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Lionel Fastrack

Making your own Lionel Fastrack terminal sections

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. Read More »Making your own Lionel Fastrack terminal sections

Decorating for Christmas again

My wife and I decorated for Christmas today, which used to be something I didn’t look forward to, but today I do, because it means I get to have a train upstairs for about six weeks.

I kept it simple this year.I set up a nativity set on the mantle. This year I resisted the temptation to put the Magi across the room, as I normally do–after all, on Christmas night they were just beginning their journey.

The tree is very simple–lights, an angel on top, and a few plain ornaments.

I put a simple loop of Lionel Fastrack around the tree and put a few ceramic buildings–mostly Dept. 56 but one is a knockoff–in the center to look like a village–a church, two stores, and three houses. It took about 20 minutes to set up. I’d like to do something more elaborate but I don’t have the time this year.

My ultimate goal is to make a two-piece platform out of extruded foam insulation. Then I can run wires through it for lighting, glue down some track, store it in two pieces in the off-season, and setup will involve hooking up a transformer, plugging the two halves together, and placing the buildings over the lights. It may be years before I can do it.

I spent a fair bit of time reconditioning trains this afternoon. I haven’t so much as run a train since summer, when I was taken for a scammer in Redding, California who was posing as a disabled Gulf War 2 vet.

It was nice to spend a little time running trains again. I can’t let a bad experience ruin it for me. Interestingly enough, our Lab mix, Angel, was content to just sit with me and watch the train. Last year she growled and chased after it. Today, the only growl was the motor and solenoid in the vintage Marx locomotive I was running.

That nativity set is bugging me. I think I need to go move the Magi further away.

Setting up the tree and the train

Although some of the people in our neighborhood had their Christmas stuff up well in advance of Thanksgiving, my wife and I did the traditional thing, setting the tree up the day after Thanksgiving. We use a pre-lit artificial tree. Growing up, I remember stringing lights on the tree and taking them back down was always the most tedious part of the job, so I decided that if someone didn’t invent it before me, I’d invent the pre-lit Christmas tree.

Someone else did, of course. The next time I get a great idea I need to move on it more quickly.

Read More »Setting up the tree and the train