Introduction to Model Railroad Wiring and Electronics

Xuron® Model 450 TweezerNose™ Pliers

Xuron® model railroad wiring tools are designed for the hobbyist, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out.

From wire stripper to pliers, flush cutters and track cutters, Xuron Corp. offers what you need to make your layout look great and be fully functional.

Tools and Skills Required for Model Railroad Wiring

Tom’s Corner: Tips, techniques and commentary from Master Model Railroader Tom Piccirillo

Tom Piccirillo Author and Master Model RailroaderIn recent years, the most-exciting model railroad innovation has been in the field of electronic control. Micro-size components allow the installation of incredibly sophisticated circuits inside small-scale locomotives. These circuits not only allow individual control of trains on the same track, but also provide realistic sounds that emanate right from the locomotive itself. The resulting realism creates a whole new dimension to model railroading.

Installation and/or maintenance of these micro-circuits still falls to the model railroader, and he finds himself having to deal with micro-size wiring and component replacement when something needs repair or replacement.

Full-size tools for house wiring are simply too bulky for use on models, but Xuron Corp. manufactures small precision hand tools to help with model railroad wiring and layout tasks.

Cutting & Stripping Model Railroad Wire

Wires need to be cut to length and stripped of insulation at the connection point. To avoid nicking the wire strands, precise control of the cutter opening is required. Only a precision tool will do the job correctly, and Xuron Corp. has just the right one for the job . . . the model 501 Adjustable Wire Stripper/Cutter.

V-shaped, razor-sharp cutting edges are controlled by a thumbwheel and take the guesswork out of setting the right size for the wire being stripped.

This is a toolbox staple for all hobbyists. It quickly and easily strips and cuts wire sizes 10-26 AWG (2.56 mm – .405 mm) and includes a full bypass cutter for added versatility.

Precision Pliers

Model railroad wiring is a delicate and precise process that requires careful attention to the smallest of details. It’s also an ideal match for precision instruments like Xuron 450 (smooth jaws) and 450S (serrated) TweezerNose™ Pliers. The extra-fine tips of these pliers grab component leads without disturbing adjacent components and reach into tight locations, making placement easier than ever before.

Model railroad wiring components are easily placed with the Xuron® Model 450 TweezeNose™ Pliers.
Xuron® Model 450 TweezeNose™ Pliers being used for component placement on an electronic printed circuit board

Flush Cutter

Component leads protrude from the solder-side of the printed circuit board and usually need to be trimmed after soldering. The Xuron #410 Micro Shear® Flush Cutter does the job quickly and easily.

This all-purpose cutter is rated for soft wire up to 18 AWG (1 mm), and is a perfect choice for cutting electronics wire.

Xuron® Model 410 Micro-Shear® Flush Cutter in use.
Xuron® Model 410 Micro-Shear® Flush Cutter trimming printed circuit board component lead wire

Wiring a Model Railroad Includes Desoldering

Removing electronic components from printed circuit boards requires “desoldering” component leads. This is best accomplished by soaking up melted solder with a copper braid designed specifically for this task.

Model railroad wiring and electronics do not have to be complicated or difficult as long as you have the correct tools and some helpful direction.

Xuron Corporation has a wide variety of model railroad tools to help you make your layout look great and be fully functional. Download our hobby/craft product brochure to see our full selection. Xuron® tools can be found at your local hobby shop or online through your favorite hobby retailer.

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Tom Piccirillo

Tom Piccirillo started building scale models at age 12 after discovering a copy of the April 1964 issue of Model Railroader magazine for sale at a local corner store. After receiving his degree in mechanical engineering in 1974, he pursued a management career in well-known industries, such as Burroughs Corporation and Ohaus Scale, and holds patents on electronic connectors. His most-recent tenure was president of Micro-Mark where, for 24 years, he developed and marketed ingenious tools for builders of scale models. Tom is a prolific author and has written many how-to articles for the hobby press, including Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman, The NG&SL Gazette, Fine Scale Modeler, Dollhouse Miniatures, and Great Model Railroads. In 2009, Tom earned his Master Model Railroader certification, and has been awarded the Paul Mallery Trophy for model building excellence. Currently a member of the Hobby Manufacturers Association, Tom consults for major USA and international producers of tool and hobby products, providing editorial and photographic services in addition to Marketing Analytics. He is perhaps best-known for the construction and operation of the O scale Somerset County Traction System, which he has described not only in magazines, but also on Public Television. Tom is also former-president of The New Jersey Live Steamers, where he operates his home-workshop-built 1/12th scale locomotives and cars. He is restoring an antique Mercedes-Benz automobile, and is an accomplished jazz rhythm guitarist.


  1. Robie MacDonald says

    Thank you for the quality information . I attend the Amherst Railroad Show each year. I seen your booth in past years and will you be there in Jan 18? Also will you have tools there for sale?? The 450 and 450 S . As I traval down from Canada, it is much easier to pick them up at the show. Thanks. Robie MacDonald

  2. Keith Adam says

    I appreciate you providing such a detailed and in-depth description of the wiring and electronics in model railroads. I concur that effective wiring is a crucial part of a functional model railroad. Regardless of the precise configuration, I want to use, I learn how to wire it properly.

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