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C7327415-B9C0-4129-89E2-8D52AB1EBEA4Hi guys - Received these nice 223 switches.  Setting up a layout.  They were advertised as working great and they are really smooth operating by hand.  Fingers crossed.  Only problem is I have no clue how to wire them.  I will be using an accessory transformer for power.  Looking for advice and this is the place.  Please help!

Thanks a million in advance,       W1


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  • C7327415-B9C0-4129-89E2-8D52AB1EBEA4
Last edited by William 1
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Pretty basic. The center screw on the controller is wired to the center binding post on the switch, the left and right screws on the switch controller contacts wire left and right binding posts on the switches. Usually the controllers have red and green markings, green for through and red for diverging. If it works opposite reverse the 2 wires on the left and right switch binding posts.

A few suggestions and comments for the 223 Lionel Standard Gauge switches:

(1) Test on your workbench to see if the 223 switch works. Use a separate transformer and some jumper clips to power it. If it works OK no need to open it up. Note what voltage it needs to operate. Typically about 16 to 18 volts. You can throw the switch by shorting the middle of the three binding posts to either of the outer ones. One will throw the switch to the curve, the other straight. Power it by putting one jumper clip on the center rail and the other on an outside rail (used the side where the train would enter the 223, not the curve and straight side so you do not use the insulated outside trigger rail).

(2) I found if you bend the tabs to open the 223 they break so putting it back together gets involved.

(3) The third page of the instructions provided some inspiration to solve the lack of a fixed voltage plug by isolating the middle rail on all three sides of the switch. In the Accelerating the Action section what they do is put 18 VAC on the switch. This should make it snap back and forth nicely. That way the switch can be operated even when the train is standing still. One problem is when the train hits the switch section it will be getting 18 volts and there will be a difference in track voltage and the 18 volts depending on what you set track voltage to. I never tried this but implemented something like it in (4). See below.

(4) I isolated my 223 switches but used a relay to provide track voltage to the switch when the relay was off. I used a half straight on the side where the train would enter the switch to provide power to the isolated center rail. When the switch controller was activated it would activate the relay changing the voltage going to the switch to a preset accessory transformer voltage. I used two AC relays, one for each way the switch can be thrown. I used a Z transformer for AC relay voltage and the 223 switch voltage. This worked well and I did not need to open up the 223 switches. I used DPDT AC relays with one pole changing the track voltage to the switch voltage provided by the accessory transformer (about 18 volts) and the other pole to activate the switch by connecting the center terminal to one of the outside terminals depending on which way to throw the switch. I adjusted the accessory voltage to the switches to just enough to thrown the switch reliably.

(5) I finally changed the 223 switches to the MTH remakes which do have a fixed voltage terminal. Being new switches they did work much better. If you can find them the MTH 223 switch remakes are much better. The remakes are also available in 072.

(6) There is an accessory metal panel (the #439 panel board) that Lionel made to mount the switch controllers on. It look neat and holds the controllers nicely. See the 1930 Lionel catalog on page 45.

(7) Parts dealers used to have the switch tops, but its been quite a few years since I looked for them . My 223's had no lantern tops and I was able to get new ones.

(8) The 223 is really very much like the Lionel postwar 022 switch except the 223 lacks the fixed voltage plug.

(9) The 223 was new in the Lionel 1932 catalog on page 50.

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