How to Wire Lionel Fastrack

Written by tom chmielewski
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Lionel's Fastrack for O-scale (size ratio of 1:48) is meant to be an easy to set up and take down system, yet still look realistic enough for the model railroad hobbyist. It is a three-rail sectional track system that runs on alternating current, unlike two-rail tracks that run on direct current. Like any model railroad, extensive layouts can include complicated wiring. But the basic wiring to make a train go is simple.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Model railroad transformer for AC
  • Double Pole, Double Throw toggle switches (optional)
  • Single Pole, Single Throw toggle switches (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Connect wires to the underside of a section of track and attached "ballast roadbed." One connection goes to the centre rail, the other to an outer rail. Some sections come with wires already attached.

  2. 2

    Run the wires to a transformer, such as the Lionel CW-80, though you can use non-Lionel railroad transformers. Higher wattage transformers can more easily power larger layouts.

  3. 3

    Insulate "blocks" of track to allow you to run two trains at once. Each block on a mainline should be long enough to hold one train of the length you plan to run. Insulate the rails by leaving a gap between sections, or using insulated connector pins.

  4. 4

    Wire each block to a Double Pole, Double Throw toggle switch. Each pole goes to a separate controller on the transformer, while the centre connectors are wired to the track.

  5. 5

    Insulate one rail in sidings to store a locomotive while another is on the mainline. Wire the connections for the rail on either side of the insulated gap to a Single Pole, Single Throw toggle switch that allows you to cut off power when you choose.

Tips and warnings

  • Simplify your wiring by using Digital Command Control in your locomotives. It's more expensive, but DCC allows you to eliminate blocks, and a lot of extra switches. Locomotives are controlled by digital signals unique to each engine sent by a controller.

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