Hello Forum;  Over the holidays I spent a quality 6 hours on my layout wiring up my FT switches on my layout.  I disconnected the wires from the controller switch, ran the wires, drilled the holes, reattached them, plugged in the power and nothing... very saddened. 

I used track power on purpose... did not understand read (still do not) how to wire using fixed voltage.   I need to start over.

Power - MTH Z4000

2 tracks - independently powered

bus wiring - 3 wires run for each track, power, ground and accessory

Question...  Do I need to run one more bus wire for constant power?  This will be for the aux. power I guess?

From the Mike Regan video on this, I think... that this is what I need to do?  then something about run a wire from the switch to ??? the constant voltage wire?

My layout is a blank canvas now... the table is all cleared everything all disconnected track back in boxes. 

If this is correct, then I will run two more wires - one for each track. 

I will re-watch the MR video on the constant voltage

Look here to see if I've made any sense of this and you fine members say 'yes or no and here is what to do'

Paint my table top - part of the reason for removing track..

am I on the right track?










Original Post

1. Are you sure you had power to the track before you started cutting wires ?

2. I'm assuming you installed the switches in the track layout and tested them on track power to make sure they were all working properly with the controllers, before you started disconnecting and cutting the wires ?

3. I'm assuming you disconnected and cut wires because the wires were too short for the controllers to reach the switches or because you wanted to hide the wires below the layout (or both). Cardinal rule (at least in my book) is never disconnect the wires from the switch or especially the controller itself, if possible. Try to cut the wire in the middle and then patch the ends together using some sort of connectors (I like the gel-filled "bean" crimps) or you can buy 4 terminal phone connectors which you can mount to the layout and then connect up the wires.

4. Per #3, if you did disassemble the controllers and disconnect the wires, it is always a PITA to install new wires because of the tight space and configuration of how the wires go.  

5. If the wires were installed incorrectly in the controllers then it's not going to make a difference whether they are track powered or powered from an alternate source - they still won't work. 

6. I would start by making a small test track with a few pieces of FT and put each switch in one-by-one running off track power and check the controller wires to make sure they are hooked up to the correct terminal and making good contact. 


Thanks for the replies. 

First question - The diagram (from escaperocks) shows  I need to run 2 wires - aux. power and aux. ground back to the transformer? 

Is this correct? 

Secondly, Richie... I am going to re-do everything starting with your point 6 - small test track and then I know for sure moving forward that the switches light up and work with track power.

The 'cut in the middle and splice'... that would have been awesome to read before I got into this.  

that I will remember... it was a chore getting those wires back in. 









In order to operate the switch off an auxillary power supply, whether it's from an accessory terminal on a transformer or another power supply source, you need to run one wire from that source's power side (typically the red or + side) to the switch's Aux IN terminal and one wire from that source's ground/common side (typically black or -) to the switch's Aux GND terminal - after having removed the jumper.

I'm not sure why you want to use auxillary power to operate the FT switches. IMHO, they run fine off track power; it's much easier and a lot less work to hook them up; they don't consume a lot of power; and whatever power they do use is only momentary when you operate the switch.

I always unhook the controller wires at the switch. They are not that bad to rehook . I also use 2 pr phone wire to extend the controllers. The colors match and on the last 10 switches  I made a short pigtail with phone connectors so removal of the switch is easier. The Klein stripping and crimping tool was less than $20. One reason for auxiliary power is that all the lanterns don't go dark when changing direction in conventional running. I run mine at 14 volts from a Type V transformer.


Located in the real Upstate NY

END PHOTO 6Yes - get them working first on a test track.

I have 18 FT switches on my layout (plus 8 LED siding switches) using track power and the same Z-4000 transformer as you with no issues running Legacy and DCS (I did install a 22uh choke in place of the track jumper in each switch in order to run the DCS system).

The CW-80 is not hooked up.


Photos (1)

I didn't worry about the ground.  I saw a video on line that said it wasn't required.  I just used one terminal on the ZW for switches (I have 6) and several fixed voltage on/off accessories (currently Oil Derrick, airplane pylon, barrel ramp and log conveyor).  I used a feeder wire of "yellow" around the layout and tapped into it from each switch for the aux in after the jumper was removed.  Biggest issues - solid soldering and/or tap splicing and making sure if you did remove the wiring to get the new controller wires properly placed and secured.  Add some slack to allow you to "rotate" the switch up to make corrections/adjustments.  Switches have to be connected to track to get the ground working.  No problems.

Casper posted:

Could you run the aux power for the switches from the same cw80 that is powering your track?

Yes, you can by using the CW-80 'aux' output.



Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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