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Discussion Starter #1
OK Gents ...

I need your help! I'm beginning to plan/build my first Lionel O layout, and I have several questions. I'd appreciate any feedback.

First ... "Cast in Cement" prerequisites:

1. Max layout (table) size is 97" x 33".

2. All O27 track ... I can't really fit larger radius. (I don't want to live too close to the "dreaded edge"!)

3. I have four manual switches ... 2L, 2R.

4. Old-school simple one-transformer setup. No DCC. No multiple transformers.

5. I have 3 locos & tenders, and about 10 cars total. A mostly post-war theme.

6. My intent is to keep this a very SIMPLE layout. I'm not looking for something complex at this early learning-stage point.

7. My boys and I will probably paint some roads, add some Lego buildings, etc. Their place to have fun.


I've fiddled with drawing several layout options. My first batch (NOT shown here) were the typical double-ended ovals, or two side-by-side small ovals connected together with track and switches. Watch the train (or two trains) go 'round and 'round. However ...

If I were to do that, I wouldn't really be able to have all three trains sitting on the track at the same time. One would have to be "off track", so to speak. And, I wouldn't really have any "loading/unloading" destinations. So ...

The more I thought about it, the more I like the idea of using the switches to create a couple (or so) dead-end spurs ... a "go to place", of sorts. Those same dead-end spurs could store one or two trains, while the third was running 'round the track.

But, to accomplish that, I'll have to wire the track in "sections", such that I can flick some toggle switches and turn those sections on (hot) or off, allowing operation of those trains, accordingly. (Black, red, blue, green, etc.) So, here's my idea starting points, Options 1 thru 4, below. The colors represent the individually-wired "sections" of track.

QUESTIONS:

1. Do any of these options look reasonable? Any pros/cons to any? Preferences?

2. Wiring issues ...

a. I know I'll need to isolate the CENTER RAIL (hot) of all track sections with insulating pins where the diagram changes color. That said, can I connect all of the OUTER RAILS with regular conductive pins to tie them all into one common ground?

b. I'll have to provide a "hot wire lead" to each individual section, right? My (naïve) thought is to run the wire under the table, poke up through a small hole directly underneath a center rail, and then wedge a little soldered-on sheet plate up into the crevice on the bottom of the center rail. Power provided. However, is there a "more accepted" or common way to do this?

c. I'll have to take the other end of all of those "hot wire leads" and run them each to a bank of toggle switches ... to be able to turn that track section's power on/off. Right? What type of switch would you suggest? I'm thinking something small from Radio Shack, rather than anything "old" from post-war Lionel inventory. If Radio Shack type toggle switches, any bad issues with up to 18V AC or so?

d. From the toggle switches, I can run all of the hot wires to a common lead going to the hot terminal on the transformer, right?


I realize that these are probably pretty basic/fundamental questions. But I want to make sure that I get set "straight" on my thinking now, rather than tell you all later about the stupid mistakes that I made!

Please clue me in and/or shoot me down as needed!

Thanks VERY much!

TJ

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys.

Any tips on the wiring / toggle switch questions?

T-Man ... you out there, buddy? Throw me a bone on this one ... please?

TJ
 

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TJ, you know my knowledge of O is very limited, but that doesn't shut me up---more the pity! Why not consider going up or down to gain some more track length? I think a lower shelf on your table would allow you to dive down and climb back up on the spur lines of any of the four layouts.

I don't think there's anything wrong with your electrical plans---they're similar to my own plan to create "zones" where different transformers provide separate controls for individual trains. Keep your polarities in mind, though. We have a good thread on that one.
 

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Thanks guys.

Any tips on the wiring / toggle switch questions?

T-Man ... you out there, buddy? Throw me a bone on this one ... please?

TJ
Hi tj, :)

I had a pretty good lionel set when I was a kid and was always trying out new track configurations. Number 2 for sure!:thumbsup: ... because it has a nice bypass and two sidings so you can do some switching operations.

For wiring... I'd just shove a wooden toothpick into the center rail at the point of isolation, put wire clipons on each side, and connect the wires to any old toggle switch...

...but then that's the mickey mouse way I do things, 'cause I know I'm gonna change everything around in a few days anyway. ;)


Greg
 

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OK I would start first with a figure eight at on end place to switches for a loop around the 8 if you have ro0m or at least a loop in the opposite direction
It may be long enough to have loops at both ends since you have 4 switches.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Big Ed -- I wish I could fit 4x8 ... can't do it though, need basement walkway to access door ... limits me to 33" depth. Bummer. (I've got that bloody 4x8 HO layout in the way !!!)

T-Man -- I might try the "figure 8 plus loop" using the swithces.

Re: wiring for separate track sections:

1. OK to connect ALL outer rails with regular pins to common ground?

2. Isolate section center "hot" rails with plastic pins. Run "hot leads" for these to toggle switches and from there to the transformer terminal, right?

Thanks!

TJ
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Gents,

A few pics of the beginnings of my (small, simple!) Lionel setup, tucked along a wall, behind my HO layout. Rough track position, for now.

Pretty stupid (or non-existant) planning on my part ...

The Lionel layout is limited to 33" depth, as constrained by the basement door on the left side. OK, I can live with that, however ...

The layout position abuts the "mountain side" of my HO layout, which is caddy-cornered 90-deg along an adjacent wall. In retrospect, I would have flipped (mirror imaged) the design of the HO layout, such that the mountain/tunnel was on the RIGHT side of the HO layout, away from the Lionel layout. Then, I could have carried the roads from the HO layout across boards, onto the Lionel layout. Tie the two together, and all that.

