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wiring question & thanks

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wiring question & thanks
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 8, 2002 12:43 PM
As mentioned in two prior postings,my proposed layout will be a small switching layout(12"x48") with only one engine. The layout will not be divided into blocks so will it be necessary to use insulated rail connectors? Can I get away with just wiring directly from main rail connector to the transformer and run the train without causing a short when the train is switched from one track to another?
I would also like to add that this is one of the best forums that I have ever been to . Those of you that answered my two other postings were not only helpful but very polite and this is greatly appreciated. Other forums that I have gone to for other kinds of help the people tended to be a little on the rude side with their replies and this to me is not the way to treat people. So again thanks for all the help.- Bob
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 8, 2002 5:42 PM
Bob - You might get away with not using insulated joiners, but shouldn't you plan for the future? When the "little loco in the window" catches your eye, you'll have more than one engine. For now you could wire the blocks together, without controlling switches, then deal with the rest if the time comes.
Depending on the kind of turnouts you use, you could get away with just running one pair of wires to the rails. But you would get more reliable power to the rails if you used a bus and feeders.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, March 8, 2002 10:18 PM
Bob,

First, I think it would be wise for you to wire it for blocks and connect it all to the main power pack. Then later you could change it to multi-cab operation with little fuss.

I can't tell you if you can do without blocks without knowing two things. Are you using 'All Live' turnouts or 'Power Routing' turnouts? Atlas turnouts are 'All Live' and would be the type to use if you don't want to wire it for blocks. You almost have to wire a layout for blocks when you use 'Power Routing' turnouts. Next, does your plan include any kind of reversing section? If it does, you will have to include some blocks to take care of that problem.

Good Luck - Ed
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Posted by snowey on Saturday, March 9, 2002 1:12 AM
this is up to you, but you sound like a beginner, so I would recomend NOT using power-routing turnouts, use all-live ones instead. Power-routing ones have a metal frog (a frog is where the rails go through one another), and an all-live turnout has a plastic frog, so the rails are insulated, and you won't get a short circut. It's also easier to wire your layout for one-train operation. When I first laid my track, I used the power-routing turnouts simply because they look more realistic, but I ran into all sorts of wiring problems, so I replaced them with all-live turnouts, & haven't had a problem since then! On my new layout, I'm using all-live turn outs, & so far,so gooD! Also, despite what others may say, you don't HAVE to use the bus-and-feeder method for relilabilaty in your track. You can solder the rail joints or, just crimp the rail joiners, with a pair of pliers. But, about your original question, yes, you can run power from the main power supply to the track, without using insulated joiners IF you only want to run one train. A good book about all this, and wiring in genral, is "EASY MODEL RAILROAD WIRING" from Kalmbach
"I have a message...Lt. Col....Henry Blakes plane...was shot down...over the Sea Of Japan...it spun in...there were no survivors".
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, March 9, 2002 9:46 AM
Thanks for the reply. I am a beginner in the sense that I have been away from the hobby for around 10 years. I have a small space and limited funds so I have to work with what I have. This is why the layout will be the size I stated and there are no plans to expand it. I really just want something that switch a couple of cars in and out of a couple of sidings. The track and switches are Atlas brass snap track with #4 switches.Sorry if I did not include this info in the posting.
Thanks agaain for the help. Bob
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 12, 2002 2:14 PM
Ed and Joe,

I have just designed a large layout (68 x 13) and the design allows for 3 train operation. I am getting into the design and implementation of benchwork and wiring. Plus, I would like to design a control panel for my layout, but I have 147 switches to monitor due to having a large railyard in the layout... What books and guides do you two recommend since wiring is a bit over my head. Keep in mind I also plan to use DCC for control of trains and such. Any fancy wiring terminology will go right over my head, so please keep it simple. LOL! Not that I am a dummy or anything-I am a computer technician/PC Repair specialist, but I honestly have no clue when it comes to wiring the track, lights, signals, switches, etc. The only bus terminology I know is in Networking computers. Hahaha. And what is a block, when you guys refer to "making blocks"?

Thanks in advance...

-Wolv33
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 12, 2002 9:37 PM
Wolfy,

Wow! You are quite ambitious. I don't expect to have that many turnouts (switches) in my entire layout when it is done.

