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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I finally got things going on my build this weekend. I finally built my 10' L x 8' W x 3' H train table for my O scale setup. :) Now I get to start lying track and setting up my layout (pic below) that I planned out.

I do, however, have a couple of questions for some of the seasoned train veterans here...:)

1) When you create a yard, how do you keep a train or trains in a yard without them activating or actually powering up while you use another train on that same track that the yard is connected to? (see my layout as I hope this makes sense on what I mean) I'm planning on setting up two separate tracks (Track 1 and Track 2) and each is going to have a yard for additional trains, but I don't want them powering up those trains in the yard until I want to use them. If it makes any difference, I will be using 022 Lionel switches.

2) When you put your trains into the yard, do you "back them up" into the yard? That is my guess only because any pictures I have seen usually has the caboose or end car against a bumper at the end of the rail in the yard. I forgot to mark it on my layout, but I will have a lighted bumper at the end of each of the yard lines/rails (four in total). So, it is my guess that means you would go past the yard/switch, flip the switch and then back the train into the yard and then uncouple the engine (if you want) or shut it down to leave it on that line in the yard.

Sorry, these may sound like stupid questions, but I'm just trying to do things the right way and so that it makes sense. :) Any suggestions and info would be appreciated so that I do this right the first time instead of having to tear stuff apart to fix it. LOL

10' x 8' train table
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Table on casters for easy movement if needed
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My projected layout :)
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Thanks!
Mat
 

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For your small yard you can isolate the tracks and control power to them with separate, basic switches.Iisolating the center rail is sufficient. If you had a major yard and wanted to having trains moving in the yard while operating another train on the attached loop, you would need isolate and power the yard tracks with a separate transformer (though that incurs additional considerations).

What type of track are you using?

I suggest you download SCARM track planning software. The first 100 pieces of track are included in the free license. I found it indefensible for designing some tight clearances. Also, track has a certain amount of give. When I laid my first loop, several custom cut sections did not match the length as given in SCARM. In the end, it was the track out of positions and the SCARM measurements were dead on. It's a little "wonkly" at first but after a couple of sessions it's pretty easy to use. And it has all the major brands of track from all the time periods. Also has a 3-D view function.

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey there Mike,
Thanks for the info on SCARM. I'm going to have to check that out. Probably way better than what I did on paper. LOL! I'm just using the old 3 rail Lionel track with the black ties. Supposedly the "normal" O-gauge track. Not the brown tied O-27 track.

Now, to isolate the track, do I just need to take a piece of O track that connects to the switch and maybe cut the middle rail a bit shorter than the outside rails and not use a pin in it? Would that be how you would isolate the track so that it doesn't pick up the electricity? Then connect a "lock on" to the yard rail (the track I just isolated) and power that through a switch (to turn the track "off" and "on" so to speak) that would be also connected to my transformer? I'm running a new ZW-L transformer. I was planning on running the two main handles for the main tracks (one for each main track). I can then use the two other handles for the rail yards, I guess. I have other smaller transformers that I can use for all of my accessories. :)

Would this work? or sound appropriate to do? I figured to modify the isolation track, I can use a Dremel tool and cut off a small bit of the center rail and remove the pin, so thus it doesn't connect to the switch that has power running through it.

This is the part that I want to verify. I don't want to cut up track if I don't have to. LOL

Thanks again for the help and tips. :)
Mat
 

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You can use an ON/OFF toggle switches to power your sidings. Those sidings look fairly short so I wouldn’t bother to power them with a separate transformer/transformer handle, but if did want to do that, you won’t need the toggles (or as many toggles). There is no need to modify the track. Just replace the center pin with a fiber insulated track pin (Lionel 6-65543) or use round tooth picks..

Your black loop crosses over itself. Looks like it will be a steep climb.
 

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Also one thing to keep in mind is the size of your curves and the trains you are going to run.
A lot of trains need a larger curve to run, some will run on a smaller curve but look funny running the smaller curve from the overhang.
I guess you have the track all ready?
Do you have different size curves?
Do you have any trains yet?
If your running all post war or prewar trains you should be good.
 
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I do hope you will move the layout away from the wall, 8' is a long reach
to do any thing .on a layout. Also in the picture one leg looks to be at a angle
or maybe that is just the camera angle.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Bob - Thank you for the info. I'll look for insulating pins. :) I was hoping there would be a fairly easy way. Yes, the red loop actually crosses over top of the black loop. The black loop is ground level. I've been working in SCARM to come up with a layout to match. I will post it momentarily. :) Some of it might not be happening. I was just playing around in it to see what would work or not.

