@Don Baird posted:
Four areas of concern:
(1) Both look fragile. How should I connect them to the control panel. Should I create some kind of protective cover. ?
Maybe in the end. But for now, whether it be with bailing wire and duct tape the goal should be to get the "automatic trolley" function up and running. I can't quite picture your layout but position the two modules where it makes sense relative to your track, transformer, etc. When the kinks are worked out then I'd probably suggest screwing down the two modules to a scrap piece of plywood or whatever using the mounting holes on each module (probably #4 screws should work).
(2) But, is the timer on the 153ir used? If so, One timer is set longer than the other?
Set all 153IR timers to the minimum delay which will be a few seconds.
(3) Any recommendation?
Whatever is easiest. Solid is "generally" easier to work with. 16 vs. 18 is irrelevant for this application. A trolley consumes very little current in the big scheme of things so you won't be pushing any wire-gauge limits!
(4) Would both plans work? Is there any reason to switch. Could I use the AC converter for any other purpose?
You could indeed substitute the 12V DC adapter for the AC-to-DC module. But you would have another AC-cord running to a wall-outlet or power strip. In my opinion there is something to be said for having ALL-THINGS-TROLLEY powered by your single transformer. Seems simpler. But to be blunt, and with no disrespect intended to your buddy, this is a distraction. I think you need to get the "automatic trolley" part of the system up and running. Otherwise there will be more diagrams that frankly just complicate matters. Downstream, once you get things running, you will likely want to adjust or modify the system. That would be a good time to re-visit your buddy's 12V DC adapter. In my opinion anyway...
You have bigger fish to fry.
Example of a bigger fish:
Take a look at your three 153IRs. Lionel changed the wiring instructions in their different versions. If you don't know the "vintage" (release date as printed on the first page of manual) of each unit to confirm compatibility, at minimum look at the 2 left terminals. Are they labeled U and A, A and U, something else, or no lettering at all?