (It gets a little tricky to try and also do the conventional engine, due to the higher voltage on the track 14-16v,)

    Hope this helps, HAVE FUN!!!

    Don Baker Cowboy           

    Visit Baker Field, Ill,  for All Your Aero Needs!!!  West Coast Official Casual Member of the Submillimeter Telescope Weather Monitoring Service.   Home of the KC&D Railway Cowboy

  • Thanks Don, and to everyone for your input. This has been a real education. So the decision is made... I'l be heading to my local train store this Saturday to pick up the Legacy Control components, and then you can bet what I'll be doing all day Sunday! You know, its interesting to see all the varied areas if interest folks seem to naturally gravitate to in this hobby. Personally, I'm not much for landscaping or modeling buildings, etc, although I do like a well detailed layout. What really turns my fancy is the wiring and controlling aspect of it all. Track blocks, relays, signals, etc, and Oh that main control panel! I really enjoy collecting, operating and showing off all the Post War transformers, controllers, section diagram lights, etc on one board as much as I do the accessories and trains themselves. The more I can get my layout's main control panel to look like the cockpit of a 747, the better I like it. It's the kid in me wanting to be a jet pilot I'm sure! Don, I absolutely do agree with you though that being able to walk around and controll all the switches, accessories, and several trains from one handheld is also incredible. Thats why I bought the MTH DCS system a couple of years ago for this layout. But, every now and again, I still get a thrill out of "flying" the whole layout from that control panel. Now I'll be able to do both with what ever brand or make of engine out there. So once again, thanks to all of you for your feedback!

  • Mainline,

    We share a lot of the same aspirations.  I have ALWAYS liked all the switches and lights.  Whenever I get a new device the first thing I do is to see how I can make it more interesting, and usually complex.  I enjoy the heck out of my control panel and use it a lot.  I have all my switches on the control panel as well as in the remote.  I love using the ALL button and change the position of the switch, then watching all the lights toggle to the opposite position sequentially on the control panel.  The biggest issue I end up with is after I go and generate some new control feature, then I forget how I did it.  Usually get it figured out then push it further.

    Don Baker Cowboy           

    Visit Baker Field, Ill,  for All Your Aero Needs!!!  West Coast Official Casual Member of the Submillimeter Telescope Weather Monitoring Service.   Home of the KC&D Railway Cowboy