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Does anyone know how this can be done:  When my trolley reaches the end point, it automatically reverses and then does the same thing on the other end.  After it reverses, is there a way to have it stop for a set period of time, say 10-20 seconds, and then have it do the same thing on the other end?

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Electronic board sold by several companies.  The Lionel and other units use an infra-red detector to sense the trolley and cut power for a time you can set.    For the end (such as stopping at a terminal with a bumper that would normally reverse the trolley) install the sensor unit ahead of the bumper.  BUT it has to be able to gain enough speed so it trips when it hits- a few inches would normally be enough.

A Lionel 153IR can be used for this.  Z Stuff for Trains also make a unit (DZ-1220) for about $120 that has a stop feature,  plus sound generator through a supplied speaker.  Might be best to buy the Z Stuff products through Ross Custom Switches.

Last edited by Mike Wyatt
@Mike CT posted:

I don't know your trolley control system.  Dallee had an additional control for station stop.   Without the bumpers, required a trolley with Forward, Neutral, Reverse control system.

It sounded to me as if the OP had a "bump and go" trolley.  These which have no e-unit or digital reversing unit.  These are simple- a bumper at each end with a mechanical connection to a slide switch in the trolley.  AC power from the track is converted to DC by a bridge rectifier in the trolley, which allows reversing by a change in polarity to the DC motor.

Hi Sam,

First question is which trolley do you have?  If you have a postwar style bump and go trolley with out the electronic reverse unit, then below are a few postwar products that will fit the bill.  Each of these operate nearly the same, and interrupt power for an adjustable period of time, before restoring power and sending the trolley along its way.  You could wire it in such a way that only one of the items below is needed to control both ends of your trolley line.








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Last edited by JD2035RR

I did something similar for layout.  I added an HO gauge trolley that goes on a straight track to each end and stays there for a period of time.  The HO trolley is DC but it is easier to build a timer for AC.  You would have to add the controlled track sections a short distance from the bumpers.

Below is a write up summary of my reversing HO trolley from the link below, page 3, post 30.

The HO track was recessed in the street and an HO gauge switch was added near one end to allow two trolleys to go into an HO trolley barn.  The switch is remote controlled from the new control panel as well as a track selector slide switch to activate the live track section in the barn.

An HO DC transformer is used for the trolleys and is on the right of the new addition control panel.

The fun part of the trolley was figuring out how to stop and start the trolley at each end of the Main Street line and how to reverse the DC polarity on the track and the ends automatically like the bumpers reverse the Lionel O gauge Trolley.  First I cut the one HO track rail about 7 inches from each end to give a section that would be un-powered and stop the trolley at each end of track. These end track sections also must be powered with the correct polarity to restart and reverse the trolley.

A trolley timer/controller was made from a small 1 RPM gear motor similar to those that power a micro wave oven turntable, which are easy to find in street trash on trash day.  A cam disc was sawed out of ½ inch plywood with high humps and lower sections.  Two micro roller armed single pole double throw switches were mounted together to act as an double pole double throw switch and wired in an X to switch track DC polarity when activated.  This allows the trolley to start and run to the other end of track which is dead.  The timer allows the trolley to stay there for about 30 seconds.  Then the micro DPDT switch is activated by the timer cam and that end of the track is powered up with DC that has the polarity reversed and the trolley takes off for a 5 sec run to the other end track, stops and stays there 30 seconds until it is activated with the track with reversed DC polarity and off the trolley goes again.

This was a fun project to figure out, build and to watch operate.

HO Trolley Barn at one end of the Main Street Trolley Line

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 112

HO DC Transformer for Trolleys on Right side of New Addition Control Panel

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Trolley Timer to Run and Reverse Trolley - Brown Box to right inside New Addition Control Panel

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Trolley Timer Wooden Cam and Double Pole Double Throw Roller Micro Switch

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Overall View of Main Street and Trolley Line

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There is also the Azatrax MRD1-V Detector operating in the one shot mode.   Set it to max time 14 seconds.

Have an isolated track where you want the trolley to stop just before the bumper.  Have a short live track that mounts the bumper.   The live track is where you mount the detectors.  Operation:  The trolley hits the bumper and trips the detector.  The trolley reverses and enter the isolated track which now has no power for 14 seconds.   When the detector times out, the already reversed trolley proceeds. 

As mentioned by others, Dallee, Azatrax and the like have a wide variety of clever gadgets to perform automated trolley actions.

The rub is how to allow time for the trolley to bump and reverse before starting the 10-sec stop delay.   For example, if a 153IR simply detects trolley presence near the turn-around bumper, it will instantly remove track power as the trolley approaches the bumper.  The trolley will immediately stop (in front of the 153IR) and the 153IR delay timer will never start because the trolley is right in front of it!  Or maybe I'm misunderstanding the earlier proposed configuration.

If you're comfortable with DIY wiring here's how I approached the application as initially proposed.  I even cobbled together a proof-of-concept using stuff I had lying around:

The key is a timer module which has two programmable time delays.  That is, when you trigger it, there is a first time delay.  After the first time delay expires, the relay then turns ON (which removes track power) for the 2nd time delay. When watching video, listen for the relay "click"...first when turning on for 10 sec (remove track power - bumper LED turns off), then when turning off after 10 sec (restore track power - bumper LED back on).

