Like your other accessories, Lionel switches (and other brands as well) will operate much more reliably when taken off of track power and fed with a constant voltage accessory supply. We recommend 14 Volts AC for switches as well as your other accessories.
Running on fixed 14 Volts ensures that:
- Your switches will operate at the same speed every time, regardless of how fast your train is moving.
- Switches will have plenty of power to throw without excessive force on the points.
- Light bulbs in switchstands will glow longer and cooler – preventing the plastic lanterns from melting.
If your transformers are in phase, then all you need to do is connect the AC Hot wire from the switch machine to your accessory power supply and you can continue to use the connection to the rails for the ground. For most Lionel switches, this is an easy process.
To convert a FasTrack switch (any size) to constant voltage, all you need is a small screwdriver and a length of wire.
- On the underside of the switch, you will see a set of screw terminals. Two of these are labeled “AUX IN” and “TRACK JUMPER.” They are connected by a small metal bus.
- Using a small screwdriver, simply remove the bus between those contacts.
- Connect a new wire from the “AUX IN” terminal to your AC Hot connection or bus wire from your fixed 14V power supply. The wire can be tucked into the channel along with the others.
An O-31 and O-72 switch is even easier. Each O-31 switch includes and auxiliary power supply plug. Simply attach the wire from your power supply to this plug and plug it into the side of the switch box. The plug is tapered to push the track connection aside and make the direct link to your accessory power supply.
Unfortunately, the O-27 switch requires a little more work as it is not designed to be converted to accessory power. Don’t worry, this is still a great first-time wiring project.
- Remove the brown cover from the switch machine by removing the screw and lifting.
- Locate the wire in the center of the twin coil switch motor and lift it away from the coils. This is the AC Hot connection. Leave the outer two wires alone – these go to ground (outside rails.)
- Cut this wire leaving a tail from the coils long enough to attach a new feeder.
- Make sure the other end of the wire is not exposed (this goes to the center rail) and tuck it away.
- Remove the insulation and splice your new wire onto the tail from the motors. Insulate the entire connection.
- You’ll have to either drill a hole through the base or in the side of the machine cover to get this wire out of the switch motor.
- Attach the other end of your new wire to the accessory power supply.
- Attach the cover on the switch.
The entire process will take only a few minutes – even less after you’ve done a few and have all your tools and materials handy.
To see all of these conversions in detail, just watch this video: