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Here are a few potential options to start with, particularly if you don't mind using electronics to accomplish the task:

1.) DZ-1240 Auto Stop & Reverse Module by Z-Stuff for Trains

2.) Blinking Auto-Reverse Controller by

3.) AC Auto Reverse Unit, Model ARUE by Pocono Mountain Lines

The ARUE is quite old, and I believe they may be out of production, but can occasionally be found at train shows.

4.) For something more sophisticated, and particularly if your haven't purchased the trolley yet, you also have the option of using one of several made by MTH, and streetcars as well, which have this kind of functionality, along with station stop announcements, built-in to them (and programmable).

5.) Also on the more sophisticated side check out this thread if you're looking to use loops at the ends of your trolley line:

It refers to using SuperStreets vehicles (taxis) instead of trolleys, but they work in the same way.

6.) Finally, if you'd prefer non-electronic instead there's always the classic bump-n-go trolleys that reverse using electromechanical means by running into bumping posts at each end of the line.  No auto-stop for 30 seconds here though.

Many choices.


Bachmann has offered a point-to-point trolley set in On30 for several years.  The most popular of these sets is in a Christmas motif, complementing the wide range of ceramic villages available from different mfrs.  But, Bachmann has done this set in a more common, non-seasonal set decoration.  And those trolleys are available separately, too.

If you want intermediate stops on this sort of a set-up, I highly recommend Dallee's trolley stop-and-go system using current-sensing for detection.  For all the years we used this system (Our Christmas metropolis became overwhelming to recent demise as the body became less flexible!), it worked flawlessly.



Do you already have the trolley car(s) you want to use in-hand? 

As suggested by others, there are several off-the-shelf "systems" that can intermittently stop, reverse, delay, etc.

Most guys on OGR want an off-the-shelf, plug-and-play solution.  But if you don't mind DIY wiring, you could cobble together some timed-relay modules (a few bucks each on eBay) and get it done for, say, $10 out-of-pocket.  If this applies to you, I can elaborate.


The trolley comes into the station and stops. The lights go off and the direction reverses. The trolley
on the next siding turns the lights on, waits 10 seconds for passengers to load and slowly takes off. The
other end of the line is a reverse loop so the trolley returns and the process is repeated with the
trolley on the other siding.

The trolleys are controlled via TMCC which is initiated by insulated rails on each siding. An Arduino
then sends TMCC commands to the TMCC base.


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Trollet 2
Trolley 3

1. Simple DC Polarity Reversers:

If you can operate the trolley on DC, and do NOT require an intermediate stop -- then there are a BUNCH of systems that use a gapped section with a diode at each end of the track, and a controller that simply reverses the track polarity using a timer.

  • These are probably the SIMPLEST way to do automatic shuttle operation.
  • When something is not working right, they are relatively easy to troubleshoot, because the track power is ALWAYS on, it just peridically changes polarity.

How They Work:

  • When the trolley reaches the end of the track and crosses the diode section, the DC current cannot propel it any further in the direction it was going.
  • It sits and "waits" until the polarity is reversed, then the diode allows current going the other way to reach the motor, and the trolley starts up in the other direction.

I attempted to do a DEMONSTRATION of this type of unit in this video: .

The below IMAGE shows the LGB loco and the S gauge loco I used, but the gauge doesn't matter -- as long as the loco runs on DC.


I think the Bachman system that 'dkdkrd'  mentioned above, uses this type of system.

These controllers are fairly simple for electronics people to build, and I think you can get the more "homegrown" versions as low as around $30.

The units usually include a knob that controls the time delay between polarity changes, which controls how long the trolley sits at the end before it starts up in the opposite direction.

  • In the above image, the blue box is the controller
  • The black knob on the top of that blue box, controls the time delay.
  • This unit is a no-longer-made PH Hobbies unit, but currently-made units operate pretty much the same way.


Warrior Run Loco Works  located in NE PA, was marketing a "home grown" unit a couple of years ago for around $30. I can't find it on their web site, but they may still produce it.

You can sometimes find these USED reversing controllers at train shows.

  • LGB has been making these units for years.
  • Also Split Jaw made them; they're now out of business, but many used ones seem to be around.


2. More Sophisticated:

If you want a more sophisticated unit, Railroad Concepts makes a "Stationmaster Reverser" unit that does gradual acceleration/deceleration, plus intermediate stops. Details here: .

3. DCC Option:

If you didn't mind using standard NMRA DCC, you could use an NCE DCC "Mini-Panel" Programmable Train Controller to run a unit point-to-point -- with the added BENEFIT that you can have lights and sound ON -- all the while that the trolley is stopped.  (You might have to "lean" on your HO friends, who are probably more familiar with the DCC stuff.)

I did a 2-minute-long video demo of this type of operation using two MTH Proto 3 locos in this video: .

Just pretend those two MTH locos you see in the below IMAGE are trolleys, and hopefully it gives you the idea.



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Great summary James!  

I was hoping the OP would let us know what kind of trolley he has or is considering.  It's such a difference if command-control is in play, or if trolley uses a traditional AC E-unit if lights/sounds at the timed stops is of interest. 

I like how you included price info.  To that end, I looked up the Dallee 682 that Mike refers to above.  

dallee ac back forth

It also occurs to me that with low-power LED technology, it would not be a stretch to add a capacitor or similar simple circuit to keep the lights on at station stops even if there's no power on the track itself.  Or for more play value maybe the LED circuit charges while running keeping cabin dark...but then lights turn on only when unloading/loading at the station!  So many possibilities!


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Last edited by stan2004

Thanks for all your suggestions. Here’s a better description of what I’m up to. On the layout I’m building - my first since I wad a kid 70 years ago - I’m running two mailines on O gauge tubular track.  I plan on adding the trolley on O27 because I need the sharper curves. The trolley runs from an urban center to a ski resort and mountain hamlet. A ZW provides conventional power to my post war equipment. 
The trolley is not prototypical - just a Little bump and go thing I got for under the Xmas tree, but a quaint addition to the mountain village.     
I do have the following which may help:

1.  One Lionel 153 IR

2.  Two dual infrared detectors model IRS-2 by Rail Tronics.

I’ve never used these. I picked them up a few years ago on ebay thinking I might someday use them. 
My basic goal is a point to point run with a pause for loading unloading at each end. 

will these tools work. If so how?

thank you James and all. 

Several methods assume direct access to the DC motor inside the trolley.  This allows direction reversal by simply reversing the DC voltage polarity on the track; we can deal with how you make DC track voltage from your ZW later.  Your bump-n-go requires the mechanical bumping which moves a slide switch inside the trolley to perform this DC voltage reversal.

So the question is are you willing/able to do some minor re-wiring inside the trolley?  It most likely will involve soldering which I realize is not in everyone's comfort zone.

