Wire reverse loop on your layout

Dave has been in touch with a question that comes up alot – how to wire reverse loops?

And Bill from Virginia’s been back in touch – with another scenenery ‘how to’.

But let’s start with Dave.

“Here are 5 pics of the layout and a diagram.

Sorry for the mess but I’m trying to ballast the outside loop.

The problem is the reverse loops and how I should wire them. I have NCE as my DCC control although I have it running on the outside loop via DC right now.

I understand I need to insulate blocks or districts, but do I continue to wire the track the same within the district ( Blue wire on the north rail, white wire on the south rail) and use a module for seamless transition?

I do not want to use a DPDT switch if at all possible.



reverse loop track

reverse loop track layout

outside reverse loop

HO track reverse loop

HO track layout

HO scale track plan

And Des has sent in this scenery tip:


The dried foilage is the winter blooms off cattail plants found in wetland areas.


model railroad scenery

Now on to Bill – If you missed his last ‘how to’, it’s here.

Now have a look at how he gets the details into these trees:

“Greetings Al

I had a lot of fun putting the how to’s together for the pine tree build. I created a video for the furnace filter pine trees I showed a picture of in the ‘How To’.

I’m hoping modelers that give it a try and send in pictures of there results. Quick, easy and fun.


Bill in Virginia”

That’s all for this time peeps.

Please do leave a comment below if you can help Dave with his reverse loop.

Please do keep ’em coming. My inbox is looking a bit sad and lonely at the mo.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

21 Responses to Wire reverse loop on your layout

  1. Colin says:

    NCE should offer a Reversing Module which will automatically change polarity as required so no need for a manual switch

  2. Ruud de Sterke says:

    Dear Dave,

    As far as I can see, you are using a 2rail system. With the layout as shown in the diagram, you will for sure get electrical problems, no matter whether you use analogue DC or DCC to power the track. You need to have tome parts insulated and use a so called turning loop switch to get things going.

    If you need more info, you can always contact me.

    Kind regards,

    Ruud de Sterke

  3. Peter Waring says:

    Bill, love the tutorial on tree making, I’ll have to give it a go. Many thanks, Peter…

  4. Robert Brady says:

    Dave, love the train station and the track array leading in and out of the elevaded station . I also have that Walthers kit.. Keep us updated.
    The Critic

  5. Alan Tarpey says:

    Hi Bill I like the layout and it appears to give loads of potential for running locos. I was wondering what the dimensions of the layout are.

  6. Get an Automatic reverse controller (Digitrax has the AR1 @ $25) 1. Isolate a section. 2 Wire to the controller and then wire controller to your layout. Automatically reverses polarity and unit uses track power with no separate power supply needed

  7. Dwight in Toronto says:

    Dave … I’ve got four Digitrax AR1 reverse controllers on my N-scale layout. For the most part, they work really well with my NCE dcc system, but there are occasional breaker trip events. Regardless, upon examining your track plan, I think it may need some simplification, even with using reverse controllers. I couldn’t really discern where or how you would be able to handle the reverse loops and the wye, and other problems that they might entail. As I say, I really think that you need to untangle some of that spaghetti, so to speak, in order to avoid some pending frustration and grief. Let us know how you make out.

  8. Greg says:

    Hi Bill, I have a NCE system, and use the Digitrax AR1 auto reverser. I have 4 of them, and they work great. Have fun with your build.

  9. Erick says:

    Nice work!!!!!!

  10. Keith Carey says:

    Your layout is awesome….except, if you brought the yard down from the transverse track, you would have more room to the yard…it would run parallel to that spur servicing a potential building or two. I am still into laying track; as I added a shelf-loop; that can be continuous running of a passenger train….but, wiring? I am using a BUS 18 gage for no more than 3.5 amps so I do not burn out the Atlas switch motors….and 18 and 20 gage for the drops every 4 – 6 feet…..write more of what you are doing, okay? Thanks, Keith Carey

  11. Kai Willadsen says:

    Recommend to watch the track kink where the diverging track joins the turnout – seems quite visible at a couple of places 🙁

  12. TRAIN-TECH have Automstic reversing loop system

  13. Keith wheatley says:

    Fantastic video Bill. Can’t wait for the deciduous tree video. Good work. Keith from Ontario

  14. Charles Mile says:

    It’s a realy exiting layout. I like layouts with ability to turn back tha train vithout to changing the lokomotiv from front to bottom ends. This layout is very good. It has two turnbacking from the both directsions. Congratuelation.
    Charles from Hungary

  15. robert schildgen says:

    Bill, I see at least one rev loop on the far left side. Cut both tracks completely as the tracks come out of the switch, 4 cuts, and add an AR1 Rev loop controller. You have lots of switch options which make it difficult to determine any other rev loops on the layout. You will find them when you operate trains. Every rev loop needs an AR1. Start by coloring your main tracks and see if there is any way to come back to that track with any switch postions. I would simplify the switch options. good luck from bob

  16. don kadunc says:

    How long can the reverse loop be without voltage drop problems?

  17. Jim Landing says:

    Looks great!

  18. ted perotka says:

    i had the same trouble just insulated the loop both rails and powered from another power pack

  19. Dave H from Washington... the other Washington. says:

    Bill, just wanted to add my 2 cents in about your trees. They look amazingly life-like when compared to our trees in the Pacific Northwest. I see many of your trees looking out my backyard windows.

    Great job.

  20. Neal (form Cape Cod) says:

    Dave, Thank you for including a track diagram. As a modeler who’s passion is operating, and who is currently designing his new layout, I wish more people would include their track layout in their posts.

  21. Dan Kragnes says:

    Hi Dave
    As already stated on the comments, just install the DigiTrax AR one to reverse a loop. Follow the instructions that come with it and everything should be fine. I have four of them on my layout and they all work great. Good luck. Dan.

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