Tracking Down Old Train Equipment

Tracking Down Old Train Equipment.

One of the things I like to do is track down old train equipment.  For example:    Santa Fe’s Combines or Rider Cars,  also known as Way Cars or Cabooses.

Begging the question what did Santa Fe use on it’s spur and branch lines when needing to operate a single train requiring both passenger service and freight car deliveries.    As in a limited number of passengers and freight cars with empties or full loads in or out?    The answer can be found here:

Tops on my list is this website and pictures of the Santa Fe during the transition years.    Photos by Bob Morris:

Number One on my list of Santa Fe Railroad Resources, Jack Whitmeyer’s photo’s. for ATSF, FM switchers:   

Denver & Rio Grande Survivors:

Then there’s the relics still running today.

Chama, New Mexico Train Yard

Published on Dec 5, 2014

This week, we have something different again. Not many trains moving in this video, but I thought this was worth sharing. The Chama Yard on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is one of the most fascinating yards I have ever visited. It appears much as it has over the last 100 or so years. There’s even a complete collection of original freight cars and locomotives. Come take a look as we go on a brief tour around the yard. Some bonus clips at the end from the Durango and Silverton are included with one of their operating steam trains, very similar to those that run on the Cumbres and Toltec.    Thanks for watching and do subscribe, CoasterFan2105.

For the Southern Pacific rail fans.

The SP during transitional years by Bob Morris:

As you are a custom to hearing me say, feel free to do your own research.    That’s how I found these websites and interesting photo’s.

Track down your own favorite railroads either on You Tube, Bing or  an Oogle Google search.

Have Fun



Wiring In – DCC and Analog DC

How to operate you layout on DCC or Analog DC.   Wiring in your layout so you can switch over from DCC to Analog DC.

You won’t believe how simple this is to do.

How to use DC and DCC on your layout

Published on Jan 19, 2015

I will show you how to hook up a switch to change your layout from DC to DCC as needed.
Thanks Michel Grondin in Quebec, for asking how to.    For the rest of you who tuned in thanks for watching, Mike Fifer.

All it took was a simple DPDT (Double Pole, Double Throw, Center Off) electrical toggle switch.    I refer to them simply as toggles.

I originally wired my layout in to Analog DC,  Cab A and Cab B, Block Wiring and when DCC came along it was a simple conversion.   I still operate my layout with Analog DC but am able to switch out Cab B from Analog DC to DCC.    Wallah, I’m operating my DCC train equipment with ease.

It takes a bit of self discipline not to mix the two or cross over from one block on Analog DC to DCC.     You don’t want to mix the two during operations.    Not a good idea.

On a different note:    We are 145 posts strong  here on    I think I can safely say we’ve covered just about every important topic you need to know with regards to  Toy Train Operations and Model Railroading.    We have some of the best presenters here on    Feel free to dig in and glean what you can from us.

In the mean time happy rails to you.     Or was that Roy Rogers, “Happy Trails to You!”    In the meantime,  may your toy train or model railroading experience lead you down happy rails.     May your layout turn out the way you want it.

We are all good so go get your layout started or make those all important alterations, re-alignments and if we inspired you, let us know.

Now it’s time to hear from you.


Reverse Loops & Wyes – Wiring

Reverse Loops & Wyes – How to Wire In.

Why?  I don’t know but some of us toy train enthusiast and model railroaders like the action we get from such unique track designs.

Nothing to be afraid of but… well…. read on.

At one time or another most everyone I know in the world of toy trains and model railroading (including myself)  has backed away from wiring in a reversing loop or wye.     Why?   Fear!   We’ve  been afraid of it!   Backing away from it  like it  was the plague.   Perhaps, thinking it’s to complicated  and/or we won’t be able to operate trains through it.  Apparently, a wiring task that is beyond us or better said beyond our comprehension.  Yes, it can appear to  be scary  at first glance. Wiring in a Reverse Loop or Wye may take a bit to wrap your head around it.  I had to diagram it out before it made sense.    The good news is:  If I can manage a reversing loop so can you!

There are two ways to handle these wiring projects.


  1. Automatic Reversing Units known as  AR1’s.    Purchase one of the automated AR1 reversing systems.    Should you choose the automated systems  do note there is one for Analog DC and one  for DCC.
  2. DPDT Electrical Toggle Switches:  DPDT’s wired-in to reverse the polarity. Purchase two Double Throw Double Pole Electrical Center Off, Toggle Switches.  Use these to manually control the reverse loop and the main line.    
Let’s take a look and see if we can’t simplify things for you and your railroad.


  • The Goal for any  Reversing Loop.       The idea is to run through the reversing loop without stopping.
  • The Goal for operating through a Wye, is to accomplish it with as few complications as is possible.    You will have to enter the wye and then make a reversing move out of it.    Resulting in a train, train car, locomotive and/or diesel that has been turned.


