Making your own Lionel Fastrack terminal sections

It’s Friday. Time for some fun. Let’s talk about wiring tricks for Lionel Fastrack.

It’s a good idea to run wires to your track every so often. The rules vary. I’ve heard every 3 track joints, starting over after each switch. I’ve also heard every 3-4 feet. Regardless of who you believe, the single drop you’re probably using is inadequate. Adding extra drops will cause your train’s speed to remain a lot more smooth and constant.

Fastrack terminal sections–the sections that come with wires attached from the factory–are expensive. But any section has the terminals on the underside of the track to add your own wires; you just need the connector. Connectors come in sizes for 18-22ga wire and 14-16 ga wire.

Fastrack section

All it takes to turn this $6 track section that you probably already have into a $10 terminal section is two bits of wire, and two 10-cent connectors

This way you don’t have to replace any perfectly good track sections, and if you need a curved, extra-long, or extra-short terminal section, it’s no problem. You can make the wires as short or as long as you want. And it also allows you to use a heavier gauge wire than the factory original, for even less power loss and greater safety.

The gauge of wire you should use depends on the wattage of your transformer.
40w    22 gauge
60w    20 gauge
80-90w    18 gauge
100-120w16 gauge
200w+    14 gauge

Some people erroneously go by layout size when sizing wire gauge; it’s really the power of the transformer that matters. If you get a derailment and don’t catch it for a couple of minutes, you don’t want 270 watts causing 22 gauge wire to overheat and burn.

But if you want to jump up a wire size from these recommendations in order to reduce voltage drop, that’s fine. There’s no harm in oversizing wire; it’s the undersized wire you have to worry about.

Just crimp one of these connectors to the end of a wire and plug it in to the underside of a piece of track. I recommend using a red wire for the center rail and a black one for an outer rail, for consistency’s sake. Then run the wires back to your transformer.

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2 Comments

  1. Computer Repair Perth

     /  November 19, 2010

    Is it possible for me making Lionel? Your information say I make it but I confused it. Thanks ;)

    • Dave Farquhar

       /  November 20, 2010

      I don’t know if I understand your question, and I didn’t think that Lionel trains were available in Australia. But yes, there are lots of train-related things you can make yourself. Look at the related posts and you’ll find lots of ideas.