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

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Posted by ChrisNH on Thursday, February 21, 2008 9:03 AM

I would be consider using white glue. It would be easy to pull up the terminal strip if you had to and would not attack the foam. If it was stubborn you could release it with a little water (after turning the booster OFF!). It might not grip as tight as some other adhesives, but I would rather have my terminal strip popoff the foam then have my wires torn out if it got pulled on for some reason.

I solderered rather then use terminal strips for my bus to my feeders, I only use a terminal strip as a barrier between the bus and the booster, so I can't really comment what effect your method would have. If I had sub-busses I would use terminal strips but only to make it easier to troubleshoot.

Chris 

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Posted by jbinkley60 on Thursday, February 21, 2008 4:18 AM

 

Tom,

I generally determine the number of blocks based upon two criteria:  the maximum number of running locomotives I will have in a block along with the amount of current they will draw and breaking up the layout into reasonable fault domains to troubleshoot abnormal conditions.  On my 11' x 12' layout I went with 9 blocks.  Probably overkill but it will allow me flexibility for the future in case new things come along that require additional power.  I won't have to rewire anything.  The other advantage of this method is that it reduces the need for the longer monolithic track buses where many folks suggest 12 ga bus wiring.   With 9 blocks I didn't use a lot of large wire because the runs were shorter because the blocks were smaller and the distance to get back to the protection circuits and boosters was greatly reduced.

Having said this, I have a yard on my layout that is a main yard and an engine servicing area.  I broke it up into two blocks, mainly because I might have 10-12 locomotives in the enginer servicing area and I wanted to provide more total power to the area.  Even with this I went with a minimum number of gaps.  I generally like to gap the entrance to the yard before the first switch.  I don't see an advantage of gapping each yard track on the yard side of the switches, especially if you are using power routing turnouts.  You'll already be gapping them.  For me I went with insulated frog and just ran a set of block feeders to each yard track and gapped before the main turnout.  I like to keep things simple.  Follwoing thism approach on your layout and using the top diagram I would gap just tp the right of the 3-1 turnout and gap 3-4 like you have it shown.  The only question is seperate blocks or wire them as one block ?  I am not sure one track necessitates spending the $40 or so for separate block protection.   

As for the question on the tail light issue with NCE, I can't comment on it.  It may be a timing  or trip current issue.  I have 3 Digitrax boosters and use Tony's Power Shields.  There was a little setup with this getting the trip current and timing adjusted but it works pretty flawless right now.

 

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
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Posted by tstage on Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:12 PM
bump...Any input?

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Posted by tstage on Monday, February 18, 2008 1:26 PM
 jbinkley60 wrote:
 tstage wrote:

Jeff,

Thanks for the feedback and confirmation.  Short protection is something that I'll have/need to look into.

Tom

For a layout of this size, Joe's taillight method would probbaly work great.  It also would provide protection against a short causing any equipment or turnout damage.

Jeff,

It's seems I remember reading somewhere that the #1156 taillight short protection/detection may not work with the Smart Booster (SB3) set up because the SB3s short detection kicks in before the bulb has a chance to light up.  I may have to run that one past the folks on the NCE-DCC Yahoo! group forum to verify that.  Anyhow, that's what I remember.

If the taillight method won't work for me, NCE does make the EB3 module that will provide short detection for up to three power districts; exactly how many that I'm figuring to have on my layout. 

 

Unfortunately, it won't be as inexpensive as the taillight method.

Tom

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Posted by tstage on Monday, February 18, 2008 12:10 PM

I'm looking at understanding the best way to gap turnouts in order to create separate blocks in the yard ladder:

Click piture to enlarge

1. Is it better to gap a turnout and yard track together, as pictured above in turnouts 3-1 & 3-2?

Or...

Click piture to enlarge

2. Is it better to have each yard track gapped separate from the turnout, as pictured in turnouts 3-1 thur 3-4?  Turnouts 3-5 would then be their own track block and be electrically connected to one another.

