Lionel Ambassador Review

by Steve Scagnelli

Lionel Legacy #990 Command Set   (6-14295)

The TMB Model Train Club, located at Farmingdale Long Island, NY, recently transitioned to a new location. At this point in time we have completed our bench, track work, and wiring and are now in the scenery phase of development. Our basic conventional operation is tied to two control panels which allows for dual operators on each of our main lines. The control panels, although somewhat basic can be intimidating to many of our members. With the membership accumulating many of the new Lionel Legacy engines, we knew it was time to install Lionel Legacy.​
The control panels separate the layout into 25 blocks and require constant attention when in use by dual operators
Lionel Legacy base and CAB-2 are mounted in the control tower of the TMB Club Layout
Installation was real easy! Simply plug in the unit and connect the Legacy output wire to the common output on our transformer.
I see two distinct advantages in using Lionel Legacy. First, it puts all the controls in the palm of your hands and secondly it allows you to roam about, no longer tied to the transformer.
Lionel Legacy SD-70 product 6-81137 ready for action
In today’s digital world, Lionel now includes many features in its trains and Legacy gives you the power to utilize the full potential of your Lionel Legacy trains.  The hand held unit, CAB-2, is very comfortable in your hand with a well-lit display panel and an easy to use touch panel. The basic controls needed to operate your trains, on/off, direction, speed control, whistle and bell are all there along with new features like smoke volume control, crew talk, tower-com. The remote coupler control allows you to switch out engines and if your layout includes a siding or two enjoy realistic railroad operations. There is also speed control which will allow you to gradually control the speed acceleration in 6 programmed steps.

Let’s get started – One of the basics is that all of the modern era Lionel engines is assigned an ID number. Out of the box, Lionel assigns its engines #1. I strongly suggest you assign your engines a unique number in an easy to remember pattern. I use the last two digits of the engine cab number. When setting up an engine you will need the Lionel instruction page and the orange Engine Memory Module. During the engine set up the display screen guides you through the 7 set-up steps which are:

  1. Enter your engine ID#
  2. Press Info
  3. Insert the orange memory module into your CAB-2
  4. Press Load Module
  5. Verify that the Engine Memory Module information is correct for your selected engine. If the information is correct, press YES to finish the download process for your engine
  6.  An ENGINE DATA LOADED message will be displayed. Remove the Orange memory Module
  7. Press CTC button to return to your operating screen

You have now entered your engine into the legacy command base where it will reside until you delete it. The keypad will vary based on the engine ID you enter, and will be matched to features of your engine.

With the Legacy wired into the layout and an engine stored in the Legacy command base let’s get the trains moving. Now comes the real easy three steps to get your train in motion:

  1. Throttle up your transformer to 20 volts. At this time the marker lights and headlight will come on and you will know that the track power has made it to the engine
  2. Press the ENG button followed by the engines ID#
  3. My choice, Pull down on the whistle slide, the whistle will sound and the engine is now operational. Now just start turning the power dial (the big red dial) and your engine is in motion.
Club Member Randy throttling up his engine for a tour of the TMB club layout.
In our club train room which is 4,000 square feet, the CAB-2 at times can be as far a 75 feet away from the base and we do not have any issues with signal strength.

Overall, the process of setting up and operating an engine in Lionel Legacy is well guided, intuitive, and simple. Legacy unlocks all the features in some pretty amazing trains and what I covered here are the basics of Legacy. Included with your Legacy system is a full manual which will help you go beyond the basics and unleash the full power of your railroad.

Be sure to visit the TMB and Lionel web sites where additional Lionel product reviews will be stored.

In our next review we will be looking at Lionel’s CAB-1L.