How to Wire an Old Lionel Train Set

By Rich Finzer

Hobbyists and model railroad fans have been collecting and "playing" with Lionel trains since 1900. All electric train layouts require attachment to a power source to make them operational. If you have acquired an older set of Lionel trains, successfully powering up the tracks will only require a few minutes of your time.

Select a straight track section where you wish to install the Lighted Lock-On.

Slide either outer rail into the metal lip of the Lock-On. It is located closest to the wiring thumbscrews.

Press the lower edge of the center rail inside the metal clip near the end of the lock-on. The track section is now firmly secured.

Remove 1/2 inch of insulation from each end of the two strands of bell wire with the utility knife.

Turn off or unplug the train transformer from the power outlet.

Connect the stripped end of one wire to the Power/A (accessory) terminal on the train transformer, and connect one end of the second wire to the common grounding terminal on the transformer .

Loosen the two thumbscrews on the Lock-On.

Wrap the opposite end of the wire attached to the Power/A accessory terminal around the post labeled "1" on the Lock-On. Tighten down the thumbscrew ensuring good bare wire contact with the threaded post and a tight connection.

Wrap the opposite end of the wire attached to the common grounding terminal around the post marked "2" on the Lock-On. Then tighten down the thumbscrew ensuring good bare wire contact with the threaded post and a secure connection.

Power up the transformer. The green indicator light on the Lock-On will glow, signaling that you have made solid wiring connections and that power is flowing throughout your layout.

About the Author

Rich Finzer earned his boating license in 1960 and started his writing career in 1969. His writing has appeared in "Northern Breezes," "Southwinds," "Living Aboard," "Good Old Boat," "Latitudes & Attitudes," "Small Craft Advisor," "Life in the Finger Lakes," "BackHome" and "Dollar Stretcher" magazines. His maple syrup has won awards in competition. Rich has a Bachelor of Science in communications from Ithaca College.