One of the easiest ways to hook up many of our accessories is by insulating one of the outside rails. For FasTrack users, the Accessory Activator Pack (6-12029) is all you need.
For traditional O and O-27 tubular track users, you’ll want the insulated rail track (6-12840 and 6-12841 respectively). This activation method works well for many single animation and illuminated + animated accessories. It’s best use is in locations where you want to activate the accessory not only when the train is immediately in front of it, but approaching and departing as well. It will not work on dual-animation accessories like signals, but can be made to do so with the 153E switch. The many different grade crossing signals and gates we offer are perfect examples.
Here’s how it works. Both outside rails are wired to AC Ground. The inside rail is AC Hot. Only the inside and one outside rail needs to receive power for the train to operate. The metal wheels and axles of your Lionel trains act like a bridge, connecting the two outside rails even if both do not receive power directly from the power supply.
The insulated outside rail section, or block, removes that outside power source to one rail between two gaps. A single wire connects this insulated rail to your accessory. Note that it does not matter which rail you use, but generally the rail closest to the accessory is chosen for simplicity. The other lead from the accessory is attached to the AC Hot terminal (or bus) from you power supply. The accessory will not work until the circuit is completed by the wheels of the passing train.
Note that by phasing your transformers and using a common ground between both your accessories and your train power, it is possible to wire these accessories so that they will activate even if the train is stopped on the circuit. This means if you stop your train on the road crossing, the gates will stay activated! Just one more advantage to phasing your transformers.
You can make the activation section as long as you want by extending the insulated section. FasTrack users can use the 6-12027 Extender track to do this. You can also modify other curve or shorter straight sections to further customize your activation section by simply removing the bus bar between the outside rails on the base of the track.
To follow the set-up process completely, just follow along with this video: