Well, you're certainly not alone in this.
Yes, the Z4000 will run trainmaster components, but it's not a real
economical way to do it. The MTH transformer has some nice looking features,
but to run a Trainmaster system, basically you'll never use any of them,
you'll just push the throttle levers forward and use it as a power source.
The horn, bell, and program buttons will be worthless, as will the volt and
amp meters, since you're just going to turn the power on all the way.
If all you want is a power source to run your trains, the MRC 270 watt
transformer would be a much more economical choice at $170 or so.
Lionel's 135 watt Trainmaster power supplies would also be an inexpensive
way to do it, you could buy a couple of those, they sell mail order for
$50-60 or so.
But, if you want conventional block control, the MTH is a great option.
One thing you'll want to look at is how the transformer allocates it's
power. For example, a Lionel ZW provides 275 watts, sorta. Each side of the
transformer actually provides 100 or 125 watts to run your trains (I can't
remember which.). Any more, you pop the breaker. The MRC will allow you the
full 275 watts of trackpower if you're not using it to power anything else.
I am unsure on how the Z4000 will allocate it's power, you may very well be
able to get 400 watts out of it on one set of terminals, or it may be
programmed to provide 175 watts to each side and 50 watts for accessories.
Until we get to see the transformer, we really don't know.
I don't think the new products on the marketplace are *** us, they just
give us more options.
I happen to be sitting on the "let's wait and see what happens" fence, I
bought the MRC transformer, which I like. If the Z4000 turns out to be a
winner, I might get that for conventional control. But if I decide to turn
the layout into TMCC, I'd probably do something else, I'm not sure what.
>I am interested in knowing if the Z4000 transformer from MTH and
>Trainmaster are at all compatible, or if it is a good idea to combine
>the two, but I am hesitant to ask. It seems our hobby (Oguage) is
>taking on a serious rebirth and most of us are lost as to where the
>industry is going. I could not wait to let the Z4000 get away from me
>and yet it seems passe compared to the Trainmaster. With nickel
>(Atlas) track and tin and stainless and semi compatable switches and
>engines, I am left to wonder if we are chocking this rebirth before it
>ever really gets started. Bad enough that we must weed through the
>ever popular HO and N scale messages, but must we also endure
>chastisment from dealers, experienced hobbiests, and collectors?