O22 switches with loop & spurs wiring questions/suggestions please

Hello all.   Finally time for wiring!   I’ll try to keep this as brief, but concise as possible.  A few photos that I’ve included may help to visualize my questions better.

  I have two unconnected loops of O36 tubular, that have bus fed & soldered-on drops for power every six or so sections.  All conventional locomotives, a KW powers them. A 1033 provides fixed accessory voltage.  The inside loop has four bootstrap fixed voltage powered O22 switches that create one curved siding with a short spur, and also one longer spur.  The switches will be actuated in pairs by TinMan’s lovely dual controllers, one pair of switches with the ‘normal’ controller, and one switch pair’s controller fitted with the additional ‘spur control’ feature.  For those unfamiliar, the spur controller has separate buttons that will power a center rail insulated spur section of track when they’re pushed.  It’s much the same as having a toggle switch to create separately powered blocks, just in a nice tidy package  

  Now for the questions...

1.   Will a UCS uncouple/dump track section that’s fed by it’s own independent fixed voltage source continue to be operational when that spur’s track power is not on?

2.   Is an O22’s center rail able to be isolated by fiber pin on its straight section’s center rail to create a block, or can an O22 only be isolated on its curved section?  I ask this because I’d like the ability to park & then power off one loco on to the shorter spur that’s on the photo’s left, (under the shed) while still having the siding loop that encircles it powered for running a different loco.  I’m assuming that I would need to electrically isolate the short spur section through center rail of the the switch’s straight section to facilitate this.

3.  The inner mainline loop & it’s siding will run clockwise. Will having the switch that ends where the siding meets the left spur be powered by fixed voltage screw up either the operation of the siding or it’s spur when I have the siding’s track power switched off?  Should I NOT supply this switch with fixed voltage, but rather track voltage?  I’d like to have a consist parked on the siding, with the siding’s track powered off, and be able run a small loco for switching duties up from the bottom of the left spur (under the shed) out to the mainline loop & it’s neighboring spur on the right.  Is this even possible?   

4. Suggestions please!   What position on the layout would be the best place to use the switch controllers that I already have?  The obvious choice would be the right side spur to receive one channel of the switch controller with the built in spur control, but would a simple toggle to control the track power be better here, leaving both channels of the switch controller with spur function open for somewhere else?  Should I use both channels of the spur control switch38FDA1AF-C083-4EBA-A38C-BD0BD8AE7FC51CCD5D48-809C-467B-9815-EC96ABC95998C30F9D56-0BE0-4872-A614-A926B7CD615F for the two right hand switches on either end of the siding?  Should I use the the regular switch controller for the two left hand switches at the top of the mainline, or put the spur controllers here?  This is where my total lack of knowledge in creating electrical blocks shows through!

This got kind of long, my apologies...

Any hints or help is greatly appreciated!



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Original Post

Nice looking layout, Tom.  I’ll try to answer as concisely as possible.

1  Yes (that’s concise )

2  Yes.  You can use fiber pins to isolate the center rail on any leg of the switch.  Just keep in mind that one of those legs needs have a metal pin to supply track power to the switch.

3  It dosen’t matter how you power the switch but, since the other switches have a constant supply, I would stay consistent.

4  A block is just a section where you have isolated the center rail so that you can stop a train.  Your controller with the spur control is essentially a single pole, single throw switch (SPST).  That controller should be used in conjunction with the switch(es) that connect that siding to the layout.  I’m not totally sure that is what you are asking.

Hope I helped.  Happy Holidays!


Can you post a track plan? It may help us understand what you are describing in your post. 

Also of note, Tinman3rail offers a barrel plug as the fixed voltage plug (aka bootstrap) for 022 switches. The outside of the barrel provides track power via the spring clip inside the switch machine, and the inside of the barrel plug provides fixed voltage to operated the switch machine via the pin inside the switch machine. Do you have these barrel plugs or standard lionel fixed voltage plugs?

Thanks for the replies, and kind words!   This is my first layout attempt.  With the help of my six year old, we’ve created a track plan to help describe what I’m after.  Using her idea of color coding, we colored the switches blue and orange for the top two left hand switches, and the right hand switches that create the inner siding loop are red & green. Also some other pictures below to perhaps help visualize what I’m attempting. 

Dan, number one’s answer was incredibly concise!  Allow me to ask one more questions along these lines...Is it ok to use a UCS section as the first piece of track connected to the turnout (blue) that creates the right side spur?

Dan & JD.. for question #2, since I am using TinMan’s own bootstrap that does indeed power both the switch AND it’s track, would I still need to have a metal pin on one of the switch’s legs for track power?

For questions #3 & 4, I’ll try my best to explain... My layout plan initially had only the two parallel spurs coming off of the blue and orange left hand switches at the top; this is where I was going to use the double spur switch controller.          Since I can’t leave well enough alone, I bought the two right hand switches (red & green) that make up the curved inner siding. This is where I’m getting confused on how to best utilize the spur controller’s capabilities.    I guess my original question is what would be the best place to use the spur switch controller, and the standard switch controller. Dan, you said use the spur controller for both sides of the siding. Would that mean I’d have to have both of the controller’s power buttons turned on when operating a train on the siding, or would one of the controller’s power buttons suffice?  Would it be easiest to work the siding in that way, and then have the short spur below the red switch powered by its own dedicated toggle to supply track power, and have it be isolated from the red switch?   Does it appear to you that a separate dedicated track power toggle, on the long right side spur that extends from the blue switch, would be best for there as well?