Or...

3. Is it better to have all turnouts isolated from one another for debugging purposes?

Or...

4. Does is really matter

I can see advantages and disadvantages to each way.  Obviously, the first way would create one less track block to have to wire.  However, the second way would allow you to turn power off to individual yard tracks without disrupting flow through the turnouts.  In either case, yard track 3-4 would be isolated from the wye turnout because it's connected to and part of the passing siding.

Anyhow, thanks for your insights and the education.

Tom

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Posted by jbinkley60 on Sunday, February 17, 2008 4:11 AM
 tstage wrote:

Jeff,

Thanks for the feedback and confirmation.  Short protection is something that I'll have/need to look into.

Tom

For a layout of this size, Joe's taillight method would probbaly work great.  It also would provide protection against a short causing any equipment or turnout damage.

 

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Posted by tstage on Saturday, February 16, 2008 8:50 PM

Jeff,

Thanks for the feedback and confirmation.  Short protection is something that I'll have/need to look into.

Tom

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Posted by jbinkley60 on Saturday, February 16, 2008 6:53 PM

 

Tom,

 I looked at your diagram and it looks fine for power routing.  The only issue you may have is that if a locomotive enters the turnout from either the divering or normal legs of the turnout and the ground throw is set in the wrong direction, then you run the risk of the wheels bridging either the insulator or rail gaps and thus causing a direct short.  I don't know what type of short circuit protection you are using.   I personally don't use power routing and stick with insulated frogs.  I've never had any issues or complicated wiring to deal with on over 40 turnouts.

 

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Posted by tstage on Saturday, February 16, 2008 9:57 AM
 CandO Fan wrote:

I have a couple of Questions

Which DCC system are you using ?

What does that system say about using a closed loop buss wire ?

Sorry about taking so long to respond to your questions, Terry.

I'm using the NCE Power Cab with a Smart Booster (SB3).  I won't be using a "closed" loop bus.  All the ends will terminate somewhere.

Tom

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Posted by tstage on Saturday, February 16, 2008 9:43 AM

Hi All, 

After some reading and studying, I've come up with the following wiring diagram for wiring up two (2) opposing "power-routing" turnouts (crossover) using CI 220S ground throws:

Click picture to enlarge or click link

This would be similar to the area in the boxed section in the track plan below:

Click picture to enlarge or click link

Does the wiring seem correct to you?  The track after each turnout will also be gapped (see arrows in first diagram) so that I can create separate blocks for possible track detection/signaling later.  (Maybe a bit ambitious on my part. Whistling [:-^])

It finally occured to me that I was going about this all wrong.  I needed to understand how to wire a turntout (or set of turnouts) FIRST before trying to put together a diagram on how to run a track bus around my entire layout. Dunce [D)]

I'm now beginning to understand why they say that there's a lot more wiring involved with power-routing turnouts vs. insulfrog turnouts.  Even so, I'm going to enjoy the learning process...even if it kills me. Laugh [(-D]

Tom

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Posted by RoadCopper on Saturday, February 16, 2008 6:47 AM

Flamer [and Blue Hills]: You both had the same type of idea and guess what - I am in a new subdivision with lots of construction about to start and the local builder's service manager is also my neighbour so my "sources" just increased - maybe even with some scrap lumber for bench work if they will let me take it.

"Great ideas come from need".

Thanks to both for your suggestions. 

 

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Posted by Blue Flamer on Friday, February 15, 2008 11:52 AM
 RoadCopper wrote:

Tom: How appropriately timed!

Your comment was perfect: "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. Tom"

I am back to the hobby after many years and bought my first strands of 14ga stranded bus wire for a test bench [as my starting point so I get the hang of wiring and soldering and feeders etc....] and stands of 20ga for the feeders.