As for your in-hand occupancy detectors, I'd think you need one on each end of the line.  Hence at minimum, if using the 153 IR, you'd have to buy a 2nd one which is $30 or so.  I couldn't find an online description of the IRS-2 much less a company website; these cottage-industry widgets usually come in a stapled bag with a one page "manual".  If you are able to scan/photo the instructions or provide an online link to the same we can see its relevance.

In any case, the guys above have given a wide variety of off-the-shelf options.  This is a problem that has been solved!  I approach it as a re-invent-the-wheel exercise while sheltering in place.  I think it could be done with, say, $5-10 in components/modules for a DIY enthusiast - meaning guys that turn on the soldering iron and coffee pot at the same time each morning!  


Last edited by stan2004

Thank you Stan.  I just completed the tables and am running the wiring. By tomorrow I plan to attach the table tops and begin the land forms. Then the two mainlines will be completed. The trolley will be last. 
Along the way I’ll send you the info about the “stapled in a cellophane bag widget” (good description).

i don’t understand the need for DC conversion.   The trolley bumps and reverses fine. I was assuming I could somehow stop the trolley and then move it forward an inch or so to bump and reverse. 
You are right, I do have an aversion to soldering. But if necessary, there’s always a first time!

Regarding DC conversion.  Somewhere in the trolley is a so-called bridge-rectifier component - thumbnail sized and with 4 terminals.  This takes the 2 wires with the AC track voltage and converts it to 2 wires with a DC voltage.  The trolley motor operates on DC voltage.  Reversing the DC voltage (i.e., swapping the two wires going to the motor) reverses the motor direction.  The bump-n-go trolleys have sliding electrical contacts that perform this swapping ping-pong style when hitting the bumpers.

So. Several of the methods proposed perform the DC voltage reversing on the track voltage itself.  For this to "work" you have to then bypass the bridge-rectifier in the trolley so that the track voltage is directly applied to the motor.  In these direct DC methods, the sliding electrical contacts are not used and the trolley does not have to bump at each end.  But bypassing the bridge-rectifier more than likely requires soldering, re-working potentially short and tiny wires so it can be a nuisance.  And you'd have to post several close-up photos so one of us can identify the necessary modifications...and of course trust that we don't abandon you along the way with everything dis-assembled should problems develop!  


OK, I'm game to explore using the trolley as-is using the method you propose.  A couple questions first and I'll explain my thinking.

1. For the intended speed of operation (determined by your throttle setting), how quickly does the trolley stop when you instantly remove track power by, say, pulling the plug to the track?  I suspect this will be something like 3-6 inches but try it a few times at a few different suitable speeds.

2.  Say the trolley is stopped near the bumper but has NOT yet bumped to reverse.  If you instantly apply track power by, say, connecting the track wire to the transformer (transformer being already set to the desired operating speed), how close can the trolley be to the bumper?  In other words there will be minimum distance for the trolley to accelerate and develop enough momentum to reliably activate the sliding electrical contacts which reverses the DC voltage to the motor.  What is that distance?  I suspect it will be more than 1" but it is what it is.

So expanding on your idea, 

Trolley approaches end of line.  Infrared sensor (possibly the IRS-2 if we figure it out) detects trolley and triggers a relay.  Relay removes power to entire track for 30 seconds.  Trolley stops before end of track but far enough away from bumper per question 2 above.  Power is restored, trolley accelerates to speed, bumps and reverses, goes other direction passing detector.  But in this case the trigger is ignored (more on this in a second).  Trolley reaches other side and a 2nd infrared sensor performs same operation.  In fact the same relay module can be used if either detector can trigger the module. 

So the man-behind-the-curtain is some method to disable or ignore the infrared sensor for some length of time after stop so that the 30 second interval does not immediately start again.  Well, there are low-cost timer modules that have this kind of timing capability.  We can get into specifics but first let me know if I'm heading in the right direction!

12v timer triggerable module




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  • 12v timer triggerable module
Last edited by stan2004
Adriatic posted:

Is the trolley recent?  I'm not sure Stan has the postwar version in mind. The more recent versions use a small dc can motor; the pw is a universal open frame ac motor.

What I have in mind is a method to use his trolley as-is.  All electronics or modifications will be external to the trolley.  It will use the existing bump-n-go mechanism for reversing.  In other words, it doesn't matter if the trolley guts are a DC motor, an AC motor, a mouse running on a wheel, a rubber-band, or fill-in-the-blank. 

If you use a "as is" circuit, you'll have some leeway in buying another too. But that could play into some of the on-board ideas originally mentioned

Not to jinx, but I couldn't find a new motor my last RK b&g trolley. (It saw a whole lot of run time in two years though; 100s.of.hours, many pulling a passenger car{abuse really, its a very small motor})

Stan2004, after a long interruption to fish the basement and add a bathroom, I’m finally back to work on my layout.
I will time the stop and start as you suggested

I have purchased a second  Lionel 153 IR and am attaching pictures of the IRS-2 which at the moment appears to be an IRS 1!  (Note the damage in the picture. I am contacting the manufacturer to ask if it is useful as is. ). I’ve misplaced the instructions but am sure I have them.

so, I’m interested in pursuing my goal using the material at hand. If I could add an intermediate stop using another 153R that would be great.  The Lionel fast track device looks interesting and I would be willing to abandon my O27 track for regular tubular if necessary. (I already have the connecting track for Lionel and tubular). Anyway, I’ll be back to you by Friday with the other info you requested.


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In case not obvious, the loose parts are from the adjustment potentiometer - similar to the green knobbed component on the right.  I'm guessing it's a Humpty-Dumpty situation and you can't put it together again...but who knows!  That component is inexpensive - maybe 50 cents - and can be replaced but would require some sleuthing to find a replacement and then soldering which may not be in your comfort zone.

It's curious you say you now have an IRS-1.  I was looking on the web and apparently that company made an IRS-1 with only a single occupancy sensor!  Here's a current eBay listing for an IRS-1 but the instruction sheet suggests it's an IRS-2.  If you can find the instruction sheet that would be handy.  Or, I suppose you could play Lookie-Lou and ask the seller to post photos of the complete instructions under the guise that you want to see how difficult it would be to hook it up.

BTW, the address on the instruction sheet is a residential address in Arizona which sold so it's not clear if this business is still in operation; I also saw some references to a "train-tronics" with similar products though I suppose it could be a d.b.a.


But in reading what little information there is on the web, I believe this gadget essentially behaves like your Lionel 153 IR...but has 2 detectors which, for example, would be placed on either side of a crossing to activate gates/flashers with a train approaching from either direction.  Like the 153IR I believe the 2 adjustments set the sensitivity of the detectors and the time-delay.  Hence, I believe you need both of the adjustments operable.

Also, what transformer throttle(s) are you using with this trolley line?  And what, if any, other power is readily available (e.g., Accessory AC)?


