Traditional model railroad control systems use the throttle on the transformer to give directions to your engine. The Lionel TMCC system directs your trains using a separate digital signal from a hand held walk around controller.
Since TMCC was originally designed for use in O gauge engines, size has been the limiting factor in finding solutions to convert smaller engines and some S locomotives. However, there are several products now available that make TMCC compatibility in S gauge very practical.
If you are thinking about using TMCC, then the following information may help you decide.
Advantages of Using TMCC
- Can be used with all brands of O and S gauge equipment.
- Direct control of your locomotives, no more complicated block wiring. Connects to your layout via one single wire.
- Provides a walk-around remote control that transmits signals via a single device to either a CAB-1 or Legacy Command Base.
- Locomotives can be operated independently on the same track, or in a lash up.
- Signal reaction time can be adjusted in order to simulate the momentum of real life train operation.
- The TMCC System can also accommodate conventional locomotives, accessories and switches.
- Uses constant track power so lighting remains constant and older locomotives run more smoothly at slower speeds.
TMCC equipment can be divided into two categories: TMCC, which is the first generation, is no longer being marketed by Lionel but still being manufactured and available on the secondary market. Legacy, which is the current system, is compatible with all original TMCC engines and equipment. The handheld controller now has a digital read out display and there are more features available to you during train operation.
Generally, there are two components used in TMCC, a receiver and a motherboard that drives several circuits including the direction of the train. Originally the receiver and the drivers were on separate boards in the first couple generations that were produced but now they have single boards with the receiver built in that can be installed depending on the application. Boards are available to power either original AC style motors or DC can style motors used in today’s engines. The boards must be matched to the style of motor you are using.
The videos below show the various capabilities. An example of an O gauge TMCC installation showing the stages may be found here.
This is a Weaver Pacific steam engine that did not have any smoke or any remote control capability. I installed TMCC with cruise control, a sound system and a fan driven smoke unit. Also installed a special board that synchronizes the chuff with the puff and makes it look more realistic.
American Models SD60s that I installed TMCC and Railsounds. This was a very tight installation and took some engineering to figure out. I Installed a ERR Mini II Commander with the Railsounds board
These are a pair of American Models E8s in which I installed TMCC with sound in both the undecorated engines. This allows the engines to be programmed as a consist or to operate independently as a separate units.
Installed TMCC and was able to keep the original board for the lights and the bell. Also had to rewire the headlight and reverse lights to work with the TMCC board and allow bi-directional lighting. Night time version
Installed TMCC and was able to keep the original board for the lights and the bell. Also had to rewire the headlight and reverse lights to work with the TMCC board and allow bi-directional lighting. Daylight version.
S-Helper F7 A-B-A set and all three units have TMCC with cruise control and can be controlled either individually or as a lash-up. Both “A” units have sound installed and the MARS light in each unit is controllable with either the CAB-1 or Legacy control.
American Models A & B unit in which I installed TMCC. The components are all in the A unit with the sound system. In the B unit, I added a flashing red light and a reverse light and now that allows for bi-directional lighting.
American Models A-B-A F7s with TMCC and sound installed. These diesels can run as a Lash Up with or without the “B” unit which incorporates all the sounds and announcement. The lead engine can also run with the “B” unit and then you can utilize the rear “A” to relocate passenger or freight cars. There are many ways to run these engines and it is up to you to decide and have fun. The Bradford Diner was restored by Ray Signorini.
American Models Northern steam engine in which I installed a cruise control board, an ERR sound board, a fan driven smoke unit with four chuffs per revolution and synchronized huff and puff. The smoke unit has also been modified with a different heating element and wicking material and in the tender I installed a back up light, and an operating coupler.
Lionel O gauge Mikado which was converted to TMCC. I installed a DC Commander and a Railsounds Commander and replaced the incandescent bulbs used for the marker lights with red LED’s.