Blocks are isolated track sections modelers use to help control multiple trains on the same layout. Real railroads often use blocks as well. Theirs don’t control power to the trains, but do separate the railroad into separate districts to keep trains safely spaced. These blocks are often marked by signals.

Wiring your railroad for blocks has several advantages.

  1. By turning off blocks when not in use, you can store additional trains and reduce the draw on your power supplies in either conventional or command control.
  2. Installing breakers on separate blocks or loops can prevent a problem on one part of your layout from shutting down the entire platform.
  3. Troubleshooting is much easier when you can identify a location.
  4. Multiple trains can operate independently on the same platform, even with conventional control.

Separating Blocks



6-12060 can be used to isolate any rail for track or accessory control.

To isolate track blocks, you’ll need to create a break in the circuit on the rails. If you have wired the track normally, with the outside rails connected to the common ground (U), then you only need to create a break in the center rail. Insulated outside rails can be used to activate accessories. This type of wiring, with a shared ground between blocks, is usually called common rail, or common ground wiring.

The easiest way to create a separate block is to use our FasTrack insulated center rail track (6-12060.) You can use this track, with pre-cut rails, to isolate any or all of the three rails. Simply remove the center jumper wire on the underside of the track.

12060 back

To isolate a track block, remove the center jumper on the bottom of the insulated track. Outside jumpers can be used to isolate a ground section for accessories.

For tubular track, you can make your own insulated section by cutting a gap in the center rail using a cut-off disc in a rotary tool. These tools, made by Dremel, Black and Decker and others, are very useful modeling tools that can be adapted to many jobs by simply changing the attachments.

After isolating the blocks, you’ll need to connect each section to the power supply. Attach a feeder wire(s) to each side of the gap. You can use conventional lock-ons or power adaptor tracks to do this or solder the feeders directly to the rails.

While the common (outside) rails can all be wired together, the hot rails must pass through something else to turn off or on the power between the track and the power supplies. Depending on what you want to do, this can be a simple SPDT (Single Pole Double Throw) toggle switch (available at hardware and electronic stores), a circuit breaker, or one of our control switches (for command control).

To see how to hook up one of these switches, take a look at this instructional video: [youtube=]


0 thoughts on “Blocks

  1. I am having a terrible time hooking up the toggles to work a block on my tubular track layout. I thought I was following your instruction on the video, but I still cannot get it to work. What might I be doing wrong. Here is what I have. About a 9-10ft section with insulated center rail pins on either end. I am using a toggle switch with three poles SPDT ( 20amp). Within the insulated section I have the center and outer rails connected to a power bus line below. Instead of disconnecting these two lines I connected a line to the center rail by using a suitcase connector, then ran that line to the center post on the toggle. On one of the other posts I attached a wire which was connected to the mainline center rail which was outside the insulated section. When I turn out the power, the train runs thru the insulated section and I get no response when turning the toggle switch on or off. What am I missing? I need to figure this out as I am looking at creating similar blocks throughout my layout. I have three distinct layouts ( the bottom is scaletrax, middle is realtrax, and the top level is tubular so I need to figure it out. Any help would be most appreciative. I have read and looked everywhere but I am obviously missing something. Thanks

    • If I’m following your wiring correctly, I think the problem is that while you’ve isolated the center rail, you have not isolated the power to it. Since you’ve got a 10′ block, I would use two feeder wire connections to the center rail within that block spaced about 5 feet apart. Tie these together and then wire them to the center post of your toggle switch. You really only need a SPST switch for this installation but the SPDT will work. Connect a wire from one of the outer outer posts to the bus wire for your center rail. If there are any other connections between that bus and the center rail of your insulated block, you’ll bypass the toggle switch and render it useless. You can also double check the insulators in the center rail by disconnecting the feeders from the rail or switch. The train should stop as soon as it enters the block.