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OK, stan2004, (and others) the holiday is about over and I’ll soon be back to work on my layout. Here is the information you requested:

1.  The trolley is a MTH (Rail King 30-5142) bump and go

2. the unit will be powered by a Lionel 1032 (75 watts) transformer. During testing I discovered that A-U combination seemed too have so much power that it was difficult to adjust the speed at desired low speed. I switched to B-U and found the speed adjustment to work more easily. I completed the remaining tests using those posts. (Questions about the transformer at the end).

3.  How quickly does it stop. At what I believe to be the appropriate scale speed, it stops almost immediately when power is removed (1/4”).  I tried at various speeds. At high speed one inch, but i wouldn’t want to run it at such high speed.

4.  When at a complete stop it takes only 1/2” to establish enough speed to reverse directions when it bumps the obstacle

5.  I have two 153IR Controllers both purchased on eBay. I noticed in another thread that there are different generations of 153IRs.  One of mine came with instructions and service info dated 2001.  The other had none  

6. There will be a station at each end. One is a small Menards with its own LED plug in power; the other aRail King with two small light bulbs (accessory power)

7. So how do we get the trolley to ignore the 153IR when it reverses directions

Other questions (A & B most important

A. Would it be possible to add a third 153IR  and have a middle stop with no change of direction

B. I’m using a ZW to power my two mainlines and most if not all accessories.  I know that the two transformers must be in phase. Do I run a line between the two transformers or just attach them both to the common buss line. I know that is the U post on the ZW, but I’m confused about the 1032. I’ve read on the forum that with the A-U combination the U post is the center rail and A what I call the ground (outside rail). On the B-U combination which seemed to work best I think I was using U as the center rail.  Is that correct?

C. Will there still be fixed auxiliary power available on the 1032. My understanding is that A-B is a fixed 5, and B-C fixed 11. So if I’m using B for variable power how is it possible to also use it as fixed. Avoid the common ground somehow?  And a related question what might I want to use it for.

I found the instructions for the IRS2  I don’t think it’s of any use in its current condition but I plan to call them

By the way, I am willing to try my luck at soldering, but not with anything requiring fine detail. I have a serious tremor in my hands.

Last edited by Don Baird
@Don Baird posted:

I found the instructions for the IRS2  I don’t think it’s of any use in its current condition but I plan to call them

By the way, I am willing to try my luck at soldering, but not with anything requiring fine detail. I have a serious tremor in my hands.

I think you should abandon the IRS2.  A repair would undoubtedly require soldering.

So here's a strawman concept diagram that should not require soldering.  I'm immediately interested in whether this makes any sense whatsoever!  There's a lot of wiring and I won't be offended if you think it overwhelming or incomprehensible.

You should be able to click on the image to get more detail:

baird trolley stop 12-28-2020

This method can be used for the original 2 end-stations with 2 153IRs.  You can add 1 or more middle stations.  Each middle station requires its own 153IR.

When the trolley passes a 153IR it generates a trigger to a timer module.  The timer module cuts power to the track for 10 seconds (you select the stop time, just using 10 sec for example).  Then power is restored to the track and the trolley starts back up.  The key is that the timer module only responds to the off-to-on transition of the trigger.

There are two cases to carefully work through.

1) When approaching an end station, the 153IR must be near the station.  As you say the trolley will stop in a 1/4" after passing in front of the 153IR.  Track power is cut for 10 sec and track power is restored.  The 153IR is still generating its occupancy trigger but that's OK because the timer module only responds to the initial occupancy.  So the trolley accelerates to speed in 1/2" inch, hits the bumper, reverses, and heads down the track.  All this time the 153IR is triggered until the trolley clears the station.

2) In a middle station, the trolley stops in 1/4" after passing in front of a middle 153IR.  The timer module can accept a trigger from ANY 153IR.  Track power is cut for 10 sec, power is restored and the trolley continues in the same direction.  Again, because the timer module only responds to the initial occupancy, it only removes track power once per passing.

Regarding transformers and power.  What I'm showing keeps power systems separate which I think will keep things simple for now.  Grounding, phasing, etc. are obviously important issues but I think it more important to solve the matter at hand which is the "automatic trolley" function.

So what I show is your ZW Accessory voltage powering an AC-to-DC converter module.  You will need a DC voltmeter to adjust the output of the converter to 12V DC.  This 12V DC then powers all the 153IRs and the timer module.  Yes, you can power the 153IR with DC.  So the AC-to-DC converter module, the 3 153IRs, and the timer module are effectively one "big" accessory powered by your ZW Accessory voltage.  This "big" accessory has a simple 2-wire connection to your track; it's purpose in life is as an off-on switch from your 1032 set to a suitable trolley voltage.

The two electronic modules mentioned are widely available.  There are similar modules that can be paired to perform the same function.  It's just that I have used both of these modules.  Here are some current listings I just pulled off eBay though these are coming from Asia so can take a month or whatever.  These modules are generally available on Amazon with U.S. shipping but are typically marked up in price (sometimes quite a bit).

ebay asia converter and timer for baird trolley

There are i's to dot and t's to cross.  For example, I see that you might have different versions of the 153IR which would modify the diagram.  For example, the timer module has to be "programmed" to 10 sec using tiny buttons and the digital display - can be exasperating!

But I'll stop now so we can see if we're on the same page!


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Last edited by stan2004

OK. I’ll give it a shot.
question:  Does using the B or C plug on the ZW eliminate the use of that for anything else?

i do have the 1032 to work with and did all my speed testing on that. With two mainlines and a trolley I assumed I needed three sources of power, saving ZW B & C for accessories.  It’s not clear to me how to run accessory power from the 1032.

I’msure I’ll have questions once I get started. First steps:  order the parts and finish laying track!


P.s.  I do have other transformers which could be added to the mix - little square black ones and a newer 40 volt train master which came with Thomas The Train. I planned on saving that for Christmas , although I’ll probably have to pick up something that will run two trains under the tree (this year I used my ZW).

I found an eBay listing that shows the 1032 instructions.

lionel 1032 transformer fixed voltage to accessories on B-C

Apparently your trolley works best using the B-U terminals.  10-4.

I guess I misunderstood about using the ZW.  I thought you wanted to used the ZW Accessory output to power "all" your accessories (including this new "accessory" that performs automatic trolley control.

But if you want to "isolate" your trolley system and use JUST the 1032 to power all-things-trolley, then simply power the automatic trolley system using B-C terminals and the trolley track voltage with B-U (adjusted to a suitable speed).  In this context, it doesn't matter if it's B-C or C-B in terms of orientation of the wiring.  Likewise, it doesn't matter if it's B-U or U-B in terms of orientation of the wiring.

1032 powers everything


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I can go either way. I was concerned that using the ZW might eliminate the use of one OF the accessory posts on the ZW  I have yet to figure how best to group the various accessories while connecting to the B and C posts.
It seems that if I use the 1032 for all things trolley that might simplify the use of the ZW. . When I get the whole list of accessories for which I wish to use fixed voltage auxiliary power it may become obvious. (It might even suggest dividing the accessories between all 3 potential sources of fixed voltage?). We’ll see.