So for demo purposes, I set the first delay to 2.0 sec.  In other words, as the trolley approaches the bumper it triggers this 1st timer.  In the 2.0 sec (which you can see counting down on the digital display), the trolley is given time to hit the bumper, reverse, and leave the trigger zone.  Then the 10.0 sec starts which is when track power is removed (via relay).  I placed a magnet under the "trolley" to trigger a reed switch in the track bed.  The 2.0 sec and 10.0 sec delays can be adjusted.  There are many variants of these timer modules and are about $5 and widely available (eBay, Amazon, etc.).  They can be a nuisance to "program" with the mini buttons sort of like the old days trying to program a VCR!

ebay timer module

These modules require a source of DC power which can be from a DC-output wall-wart or from an AC-to-DC voltage converter module if you only have AC Accessory Voltage handy.

Note that rather than have insulated power blocks or sections, I simply remove ALL track power.  The advantage of this method is a single timer module can perform the timed stop function for BOTH ends.  You'd have a reed switch at each track end and either can start the timer module.

diy trolley station stop timer for 5 bucks

A reed switch is maybe 50 cents.  A magnet is maybe 10 cents.  Of course minimum order quantities and shipping etc. up-ends everything.  This is stuff I had lying around.  Yes, this method could be adapted to use insulated-rail triggering (one at each end) or even triggering via a pair of 153IR sensors (one at each end).  Again, I believe the "trick" is to manage (deal-with) the stated requirement of stopping AFTER the trolley reverses; any scheme that simply removes track power when the trolley is near the bumper will not behave as expected.

This approach does require a level of DIY-persistence that most guys just don't have the time for, and time is money!


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Last edited by stan2004

Stan as usual has excellent ideas.  I just though I'd add a few lessons learned having implement several trolley scenes on my layout.  I have two bump and go scenes and one dog bone scene all on Super Streets.   One scene is an automated 4 way stop complete with traffic lights.  Another is a taxi scene complete with taxi cueing running 4 taxis.   The one I'm working on now is a simple back and forth with a bump and go similar to subject to this thread.  My plan is to use a solution similar to that of Stan's described above.  I want to pause my trolley at a school mid route.  Here are some things I am considering:

1)  I found my bump and go scenes a little boring with the same reputation each cycle.  The continuous bumping operation is also noisy/distracting.  To mix it up a little, I'm planning on using a timer similar to Stan's recommendation that shuts off power to an insulated section for lets say 20 seconds every couple of minutes.  The timer runs continuously and has no trigger.   I haven't decided on the exact timer settings.  The idea is to provide a degree of randomness to the automation. Relay contacts provide track isolation and active school crossing warnings.

2)  I found it nice to have an on/off switch for the automation.  Then you have 2 ways to run your bump and go.

3)  The speed you run the trolley at needs consideration.  In my case, I was always like running the trolley at minimum speed.  MTH trolleys have better low speed operation then Lionel in my experience.

4)  Even at the lowest speed, trolley's progress over a considerable distance in a short time.   When I figured this all out, I was dealing in milliseconds, not seconds.

5)  Also, the MTH and Lionel trolleys are different lengths which for my automations was a consideration.

6)  For folks using Super Streets, I found that Taxi wheel base was an issue.  The Super Street taxi wheel base is shorter which introduced a couple of issues which required resolution.

7)  My taxi scene uses 4 taxis.  I found the automation was speed sensitive.  Three of the taxis ran at the same speed.  The forth taxi ran faster.  I slowed this taxi to match the others by inserting series diodes in the taxi.

Last edited by shorling
@shorling posted:


4)  Even at the lowest speed, trolley's progress over a considerable distance in a short time.   When I figured this all out, I was dealing in milliseconds, not seconds.

This is a very interesting point.  For 1/48 O-gauge, 1 scale-MPH corresponds to about 0.37" per second.  As shorling points out, the minimum speed to insure reliable bump-n-go reversal varies between trolleys...but let's say we need a minimum speed of 30 sMPH.  That's about 11" per second.

So.  Let's say the occupancy detector (magnet/reed-switch, 153IR optical detector, insulated-rail wheel axle, 153C contactor plate, or whatever you choose) detects the approaching trolley 3" from the end-of-track.  If the trolley is traveling 11" per second (30 scale MPH), that means it will pass the detector, hit the bumper, reverse, and "clear" the detector in about 1/2 second which is arguably a fairly short time!

In the case of the timer-module shown, you can indeed set the delay intervals with 0.1 sec resolution so setting what I called the 1st time interval to 0.5 sec is possible to give the trolley time to bump, reverse, and clear the occupancy detector.  The 2nd time interval (how long the trolley stops) is independently settable with 0.1 sec resolution so it can be 10.0 sec, 10.1 sec, etc.

And as shorling observes, sometimes throwing in some variety/randomness can add to the fun!  Once you buy-in to these low-cost timer modules, you can concoct a Lego-style combination of timer modules so the trolley doesn't stop every time but maybe every 3rd time or whatever.  Or maybe a relay alternates the track voltage every 5 minutes (or whatever) so the trolley runs faster and slower.  So many possibilities, so little time!