I recommend you read the following books before you drive any screws or cut any lumber ... How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork published by Kalmbach, Easy Model Railroad Wiring by Andy Sperandeo, Track Planning for Realistic Operation by John Armstrong, and How to Operate Your Model Railroad by Bruce Chub. The first book will be helpful for obvious reasons. The second book describs what you need to know to do 'Two-Rail' wiring for a layout. Even though you plan to use DCC the book by Andy Sperandeo is helpful in providing understanding for all electrical needs for a model railroad. You will need to get a book on DCC and I have no recommendations there. The book on Track Planning will help you make good decisions and plans for your model empire and the book on Operations is also filled with information you may use to get the most of your modeling experience.

As for blocks:
Two-rail wiring is used on many layouts to control trains independently. This is possible because model locomotives (HO that is) are DC. If one rail on your layout is attached to 'ground' (called the 'common rail'), then supplying a voltage to the other rail makes the train move. If the voltage is high, the train moves forward; if low the train moves backwards. By dividing the other rail into discrete sections using insulated rail joiners, engines on different sections of the track may by controlled independently. Each discrete section of the track is called a 'block'. By running a power wire from the discrete rail to an electrical switch and then from the switch to the power pack, each block of track may be turned on or off AND/OR connected to one or another power pack.

You say you are a computer guy, so think of it like this ... Hook up a printer to an A-B switch and connect the two inputs of the A-B switch to two different computers. This is exactly how Two-Rail block control wiring works. Each computer represents a power pack. The A-B switch is an electrical switch which selects which power pack is currently attached to a given block of track. The printer represents a block of track. The computer attached to the printer has command over the printer until the A-B switch is selected to the other computer.

In two-rail block control wiring, you just have more A-B switches (as many as you decide to have blocks) and you provide a switch and a power feeder wire to every block. There are special situations where you need to know more, but that is the concept. Andy Sperandeo's book will teach you what you need to know.

I believe you will still need to know about blocks to have a DCC layout and that is another reason to read the book. It also mentions other electrical subjects like signals and block detection I believe.

I think I have gone on a bit long here. Let me know if you have any more questions. Good Luck - Ed
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, March 13, 2002 3:58 AM
Hi Ed,

As in all my posts, you have helped tremendously!!

I am going to the library tomorrow and get some of those books. I also have a few waiting for me at my local bookstore. I hope to have my layout in operation by September or October. I ran into a snag with the size of the layout though. Even using a 14 x 70 foot stripped mobile home trailer, doesnt give much room to maneuver around in. When I added my mainline and industry sidings and spurs, the total came to 68ft x 13ft... So I am either going to have to cut some of it down (thank God I havent built anything yet) or get a larger trailer--80 x 16 would be okay. LOL!

When you mentioned the computer analogy, I was able to follow you more clearly. Thanks a heap!

Do you have an email I could contact you at Ed? Maybe I could send you my Atlas RTS track design and you could take a look at it. I have other posts on here for more questions. Well, thanks again! I DO appreciate all your help! I saved your text to a file so I can reference it when needed.

-Wolv33
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, March 13, 2002 12:35 PM
Wolfy,

I don't post my e-mail address. I'm certain you understand. If you post yours I will send you an e-mail and we can talk. I also don't have any train design software, so you may have to fax me a copy of your plan to review. I'll be happy to offer comments. If you have a website where I could view the plan I would go there and check it out.

I feel your pain. I don't have any dedicated space for a layout so I have started one for my son on a hinged 4x8 sheet. The only guy I ever met with enough space owned a hobby shop and had a metal building out back where his model railroad club would meet. It was at least 30 ft x 40 ft and had two levels with walkways and everything. Seeing that layout was one of the events that hooked me for life.

Incidently, I am not sure if the book by Bruce Chub is still in print. You may have some trouble locating it but it is worth the trouble. I bought mine over seven years ago for $20.

Good Luck - Ed
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, March 14, 2002 7:18 AM
Hi Ed,

Well a lot of things have happened since I posted a reply to you. I pretty much scrapped the entire layout design and started over. I didn't have enough radius track to make the 70 and 80 foot cars work on my mainline. I was using 15 and 80 radius track, and the most I would get out of it would be 50 foot car operation.

So, I redesigned just the mainline to utilize 24 radius track and flextrack where needed. My only quandry now is turnouts. Anyhow, here is my email. I don't have a problem posting it, since I can fix pretty much anything that is sent at me (virus or spam-wise)

I looked at my design once again, and the only thing I am not happy with now is the fact that the doubletrack is not exactly the same distance between each of the tracks all the time. Oh well.

Thanks for everything, and I hope to be hearing from ya soon.

-Wolv33
wolv33@softhome.net

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