I’ll let you know when all the parts arrive.


[“But if you want to "isolate" your trolley system and use JUST the 1032 to power all-things-trolley, then simply power the automatic trolley system using B-C terminals and the trolley track voltage with B-U (adjusted to a suitable speed).  In this context, it doesn't matter if it's B-C or C-B in terms of orientation of the wiring.  Likewise, it doesn't matter if it's B-U or U-B in terms of orientation of the wiring.“]

I happen to have 3 colors of 16 gauge wire left (two “boat cable” & one “primary wire.”). One each for the B, C, and U posts  

Am I correct in that B & U provide variable power to the trolley; and B & C fixed voltage to the 153ir?  Which post is connected to the center rail, B or U?  If B, then is the C the “common rail” for the 153ir.  It seems more logical to me that since B is used twice, it should be outside rail on track and common on the timer module and 153ir  

Can I also power the single light in the trolley station with B & C  

(I’ve discovered that I can purchase a new 153ir from a local train store for less than $5 more than the going rate on eBay)

Thanks for your help.

@Don Baird posted:


Am I correct in that B & U provide variable power to the trolley; and B & C fixed voltage to the 153ir?  Which post is connected to the center rail, B or U?  If B, then is the C the “common rail” for the 153ir.  It seems more logical to me that since B is used twice, it should be outside rail on track and common on the timer module and 153ir  

Can I also power the single light in the trolley station with B & C  

baird trolley stop 1-23-2022

If using the 1032 for all things trolley, above revised diagram might help.

Note that the 153IR operates on DC voltage supplied by the AC-to-DC converter.  No connector/terminal on any 153IR or the DC timer module is ever in "contact" with a connector/terminal from the 1032.

And it's fine to use your 16 for the track power and the 22 for accessory wiring including all the DC connections between the voltage converter, 153IR and timer module.


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  • baird trolley stop 1-23-2022

Still haven’t received the AC to DC converter module or the timer module. Here’s what I’ve completed so far.

The lines from the 1032 are independent- not connected in any way to the other buss lines. I’ve run three lines - one each from the U, B, and C posts (C to be used with the stop and go centers we are setting up and any trolley related accessories)

Because the trolley run is 20 feet I’ve planned on three power drops, one at each end and. one approximately half way, co-incidentally near each of of the there 153ir.

The drawing suggested to ME that the power for the timer - converter - 153ir unit goes to the timer module first the to the converter and on to 153ir.  (Maybe because I’m reading right to left)

Your last post  says that is not the case but I don’t see a direct path to the Ac-DC converter unless the lines go into the ports labeled B and C. But if that’s the case what are the lines labeled U, B, and Center rail on the right side of the timer

An easy question:  Are the 153ir units located in isolated blocks of track

Maybe this revised diagram will clarify?


Electricity has no concept of left-to-right or right-to-left!  Current flows where the wire takes it...up, down, left, right, north, south, or around and around!

The 153IRs are NOT electrically connected to the track!   They do physically sit next to the track at 3 places to detect trolley occupancy at those positions.  Power to the 153IRs comes from the AC-to-DC converter output.  The rocker switch on each 153IR is set to "AUX PWR" and the DC power is applied to the U and A terminals on the left side of each 153IR.

To be clear, your 20 foot run is a single "block" of track.  The center-rail and outer-rails are continuous from end-to-end.  There are no cuts or breaks or "isolated" sections.  The timer module has a relay which has ON-OFF control to the entire 20 foot track.  All or nothing!

I clumsily attempted to show 3 power drops along the 20 feet of track.


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Right. I've had an easier time with solid into the screw-terminals as used on the AC-to-DC converter and timer module.

Not sure what to make of the 24 AWG comment in the 153IR.  I just tried it, and 16 solid securely fit into a 153IR - no forcing, jamming, cramming, whatever.  Almost makes you wonder if "larger than 24" means numerically larger like 26, 28, etc.. which I suppose can be too thin to make solid/secure contact!

@stan2004 posted:

To be clear, your 20 foot run is a single "block" of track.  The center-rail and outer-rails are continuous from end-to-end.  There are no cuts or breaks or "isolated" sections.  The timer module has a relay which has ON-OFF control to the entire 20 foot track.  All or nothing!

“No breaks or isolated sections” ?

I was planning on insulated sections to activate road crossing signals. Is that a problem?

Unrelated to that, can this “accessory” be used to turn station lights or parking lot lights (or a “Welcome to Twin Peaks”) Sign on and off ?  A little more action to surprise the grandkids!  This is complicated enough for me so if the answer is “yes but” then I probably am not interested.

baird trolley stop 2-3-2021

No breaks or isolated sections are required for the timed station-stop function.

Yes, you can insert isolated trigger sections for the purpose of activating accessories.  The diagram is getting a bit messy, but I attempt to show this above.

The basic crossing signal has 2-wires.  One wire comes from the transformer Accessory AC (terminal C in the case of the 1032). The 2nd wire comes from the isolated section which supplies Accessory common (terminal B) when the trolley passes over the section.

There are more complex crossing signals with 3-wires (or even more).  In the case of a 3-wire crossing signal the accessory always receives Accessory Power from 1032 terminals B and C.  The 3rd wire is a trigger signal which activates and addition function (e.g., lowering the gate).  The trigger signal is from the isolated section.

Of course the 2-wire accessory can be as "simple" as a light bulb such as to light a station platform only when the trolley is over the isolated trigger section.


Images (1)
  • baird trolley stop 2-3-2021


Four areas of concern:

37A597F2-3310-4ED5-9FC6-CB0FFE2EA19AThe timer module and AC/DC converter have finally arrived!  Both look fragile. How should I connect them to the control panel. Should I create some kind of protective cover. ?


To be absolutely clear, the wiring is to be run as follows:

1032 U to timer module

1032 B to Ac/DC CONVERTER module

independent of AC/DC converter module, B also attaches to outside rail and fixed voltage accessories  
- should I run B to a terminal block and then run a line to the module and one or more to outside rails and accessories

From the timer module run line to center rail.  the same wires go to power drops  

Signal gates are connected to outer rail and both C & B from transformer

I understand the connections between the two modules and the 153irs  

-  DUH! I just realized their is no direct connection between the 153ir and the track  itself (you told me, but a drawing is worth ....)