Had some touble finding wire. Got only standed 14 ga at Home Depot. The other problem was getting 22 or 22ga wire at Home Depot? Being in Canada, anyone have suggestions where to go for wire at a good price? The guy at HD said to take telephone 22g 4-wire strands and split it open. Cheaper that way?? So I will try it. 

I am designing my layout in my mind with scribbles on paper and am nowhere ndear to where you are. 

My biggest fear is the turnout wiring - insulated or not and where do I go from here.

Good luck with your layout and hope to hear from others on my questions too. 

RoadCopper.

The telephone wire works perfectly as far as I am concerned. You get 4 colour coded wires inside one sheath. You can use two of the colour codes for all your feeder drops through your base and cut off the other two wires. Leave the outside sheath on from where it comes through the bottom of the base to your connection point on your Bus or to a junction block. That keeps your wireing nice and neat. I use Phone Cable clips to hold the wires in place under the layout. You can also use the same wire for wireing your  powered switch machines or for power routing frogs by using 3 of the wires to your turnout controller or Caboose ground throws. Just remember to tag the wires as to whether they are FEEDERS or other wireing runs as you install them.

You can get this type of wire by the foot at Home Depot or if you are thrifty, (read CHEAP) like me, do what I did. This past summer, the City came and repaved our street and installed new sidewalks. (First time in 35 - 40 years). Even though OneCall came and marked all underground services, (Bell Phone, water, gas, hydro) the workers managed to rip out my next door neighbours phone line EXACTLY where it was marked and the phone Co. had to run a temp. line  overhead to my house and tie in to our line. This was left for about 3 weeks until all work was completed. When they came and put in the new underground line to next door, they removed the temp. line from overhead, (about 75' to 100') and threw it in a barrel on the truck. I asked the serviceman if they reused it and the answer was, "No, it's recycled as scrap". I asked him if I could have some to wire my MRR which I was just starting to wire. He pulled out the coil that he had just thrown into the barrel and a second coil at least as long, if not longer than the first and asked, "Is that enough? If not, help yourself". I thanked him and said that it would be plenty for my needs.

So if you see a Phone Co. Service truck on your travels, ask the serviceman if he has a  couple of decent scrap coils of phone wire  he could let you have to wire your MRR. It doesn't hurt to ask. Especially if you tend to be THRIFTY.

Good luck. 

Blue Flamer. 

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Posted by C&O Fan on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:45 PM

I have a couple of Questions

Which DCC system are you using ?

What does that system say about using a closed loop buss wire ?

 

TerryinTexas

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Posted by RoadCopper on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 8:38 PM
done and pm'd back at ya.
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Posted by BlueHillsCPR on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 6:44 PM

 RoadCopper wrote:
The other problem was getting 22 or 22ga wire at Home Depot? Being in Canada, anyone have suggestions where to go for wire at a good price? The guy at HD said to take telephone 22g 4-wire strands and split it open.

 RoadCopper,

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 8:36 AM

Thanks for the input everyone.  I'm understanding most of what is being said and suggested.  I will revise my plan and post sometime in the next day or two.

Simon, I drew the electrical plan in Word then sucked it into Paint so I could create a .jpg to post.  Crude but it works.

Tom

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 7:09 AM

Not very important on a 4x8, but if you plan for that puppy to grow, I have a suggestion.

You have made the bus longer than required.  If intead of running it completely around the perimiter, you ran it in both directions from the power supply and split it at the far end, the electrical path would be shorter.  If you are never going to expand, then you don't have to split it.  You can use a complete ring for power, but you cannot use a complete ring for "Loco-net".

Unless you are using more than one power supply, I would look to make the electrical path as short as possible, rather than running multiple busses.

On a 4x8, none of this will matter.  I just have a tendency to always plan for expansion.  Who knows what will occur to me in the future.  Whistling [:-^]

Dave

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Posted by simon1966 on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 6:40 AM

Tom, if your curves on the left and right are soldered flextrack then you really only need one set of feeders to the curves.  There is also a small spur on the lower right that does not have a set of feeders, I think it needs a set. 

