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Installing a track bus: Early questions (Updated 2/18)

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  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Vail, AZ
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Posted by Vail and Southwestern RR on Saturday, February 9, 2008 11:50 AM

I'd be a bit concerned that Gorilla Glue might eat the foam, so I'd be careful there.  I'd rather run a wood strip somewhere, you'll want to be able to screw the terminals down tight.

Jeff But it's a dry heat!

  • Member since
    January 2008
  • From: Central Georgia
  • 921 posts
Posted by Johnnny_reb on Saturday, February 9, 2008 8:27 AM
As you already have your layout supported by a 1x3 frame and it only 4x8 I assume that you have two or more braces running from side to side and the wire is not that heavy. (double-00 welding cable is) Using "Gorilla Glue" should do a fine job. Use masking tape to hold the wirers in place while the glue dries. Or you could even use the masking tape to do the job in the first place. Then just screw the terminal strips to the support 1x3's and your done. Use the feed wires that you already have just add the bus.

Johnnny_reb Once a word is spoken it can not be unspoken!

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  • Member since
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  • From: Metro East St. Louis
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Posted by simon1966 on Saturday, February 9, 2008 7:51 AM

Tom, you do realize that we will be expecting photos and that everyone will expect this wiring job to be incredibly neat!

Terminal strips will introduce negligible resistance, nothing that you should be concerned about.

I prefer to anchor my terminal strips to something more solid.  How about adding some additional 1x3 joists so you can attach the strips to them?

Don't forget the drinking straw method of poking feeders through the foam.  1 1/2" of foam has the potential of being frustrating when it comes time to feed the feeders!


Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site and our videos at

  • Member since
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  • From: Northeast OH
  • 16,196 posts
Installing a track bus: Early questions (Updated 2/18)
Posted by tstage on Friday, February 8, 2008 11:44 PM

After nearly 4 years of running my 4 x 8 empire with only 2 small wires (3 of those years with DCC), I'm confronted with the fact that I need to start looking into installing a real track bus to power my layout.  What particular impetus has lead me to start investigating this new endeavor, you ask?  Two words: Power frogs.

Let me back up a moment, if I may.  My roster is made up of 2-8-2s, 0-8-0s, an FT and F3, and a couple of short wheel-based, 4-axle diesel switchers.  Up until this past December, I had been using Atlas Code 83 "Snap" turnouts on my layout - with very few problems.  However, desiring a little more realism, I decided that I wanted to replace my Snap turnouts for some slightly larger turnouts.

First, I tried some Atlas #4s.  However, because of some dissatisfaction with the operation of the Atlas #4 turnouts with my P2K 0-8-0 and Trix 2-8-2 (derailment and shorting), I looked into and bought some Fast Track (FT) #4.5 turnouts off of eBay.  These particular FT turnouts come already wired for power-routing or live frogs.  With my assortment of short wheel-based switchers, it makes more sense to go with the live frogs so that I don't run into stalling problems.

Since I'm planning on having manual throws for my turnouts, I picked up some Caboose Industries 220S ground throws, that come with the 3-pronged contact for power-routing.  With a helpful diagram from the Fast Tracks web site, the realization began to set in that a track bus was essential, if I was going to do this thing right.  I thought to myself, "Hey, no problem.  I had wanted to eventually put one in anyhow." Smile [:)]

So, I've been studying several references - both in book-form and DVD - and have come to the conclusion that I want to use 14ga wire for my track bus and 22ga for my track feeders.  I also like the idea of connecting my track bus and track feeders to my layout via terminal strips, for easier installation and trouble-shooting purposes.  However, I do have a couple of intial questions that I'm hoping some of you wiring experts might be able to answer for me.

  1. How much resistance does a terminal strip add to a track bus?  Is this a concern?
  2. What's the best method of securing a terminal strip to extrude foam?

My layout is 4 x 8 and built on 1-1/2" thick extrude foam insulation.  The foam is then encased in a 1 x 3 frame and supported underneath with 1 x 3 joists laid flat.  (See picture below)

The way I'm figuring that I'll end up having to wire the layout, some of the terminals are going to be hung off the underside of the foam base.

Would latex caulk be strong enough to hold the weight of a longer terminal strip?  Or, would I need to use something stronger, like Gorilla glue?  Since the track goes along the edge of two sides of my layout, I might be able to add corner braces that I could screw the terminal strips to, along with the joists.  Do any other ideas come to mind that I've overlooked?

Thanks for the help.  My hope is that this thread might come in handy for someone else who maybe starting to contemplate how they might best wire their layout for DCC.


Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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