The Wiring Basics of Model Trains

model train

If you are in a place where you want to learn more about model trains, this means that you are going to need to learn more about model train wiring. Proper wiring will ensure that your model trains run smoothly and safely, and even if you have never worked with wiring before, you will find that with a little bit of study, it is surprisingly easy to do.

Take a moment to learn more about wiring your model trains; it is an essential skill for anyone who wants to work with their own model train set up and you will find that it can be an extremely rewarding part of the process.

When you are working with a very basic tinplate layout, you might have noticed that the track can simply be snapped together and the trains will be able to run.

Because the trains are powered with alternating current in this case, this type of functionality is possible.

However, when you are working with turnouts that will allow your trains to switch from one track to another or when you want to reverse a train so that it can go back onto the mainline, there are going to be adjustments that you need to make, to avoid a electrical short.

When you are putting together your tracks, make sure that you think about how you are going to be able to keep sections of tracks and rails isolated in terms of the electricity that you run to them.

This will allow you to control block sections as it comes to running more than one train, and different sidings that will be able to stay off when you are thinking about how to keep everything running.

When you want to keep an area of siding set to on or off, you just need to insulate one rail with the plastic rail joiners that you can find quite easily.

Then you will be able to add a wire and an on off switch.

Another option that you might choose to look at is called common rail.

With common rail, you are always going to insulate the same rail, while the other side stays connected.

This means that in most cases, your outside rail is counted as “plus” and your inside rail is counted as “minus.”

When you insulate the inside rail, it will always be negative and it will act as a switched hot lead.

With this system in mind, you are going to be able to control different parts of the layout at the same time as long as they are insulated from each other.

Keep in mind that your trains might pick up more power from all wheels as they cross over the joint, but there are also things that can be done to help with this.

Take a moment to learn more about the wiring that you need for your model train layout.

But always remember to keep your wiring safe and to make sure that everything has been doubled checked before you turn it on!

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Dan Morgan

Dan Morgan fell in love with model trains at the age of six when he visited an NMRA Convention in Seattle with his father. Forty two years later, his passion remains just as strong. After achieving a successful career in architecture, Dan’s particular interest is within layouts and buildings. With a wealth of knowledge on the subject, Dan loves nothing more than sharing this with others and is delighted in the forum of members who are brought together over the hobby they have in common. Dan lives with his wife Helen in Washington. As a professional painter, Helen has learnt through Dan about Model Trains and they now enjoy working on projects together. The only member of the family who isn’t allowed to join in is their over-enthusiastic Labrador called William who has been strictly banned from the workshop! You can find Dan on Google here!

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Leave A Reply (1 comment So Far)


  1. Model Train Kit
    4 years ago

    This is an excellent article about wiring and the book you are selling is equally excellent and a resource that every model train builder should have,

    I also stumbled your page for you.

    Tim

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