My rule of thumb was that every piece of track be soldered to something for a direct solder connection to the power bus.  Either it is soldered to a pair of feeders, or an adjacent piece of track.  I insulate all spurs from the turnouts, so they always have their own set of feeders.

Nice electrical plan drawing by the way.

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by claycts on Monday, February 11, 2008 11:50 PM
 tstage wrote:
 Rotorranch wrote:
Are you soldering the rail together? If so, you can use less taps.

Rotor,

Thanks.  I forgot to mention that.  Since I'll be using 3' sections of flex-track, and each section will have it's own set of feeders, I will be soldering the sections of flex-track together.  The only exception will be the power-routed turnouts.  They will have two sets of the feeders.

I plan on doubling up on feeders as much as possible.  I'd also like to keep the feeders short, if I can.

On the mainline: Is it best to adhere the turnouts down first then install the flex-track inbetween those turnouts?  Thanks.

Tom

Tom when you SOLDER the track DO NOT solder them all together. You need to allow the track to move a little. I soldered the CURVES then installed them. Then I did every other Straight track section.

The SAFE way is to TACK the turnouts since they can not move around then build to them. I used push pins to hold the tunrouts. Another piece of advice is to start with the most COMPLEX trackwork then expand fom there. That trackwork can not move around so you have a base point to start with. I did mine that way and it worked out fine.

Take Care George Pavlisko Driving Race cars and working on HO trains More fun than I can stand!!!
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Posted by Rotorranch on Monday, February 11, 2008 11:10 PM
 tstage wrote:
 Rotorranch wrote:
Are you soldering the rail together? If so, you can use less taps.

Rotor,

Thanks.  I forgot to mention that.  Since I'll be using 3' sections of flex-track, and each section will have it's own set of feeders, I will be soldering the sections of flex-track together.  The only exception will be the power-routed turnouts.  They will have two sets of the feeders.

I plan on doubling up on feeders as much as possible.  I'd also like to keep the feeders short, if I can.

On the mainline: Is it best to adhere the turnouts down first then install the flex-track inbetween those turnouts?  Thanks.

Tom

Using two 3 foot sections soldered together means feeders or taps every 6 feet, max. Soldering the rails decreases the number of taps needed.

Electrically speaking, you really only need taps on each insulated, non-soldered rail section. Any more than that is overkill. Any soldered rail should be electrically one solid electrical circuit, theoretically.

Rotor

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Posted by tstage on Monday, February 11, 2008 10:50 PM
 Rotorranch wrote:
Are you soldering the rail together? If so, you can use less taps.

Rotor,

Thanks.  I forgot to mention that.  Since I'll be using 3' sections of flex-track, and each section will have it's own set of feeders, I will be soldering the sections of flex-track together.  The only exception will be the power-routed turnouts.  They will have two sets of the feeders.

I plan on doubling up on feeders as much as possible.  I'd also like to keep the feeders short, if I can.

On the mainline: Is it best to adhere the turnouts down first then install the flex-track inbetween those turnouts?  Thanks.

Tom

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Posted by howmus on Monday, February 11, 2008 10:26 PM
 claycts wrote:

The stranded wire will flex and not break under the table. You WILL bang into it and do other not so great things to it in the course of building. I drilled holes in my L Girders to pass the buss wire through it and being stranded I could pull the wire to my hearts content and not worry about kinking it. I got some CAT 5e wire from a job site and used that for the feeders. They work perfect and solder real nice and easy. Remember that CAT 5e is 8 conductor so if you get 4 feet you are getting (8) 4 foot pieces. Got and end of roll from Home Depot for $40.00 still have about 30 ft on it.

