Our soon-to-be-released 2014 Signature Catalog will bring the next evolution of our LionChief™ Remote Control system with five new locomotives equipped with this versatile control. What is LionChief™ Plus and how is it different from LionChief™, Conventional or Command Control? We’ve already had lots of questions on the subject so before we look at the new locomotives themselves, let’s take a few minutes to talk about the different systems and what they have to offer.
Conventional control is the way we’ve powered our trains since the very beginning. A transformer supplies variable AC power to the track. By adjusting the voltage using the lever on the transformer, you control the train’s speed.
Over the years we’ve added many features to our conventional locomotives including working whistles, bells and other effects. But the control of the trains remains at the transformer. And while you can wire your railroad with “blocks” to run more than one train at once, you still need one transformer per train.
Lionel broke new ground when we launched our first Command Control system, TMCC™, in 1995. With TMCC you could finally control multiple trains from one controller, or cab. And that cab was wireless so you could go anywhere in the room and follow your trains. Command control uses a constant AC power on the rails and sends specific coded electrical commands to the locomotives to control their movement and many other functions.
To enable operators to control more than one train at once without the need for blocks and multiple transformers, each Command locomotive must be programmed with an address. The commands to speed up, stop, reverse, etc. are all preceded by that address so that only the locomotive you want to operate will respond.
TMCC™ evolved into LEGACY™ bringing even more extra features and finer control to the trains. For a locomotive to respond to the commands it must be equipped with a special receiver which can interpret the signals from the cab. A LEGACY™ equipped locomotive can run on conventional layouts as well, and the LEGACY™ system is designed to allow the option to control a conventional locomotive. For more on Command Control see our Wiring Your Layout pages.
LEGACY™ remains our finest control system for our premier line of products.
In 2013 we introduced the LionChief™ Remote Control system in new Ready-to-Run sets. LionChief™ isn’t Conventional control or Command Control – it’s radio control.
Like Command Control, LionChief™ uses a constant 18 Volts on the rails – only this time the wall-pack produces DC. But unlike TMCC™ or LEGACY™, the commands which tell the locomotive to go, stop, whistle, etc. don’t come through the rails; with LionChief™ they are sent via radio signals from the hand-held remote. And unlike command control, there are no locomotive addresses to program. Each locomotive has its own pre-programmed remote controller.
Because it only needs to see 18V of DC or AC power to operate, a LionChief™ locomotive can be run on any LionChief™, Conventional or Command Control powered layout. Just put 18V on the rails and use the remote control to run the train.
And you can run more than one LionChief™ train on the same track at the same time without blocks. On Command layouts, you can run multiple LionChief™ locomotives and command equipped locomotives together on the same track without any extra wiring. When running with a Conventional transformer, a conventional train won’t run with the LionChief™ locomotive(s) without wiring blocks – the same limitations you would face for controlling multiple conventional locomotives still apply. You can run more than one LionChief™ locomotive at once with a conventional power supply.
The new LionChief™ Plus system is designed to give you all of the control options of LionChief™ PLUS the ability to run the locomotive via your conventional transformer as well. Now you can run the locomotive on any layout (Conventional, LionChief™, TMCC™, LEGACY™ – even competitors’ control systems) with your LionChief™ Remote, or flip a switch on the locomotive and run it as a conventional model.
Our new LionChief™ Plus locomotives have more than just this added control option however. The LionChief™ system was designed to make operating model trains as easy as possible – no wires, no programming, self-explanatory controls, lots of fun in the palm of your hand. With LionChief™ Plus we’ve added many of the features found in higher end locomotives. These are a transition between an entry-level set and a high-end LEGACY™ model.
In addition to more detail on the locomotives, you’ll see features like working electro-couplers, improved sound and smoke, and Odyssey speed control. LionChief™ Plus is designed to give you complete control, exciting operation, an introduction into the many options available in model railroading and all a price point a lot more manageable than our premier products.
We think once you see what LionChief™ Plus can do you’ll be as excited as we are about these new trains. After testing preproduction samples of the Hudson and Pacific, we shot a little video to show the sound and power of these locomotives. Our Pacific handled a train of 25 scale freight cars plus the caboose up a FasTrack grade without any hesitation. If you like smoke, you’ll love LionChief Plus! Unfortunately it doesn’t show up well against the light gray walls of our test layout room, but take our word for it, these locomotives can put out quite the cloud.
Next week we’ll spotlight the new Hudsons here on the blog and go into greater detail on all of their special features. Stay tuned!