Running two trains on same track using 153c and Block Target signal

I'm trying to use a 153c and Block Target signal to run two trains on the same track at the same time, but I'm having problems following the directions I found in an old lionel manual, because the transformer shown in the manual has six posts and I am using a CW-80 which has only four posts.


Can somebody explain to me (a diagram would help) how to accomplish this when using a CW-80?


I've got the isolated block set up and the 153c to control it is set up several track sections away, I just need to know how to wire this setup so it will work with the CW-80.


Any advice would be appreciated.  Please note, I'm determined to do this with a 153c, so please don't suggest using a rectifier.

Original Post

I do not know what a 153c or a block target are.  I just run two trains on the same track using the legacy controller, very easy.  I am not trying to be a smart a__, I am just pointing this out.

The 153C uses the weight of the train to operate. Therefore, it must react to the lightest piece of rolling stock, and its adjustment screw must be set at exactly that point. Also, it must be located at just the correct spot, between the main track circuit and the controlled track circuit. (The controlled section needs to have its center pins removed at both ends.) It must be set for the length(s) of the trains that you plan to use.


Taking all of the above into consideration, it's best to do some trial and error when setting up a controlled section with the 153C.  If you plan always to use the same two trains, with the same speeds, and the same loads, you can make a very nice display layout. But if there are variables, (especially in regards to train lengths) then it becomes more problematic.


Electrically, it's very easy. The contactor is basically just a single-pole, double-throw switch. The "common" terminal gets track "hot" and the "normally-closed" contact gets wired to the center rail of the section of track that gets controlled (stopping the train within it.)


I am not familiar with the signal you wish to use, but assuming it will operate in the same voltage range as the trains, and assuming it has "common," "red," and "green" wires, you would just connect the common wire to transformer return (outside rail connection), and the green lamp wire to the same terminal on the contactor as the controlled track section. The red lamp wire would go to the third (normally open) terminal on the 153C. Without knowing exactly the make-up of the signal, I would say that you don't need to worry about using the transformer you have at hand, because the scheme uses just track "hot" and "return" to work.


When train #1 hits the contactor, it shuts off the controlled track section and also the green lamp. It turns on the red lamp, and train #2 loses power until train #1 clears the contactor.


A relay, in this case, would only offer slight advantages, that being (1) the inherent reliability of the insulated-rail/relay combination, (no weight issues) and (2) the ability to keep the signal voltage separate from the track voltage due to separate relay contact poles. But, if you, being both the President and the Signal Foreman, wish to use the historical method, who am I to recommend anything else?

Arthur P. Bloom TCA 86-23906 "I love the smell of smoke pellets in the morning!"

Thanks, Arthur, that's just the sort of detailed explanation I needed.


I'm using the "historical" method (with 153c) because I use this outer loop of track (which has no turnouts) to run Lionel Prewar and Marx "fat wheel" locomotives and I thought it would be fun to use the method that was used in the past, back when some of these trains were produced.


My inner loop, which has four switches, I usually run in conventional mode, too, but I sometimes hook TMCC up to it for running my trains that are equipped with TMCC.  


Just wanted to try something different, and historical, for my older trains, on that outer loop.

You only need one hot and one common from the transformer. The track voltage is being turned on/off from the connector. The connector works the same as a relay. There is the wiper which goes to the center rail in the controlled section and Normally/open terminal is left empty  Normally/closed terminal has hot wire from transformer.


You need 2 153 contactors to make it work. When train 1 runs into Block1 the power is turned off to block 2 directly behind Block 1 thus stopping train 2 from running into train 1. When train 1 clears block 1 power is restored to Block 2 and train 2 can move forward. Block 2 is controlled the same way denying train 1 access to Block 2 until train 2 clears. The more blocks the smoother the operation.


The target signal has nothing to do with making everything work and is just candy for our eyes.

Jim C


On your CW-80, there are two "U" post, which are the common connection.  These would be connected to the outside rail and the common post on the signal.  The "A" post is the variable voltage supply, controllered by the lever on the CW-80, and would be connected to the center rail of the track.  The "B" post is a fixed output voltage which is you preset.  This "B" post is connected to the #3 contact on the 153C contactor.  This will supply power to the signal lamps and the center rail in the insulated section.  Using the 153C as Lionel describes it, there is no variable voltage control for trains in the insulated section.  The trains are going to get the same voltage you have set for the lamps for this short section of track.  


If your "B" post is already used for something else, or you want to have variable voltage to the locomotive in the insulated section, the "A" post can be connected to the #3 contact on the 153C contactor.  Using this arrangement the signal lamp brightness will vary with the track voltage.

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