Discussion in 'FAQs' started by rockislandmike, Jun 4, 2002.

  1. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    No, not "the", but regular ol' wire. I need to get some more, and I thought I'd doublecheck with others what gauge they use to connect their track to their power supply.

    If it makes a difference, I will be going DCC next spring.

    THANKS :) :) :) :)
  2. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Feeder wires, or buss lines? I use 20-22 gauge for rge feeders and 12-14 gauge for the buss lines.
  3. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Is it better to use solid core wire, or multi strand? Does it make any significant difference? for connections, plugs, soldering etc?
  4. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    And speaking of plugs, what's best??? Those phono-types that one can get at Radio Shack??? They'd certainly seem to be the simplest.
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Solid Stranded

    I fell that stranded is better for wire that will be flexed regularly. Solid wire is usually cheaper because less effort goes into making it. I think the electrical properties are equivalent for the same gauge.
    I like stranded for soldering because it seems to soak up solder like a wick.
    Use the biggest size you can find for the main feeders, or stop a few sizes down from household wire. I used the bare ground from some cable (the in-the-wall stuff) as a common return for my switch machines.
  6. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    WOW - Something I can actually answer from school 26 years ago... :) :D :)

    In electronics class - If you solder - use stranded wire... (Yes it soaks it up like a wick)

    If it's going to vibrate or move AT ALL!!! -- Use single Strand

    Up to 50 V at 10 Amp - - That covers about Every Power Pack I know of - Use 20 gauge or thicker - I alwayse use 18 Ga Stranded for Main Leads (busses), for switches and for runs over 10 Ft. and 20 G. stranded for short runs that connect to the tracks and for lights...

    I always "twist together" (wrap) the wires & use crimp connectors!!

    I've never had any trouble with any layout's electric.. The MF&W G scale has been operating for 9 Years now.. :) :)
    Good Luck!!! -- Mikey
  7. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    For our S-gauge modular layout we use 16 gage stranded wire for the buss. We get the best deal locally at the automotive stores, they sell it as "primary" wire. Lots of colors and you can get it in 100-foot spools.
    For two wire connectors we use the flat trailer connectors, also at the automotive stores. These have a 20 gage wire attached to them as opposed to the R-Shack version with a 22 gage wire.
    We also use a lot of crimp connectors. They work well and go together quickly.
    The above runs into some money if you do it for all your stuff, especially if you use barrier strips for handling multi-connection points. But all of this allows us the ability to change our layout and scenery, with a bunch of operating accessories, at every show.

  8. K.V.Div

    K.V.Div Member

    For our group (Victoria oNeTrak and Victoria NTrak) we use 14 gauge stranded speaker wire for the bus and 20 gauge stranded for the drops.
    Everything is secure and doesn't move much.

  9. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    A Myth??

    Not trying to shoot down anyone's theory on what size wire to use for a layout but I have always been amazed at how much current smaller guage wire can carry. Here's a chart that gives the ratings. Use the table for single strand Vynil Hypalon as that is the most common. As you can see even #22 wire is capable of 10Amps @ low voltages.

    I think that this all goes back to some early publications on wiring model railroads wherein the authors used an analogy of " water in a pipe" ( the larger the pipe the more water will pass the larger the wire the more current it will pass) and this is true but what they did not take in to consideration is that electrons do not flow thru a wire...they flow on the surface of the wire hence the outside diameter and/or surface area of the wire determines its capacity.

    Well enough "physics" for today:D :D
  10. bobrien

    bobrien Member

    and because no-one this side of the Pacific (or the Tasman (for Woody's benefit ;) ) knows the answer... just what is 20 gauge in metric size????? I think it's 12mm but not sure.
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah


    not sure what it is in metric (don't have my tables at work) but I think 20 and 22 gauges are the ones you find in telephone and computer cables -- the ones that the wire stripper almost won't work on.
    like drills and f-stops, the bigger the number the smaller the wire.
    I think streetcars use something like 0000.
  12. billk

    billk Active Member

  13. bobrien

    bobrien Member

    umm, yeah Bill, .... thanks..... I think....;)
  14. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I use 14 gauge for the buss and 20 gauge for drops. I have used Romex cable by slitting and discarding the jacket. After stapling to the underside of the benchwork I can strip anywhere and solder a feeder. Regardless of what size wire is capable of carrying 10 amps, it is voltage drop we are concerned with so the length of the buss is what would determine the size. The Romex is cheap and readily available. All advise I've seen regarding DCC busses is to use 14 or 12. Whether it's really needed I can't say, but cost isn't an issue here. And remember to use plenty of drops!


Share This Page