No easy way to "mirror image" now. I could simply flip the HO around 180-deg, but then I'd be looking at the rear of the buildings, scenery, etc. Not so nice.

I might try to carry the HO mountains over to the Lionel layout. I'd have to step them up in size to use as a tunnel ... doable, but that sorta kills my #2 layout idea which has a switch right where a mountain/tunnel might go.

Oh well ... no biggie ... I think/hope the kids still will have fun. Me too, maybe!

Next time (what???) I should think things through more.

TJ

PS --

OK, Reckers ... I now what you're thinking ... "So how's he gonna tie the S layout into all of this???"
 

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*grins* Silly. The S layout will replace the rest.

That said, what about an L-shaped surface? Raise it up and extend it over the HO's tunnel area.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Reck,

Have you been talkin' to my kids?!? They want to do the same, only raise up the HO, and have the O turn (L-style) and continue under the HO.

Jeez ... between you and them, I've got my work cut out for me ...

TJ
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Gents,

A little bit of progress with my simple O layout. Space in front of my layout board is tight ... it's a walkway entrance to our basement. As such, I needed a place to mount my train controls, but didn't want it sticking out into the walkway at all times. Solution? Build a little slide-out shelf underneath the table, and mount transformer and track control switches on that.

First steps shown here. No wiring done, as of yet. Four switches will turn on/off "hot lead" to various sections of the layout: main oval loop, bypass, and two dead-end turnouts.

I'll have to bundle the wiring harness such that there's travel/scope for it to permit the shelf to slide in/out.

All pretty simple, but it works for me!

TJ






Shelf tucked under layout.


Underside of shelf, with router-cut recess for switches.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Anton,

Thanks ... much appreciated. My switch / wiring complexity is about a billionth of yours, but I'm hoping the kids and I will have some fun!

Extension rails were about $16 at Home Depot ... made for an under-desk keyboard mount.

TJ
 

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TJ,

Fine-looking work and an elegant solution to the problem! That said, one question comes to mind. On my beloved S scale AF stuff, a power cut equates to a direction reversal, if a train is on the line at the time. Same if he enters a dead zone and then you power it up. Any possibility of this with your outfit? My planned solution was to leave the secondary zones powered up 100% of the time, but at very low speeds. That would result in a train taking a turnout to a secondary and slowing down, allowing me time to intervene and stop it at the appropriate location, let it creep through the secondary while another train passes on the main, etc. Thought I'd mention it in case there's a potential off/on problem. Great looking setup, though!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Reck,

The quick answer is: "I really don't know what I'm doing!"

Yes, Lionel O is similar to AF ... the E-units flip current-to-motor direction when they see a low-voltage drop.

My simple-man's idea with this layout is to run essentially just one train at a time, though to have other trains sittle (idle and stopped) on the turnout and dead-end spurs of the track. One old-school transformer. So ... my thought was to wire individual track sections to toggle switches so that I could turn those circuits on/off as needed. I.e.:

I have train A on the main oval. Toggle ON power to empty turnout. Drive A to the turnout. Toggle turnout OFF. Now, toggle ON one dead-end spur (with Train B). Drive Train B to main oval. Etc.

If any train momentarily encounters a "dead zone" (like when passing over a track-section TRANSITION, it may -- as you say -- induce a brief voltage drop, which may flip the E-unit direction. If so, I'll have to throttle-down the transformer or hit the "Direction Button" on the transformer (which kicks out a voltgage drop) to flip back to the intended direction. I'm hoping (naively) that this doesn't become a persistent problem ...

Anyway ... that's the simple-thinking idea ... we'll soon see if it works or not?!?

TJ

EDIT --

You say "... allowing me time to intervene and stop it at the appropriate location ..." Can you elaborate? Stop the train how, specifically?
 

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TJ,

You drove train A into the turnout and killed the power to it. No problem. My concern was that, when you start it up again, it's going to want to reverse through the turnout. Presumably, you reset the turnout so train B would not intersect train A. Derailment? I'm not nit-picking: just suggesting that you remain aware of where your stopped unit will go, next.

As for my "intervene.." etc., my plan is to have enough track to run three trains on the same, extended line. This is a recipe for disaster. To choreograph my steamer-ballet, I plan to do two things. Staggering the starts is the first and is pretty obvious. The second is using turnouts to re-route slower combines onto secondary tracks and off the main line. So, if train A is being overtaken by Train B, a turnout guides train A off the mainline and onto a secondary. the secondary is on a separate transformer, so A can slow to a sedate pace as it clears the turnout. B comes flying up, I reset the turnout, B flies past A's caboose and on down the mainline. A can then stop completely or re-enter the mainline, behind B. That's the theory, anyway. I have several transformers, so by mounting them in a bank, I should be able to intervene without running to the location to snatch a train off it's track in time. *L* I bought a bunch of remote turnouts for the same reason: to be able to manage it all from one chair.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Reck,

Re: your first paragraph above. You're absolutely right. I'll have to do a quick toggle (transformer power-down or transformer "direction" button) to get the A train going back in the "right" direction. Actually, 2 or 3 toggles for trains with 4-position e-units. Not ideal at all ... I completely agree.

Is there some way around this with a simple one-transformer layout? I haven't given this a lot of thought, but my brain sees nothing but fog on this one ...

Any ideas? I'd be quite happy to hear them. Anyone?

(I'm really glad you're asking tough/good questions on this ... the dialog is quite helpful to me and my foggy brain.)

TJ
 
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