Let’s talk about wiring tricks for Lionel Fastrack. Specifically, let’s talk about making your own Fastrack terminal sections instead of buying them.
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 18-22 gauge wire and 14-16 gauge wire.
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 minimum gauge of wire you should use depends on the wattage of your transformer.
40w 22 gauge
60w 20 gauge
80-90w 18 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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