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I have a converter AC- DC and intend to power the building from transformer to building.  Using the Menards connectors which I will cut at one end,  Which wire is positive and which is negative.  Second question, I would like to start the forklift action when a boxcar pulls into the siding.  I intend to active this with an insolated rail or an IFR.  I am not sure how to proceed since the building is DC and track power is AC.  Would a relay be the answer?  Thanks for your help.

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This may help your thoughts even though not exactly what you want to do.  In my version, the car lights at the crossing are track powered through the AC/DC-DC converter.  The trigger is an isolated rail which does the crossing gates/lights and the car.  But, using this method in your application will turn on the whole building and the fork lift, I think, which is not what you want.  But further isolating the circuitry(and trigger) for the fork lift in some manner might be the solution.  


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Art, I’m sure with help from the expert forum members here, you could separate the forklift circuitry from the lighting, and turn them on individually.  It will take looking into the soft underbelly of the building and performing some surgery, however.  May not be for the faint of heart, but a cool modification, if one was willing to tackle it.  I have cut the access holes in the bottom of Menards buildings much larger in order to gain access to change lighting configurations.  Ya just have to go for it.  

I had no clue what you were talking about when you said "forklift" so I googled Menards forklift and got lucky.  So we're all on the same page, is this the item in question?


What exactly is this AC-DC converter you have?  Is this a Menards wall-wart adapter?

menards 1a ac-dc wall wart

Pending clarification, I think John H above has the solution...sharing AC and DC common.  This means no relay required.  We can clarify what/how following confirmation of exactly what you have.


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Last edited by stan2004
@Art Lites posted:

... Using the Menards connectors which I will cut at one end,  Which wire is positive and which is negative. 

barrel screw terminal adapter

Not clear when you say "cut at one end" if you mean the connector on the building or the connector on the transformer.  In any case, there are screw-terminal adapters that fit the coaxial-barrel connector used in Menards buildings.  Male and female versions.   From my understanding of what you have and are trying to do this would mean you wouldn't have to cut into any power cords.  Of course the biggest "problem" with this is if you only need 1 of these screw-terminal adapters you end up paying way more for shipping than the adapter itself!  Frustrating!


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Thanks Menards I was planning to reduce volts to 4.5 DC.  I just don't want multiple wall worts and I want to power   several autos and future building via a single source.  I have the FEDX building and want to turn it on or off .  I guessing  that the fork lift running in and out would have a short life span.  I want to turn on forklift only when boxcar is parked outside.  Thanks Art

If the 4.5V DC for FedEx is derived from your train transformer AC output using an AC-to-DC converter module, then you can't use the shared AC-DC common method.  You would need to use a relay.  I suggest you "dedicate" one AC-to-DC converter module to the FedEx forklift as shown below.  In other words, the FedEx forklift is now powered by 14V AC (or whatever Accessory voltage you use).

fedex forklift insulated rail triggered

Of course this means you no longer can use this AC-to-DC converter to power your 4.5V DC cars or other buildings...unless you want them to turn on/off with the FedEx building!

Add additional AC-to-DC converter modules to power the "always-on" 4.5V DC devices.

I suggest this alternative (vs. a relay) for several reasons which are technically boring and cause eye-glazing.  In addition, a suitable AC relay is ~$15 whereas an additional AC-to-DC converter module is closer to $5.


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In the future, if anyone needs to determine if a wire is polarized positive or negative, you can use your DVOM to find out. Put the meter range on DC, in a voltage range that exceeds the expected voltage.

Put the red lead (+) on what you think is the positive wire from your supply. Put the black lead (-) on what you think is the negative supply wire.  If the display indicates either + or no polarity, the red wire is on the supply positive, and the black lead is on the supply negative.

If the meter indicates  a minus sign ( - ) then you have the red lead on negative, and the black lead on positive.

Last edited by Arthur P. Bloom
@Art Lites posted:

...  I think that the constant forklift activity would be be too much.

I agree.  For example, most Lionel buildings that have electromechanical activity have 3 wires going in.  2 wires power the lights all the time in the building, and the 3rd wire activates the motion...commonly triggered by an insulated-rail section.

If anyone who has a forklift-equipped building wants to attempt a modification I think it might be fairly simple electrically.  OTOH, I understand Menards buildings can be difficult to dis-assemble.

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