I think you would have to do an awful lot of damage to break (from flexing) # 14 solid wire.  If you broke the wire, I would hate to see the layout.......  I got mine (along with quite a bit of #12) from romex cable I had laying around the house. I have not had any problems with it at all and like the fact that it is not flexible under the layout.  It can be bent into any shape you want and it will stay put and was easy to use under the layout.  Different strokes for different folks I guess.  I really think that either would do the job fine.  The CAT 5 cable is great.  Wish I had some laying around back when I wired for DCC.

Ray Seneca Lake, Ontario, and Western R.R. (S.L.O.&W.) in HO

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Posted by Rotorranch on Monday, February 11, 2008 10:09 PM

Way too complicated. You are using too many terminal strips. Smile [:)]

It would be simpler to hook multiple feeders to the terminal strips.

It looks like you have 3 seperate blocks. All the feeders from a block can be pulled back to 2 terminals on a strip. That's 6 terminals for 3 blocks. I see 5 terminal strips, maximum, one on each wooden brace. Main bus "daisy chained" to each strip, the "feeders" or taps to the track from the strips.

Are you soldering the rail together? If so, you can use less taps.

Rotor

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Posted by claycts on Monday, February 11, 2008 9:54 PM
 howmus wrote:
 claycts wrote:

Feeders: Bus shall be STRANDED and Feeders Shall be Solid. 

George, I agree with everything else you said. Why?  I used solid for my main bus.  I see no advantage to using stranded for the main bus.  Six one half dozen the other.  I would be curious as to why you say Stranded for the Bus? 

The stranded wire will flex and not break under the table. You WILL bang into it and do other not so great things to it in the course of building. I drilled holes in my L Girders to pass the buss wire through it and being stranded I could pull the wire to my hearts content and not worry about kinking it. I got some CAT 5e wire from a job site and used that for the feeders. They work perfect and solder real nice and easy. Remember that CAT 5e is 8 conductor so if you get 4 feet you are getting (8) 4 foot pieces. Got and end of roll from Home Depot for $40.00 still have about 30 ft on it.

 

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Posted by tstage on Monday, February 11, 2008 9:12 PM

Thanks for the responses and the input everyone. Smile [:)]

Okay, here's my wiring diagram that I've come up with so far:

Click picture to enlarge or click the following link:

  • This is the view of the layout, as if you were lying on the floor underneath it and looking up.  (Sorry if it's a little difficult to read or decipher.)
  • Track bus #1 covers the mainline (green) and passing siding (olive).
  • Track bus #2 covers the secondary (angled) line - with the possibility of extension down to some future staging track area.
  • Track bus #3 covers both the Yard (red) and servicing (gray) track areas.
  • There are five (5) 1 x 3 joists supporting the foam top.  The way I figure it, there should be enough 1 x 3s to attach the terminal strips to them, and not to the foam.  (See diagram above)
  • I'm planning on having track feeders approx. every 3' or so.  I originally envisioned 22ga.  I may bump it up to 20 or 18ga.
  • Since the layout is only 4 x 8, I'm not sure yet if I'll go with circuit breakers or not.  I may - just for the practice and experience.
  • I did practice installing a 220S ground throw to a Fast Track turnout on a scrap piece of plywood.  Those ground throws really force the points against the side of the railing quite nicely. Approve [^]Thumbs Up [tup]
  • I'd like to install the ground throws on top of a piece of cork roadbed next to the turnouts.  I plan on using both latex caulk and track nails to adhere it to the foam top.  Any reason why it shouldn't hold well?

So, do you see in flaws in the diagram the way it's drawn?  Is there anything that I may have overlooked, or things I need to be aware of before tackling this?

Simon, I'll be sure to take pictures when I'm done.  Neatness is what I'm striving for.  We'll see. Smile [:)]  This is probably going to take me a while to accomplish.

Tom


UPDATE: Okay, just discovered one. Dunce [D)]  Each "power-routed" turnout needs to have two sets of track feeders: One set before the frog; the other after the frog.  (I don't have those drawn in.)  That means that I'll need some longer terminal strips in places.