But, is the timer on the 153ir used?  If so, One timer is set longer than the other?


it looks like I’m going to be using 16 gauge stranded wire for the lines that go to the tracks  I also have 18 gauge solid wire which I could use if the connection to the timer module is too small  I also have 18/2 solid core wire which would make less of a mess under the table (see pic).  Any recommendation?Opttional 18/2 wire


A friend who became aware of this project offered this unsolicited advice. He gave me the pictured AC Adapter (modified it seems) with instructions to attach the reds to the positive inputs on the boards and black to the negative. He suggested it would be easier. I don’t understand what the hook ups might be (yours I do, now). Its output is 12 volts (you said use 10). Would both plans work?  Is there any reason to switch. Could I use the AC converter for any other purpose?F5BF4979-316F-40A5-9D52-375C9494A996


Images (3)
  • 37A597F2-3310-4ED5-9FC6-CB0FFE2EA19A: Modules
  • F5BF4979-316F-40A5-9D52-375C9494A996: Plug in converter
  • Opttional 18/2 wire

While a good deal of this thread is over my head, the trolley stop is exactly what we want to do down the road with our short elevated trolley line using our MTH bump and go trolleys.  In our case, it would be point to point but would only have to station stop on one end...we have room for the track/bumper to extend out about 12" past the station if I can figure out how to understand the stopping/timer part you guys have been discussing.  Wish there was a simple add on type thing for our MTH Realtrax like the special Lionel track accessory...I'll be referring back to this thread for sure when we get ready to add this to our layout later in the year and see if I can figure it out.

@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?

Last edited by stan2004
@Canes RR posted:

While a good deal of this thread is over my head,...

I am a novice at this hobby and when I started this trolley project had no idea what I was getting into.  Everything in this chain would have been over my head. But with help from this forum I  have learned much and gained much confidence. There are two things to note:

1.  There are different ways to achieve your goal. These are discussed early in the chain.  Stan worked with me to use all the pieces I already owned and do so inexpensively.

2.  Availability and cost of parts   The key element in my set up is the Lionel 153 IR which will operate many different operating accessories on many brands of trains.  Google it for a full description. I began my project when I had only one 153ir.  When I planned only two stops as you do, I knew I needed another which I found on eBay for under $50.00.  When I decided to add a third stop I needed another.  Both my local hobby shop and Amazon offered the product for less than $50.00  I’ve waited for months and finally turned to eBay once more.  Since you are apparently starting from scratch, you can probably spend less.  The AC/DC and timer modules were cheap ($4 each) but took 3 & 1/2 months to ship from China.

My message to you is meant to be encouraging.  You can do it!  There are plenty of folks on this forum who will offer whatever assistance you may need.

Skimming through some old posts I came across one from “Chris F” (“Lionel Transformer 1032 Hookup” December, 2005” which says that when UB is used as the variable power source no options for constant auxiliary power remain. No one in that chain challenged him.
Since I am planning on using UB for variable power and BC for constant auxiliary power this concerned me. Is Chris mistaken?

I think I found the post you mention:

"Terminal U could be used as the common terminal. You'd get 5-16V from Terminal A, and 0-11V from terminal B. However, there would be no fixed voltage terminals available with this connection scheme."

Note the first sentence of the paragraph.  Your connection scheme uses Terminal B as the common terminal.

Last edited by stan2004

Lots of similar discussion and information here on the 1032/1033 and more on their wiring schemes:

@bmoran4 posted:

Generally speaking with classic transformers, in isolation, those designed to run a single train had the U terminal as the variable post. With transformers with multiple variable taps, the U terminal was the common ground.

Much of Lionel's documentation was focused on the simple layout, especially in their generic instruction sheets and it really didn't matter (inconsistencies can be found).

However, take a look at the advanced sections in this guide, specifically take a look at printed pg 43-45 (pdf pg 45-47) where it discusses common ground wiring. :

The chart is expanded upon in the transformer section of the service documents.

Stan I’m finally wiring the trolley!  I’m assuming I can use terminal blocks, for example, on your diagram, grey wires (2) from the timer are joined with one from AC/DC Converter and subsequently to the right and left 153IRs. It’s much neater if bring the 3 wires from the modules together at a single terminal strip block. Any reason not to do that?

Neatness is good.  The grey wire is a good example.  The 153IRs are up on the track.  The modules are no doubt below the layout.  So it makes perfect sense to connect the grey wires from the modules "locally" to a junction or common point.  Then connect the grey wires of the 153IRs "locally".  Then run a single wire between the two junctions.

Bigger Fish

re:  the 153IR controllers

- in two of them the two left hand terminals are labeled A & U  the four terminals on the right are labeled “AC power, AC ground, NO, & NC.”

- in third (1961 I believe) the two left hand terminals are labeled “power supply.”  The four terminals on the right are labeled “Com 2, Com 1, NO, & NC”).

smaller fish. (Which hopefully I will have soon caught)

I am currently watching uTube videos about multimeters in order learn how to set the the voltage on the DCAC converter and check my track for continuity in my wiring.

@Don Baird posted:


re:  the 153IR controllers

- in two of them the two left hand terminals are labeled A & U  the four terminals on the right are labeled “AC power, AC ground, NO, & NC.”

- in third (1961 I believe) the two left hand terminals are labeled “power supply.”  The four terminals on the right are labeled “Com 2, Com 1, NO, & NC”).

I was afraid of that.  Unfortunately the mix of 153IR styles makes for a bit of legwork.  Here's a "reference" diagram I've been working on with tidbits of info provided by other forum members when 153IR related issues arise.  Hopefully we can confirm or add to the knowledge base.  Not all of the diagram applies to your situation but my comments will be to the point.

153IR internal connections - known variations - may be others

Apparently you have two (2) of the upper right version identified as 2002 above...and one (1) of the upper left version identified as 2001.

What I need to confirm is these early versions can operate on DC voltage (as does the later version identified 2014).  These need to operate on DC voltage as that's what is coming from the AC-to-DC converter module set to 10V DC.

1. Set the Power Selection toggle switch to the AUX POWER position.

2. One 153IR at a time, apply 10V DC to the two power terminals on the left side of the 153IR.  Get a pad of paper to take good notes.  Apply +DC output for converter to the left (unmarked or A) power terminal and -DC from the converter to the right (unmarked or U) power terminal.  There is NO power indicator, light or whatever on the 153IR to show power is "on".  However, when you wave you hand in front of the 153IR you should hear the internal relay "click" on.  When you remove your hand, after a few seconds you should hear the relay "click" off.  You may never get any clicking action.

Whether you get the clicking relay or not, next swap the two 10V DC power wires.  So now +DC goes to the right power terminal, and -DC to the left power terminal.  Repeat the hand-waving to listen for the 153IR internal relay clicking on and off.

Report the results for the 6 experiments (2 experiments per 153IR).

@Don Baird posted:

I am currently watching uTube videos about multimeters in order learn how to set the the voltage on the DCAC converter and check my track for continuity in my wiring.

