model train set on track

TMCC Demo Days

e*Train Issue: May 2003   |   Posted in:

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 oval setup.

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, number unknown.

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 Cow Palace.

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 it.