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Posted by howmus on Monday, February 11, 2008 12:52 PM
 claycts wrote:

Feeders: Bus shall be STRANDED and Feeders Shall be Solid. 

George, I agree with everything else you said. Why?  I used solid for my main bus.  I see no advantage to using stranded for the main bus.  Six one half dozen the other.  I would be curious as to why you say Stranded for the Bus? 

Ray Seneca Lake, Ontario, and Western R.R. (S.L.O.&W.) in HO

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Posted by jrbernier on Sunday, February 10, 2008 9:21 PM

Tom,

  #14 wire is great for the main track bus, and I used stranded #18 for the actual feeders.  A careful solder job and they will not be seen.  I used Scotch Lock IDP connectors to attach the feeds to the main track bus.  I have 8 track bus sections and they all are terminated at terminal strips.  Since I have 2 boosters, and a pair of PM42's - All 8 bus sections are covered.  You can glue 1/8" Masonite to the underside of the foam with something like PL300 or any other 'foam safe' adhesive.  The terminal strips can then be attached to the masonite(works great for Tortoise switch motors as well).

  The Caboose Industries ground throw with the SPDT switch works quite well.  They do take some time to install.  A friend used 3/16" plywood to make ground throw 'pads' that are glued to the top of the foam(matches the cork roadbed).  He uses his power miter saw to cut a 'kerf' in the pads so that nothing fouls the throwbar.  A long drill bit and 'soda straws' route the power wires after he has pre-wired the ground throw.  Most of his turnouts are DCC Friendly Walthers-Shinohara code 83.  My layout has Atlas code 100 and I have not powered the frogs at this point in time.  I have few 'short' wheelbase engines and have had no problems with my Atlas code 100 turnouts.

  Looking at the picture of your layout, this is a good time to get that final electrical/track stuff done before starting serious scenery work!  Good Luck!

Jim Bernier

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Posted by RoadCopper on Sunday, February 10, 2008 12:07 PM

Tom: How appropriately timed!

Your comment was perfect: "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. Tom"

I am back to the hobby after many years and bought my first strands of 14ga stranded bus wire for a test bench [as my starting point so I get the hang of wiring and soldering and feeders etc....] and stands of 20ga for the feeders.

Had some touble finding wire. Got only standed 14 ga at Home Depot. The other problem was getting 22 or 22ga wire at Home Depot? Being in Canada, anyone have suggestions where to go for wire at a good price? The guy at HD said to take telephone 22g 4-wire strands and split it open. Cheaper that way?? So I will try it. 

I am designing my layout in my mind with scribbles on paper and am nowhere ndear to where you are. 

My biggest fear is the turnout wiring - insulated or not and where do I go from here.

Good luck with your layout and hope to hear from others on my questions too. 

  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: AIKEN S.C. & Orange Park Fl.
  • 2,047 posts
Posted by claycts on Saturday, February 9, 2008 6:31 PM

The questions you have a very good to ask.

Powering frogs has been around for ever on the forum. Mine are all DEAD now since most of my eauipment does not have an issue. Will I power them later, probably, the wires are there. Caboose is a good way and very simple.

Terminal strips: you are using the 2 sided barrier strip with the dividers correct. these are great and easy to use, a little pricey. I used teh Euro Blocks, they are whit and you can just cut them to length. Very good price at the Shack on them.

Feeders: Bus shall be STRANDED and Feeders Shall be Solid. 

The feeders are NOT requied every 3 feet, 6 feet works well. In you instance I would feed all the spurs, main lines that way you kknow you have no problems.

Are you going to go with circuit breakers or use light bulbs? This way a short in one area does not take out the whole thing.

Word to the wise DCC will WELD an engine to a mismatched frog in a heartbeat, do not ask.

Good luck and enjoy, DCC is great. 

 

 

Take Care George Pavlisko Driving Race cars and working on HO trains More fun than I can stand!!!

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