      • Sorry for late reply as we were away for awhile and just got back in town. I looked over what you suggested and will give it a try. I have only one connection of negative and positive to the center and one outer rail within the insulated block. So if I follow your suggestion I will connect a positive from center rail of the insulated block to the center post on my toggle, and then another positive wire connected from the bussline positive to one of the outer toggle posts. Hopefully this will work. Thanks for your help. Dan

  2. I have an O-36 oval within an O-48 oval connected by switches, all FasTrack. I want to be able to run two trains, one in each oval independent of the other, with a CW-80 on each oval. How to I gap the center rail where the switches connect so as to make them separate? I can’t use something like 6-12060 between the switches due to space limitations.

    • If a standard track section won’t fit, you can cut a gap in the center rail using a cut-off disk in a rotary tool. Just remember to wear eye protection. The exact location of the cut doesn’t matter as long as it is between the two loops.

  3. I have an oval layout with two inner circles on the same track system. I also have a straight section that crosses both inner circles at 90 degrees to operate a railroad speeder back and forth. How do I isolate that straight section so it won’t run off my main transformer? TY

    • From our Customer Service Director: Out of the box the 90 is not designed to be insulated, however, it can be easily modified by cutting the 4 individual tabs (it has a stamped cross on the underside that connects all 4 center rails to the center of the diamond) and removing the screw that connects the center of the cross to the center of the diamond. Then just solder a jumper between the two rails in either direction.

      I think once you look at the bottom of the track piece, those instructions should make more sense.

  4. From what I understand, I remove the cross from underneath the 90 degrees and by removing the screw I also remove the cross on top. Correct me if I’m wrong. Do I have to do this on both 90 degrees? TY

  5. I don’t understand why a SPDT switch and not a SPST ? since the other post is not used. I have 3 blocks in each of my 2 main lines and 4 spurs that split . I was planning on running hot from my A and D posts thru the toggles and out to the blocks. I could leave the blocks on the main line all on when running the 2 lines.

  6. Hello, question regarding blocks and Lionchief (DC Transformer)
    1) When using a block section (6-12060) only the center rail has to be isolatde for AC, does the same apply for DC or do I have to isolate all 3 rails?
    2) When running Lionchief sets, is it better to keep all DC or is there an advantage for using AC?

  7. When operating an inner and outer loop track (using Fastrack isolated at the crossover for two-train operation), do you typically match voltages on each loop when transferring a train from one to another to keep it from stopping when it hits the block? Or is there a different process normally used for doing this?

    • You can do that if you have each loop wired only to one transformer. You can also wire both loops to both transformers and use toggle switches to control the blocks. This will allow you to control either loop with either transformer and when running between them your train won’t change speed or direction.

  8. I have a two loop system. I have two mrc600s one hooked up to each loop so that I can run the trains independently. I removed the center pins and installed an insulator pin where the interconnecting switches meet.I left the factory insulated pins in place as well as the metal common rail pin. When I power up the loops the connecting 0-22 switches shutter back and forth. I placed the constant power supply plug in the switches and the shuttering stopped. The transformers each have a constant power supply that I was going to use for accessories including the switch power. How do I wire this layout to operate correctly.

  9. If I want to drop feeders on a long siding pass that is isolated with toggle switches at the two points where it joins the main line, do I need an additional power source just for the siding pass? or else how can I feed this section?

  10. I have an O-36 oval within an O-48 oval connected by switches, all FasTrack. I want to be able to run two trains, one in each oval independent of the other, with a CW-80 on one oval and a 1033 on the other. I plan on using a 6-12073 1-3/8 track as a gap between the switches to separate the loops. Will I have any issues or limitations as a train move from one loop to the other?

  11. BIG QUESTION about wiring a Block
    My new layout has a large (16′ x 8′) outer oval with a slightly smaller inner figure eight. They connect together through two turnouts. However, they both use the top of the figure eight as common track. How do I wire the “common track” so I can run two trains ? I can’t add track to avoid the common track because of the 54″ radius curves I need.

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