Last edited by stan2004

Thanks Stan,  I'm always impressed by your commentary.  Regarding detection delays, I was dealing with inch or so of overshoot which we translated to  \milliseconds at speed.   I was consulting with the manufacturer of the product I was using and he offered to modify the product to meet my requirement at no increase in cost.  A really nice guy !!  So the moral is:  don't give up, there may be a solution but you have to reach for it.

Last edited by shorling

I have a loop and a dead end. I like this switch on the end but would like to stop it by the nudist beach. Ideas? Thanks,Jim My interior lights burned out and all I had was 2 led's. Rascal looks like a meteor going around.

I don't think whether a station, nudist beach, scenic overlook, or whatever materially affects how you'd implement a timed stop.  Since you have a reversing loop, the side of the trolley that passes the scenic layout feature alternates.  I can see some implementation issues if you want to work this into the story.

For basic timed stopping, see previous comments about off-the-shelf trolley control modules or even the venerable, if not iconic, Lionel #132 station stop.  I suppose the #132 would apply if your nudists are taking the trolley home and on the station platform following a day on the beach.

Last edited by stan2004

I've often thought that a reversing trolley with timed stops is an ideal application for an Arduino-based controller.  Having made this observation, its not anything I've implemented, but the Google machine suggests that others have - in what appears to be varying degrees of complexity.  One of those is having the ability to reduce/increase the voltage with time, so the trolley behavior isn't just sudden stop/start.  You might take a look at this for starters:

My $0.02 (which along with a couple of bucks will get you a cup of overheated coffee...)


These approaches are very educational, many above my pay scale.

How about this: suppose I place an insulated rail at the end of the line. When my Lionel bump and go trolley enters the insulated rail, it triggers stage 1 of a 2 stage timer: stage 1 leaves power on for 1/2 second, enough time for the trolley to strike the bumper and reverse. Then, stage 2 turns off the power for, say 10-20 seconds, then turns power back on. Onward to the other end, with the same setup.

Is this too simple?

1. What relay has such a 2 stage timer that can do this?

2. Any reason why both ends of the trolley line can't use the same relay?

I don't want to have to deal with AC vs DC, just something simple.

Any advice is welcome.


diy trolley station stop timer insulated rail triggered

The relay timer module described in earlier post can be powered from 6-30V DC which is quite a wide range.  Most folks already have such a DC-output wall-wart (9V, 12V, etc.) with a suitable voltage lying around in a junk box.  I suppose the cheapest brute-force method is to simply snip off the barrel-coax power plug and expose the DC+ and DC- wires.  Or, for most plug styles, there are adapters to convert to solder-less screw-terminal connections.

Note: Most timer modules of this ilk offer a dizzying variety of timing modes.  In this example, mode P2.1 was used.  The OP parameter is set to 10.0 sec (stopping time).  The CL parameter is set to 0.5 sec (delay time).  Online listings generally provide the programming instructions and descriptions of operating modes; these are often translations (typically poor) though if you search the web you can find "cleaned-up" translations and youtube how-to videos.

Per your comment about not wanting to deal with AC vs. DC.  I get that, but if going the DIY route suggested, all the inexpensive timer modules I've seen require a DC voltage to operate.  These are general purpose timer modules that I'm adapting to the arguably quirky-world of O-gauge AC voltage!  As others have suggested there are train-specific vendors with off-the-shelf plug-and-play trolley control systems that no doubt hide this "AC vs. DC" nonsense!


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Last edited by stan2004

I have a loop and a dead end. I like this switch on the end but would like to stop it by the nudist beach. Ideas?

As I previously posted, this sounds like the standard station-stop configuration for which there are off-the-shelf solutions...including as I mentioned the Lionel #132 station.  However, carrying on with the DIY tack, I had the drawing editor open and with a little cut-and-paste:

diy station stop multiple variation insulated rail triggers

There are different ways to do this but thought this approach interesting as it contrasts nicely from the end-of-track bump-n-go configuration.

In this case the insulated sections isolate both the center rail and the outer trigger rail.  As drawn there are 2 stations but there could be more or less all controlled by a single timer module.  The power is normally OFF in the insulated section(s).  This typically means wire jumper around the insulated sections to insure continuity of power (drawn with red and black bypass connections).

Here's the sequence of operation.  Trolley reaches an insulated section.  Trolley stops because there is no power in the station section.  The length of the insulated section must be long enough to isolate the trolley power pickups from receiving track power.  Trolley arrival also triggers the 1st timer via the insulated rail.  And here's the rub.  In this case, the stopping time is the first time interval.  In other words the 10-20 second stop time interval runs first.  Then the relay turns ON for the 2nd time interval which would be, say, 2.0 second.  The relay momentarily applies power to the insulated section  which starts the trolley exiting the insulated section and on to normally powered track.  Obviously this 2nd timer interval must be adjusted to give the trolley enough time to completely exit the insulated section or else it will stop again restarting the dual delay.


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Last edited by stan2004

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