Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Hobby Time: Wiring the Railroad Switches
You can have those experiences with model railroading instruction too, as I've discovered first hand. It's nobody's fault. Some things you just have to figure out. I'm going to pass along a few things I've learned.
I'm using left and right hand railroad switches from Atlas as I had three of the five switches used at hand for years. Sure, I could have picked up some fancier units, but I'm not that concerned.
So, to wire the switches to the switch units with the blue buttons, here's what's needed. I decided to use these small butt splices to connect the threadlike wire with something a little more substantial. Stripping some of the plastic from these fragile wires was challenging. I've had this electrician's tool for years. To remove the plastic coating from roughly 1/2" of wire, gently (very or you'll cut the wire) place the wire between the jaws, applying very little pressure, twist the tool several times (very gently) to nearly cut the insulation, then pinch the wire at that point between thumb and forefinger, using your thumbnail to apply pressure at the near cut, and you'll be able to remove the insulation after a few attempts.
You'll need the next portion of the electrician's tool to crimp the ends of the butt splices to each of the wires connected. You'll want to buy extra splices as you are going to screw up a few times, crimping the splice with the wire slipping out unbeknownst to you before crimping.
Everything else is simple wiring, following the straightforward instructions on the back of the switch unit packaging.
One thing to know, if you're joining multiple switch units together, make sure the screws on the connectors are tight. I didn't between units two and three and when wired at first the switches didn't work. It was a short-lived scare that a little screw tightening remedied.