Do you now feel comfortable using your multimeter to test for continuity?  When you reach the point where you can touch the 2 meter probes to two different contact point and read the meter to determine continuity then here's more homework:

1. Confirm the 153IR Power Selection toggle switch is still in the AUX POWER position.

2. One 153IR at a time, test for continuity as follows:

Place one meter probe in the left power terminal (unmarked or "A" depending on version. if you have a needle or thin probe you ought to be able to insert it into the connector and 'clamp' it in place with the orange lever.  Then take the other meter probe and one-by-one briefly touch each of the 4 terminals on the right side of the 153IR.  So depending on the version, the 4 terminals are labeled left-to-right COM2, COM1, NO, NC...or... ACC PWR, ACC GND, NO, NC.  Use the meter to determine if there's continuity for the 4 cases.

This will be enough information to tell me how to combine the 2 different styles of 153IR you have to work together as a team of 3.

Yes, I realize this seems quite tedious and time-consuming but I think all above can be done in maybe 30 minutes.


Images (1)
  • 153IR internal connections - known variations - may be others
@Don Baird posted:

OK. I’ve got the AC/DC  coverter set  at 10.  

C974FEAD-3D1C-4162-A5EC-03CF56AB37B3The timer is a problem. Push ing the up button I get P1.1, P1.2, P1.3, P-2, P3.1,  P3.2, p-4 and then the same cycle starts over again.  

You want to get to mode P1.1.  And you want to set the station stop time to however many seconds.  Let's just call it 10 seconds now.  I assume you're reading the mangled-English instructions on one of the eBay or Amazon listings for this timer?

Here's one procedure which I just tried.

1. Press SET for about ~4 seconds.  Release SET.  The display indicates Px.y.

2. Press UP and the display cycles thru P1.1, P1.2, etc.  When it reaches P1.1, momentarily press SET.  The display should blink OP and then blink some number XYZ.  This is the station stop time in seconds assuming the decimal point is after the rightmost digit.  As the time is flashing, use the UP and DOWN button to set the time to 010.  If the decimal point is not on the rightmost digit press the STOP button to change the decimal point position.  The STOP button will cycle thru XYZ. or XY.Z or X.Y.Z.  Again, you want the XYZ. setting so that XYZ represents seconds.  When you get the desired time (010.) press the SET button for ~2 seconds.  The display flashes P1.1 and then reverts to a solid 000

It's now programmed.  You can turn off power and back on and it remembers the setting.  When you initially apply or re-apply power, the display should flash P1.1 for a couple seconds then revert to a solid 000 as it waits for a trigger to start its timing function.

A632424E-8E03-47E3-AB7F-62B01BD1C05FC15D11C1-D230-4E57-8647-D7D4EBE44858The AC/DC Converter is set to 9.9

I will refer too the 153 IRS as units

1. 2001with power supply on the left and terminals com2, com1, no, & MV on the right. This is the unit for which I have instructions

2 & 3 are the 2002 version

The “Clicking “Test” is

I am using 18 gauge solid core wire. Directions say nothing larger than 24!  I ran into difficulty on unit two.  

#1  A  with + DC current  connected to the unlabeled left hand terminal on unit one

    - the unit clicked as expected

   - reverse  -DC Left terminal   Nothing Happens

#3  the results are reversed  The unit clicks when -DC is plugged into A

dors not click when +D is in terminal A

#2  unable to test    Terminal unit u will not accept cable    I noticed one difference between unit 2 and the others   There is a small space (crack?) between terminals a & u on #2   see pictures

Continuity Test

Unit 1  2001

com 2  yes; com 1 no;  NO no;  NC yes

Unit 2. 2002

  Same as #1 show continuity withACC Power and NC, but not with ACC ground or no

Unit 3

surprisingly shows continuity only with ACC ground.  Decided to switch the leads placing -DC in A. With that scenario, each of the four terminal showed continuity excepting ACC power.
these results are mot helpful are they

I’m going to read the 2001 instructions again. They may have said that those units would lwork on AC or DC I’m not sure. If you haven’t looked at this I will edit and add the answer to that question


Images (2)
  • A632424E-8E03-47E3-AB7F-62B01BD1C05F: Unit 1
  • C15D11C1-D230-4E57-8647-D7D4EBE44858: Unit 2 crack?
Last edited by Don Baird

I think we've entered the Twilight Zone!

baird 153IR issues 1

Continuity and DC power test results understood on unit #1.  Let's put that aside for now.

> Please confirm the two power terminals on units #2 and #3 are labeled A - U as shown in photos above (not U - A).

For unit #2 with the broken U terminal, I suppose it could be replaced/repaired...but to keep things moving, simply use the ACC GND terminal as a proxy for U.  Based on your continuity test for #2, A = ACC PWR (connected internally)...this means U = ACC GND (connected internally).

> So you should be able to power #2 with DC+ to A, and DC- to ACC GND...and the unit should click.  And if you reverse the power connections (DC+ to ACC GND, DC- to A), it should NOT work.

Assuming this is the case, we can then put unit #2 aside for now.

On to unit #3.  You tested and found continuity between U, ACC PWR, NO and NC as depicted in Green above.

> This is a problem.  Double check this.  For example measure continuity between NO and NC.  These should NOT connect together!  Can you see any random loose strand of wire or whatever that might shorting the two terminals?  Otherwise, the next step would be opening up the unit to find why NO and NC are tied together.


Images (1)
  • baird 153IR issues 1
Last edited by stan2004
@Don Baird posted:


I am using 18 gauge solid core wire. Directions say nothing larger than 24!  I ran into difficulty on unit two.  

Separately, regarding the broken connector and wire size.

153IR 2014 version

I only have a 153IR 2014 (U-A) version to play with and was experimenting with the largest drill bit I could comfortably insert.  As shown it was a #52 which corresponds to AWG 14.  The 2-terminal connector has an embossed part number KF142R and I found a datasheet which suggests a wire range of 22-14.  So by larger than 24, I'm thinking Lionel meant no larger in # than 24.

In my previous post, I suggested using an unused terminal from the right block of 4 as a proxy for the broken terminal...they should be internally connected.

OTOH, if for whatever reason, the broken 2-terminal connector renders the unit useless by, say, shorting together A and U, another workaround would be to flip the Power Selection switch to Track Power and apply DC power to the Track Power wires as shown in above photo.  This would take the broken 2-terminal connector completely out of the circuit.  Again, the photo is a different 153IR version than what you have and is only meant to illustrate the workaround of using the track power wires to supply power - we'd have to double-check continuities of course.


Images (1)
  • 153IR 2014 version
Last edited by stan2004

I'm fine with the proxy.

I'm headed down to do and redo the various tests you instructed me to do in "twlight zone"  In the meantime it occurred to me that possibly I could use unit two (the broken one) with track power and without either module - basically an independent unit with a max of five second delay.  This could work on the middle stop since the trolley is not reversing  there.  However, the trolley will be travelling at  a prototypically slow speed on voltage way below the range they suggest for the 153IR.  And ideally I'd like a longer stop there than the five seconds provide3de by the 153IR  since that is the destination to which most passengers from either end will be going. 

