Wiring Lionel 153 Signal Block

I have created a block using insulating pins (put in the middle rail). I believe I have wired the 153 signal block and 153C contactor correctly: 1 to green, 2 to red, 3 to transformer, and middle terminal on signal block to transformer.

The problem is that no matter how tight or loose the tension ring is on the contactor, only the green light lights up as a train approaches, stays lit, and then goes out. At no time does the red light light up.

How do I wire this device properly so that the red light and green light light up in proper sequence?

Any help anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

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You do not state whether this insulated section is also wired to the 153/153C - is it? The wiring for the 153C and 153 is different if you are also trying to control an insulated stopping section of track. The following is based on connecting a 153/153C with no stopping section.

This is correct, assuming the two transformer connections are ones which deliver a constant 12 to 16 volts.

First, check that the 153 signal is working correctly - disconnect it and touch a pair of leads connected to 12 to 16 volts from the transformer to the center and each outside terminal - make sure the red and green lights each light and that there is no glow from the other light. Then reconnect the 153 to the 153C and remove the 153C from under the track. Holding the 153C in your hand, adjust the spring tension so that you can see that the contact arm connected to the #3 clip is moving between the #1 and #2 fixed contacts. Make sure the green light goes out and the red light comes on as you squeeze the 153C.

Make sure you place the 153C a couple track sections beyond the 153, so the locomotive passes the signal before its weight causes the 153C to switch to lighting the red bulb. Make sure the track is loosely attached to the roadbed so it "floats" on the 153C. Adjust the 153C spring adjuster so the spring will just lift the track yielding a green light with no train present.

If you get all this working and then also want to control your insulated stopping section, you need to reconnect the 153C/153 so that terminal 3 on the 153C is connected to the same transformer terminal feeding the center rail on the layout, and the neutral terminal on the 153 is connected to the transformer terminal connected to the layout outside rails. The 153 signal should be positioned so the insulated stopping section is ahead of the signal. Then connect the insulated center rail CTC lockon to the 153 terminal for the green signal bulb. Then when the signal is green, the insulated section has power and the train can proceed. If a train stops beyond the signal switching it to red, power is interrupted to the insulated section, stopping a following train. (But note the intensity of the signal bulbs now varies with the speed setting for the trains.)

Hope you can follow all of this. Gary Q

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Dear Gary,

Thanks for the help. It worked. Except for this: I have a two-oval interconnected layout using a ZW with four terminal blocks - one for switches, one for lights, one for other accesories, and one for track power. I correctly wired the 153 and 153C as you wrote, and insulated a section of track. But now the train stops dead - without power - in the insulated block. Does the 153C have to be inside the insulated block, or exactly what? I also am not sure which terminal block the 153C should be wired to. The 153 is wired to the accesories terminal block, but should the 153C be wired to the track power terminal block, or which one?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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No. The 153 C has to be placed some distance beyond the end of the stopping section. Advancing in the direction of train travel, you should: First have the 2 to 4 track section long stopping section (long enough for your train's loco to coast to a stop while still in the stopping section) with the center rail isolated from the rest of the layout by fiber pins, then Second at about the end of the stopping section should be the 153 block signal positioned so the loco's "engineer" could see the signal in his stopped loco, and Third a couple sections beyond the 153 and the end of the stopping section, should be the 153C. It is critical that the train that has stopped in the stopping section NOT be pressing the track down over the 153C; if it does, move the 153C further down the track away from the stopping section.

The 153 and 153C are a set. IF you are just running the 153 signal for show, then you would want the #3 terminal on the 153C connected to the "B" or "C" terminal on the ZW being used for the other layout lights. BUT IF you are using the 153C for controlling the stopping section, you want the 153C #3 terminal connected to the "A" or "D" ZW terminal, whichever is also connected to the layout center rail on the rest of the loop with the stopping section and signal. You want the same power going to the stopping section so that when the signal is green, the train doesn't change speed as you pass through the stopping section, and so you can still blow the whistle, etc. (If the 153C with stopping section were connected to your lighting circuit at the ZW "B" or "C" terminal, the stopping section will still work, but the main throttle ("A" or "D") won't control the speed as the train is running thru the stopping section, and the rest of the layouts lights will dim as the current load of the loco is temporarily added to that circuit.)

The site seems to be down as I write this, but you should look at http://pictures.olsenstoy.com//searchcd1.htm which has the Lionel service manual and instruction sheets for most every Lionel postwar train and accessory. Look up the sheet for the 153 and/or153C and you should find Lionel's instructions and schematics for these circuits.

I hope these comments get you going. By the way, I also use a ZW (or sometimes two KWs) to run my portable Lionel layout which also has two concentric ovals connected by 4 O22 switches arranged as one trailing point and one leading point crossovers. I chose to connect the outer loop to the ZW "A" post, the inner loop to the "D" post, and I separated the loops by insulated pins in the center rails between the crossover turnouts. This gives me independent control to run two trains simultaneously. I run all my street, station and signal lights on the "B" post, so I can adjust the brightness to suit the room lighting where the layout is set up. I run all the motorized accessories, including the fixed voltage plugs on all the O22 turnouts, from the "C" post (with intermediate 96C or 364C switches to turn off the accessories not being used). I find I only run one motorized accessory at a time, and mostly when the train is stopped. I leave the "C" control set to give good operation of the O22 switches, and then adjust it as needed while running the coal loader, barrel loader, etc.

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