By Stirling Woodin
On the weekend of March 22nd & 23rd, I and several of my
fellow TMCC demonstrators, Ed Trainman9; Tom Erierail; and Jim
Jbattag372, manned the Timonium, MD. Greenberg show, to demonstrate
to the masses the joys of command control railroading.
We had two Kittworks layouts set up, one a simple oval w/031
curves, and another with a pair of Lionel 031 switches forming
a double oval, allowing us to place a loco “in the hole”,
while still running a train on the outer loop.
We were using about half a dozen Cab-1’s and two command
bases, two TPC-400’s, and a 135-watt Powermaster per layout.
The oval layout also had an accessory controller, and the new
action recorder, and the dual oval had an SC-2 for switch machine
control. We connected the new production Lionel lumber loader
to the accessory controller, and had the SC-2 switch/accessory
controller operating the switches on the “031” dual
Lionel was gracious enough to supply the regular TMCC demo dogs
with the reproduction of the #44 Missile set with the command
operated missiles that fire from the loco via TMCC, and the #943
exploding ammo dump as the target.
The Baltimore Hi Railers were also in attendance, and we agreed
to use addresses #51 and up, and they would use #50 and below.
After some quick reprogramming of our demo units to reassign the
numbers into the higher order sequence, we were all set.
The doors opened at 10:00 A.M., and the flood began.
All manner of humanity was represented, from the very young to
the not so young. We had a steady stream of kids wanting to operate
the missile loco, and we all took turns instructing them on the
basics of Cab-1 operations
After their turn firing the rockets, they then would hand the
Cab-1 to the kid next to them, and give them Cab-1 basics. We
always had a Cab-1 in our control, in case anything went awry.
Needless to say the kids loved the #44 and the ammo dump, and
their laughter and enthusiasm were positively contagious. You
just couldn’t help but smile watching the kids and their
parents just having a blast playing with trains. I personally
set up the rig at least 50 times per day, and my fellow demonstrators
did likewise. While we entertained the kiddos with all of the
action, the parents would get curious about this here new fangled
way to run your trains.
I have a strong electronics background, and work in the technology
consulting business, so ‘lektronics are second nature to
me. Not so to the majority of the folks we spoke with. Most were
curious at first, and had all sorts of bad or incorrect information,
like that new stuff won’t run pre war trains, TMCC can’t
run PS-2 equipment, it’s too difficult to connect, and I
have to buy brand new power supplies or replace my entire fleet
with the newer command control stuff.
We set about correcting their misinformation, and gave them helpful
tips and tricks that we have learned over the years. Like using
the old Zdubya or Kdubya as the power supply, and strongly recommended
putting an in line fuse of about 3-5 amps as additional protection,
a scheme I use myself.
Our dealings with the general public confirmed what the CTT pole
showed, that most operators weren’t even aware of command
control railroading, much less even knew about the competing systems
from Lionel and MTH.
We had the NYC RS-11 and the Giraffe car w/TMCC on the oval,
and we had a rotating bevy of beauties on the dual oval, with
the #44 set as the only constant. I brought my 1997 GP Centennial,
an Alco C-420, and the D&H RS-11, while Jim brought several
Lionel pieces that have been converted to TMCC, like the Conrail
SD-38 MPC era production, a PW 736 and a Lionel Lines Hudson,
The girls were the better operators, and had the gentle touch
with the throttle, whereas the boys would git ahold of that big
red knob and gave it a spin like they were on Wheel of Fortune
trying to win the Caribbean vacation and the new convertible.
Thank goodness we had the forethought to speed limit all of the
TMCC locos to prevent denting the nice new concrete floor in the
The most striking thing about the PW 736 conversion was the voluminous
amounts of smoke the thing generated running at a constant 18
VAC, and the incredible operation of the air whistle. Many a gray
beard just had to come running when they heard the air whistle
scream like there was no tomorrow, and were astonished at the
smoke billowing out of the stack.
We had our share of sideswipes and outright crashes, which also
surprised the not so young crowd. We had a classic T-bone with
the 736 slamming into the side of the #44, and the #44 throwing
sparks every which way as it slid down the track. Several veteran
operators almost in unison chimed; “Well that’ll fry
the electronics in the new units for sure. That’s why I
won’t buy them.”
We silently replaced the locos back on the tracks, reset the
TPC’s, and merrily ran our trains like nothing happened.
Slack jaws all around.
“I heard…. My friend told me…. I thought that….”
We dispelled many an urban legend that day, and had fun doing