Now if I used toggle switches to turn on and off the yard track, where am I connecting the power from if I wasn't to use my transformer? Do I just put another lockon on the main track, have that go to the switch and then the switch to another lockon on the yard part of the track? So, when I flip the toggle switch the yard line goes live with the main track's power?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Also one thing to keep in mind is the size of your curves and the trains you are going to run.
A lot of trains need a larger curve to run, some will run on a smaller curve but look funny running the smaller curve from the overhang.
I guess you have the track all ready?
Do you have different size curves?
Do you have any trains yet?
If your running all post war or prewar trains you should be good.
Big Ed - I am running post war stuff. I'm not running any Legacy, LionChief or LionChief Plus stuff, if that is what you mean. Yes, I bought the inside track (black track) as a kit from Lionel and I was going to use the same type of track to build the outer track utilizing the same Lionel O track (I believe it is considered O36??? I know it isn't O27). Yes, I do have a couple of train sets that I already acquired. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I do hope you will move the layout away from the wall, 8' is a long reach
to do any thing .on a layout. Also in the picture one leg looks to be at a angle
or maybe that is just the camera angle.
Big Bill - It is the camera angle. LOL I said the same thing when I looked at the picture and I used a carpenter's square to ensure all the legs were straight. But thank you for pointing it out. :) The entire table is actually on casters. This way I can move it away from the wall while building or if I need to reach something around that side of the table. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
General thought and layout in SCARM. I still have a lot to learn in there, but I did my best in a fairly short amount of time. LOL I didn't label everything, but a lot of that is already written out on the previous sketch/post. The red line is track #2 that is the elevated (in places) (that is the track I'm building; non-kit) and the white/clear line is Track #1 and it is all flat on the table; no elevation. That is the one that is a kit from Lionel except for the yard part I put on there.

10x8_scarm_layout.jpg


Here is the track at the best 3D angle I could manage to show some of the estimated heights and such. Of course all of this will most likely be different when it is practical and I start laying out the O36 track. I may have to change a lot of things. I don't know yet.

10x8_scarm_snapshot.jpg
 

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Bob - Thank you for the info. I'll look for insulating pins. :) I was hoping there would be a fairly easy way. Yes, the red loop actually crosses over top of the black loop. The black loop is ground level. I've been working in SCARM to come up with a layout to match. I will post it momentarily. :) Some of it might not be happening. I was just playing around in it to see what would work or not.

Now if I used toggle switches to turn on and off the yard track, where am I connecting the power from if I wasn't to use my transformer? Do I just put another lockon on the main track, have that go to the switch and then the switch to another lockon on the yard part of the track? So, when I flip the toggle switch the yard line goes live with the main track's power?
OK I get it. Where the black track crosses itself, it’s all on one level (a crossover).

You will want at least two power connections for each loop. If it’s tubular track, lock-ons are an easy way to do that. To feed power to the toggle switches just connect an extra wire to the lock-on connection for the center rail.

For my staging area, I have four sidings and two of them have addition sidings. I have toggles for the four main sidings on one switchboard and toggles for the addition sidings on another. In my case, I use Gargraves track so instead of using lock-ons, I solder the wire to the track.

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Discussion Starter #14
This gent is a quick study.

FYI: Not enough clearance between the yard and the loop (middle, left)
Thanks. 😁. I figured that little extra section of yard was too close. I threw it in there to see. So I’m sure I’ll remove that. Thanks for mentioning it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
OK I get it. Where the black track crosses itself, it’s all on one level (a crossover).

You will want at least two power connections for each loop. If it’s tubular track, lock-ons are an easy way to do that. To feed power to the toggle switches just connect an extra wire to the lock-on connection for the center rail.

For my staging area, I have four sidings and two of them have addition sidings. I have toggles for the four main sidings on one switchboard and toggles for the addition sidings on another. In my case, I use Gargraves track so instead of using lock-ons, I solder the wire to the track.

View attachment 546803

View attachment 546805
yes, sorry, had a brain fart on what you meant. The black track does have two 90* crossovers.

Thanks for the pics. I think I understand how to wire it now. When I get that far I’ll do some testing First before I run finalized wiring. Just to be sure it works as intended. I’m still not positive on the wire connections though. Is the outer tail negative and the center rail positive?
 

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Not all transformers are wired the same. And some are down right counter intuitive. For example; Lionel's classic 1033 transformer. From the post labels, one would think the "U" post is common -to connected to the outside rail. Not so, it's the "A" post that is common. The chart below, specifies most postwar Lionel transformers' common post designated in the "Outside Rail" column. That's important for using isolated tracks to activate accessories with fixed voltage posts and phasing multiple transformers on a layout.

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Discussion Starter #19
Mike,

Thank you so much for the great information. I really appreciate it.

Another question. I have heard people make comments about having the tracks in phase with multiple power sources. Is this something I am going to have to worry about? How do I get them in phase if I need to worry about it?

Again, thank you all for the great info. Since it will be in the 90’s here this weekend I believe I’m going to be laying some track. LOL!
 

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If you have newer transformers with polarized plugs, there is no need to worry about having them in phase. If you have one or more transformers that don’t have polarized plugs, you need to make sure they are in phase if there is going to be a connection between them (such as the outside rail if there is a crossover between loops). Connect wires to the positive terminals of each transformer. Plug the transformers in and adjust voltage to about 10 volts. Brush the bare ends of the wires together. If there is no spark, they are in phase. If there is a spark, you need to reverse one of the plugs and try again. Lastly, it’s a good idea to mark the plugs once they are in phase so you don’t need to repeat the test.

Some people that use more than one transformer on a layout run a wire between the common terminals.
 
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