  • Kato Unitrack:    This question just in from my favorite heckler.  How do you wire in Kato track for a reverse loop?    The answer man says:    The same way you wire in any other brand of track.  Stay tuned, read on and learn How-to.
Simplest Way to Wire in a Reversing Loop Or Wye:


  • AR1 Unit:  This is the simplest way to wire in a reversing loop or wye. When using an automated system do be sure and follow the wiring instructions that come with it.
Manual Application:    DPDT’s Electrical Toggle Switches. 

A bit more complicated, more wiring but works well.

  • To accomplish this by presetting your DPDT’s  to the correct polarity.      No deviations or short cuts allowed.      It’s all about polarity and I get into this more, as we continue this discussion.
  • Reverse Loop, you’ll need one (1)  DPDT, for the reversing loop  and one (1) DPDT, for the main line.   Total of (2) two.   A wye is wired in similarly and you’ll find illustrations below.
Operating Trains:


  • As you enter the reversing loop from the main.  You will need to be sure the polarity from the main through and  to the reversing loop is the same.
  • Coming out of the loop:  You  will then need to reverse the polarity to the main.      To  return your train, now running in the opposite direction, back to the main.  You’re going to enjoy and appreciate the action you can get with this  maneuver.
  • The length of your train or trains will dictate the length of the reversing section of track.    Your longest train needs to occupy the whole of the reversing section or loop.   Why?   Allow me to explain.   IE.,  If you are operating with metal wheels or Kato’s lighted passenger cars the total length of the train  needs to occupy the reversing loop or a section of the wye.   If the train over hangs and you throw one of the toggles to reverse the’ll have a short!
  • Closing the Track Switch behind the train:   If your train hangs over the switch and is fouling the main.   Well, for one you can’t throw the track switch and align the points.    If you oop’s and do like most of us have.  You will experience a derailment.   Never mind that your power supply will once again  be telling you, you have a  SHORT!    Not good!      We want to avoid shorts.
You’ll need to wire them in correctly and short cutting the process will not make for smooth operations.   Yes, I’ve already said that, some where here on    I will be talking more about this as we continue this discussion.
Automated Systems:

Automatic Reversing Units aka AR1.

Mike Fifer has a  introduction to the automated reversing loops and I’d like for you to see this before we go any further.

How To do a DCC Reverse Loop

How To do a DCC Reverse Loop. Today we will look at some simple wiring of a DCC reverse loop and a Kato Turnout. N Scale of course!!!    Have any questions feel free to contact me and thanks for watching, Mike Fifer.

Analog DC:      DPDT’s   What the heck are they?

I’ve only mentioned them a few times here on , and if you missed it the first time… you are about to find out.

  • Budget and monies available may be a problem and you’d like to know more about the inexpensive…to a point…DPDT = Double Pole Double Throw – Center Off – Electrical Toggle Switches.   See illustration below.
Hard Wiring, Old School – “The original way”:
A tried and true way of getting the job done.    We’ve been doing this for years. 


  • FYI:   If your layout is already wired to Analog DC, with the DPDT electrical toggle switches.   You won’t have to change much.    The reversing toggles will work for DCC.  Believe it or not.   Works on my layout and it should work on yours….amazing!
  • This will also work for Turntables, although  a bit more tricky.  I will discuss how to wire in a turntable on another discussion.    First, master a reverse loop and a wye.  Then you’ll be ready to discuss how to wire in a turntable.

Hard wiring in your reversing switches.   For me,  after seeing how a DPDT electrical toggle switch is wired in to reverse the current and learning how it worked.  I found it to be simpler then I anticipated.  You know!    Simple!    That is, once I got past all the noise in my head.  The “Yeah But Committee,” at work.

It didn’t take me long  to learn and I was up and running trains in no time at all.   Actually,  when you catch on it’s simpler then it looks and works amazingly well.

You will need:    Start with  two (2) of  DPDT   (Double Pole Double Throw, Center Off)  electrical toggle switches, wired to reverse the current.

Double Pole Double Throw – Center Off.

DPDT 1 BacksideDPDT 2 Center Off

  • The two reversing  DPDT’s need to be separate from  the transformer.    In other words we don’t want to use the reversing slider switch or switches that comes with most transformers.   More on this as we discuss how to wire in a wye or reverse loop.  Graphic’s courtesy of


The Rick Approved Method:

Not that what I think is important but this does work well for me.    I do want you to work from your own authority.   It’s all about you and the choices you make.
Diagram of  a reversing loop. 
Here you’ll find illustrated, A reversing loop and where you should cut in the isolation gaps, on the diverging end of the switch.   Next: Two DPDT Center Off electrical toggle switches, wired-in to the main and  reversing loop. 
The Two DPDT’s:
  • Top side or center out is to your Mainline and Reversing loop.    
  • The bottom, is power in from your transformer.


