How to Wire a Toy Train With an O-Gauge Layout

Written by c. paul martin
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How to Wire a Toy Train With an O-Gauge Layout
Model railroads are a popular hobby. (model railroad image by pearlguy from

Model railroading, a popular hobby in America, often makes use of electronically powered rails to control the speed of the locomotive. This is especially the case with O-gauge model railroads, which utilise three rails rather than just two to maximise the possibilities of layout design. This can be confusing for some, but a little instruction makes wiring an O-gauge layout an easy task.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Set of terminal wires
  • Transformer
  • Flat head screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Attach the ground wire(s) from the terminal wire set to the O-gauge train track using the terminal connectors and the screwdriver. The terminal connection uses either friction connections that slide in between the track beams and are tightened into place with a screwdriver, or a much simpler slide connection that fits in between two track pieces by insertion into the connectors there. In either case, remember that the ground wire(s) must be connected to both of the outside rails of the track, so you will either have a "Y" adaptor that requires the split-ended connection to the outside rails, or you will have two ground wires that require individual connection to each of the outside rails.

  2. 2

    Attach the remaining terminal wire, the power wire, to the middle rail of the train track using the same method you had to use for attaching the ground wires to their respective rails.

  3. 3

    Attach the open end of the terminal ground wire(s) to the appropriate slot on the transformer (usually marked black) using the screwdriver. Unscrew the slot, insert the wire(s), and secure into position by screwing the slot back into place.

  4. 4

    Attach the open end of the terminal power wire to the appropriate slot on the transformer (usually marked red) using the same method to as you did with the ground wire.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are familiar with soldering, you may find it handy to solder to the wires to the train rails instead of using the provided connectors. This will enable you to attach the wires to the bottom of the rails rather than their sides, and therefore makes it easier to hide the wires underneath mats, or to run the wires into holes in your train table.
  • Always unplug your transformer before wiring your train layout. This will help ensure that you are not electrocuted by the wires, and will also help prevent a short circuit while you are wiring the layout.

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