model train set on track

Positive Solutions for Applying Electronics to Model Train Layouts

e*Train Issue: Aug 2003   |   Posted in:

By Don Woodwell

Using simple yet authoritative language Don Woodwell describes a wide range of practical applications of commercially available electronic modules for both 3- and 2-rail model train layouts. He shows how to liven up model train operations and establish a unique and distinct environment for each layout in an informal, easy to read style that makes readers eager to tackle the many projects outlined in the book. Chip Miller and Mike Reagan describe and explain in easily understood terms command control systems for the ultimate in model train automation.

1) Principles of Reliable Wiring for Layout Electronics
2) Constant Voltage Lighting for Visual Effect
3) How to Use Detection Circuits & Set up Blocks
4) Fixed Sound Systems & Animation for Unique Environments
5) Prototypical Signaling for the Mainline, Yards, and Grade Crossings
6) Automatic Station Stopping & Branch Line Automation
7) Advanced Automatic Yard & Terminal Operations
8) Command Control Systems: What they are & How to use them
Appendix: References & Suppliers

What’s this Book About?
Automating a model train layout is more achievable today due mostly to advances in and availability of commercial electronic modules (CEM) for model train layout owners and operators. This book helps train hobbyists understand how easy it is develop their layout’s unique personality while ensuring more realistic operations with only moderate skills.

What’s in AYMTL?
Chapter 1 helps you spend more time operating your trains than tracing wiring problems. The reliable wiring principles described apply to any scale layout, but getting a grip on reliable wiring is especially crucial to properly and effectively wiring CEMs.

Chapter 2 provides examples of constant voltage lighting (CVL) circuits that are simple available commercial electronic modules. Selecting and installing CVL’s adds measurably to your railroad’s operational realism, and is also an easy way to get started and feel comfortable working with CEMs.

Chapter 3’s detectors and block descriptions will be referred to frequently in subsequent chapters because clearly understanding various train detection devices and the means of blocking track segments is very important for numerous train operations.

Chapter 4 covers a variety of stationary sound systems as well as layout animation. Sound and animation electronics available for both applications are essential elements to ensure layout realism and create a unique and different environment.

Chapter 5 describes the means and methods for setting up and electronically controlling and illuminating grade crossing signals, and for deploying and controlling mainline block signals with realistic aspects. Prototypical signaling makes for a more visually attractive layout.

Chapter 6 describes automated station stopping and automatic branch line operations. The various track diagrams and circuits described in this chapter lend themselves nicely to repetitive, hands-off operations while you are handling your mainline trains in either conventional or command mode.

Chapter 7 details the means of automatically alternating trolleys approaches to a two-stub terminal, and switching in yards. CEM’s enable automatic car movements between operating accessories; dumping a bulk material into the accessory; and, activating the accessory at a different time to reload the car on the same or different track location.

Finally, in Chapter 8 Chip Miller talks about the history of digital command control, and introduces digital 3-rail command control with examples from Lionel TrainMasterTM Command Control and MTH’s DCS(R). Chip compares the key features of each system and answers the most frequently asked questions about each one. Mike Reagan of TrainAmerica Studios’ describes his new 2-rail TMCCTM and Layout Control System. LCS is a new PC-based control system that works with the TMCCTM to provide advanced control features and functions.

Meet the Authors
1. Don Woodwell still continues to enjoy model railroading and collecting toy and model trains even after 50 years. During the past five years, he has written several articles for model railroading magazines, issued ten E-reports from his toy Trains & Model Railroading Web site, and is electronically publishing AYMTL, a how-to book on model railroad automation. Don wrote and traditionally published six other non-fiction books.

2. H. (Chip) Miller has been a life-long toy train enthusiast and operator, and is now primarily interested in trains from modern production. He brings a versatile technical perspective to operating model train layouts with a special expertise in electronics. He is an active and well-regarded participant in many online model railroading technical discussion groups.

3. Mike Reagan, a lifelong model train hobbyist, started Train America Studios to provide Lionel TMCCTM-compatible products for other manufacturer’s locomotives. TAS’ is a serious player in the 3-rail industry, and intends to become successful in the 2-rail industry with Scale Command.

Now available and delivered online for $12.95 (PDF format) or mailed as a print version for $19.95 + S&H. Check Don Woodwell’s Web site ( for the recent publication announcement.