       Mainline                                                             Reversing Loop


     +                                              –                       +                                            –

                   **This end is for power  “IN”, from the Transformer.

Another  Workable Option.      You can reverse the order by which you wire in your transformer to the toggle and the affect and desired results are the same.   Now that made no sense at all.    Check out the next illustration and you can see how the designer flipped the power access to the DPDT toggles.  I don’t like it!    For sake of continuity, on my layout, I wire them in as illustrated above.     Center hot, out to the track.

Reversing Loop:  Here’s an almost perfect illustration of how-to wire in a Reversing Loop.


You can see here what I was talking about.   The author reverses the access point for the transformer.    It’s your choice and yes it works.

Installing a Wye:


Wiring diagrams courtesy of Ty’s Blog.    You can click on the image to enlarge it.

If you use the DPDT’s, it will be a matter of practicing with these electrical toggle switches to learn whether or not you have the polarity set up correctly.      It’s a manageable learning curve and I suspect, I will hear back from you stating how easy this was to do… after all.

Tips of the Day:  

You won’t believe this but you can set up two DPDT’s as illustrated here  and use them for all your wyes and reverse loop’s.    You don’t need to buy a set of these for every individual wye or a specific section of track.

  • Manual: One set  per transformer will do the job nicely.      I have one set for Cab A and another set for Cab B.   Best thing I ever did.
  • The automated systems are a bit different and you need to follow the directions that accompany these units.
  • Green Slider Switches:     In today’s world of electronics the green slider switches aren’t needed.     Do avoid buying and using them especially the one made for a Wye.   The LHS’s just love selling the heck out of them.   So let the buyer beware. 
  • O scale with the three rail track is almost a snap to put in.
  • S scale, HO, N or other two rail tracks.   They can be a bit more  problematic as you either need automated reversing units=AR1’s,  or two  DPDT’s wired in to reverse the section of track you will use to turn a train.
  • On my layout:   Not to sound like I’m bragging but I have three reversing loops on my railroad, one wye and one turn table for my round house.    All require the various types of reversing units or hard wired in DPDT’s.

Here’s a How Not To:


I see puzzled faces.  But Rick, I’ve wired mine in this way time and again.    As did most of us.    Then you’ll know…. you have to stop the train and reset all reversing switches before bringing the train back out.  Yes, it works but not well.  Not the answer I was looking for.

I’ve done what you see in the last illustration above.   I attempted to use the reversing switch on the transformer and it complicated things to the point I was very frustrated… with the outcome.    Requiring me to shut the train down and then reverse both  the main and the reversing section of the wye.     Missing the whole point of our goal, non-stop… continuous operation.

I don’t recommend you  use the reversing switch or  sliding switch that comes on or with your analog DC, transformer.   Use it only to reverse the train as in switching moves and the like.   You don’t want to use it to control the main or the reverse loop,  when operating through  a reversing loop or wye.   When you do so and you go to reverse it,  it will reverse the polarity in your loop or wye and on the main at the same time…reversing both sections.  Not desirable and can be confusing.   You need to reverse the main to get your train back out.


One Last Consideration:  

Transformers with two built in DPDT Reverse Loop Slider Switches.    Can we use them?    Yes, you can but I don’t recommend it.   My answer will be and  is an emphatic… NO!

I have a transformer that has two sliding DPDT’s wired-in  to reverse tracks for either a loop or wye  I don’t use them.   Instead I use the  two  DPDT’s wired-in to reverse the polarity of the current.     Not sure what the manufacturer was thinking when they mass produced my transformer.     If I use them it  requires me to stop the train, reverse the switches and re-start the train.    Same issue and unwanted action as a-fore  mentioned with the same unwanted complications.

Follow Up With:

For more answers to those perpetual questions, here are additional resources / links.   If it’s green or red  (look for the underscore) you can click on it and you’re highball-ING, to the intended link.

AR1:  The automated AR1, reversing units are available at Fifer Hobbies.  Click on the link and then go to DCC Products:

Electronics:  For more information regarding DCC and the various automated reversing units available see:

Power Steam Guy 1790.  For those difficult answers to DCC’s hard to answer questions.  Seek out the experienced model railroaders. See:

DCC Guy:   AR1 Option for DCC – How It Works?  Once the train is inside the loop or wye the automated system can then reverse the power to the engine or locomotive and you are then  able to come back out and  onto the main.    For a more definitive definition you can go to Larry Puckett,  DCC Guy.

Do come back we aren’t finished yet.

Now go build yourself a Wye or a Reversing Loop.     Do it with confidence, as there’s no reason to fear it.


This is a work in progress so keep coming back.

I’ve tried to put in identifiers in here that will help you find a particular directive, instruction or how-to by adding color or using the italics, and  bold features.    It’s not meant to confuse you or look silly but make  a valid point.    I hope you’ve found it helpful especially should you need to come back to find what caught your eye in the first place.

You can print this out but I must warn you it takes a considerable amount of ink and paper.

You should be ready to build your first wye or reverse loop.   You won’t learn how if you don’t try.      Simpler then you might think.

That  just about wraps it up.   Thanks for stopping by to give this a read.