Lionel Electronic Control

A quick outline only

Do the various control systems for Lionel trains make your head spin? I know the feeling.   A quick outline of LIONEL electronic controls.

Conventional,  Use the transformer control to vary the speed.  Voltage varies on the track.  Everything before 1994 and many after.

DCC is the standard control system for HO trains that run DC power and many 2 Rail O scale systems that run on 12V power.  This does NOT work with any of the Lionel, 3 rail control systems.

TMCC, LEGACY, LionChiefx and Bluetooth are controls only.  Each still needs a transformer or power supply to get the track power needed. The AC track voltage is constant/high, about 17-18 volts.  Only conventional engines need varying track voltage.

TMCC developed by Lionel is the first generation of the Lionel electronic control.   Some non-lionel engines also have TMCC electronics in them.  1994-2006. 

Legacy, Gen 2 of Lionel control.  Works with TMCC controlled engines also.   A few extras for Legacy control engines/cars.  It can run TMCC engines also.  2006 until about 2017.  

Powermaster for Conventional track power control.  With a TMCC or Legacy Powermaster addition, you can run conventional engines from the remote.   The Powermaster connects between the transformer/power supply and the track.   It connects to the TMCC or Legacy control with 1 wire.   The transformer/power supply is set to 18v for constant power.  With TMCC a TMCC Powermaster is needed.  With Legacy, a Legacy Powermaster is needed.  

For each section of track you want to run independently in conventional mode you will need a  Powermaster and power to it.

TMCC and Legacy have additional auxilliary controls for layout switches, motor controls and lighting.   Also Legacy has a WiFi module. TMCC accessory controls must have a TMCC base to drive them.   Legacy Auxilliary controls need a Legacy or CAB3 base to control them.

Then comes LionChief and LionChief +/Plus.  2013 and on.  Not compatable with TMCC/Legacy.  Each engine comes with a hand held control.  Track power only needed.  LioncChief + allows a "universal" LionChief controller to be used. the universal can do up to 3 engines.   More than a few engines and you need a way to track the remotes.

Current offerings LionChief Plus 2 with Bluetooth and Legacy with Blue tooth.   With Bluetooth you use an app on your phone/tablet and can run the engine.   No base station needed.   Just track power. 

3rd parties sell TMCC/Legacy style electronics and sound systems you can add to an engine.  I have done this on an older conventional engine.  Most do not support Bluetooth.  A lot of us would like an affordable Legacy-Blue tooth board we could add to an older loco also.  

The Base3 control and CAB3 app, Aug 2024, can run most everything supposedly.  It has built in WiFi  and Bluetooth. The Legacy WiFi module is not needed.  All the other Legacy Powermasters and Legacy auxilliary control modules are still needed.  The Base3 can be run from the CAB3 app or use Cab1L and Cab2 Legacy based remotes.  It does not work with the TMCC CAB1 or TMCC powermaster and auxilliary controls.  If the Base3 supports it,  a TMCC base adapter wire connected to the Base3 would still be needed to run the older TMCC components.     See the lionel Power and Control page for more details.

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Last update May 23, 2024