The 1032 has fixed voltage possibilities of 5 & 11 AC if either would be enough for the independent 153IR.

However, I really hope we can stay one the path we have begun.  (I've learned so  much!)

I Have the instruction book from 2001 and found the 2002 version on line.   Both begin by saying "your 1532IR will operate best at 12-20 volts (AC)."

However, the 2002 booklet has a section on "advanced wiring", which references DC power (attached).

I have grand kids here for an Easter egg hunt, but will soon head down to repeat those tests


So here's the thing...

153ir 2002

No one likes a whiner; I get that.  But to peel another layer of the onion, there are apparently 2 versions of the 2002 153IR.  From your continuity measurements, it appears the 2002 versions may indeed be different in their wiring (based on measurements of a 2002 version in a previous OGR thread)....hence why I asked you to double-check.

I am slowly trying to unravel this insanity!

Bottom line is Lionel has changed the wiring instructions for the 153IR which impacts your ability to mix versions in the method I proposed.  They did so while maintaining the same SKU or part number.  And to my knowledge there is no "official" method to determine which version or revision you have.  So far, and as I've instructed, the best clue is the labeling of the two power terminals (either U-A, A-U, or unmarked).  But this is just my guess.  And wouldn't you know it, apparently yet another version of the 153IR came out last year which for all I know will have yet different wiring instructions and another revision date!  It's enough to make a grown man cry!

As to using the "oddball" 153IR in the middle section...

You still need to use the timer module.  Even though the direction does not change in the middle, the key feature of the timer module (when set to mode 1.1) is it performs its time-delay function irrespective of whether the trolley is still at the station.  In other words it starts the time delay function when the trolley arrives at the station.  A 153IR does not start its time-delay until the trolley leaves the station (moves away from the 153IR).  So without the timer module, the 153IR in the middle section would kill track power when the trolley arrives and simple keep track power removed forever (never starting its timer).


Images (1)
  • 153ir 2002

1.  The two power terminals on units 2 & 3 are labeled A - U, not U-A

2.  Continuity

    On all three units there is continuity between accessory power and NC

     Unit 1  (as previously reported)  2001

  • Left to Com 2  Yes
  • Left to Com 1  No
  • L to NO          No
  • L to NC          yes
  • R to Com 2         No
  • R to Com 1         Yes
  • R to NO          No
  • R to NC          No

   Unit 2    2002

  • A to ACC power - Yes
  • A to Acc groud  - No
  • A to NO          No
  • A to NC          Yes
  • U to Acc Power   No
  • U to Acc ground  Yes
  • U to NO          No
  • U to NC          No

   Unit 3    2002

  • A to ACC power - no continuity
  • A to Acc groud  Continuity - YES
  • A to NO          No
  • A to NC          No
  • U to Acc Power  Yes
  • U to Acc ground  No
  • U to NO          No
  • U to NC          Yes
  • most importantly, in contrast to my earlier report, there is no continuity between NO & NC

3.  Clicking test

Unit 1 - as previously reported

Unit 2  Work-around the damaged U terminal

     Using ACC ground as a proxy for U,  it does click !

  • DC+ to A      with  DC- to ACC ground           Yes
  • DC- to A       with D+ to ACC ground          No

You've described this project as insanity, a big fish, the twi-light zone, the peeling an onion skin, and one other delightful metaphor I don't remember.  Thanks for your help.  I'm enjoying this tutorial.  I hope we have some clear sailing now.       

baird 153IR units 1 2 3 terminals

I reviewed your latest continuity and DC power results and drew up the above diagram.  Here's another one for you.  Add "suspension of disbelief" to what we have here.

So now it appears the wiring of the 2002 versions (your #2 and #3) are indeed different.  So now my previous hypothesis that you could see which 153IR version you had by simply looking at the left power terminal markings (U-A or A-U or unmarked) was WRONG.  You have to use a meter (continuity testing) to see what you have.  That's what I mean by suspension of disbelief.  Yikes!

BUT, with your specific combination of 3 153IR's, this may be one of those blue-moon events where the stars are in alignment...when 2 wrongs make a right...and two Wrights make an airplane.

Thanks to your methodical approach to the continuity and clicking measurements, I believe this can still work with DC powering all 3 153IR units.  I will next work on an exact diagram including broken #2 unit terminal.  Just wanted to assure you I'm still on-the-job!


Images (1)
  • baird 153IR units 1 2 3 terminals
Last edited by stan2004

baird trolley 4-1-2021

Here you go!

I assume it's obvious you don't have to position 153IR units #1, #2, and #3 left-to-right.

Please note that 153IR unit #3 is wired 'backwards' on the left 2 power terminals.

The "you've got to be kidding" is that per your continuity measurements Lionel apparently released 2 versions of the 153IR during 2002.  I am speechless! 


Images (1)
  • baird trolley 4-1-2021

That looks do-able - even for me.

I do have a rudimentary questions which I’ve been reluctant to post on a public forum for fear of further revealing my ignorance.

I will be able to follow the map you’ve laid out for me but I don’t entirely understand why it works.
A good place to start - in fact the fundamental question for me - is which parts of the system are DC, which AC, and WHY

it will be a while before I get back to you on this. I’ve completed all the wiring for the entire layout and have all the trolley wiring in place under the table. However it’s an above ground trolley on the second level. I have yet to finish laying the track on the first level and will do that first.

It’s clear to me now that my first adult layout probably should not have been so large, but it will be my last adult layout as well so I don’t regret anything except how slowly I have progressed.

The pressure is on though. Of all my grandkids the one who most loves trains (8 year old) and who loves to railfan all over the state said recently, “Papa, I hope you finish your train before you die!” I didn’t tell him that model railroaders almost never finish.

I’ll be back when I have a question or with pictures when I’m done - providing we both live long enough.

@Don Baird posted:


I will be able to follow the map you’ve laid out for me but I don’t entirely understand why it works.
A good place to start - in fact the fundamental question for me - is which parts of the system are DC, which AC, and WHY


@Don Baird posted:

Can I isolate the track at the end of the line to turn on a light or an accessory for the duration of time that the trolley is at the station?  When it reverses direction it would leave the isolated section turning off the light or deactivating the accessory ( likely a crossing light or gate).

I think this diagram might answer both questions.

baird trolley dc ac mix

Once upon a time, you had a length of 3-rail track and a bump-n-go trolley that went end-to-end and self-reversed.  You could control the speed within reason by adjusting the throttle voltage. Because of the 3-rail track, you could use the insulated-rail method to co-opt sections of the track to activate an accessory when the trolley is over an insulated-rail section.  In principle, this method can handle either AC or DC. In your specific application the throttle happened to be AC and the trolley and accessories are compatible with AC so all's good.

