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I’m using this Lionel YouTube video for reference. Fast forward to the 7:54 time.

After connecting everything I’m not having success with the “toggle switch” activating the turnout. The video does indicate to solder the wires (9:47). My goal is proof of concept so these two wires from the “turnout” are twisted (9:24) together and then twisted together again (9:40). for the “Turnout” and “Constant” voltage wire. Once POC I have 12 turnouts modify.

At the 10:08 mark there’s mention of phased transformers. Do I need to accommodate/ implement phased transformers for this to work? I didn’t get that aspect as a take away since the phased video uses fast track. If I need to address, would another ZW have to be purchased or can a less expensive transformer be used? Maybe getting off track.

YouTube video on “Phasing” but using different transformer and something called a “block.”

The “Constant” voltage wire is 16 gauge. Is that wire too thick with potential spacing between the wires so soldering is required?

Believe I’m using the correct ZW positive terminal. I verified the “toggle switch” works using track voltage with a different turnout.

The other item noticed is by two “Turnout” wires are positioned on the opposite side of the coils.

Please see pictures for current set-up.

Any assistance is appreciated. Thank you in advance.


Images (4)
  • Turnout Setup Pic 1
  • Turnout Setup Pic 2
  • Turnout Setup Pic 3
  • Turnout Setup Pic 4
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Another thought I had was, that magnet wire is coated in a varnish for insulation, so just wrapping around a wire might not make a good connection or any connection at all. The reddish wire clearly was not prepared with the insulation removed but the other wire is probably in the same condition with a clearer insulation not stripped either.

Last edited by Vernon Barry

Vernon, using a razor blade to remove varnish for insulation on the turnout coil was the key. I added additional pictures for future reference. Tested originally using both train power handles. Then moved to the accessory handle and continued to work.

MED, yes I am using the same ZW to powering the track lock. Not sure what "U ZW terminal is feeding the outer rail" means. Kindly clarify. I discover that in order for the "Toggle switch" to activate the "Turnout" the track lock does need to be connected to the track. Maybe this ties into the guidance you are providing.

Thank you both.

Three turnouts were acquired for proof of concept. Unfortunately the other two turn outs have a different coil set-up. See pictures. There is one center wire but don't see any wires on the sides. Additionally there seems to be very little excess wire to pull out and connect with external power wire.

Question: Is there a way to provide constant power to the turnouts with the different coil set-up? (Pics 8 and 9)

I'm "ok" with a cannibalizing/ taking apart these switches as a trial.


Images (7)
  • Turnout Setup 5
  • Turnout Setup 6
  • Turnout Setup 7
  • Turnout Setup 8a
  • Turnout Setup 8b
  • Turnout Setup 9a
  • Turnout Setup 9b

I have two diagrams from an O27 switch similar to yours, one unmodified, one has the modification you are working on.

Here is the unmodified switch

O27 switch

Here is the switch showing the modification you made

O27 switch modified

The modification pic depicts in red where you cut the wires. The green represents the wire you added and show in your pics connected to the "D" output of your ZW. As you can see in the pic, the wire you added feeds power to the two solenoid coils. Each coil requires a ground path back to a ZW "U" output (the ZW has four "U" outputs, also labeled COMMON, as shown in your pic) . Each coil's ground path is independently controlled by the controller shown on the right side of the pic. As depicted in the pic, pushing the controller arm up completes a ground path from the right coil, whereas pulling the controller arm down completes a ground path to the left coil. We have to get the ground of the O27 switch back to a ZW "U" output. Internal to the O27 switch, the two outer rails and one of the controller's connections are all connected together - thus whatever you connect to one outer rail of the O27 switch is fed to the other outer rail and the controller ground connection. So connecting one outer rail via the lockon shown in your pic to the a ZW "U" output will get ground to the switch controller. I indicated in Blue the O27 grounds that are internally connected together.

Hope I made things a bit clearer.


Images (2)
  • O27 switch
  • O27 switch modified

Walt, appears I'm about to do the same.

CK, nice option. Safer than a razor blade.

MED, started getting lost here..."We have to get the ground ..." Need to read a few more times and with a fresh mind tomorrow.

Net/net seems to be getting power to the wires which leave the coil and go to the thin metal arm within the "Turnout" that connects to the center rail.

Tomorrow I'll use the Dremel to cut around the Blue tape (See Pic) to make an opening. Hopefully I'll be able to see the wires and where they connect to the thin metal arm to center rails. Depending on availability of wire underneath two options might exits:

  1. Remove the wires from the thin metal arm. Connect to my wire which goes to ZW B output.
  2. Solder my wires to where the coil wires connect to the thin metal arm. Create a gap/ cut the thin metal arm somewhere in between the solder wires and where the contact to the middle rail.

Does the above (1 & 2) sound logical?

  • Either scenario I'll need to figure out a way to snake the 16 Gauge to the correct location and ultimately out of the "Turnout." From various articles my understanding is 16 Gauge is safe for a constant 14 Volts. 18 or 20 Gauge not unsafe but doesn't come across as the suggested Gauge. Is that a fair understanding?

For the bigger picture, should I be successful in converting all the switches, I'll have around 13 switches. My thought is to have one wire (Positive from ZW) going into a "Bus" like device and 13 wires going out (one wire to each switch coil).


Images (1)
  • Turnout Setup Underside 13

Walt, appreciate the email, article and additional detail. The video link is nice. It seems to show a different Turnout. The "buzzing" resolution is interesting. I'll need to research and/ or get additional assistance.

CK, Used the sandpaper for my other two trial turnouts. 100% better than the razor blade.

MED, the diagram seems to be a different Turnout. My Turnout doesn't have light bulbs. The electrical insight might still apply. However still lost on the second half of the paragraph.

Since my workbench (aka dining room table) was going to be reclaimed by my wife I needed to take action.

1) Frankenstein surgery on one Turnout to open up the underside (Pic 13). With the Center Rail wire identified we moved forward.

2) Using the third experimental Turnout I used painters tape to outline the cutout area. (Pic 20)

3) Last cut made was closest to the outside of the Turnout. Didn't want to cut to deep and damage the wire. Used that side to bend the cut area. (Pic 21)

4) Picked up the safety paper. Center rail wire in view. (Pic 22)

5) Cut wire and pushed to top side of Turnout. Sanded/ cleaned wire of protective coating. (Pic 23)

6) Connected positive voltage, tested and success! Now to go back and protect the wire, run wire out of cover, re-attached cover, etc. (Video)

Hopefully this serves as a resource to help others in the future.

CK, MED and Walt...Thank you again.


Images (5)
  • Turnout Setup 13
  • Turnout Setup 20
  • Turnout Setup 21
  • Turnout Setup 22
  • Turnout Setup 23
Videos (1)

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