To summarize,  top two switches (orange & blue LH) use the standard switch controller.  Use the spur controller to actuate the red and green RH switches of the siding.     Have the longer right, and short lower left spurs be powered by their own independent toggles, and electrically insulated from their nearest switch; thereby creating blocks for parking locomotives.  Does this sound correct and plausible?

Sorry for the multiple questions, I want to get this right  the first time! 





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Hi Tom,  the attached Lionel manual may help you with the wiring.  You have a fantastic layout!

On Page 40 is how you can wire a UCS track with separate power.  I have done this on a siding that usually has the power turned off by the use of a fiber pin in the center rail.  Not sure how you are using your transformers.  it is possible to "phase" transformers together in order to use more than one on a layout.  Page 45 has a section on "how to connect transformers in parallel". 

All the best and good luck!

Dave B, from Tacoma, WA, TCA #14-70330



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I believe I agree with your summary section:

I think your best option would be to control the two passing sidings (blue and orange) with the Tinman spur control switch. This way you could run two trains on the inner loop, and stop them on either siding to let the other train pass. I would use the spur controller to control the red left and green right switches.  

I also think you’d be best off by adding two additional on/off switches for the green and yellow spurs thereby allowing you to park an engine or operate on there with separate power if you wish. 

Like you said, just isolate each spur/siding with a fiber pin in the center rail at each switch. 

Fun track plan. What did you use create the terrain and ground cover? It looks great. 


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Yes Dave, I’ve been relying heavily on both the 1954 and the 1965 Lionel produced ‘how to use our stuff’ manuals provided here by forum members.  I’ve found them almost as indispensable as the great wealth of knowledge gleaned from reading this forum. 

JD...Thank you for taking the time to help me solve this!  In fact, I’m blown away by your updated version of my track plan drawing...I hadn’t even considered using the far left section of the inner mainline loop (the one you colored blue) as a siding.  But now that I see it, it seems so obvious. Thank you!

Thanks fur the scenery kudos.  It was my first attempt, and I’m truly amazed how it turned out!   For the terrain I used quilt batting, the stuff that is used inside when you’re sewing together a quilt!  It was very inexpensive and easy to use.  I happened to find a YouTube video of a guy using it to make mountains with, and he states that he liked the look so much that he’s going to cover his entire layout with it.  I’ll try to add a link to his video below.  If I’m unable to, search for “Colorado Joint Line” & specifically his “how to make realistic scenery” video on YouTube...

 Basically you make the landforms out of blue or pink foam. Then ‘paint’ over everything with mod podge or elmer’s glue.  Then drape the quit batting over the wet glue, pushing the batting into the nooks & crannies. 24hrs later, when the glue has dried, you paint over it with your earth colored brown latex paint.   The batting soaks up a lot of paint, and takes a day or two to dry, but this is a good thing because you then sprinkle your various colors and textures of ground foam everywhere.  If you push large clump foliage or lichen chunks into the wet paint, they stick as well.  I haven’t even had to break into my jar of scenic cement yet...saving that for trees I guess.  And speaking of trees, the leftover batting make great tree and bush foliage if you tease & pull it apart a little.  

12’ X 12’  bag of “low loft” quilt batting... $10                     Gallon jug of Elmer’s white glue... $15                                   Gallon of Lowe’s cheapest flat paint tinted brown... $12       A few jugs of Woodland Scenic’s ground foam... $6 each   Two bags of Dollar Store paint brushes...$2                        Under $50 to do my entire layout’s scenery as it’s pictued.  I think that is incredible value.  


I should state that although I frequently buy everything I can at one of my LHS, craft stores like Hobby Lobby & Michaels continually have 40% off anything coupons. Hobby Lobby in particular carries Woodland Scenics’  coarse turf, clump foliage, trees, bushes, stones, hay bales, cement,etc etc. Their led lights as well, plus they have a huge section of lichens by the flower arrangement stuff, for much less than inflated ‘hobby specific’ stuff.  At 40% off, it makes the big jar of their coarse turf only $6!

Thanks again guys for your help!




Tom, sorry for the delay in answering but I see you have gotten some excellent advise from JD and Dave.  Just to answer a couple of your questions:

1. there is no problem with the UCS being the first track next to the switch.  In that location you could uncouple a string of cars in the siding.  On the downside it may not be an ideal location for unloading because of its proximity to the switch.

2. I do not believe that the TinMan controller powers the track of the switch - it is powering the switch motor.  So, yes, you still need at least one leg powered.  Referring to your drawing, I would power the section starting at the green switch working counterclockwise through the blue switch to the first red switch.  I would also consider powering the short orange section between the two red switches since this section would have to be powered if you want to put something out of the yellow section. I would move the orange block to be between that second red switch and the green switch.

Good luck.


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