But when you throw in station stop timing with sequencing "logic" implementation is generally easier using DC (solid-state) electronics.  Remember that the original Lionel station-stop used the AC-compatible nichrome heater/resistor switch that warmed up and cooled down to time the stop and start.  So while I'm sure we could have scoured eBay or wherever for such timing mechanisms I think that would have been riding the horse in the wrong direction.

So to take advantage of the modern and economical DC-powered electronics modules for optical detection, timing, logic, sequencing, etc., an AC-to-DC converter module was needed to provide such voltage.  As shown in the orange box, in the big picture the 153IRs and timing module simply takes DC voltage and controls a relay to connect/disconnect AC track voltage to the rail at the proper time.  The relay isolates the DC electronics from the AC track and AC accessory voltage.

The astute observer will correctly note that the 153IRs operate on AC voltage so why are they powered by DC?  This is one of those ignore-the-man-behind-the-curtain situations.  Yes, the 153IRs could be operated on AC...but then their outputs would be AC and would not be directly compatible with the DC timing module.  This would have required additional component(s) to convert AC-to-DC.  It's not that this is expensive (10 cents?) but in effect is performing the AC-to-DC conversion in two places.  I also know from past experience that mixing versions of the 153IR is a minefield...and in general it's easier to manipulate-combine multiple DC signals than multiple AC signals.

So the use of the DC-powered station-stop system does NOT affect your ability to use the insulated-rail method for your AC-powered accessories.

Early on you said you had a Menards lighted building that came with its own power adapter (presumably a 4.5V DC-output "wall-wart").  If this is one of the accessories you want to turn on/off when the trolley reaches an insulated-rail section, there are additional instructions.


Images (1)
  • baird trolley dc ac mix

Thanks for the explanation. When we first began this conversation I would likely not have understood the expiation, but after working on this I do.
Regarding the stations, there will be three. One post-war lighted fright station, one small Rail King version of the traditional Lionel station (both lit with the little bulbs), and the third, Menard’s “Melrose Park Station which is lit with 10 LEDs. I had not imagined that their would be a way to tie the Menards station into the trolley arrival departure schedule.
The “wall watt” power source is not a problem as I have three different power strips located at various locations under the table for other Menards structures and some Christmas Village style structures in the mountain ski village.
However, I would like to confirm that I can use the traditional isolated (or insulated?) track for one of the traditional Lionel structures (one is to be located in a suburban area where the on off would be more obvious.
But if that could be established with the little Menards station, the effect would be dramatic!  The station operates on a 4.5 volt power source, drawing about 110 mA. I have the necessary power source, but I’m certainly interested in the possibility you raise.

@Don Baird posted:

However, I would like to confirm that I can use the traditional isolated (or insulated?) track for one of the traditional Lionel structures (one is to be located in a suburban area where the on off would be more obvious..

Yes.  If you are able/willing to "cut" the track to create insulated outer-rail sections...or use "prepared" track sections that have the insulated outer-rail...then you can use the Accessory AC voltage to power the accessories.  I'm sure the terminology-police are not happy but when used in the context of O-gauge trains, the terms insulated and isolated are used interchangeably.

melrose station

And just to be clear, your present situation is something like the above.  You have a wall-wart adapter (like on the left) and you have an illuminated Menard's structure powered by said adapter (like on the right).


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  • melrose station
Last edited by stan2004

As for the Menards building:

melrose station cable splice

Only the accessory portion of the wiring is shown above to reduce diagram clutter.

The method shown above is arguably the simplest from a technical standpoint but seems to confuse folks to the point where they don't believe it can work so they don't try it!  It's another one of those ignore-the-man-behind-the-curtain scenarios.

Step 1. I don't have a close-up of the Menards 4.5V DC-output power adapter but presumably you can easily splice into one of the two wires.  It actually doesn't matter which of the 2 wires you splice and I just happen to use "black" and "red" more to suggest this is DC; in all likelihood the cable will have stripes on one wire, or be "ribbed" on one wire, or whatever.  Again, it does NOT matter which one you splice into.  More on this later.

Step 2. Connect the transformer side of the splice to AC common.  Connect the plug side of the splice to the insulated rail section.

That's it.  Now when the trolley sits on the insulated rail section, the Menards building will turn on with 4.5V DC power from the wall-wart.  As shown in the above diagram, I purposely left a placeholder called "2-wire Accessory" on the same insulated rail section.  This is to show that you can still connect other conventionally powered accessories!  So for example the DC-powered Menards building could turn on as well as your RailKing building.


A minor variant to above is to use a pair of screw-terminal wiring adapters (about 50 cents each in small quantity).

melrose station using screw terminal adapters

The electrical functionality is the same as splicing the cable...but as the adapters are coded "+" and "-" it could be some level of comfort to choose the "-" wire to tie together with the Accessory/Track AC common.  Again, it doesn't matter which of the 4.5V DC wires goes straight-thru to the Menards building.  I figure it is unlikely that the length of cable on the Menards transformer is long enough to reach your station anyway.  In other words, the screw-terminal adapters provides a way to make an "extension cord" of arbitrary length.


Another completely different tack is to convert the Menards building to Accessory AC voltage operation.

melrose station using ac-to-dc converter

If you bought more than one of those AC-to-DC converter modules, you could use one set to 4.5V DC output.  Then you have what amounts to a traditional AC Accessory powered building and you would hook it up to the insulated rail section just like a 2-wire accessory.  I'd think this could simplify wiring as a single train transformer powers all-things-trolley.


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  • melrose station cable splice
  • melrose station using screw terminal adapters
  • melrose station using ac-to-dc converter

I’m in the home stretch on all this wiring but am wondering about the the 10 to 15 feet of 20 awh solid core wire I have running between the modules and the 153IRs

I used the solid core wire because it fits in terminals more easily than stranded wire. In each case however the wiring traces from the modules to a terminal block where the lines split off in three directions toward towards the 153IRs. I could easily switch to 20 gauge stranded wire at that point, and switch back to solid  core wire immediately before the 153IRs  

Would the superior conductivity of stranded wire be an asset?

Relative to the Menards building, I’ll likel be following diagram #2, definitely NOT # 3

The 153IR modules draw much less than 1 Amp of current.  #20 stranded or solid is more than adequate conductivity-wise.  I suggest whichever method is easier for you installation-wise.  Likewise, if going with Menards diagram #2, the Menards station also draws much less than 1 Amp of current.  Again, if #20 is what you have (stranded or solid) you're good to go.

Re:  fuses/circuit breakers

you may have noticed my post about melted wiring and carpet under the Cristmas tree. I was using fastrack with my ZW.   And my grandkids  were regularly derailing the train

I’ve replaced all the feeder wire on that layout. Members of the forum advised me to use - some said fuses, others circuit breakers.

on the layout we’ve been working on I assume that fuses would go on each of the four lines on the ZW (with lower amperage on the accessory line?).  And none on the common ground  

what about the 1032?  U provides the variable speed power. BC the fixed.

Both transformer have built in fuses to protect themselves

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