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Automotive wire

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  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Automotive wire
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:21 AM
Hello, I am new to this buisness and have I'm sure a stupid question.  I am building an HO layout for my two boys that travels around the upper walls of their rooms.  It tunnels through two walls. My track is going to be attached directly to plexy glass so that is will be visible no matter how little you are.  The plexy glass is supported every 16in. by home made ceder supports.  I know that auto wire is more plyable and would be easier to manipulate than house wire.  My goal is to hide as much of the wiring as possible.  I was wondering if anybody wires their layout with automotive wire?  Thank you for any input.
  • Member since
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  • From: Orig: Tyler Texas. Lived in seven countries, now live in Sundown, Louisiana
  • 25,640 posts
Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:47 AM
 Fire3240 wrote:
  I was wondering if anybody wires their layout with automotive wire?
Guilty. I've been using automotive wire for the track and accessory wiring on my layouts for many years. There's nothing wrong with using it.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
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  • From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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Posted by cacole on Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:08 AM
Speaker wire from Wal-mart, K-mart, etc. would probably be cheaper, and it has a clear plastic insulation that would not be as obvious as automotive wire.
  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Kansas
  • 808 posts
Posted by jamnest on Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:15 AM

I use 12ga stranded "house wire" for my layout DCC buss wire.  My layout runs around the walls of a 30' x 60' basement.  I purchased 500' contractor spools of red and back wire from Lowes as it was much less expensive.

I use 18ga stranded "automotive" wire for jumpers to the track.  I buy it as I need it and usually find the best price in the automotive section of Walmart.  The issue is not "house wire" versus "automotive wire", but the guage of the wire that you are using.

Jim, Modeling the Kansas City Southern Lines in HO scale.

  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Colorful Colorado
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Posted by Texas Zepher on Thursday, March 13, 2008 2:07 PM
 Fire3240 wrote:
I was wondering if anybody wires their layout with automotive wire? 
Yes, but generally automotive wire is larger than needed and BRIGHTER than what you are after.  I would find dull colored wires (speaker wire from Target or Wally World as others have suggested) of smaller gauge and run them down through the ceder supports so they are not visible at all.
  • Member since
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  • From: Southwest US
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Thursday, March 13, 2008 7:12 PM

As far as conducting electricity is concerned, wire is wire is wire.  Whether it was originally meant to be used to wire houses, automobiles, aircraft, communications systems or the space shuttle is of no consequence.  The things that ARE of consequence are:

  • (For any application) Is it the right size?
  • (For your specific application) How easy is it to hide?

As I understand your situation, you would like your wiring to be as unobtrusive as possible.  To that end, go with speaker wire (with transparent insulation) for the rail drops, and heavier wire for your power busses.  The rail drops can be brought down through the brackets or next to them.  The power busses can be run right against the wall, where they will be visually disconnected from the track.

Since your requirements are diametrically opposite mine (the track I am currently building is destined to be hidden once scenery installation begins, and my electricals are quite complex) I will not mention my methods of installation.

Chuck (modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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