How to increase power to an O-Gauge layout

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by raising4girls, Dec 26, 2007.

  1. raising4girls

    raising4girls New Member

    Hi Everyone - I'm excited to join this forum and hope somone can educate me a bit on powering larger layouts.

    I started building a layout about 2 years ago. Naturally, I've grown it beyond the additional 4' X 8' plan, and I've have added some accessories recently and now feel it needs more power. As background, the mainline is about 70' with another 25' of sidings. It's all powered with just one 125W transformer through a loop of 14G copper wire below the platform using short connections to power "bus" via lock-ons every 6 feet or so. Even when running two TMCC-controlled trains on this loop, 125W seems sufficient to hold 18V during train operation.

    My problems started when I added the post-war automatic gateman and operating semaphore, both switched by insulated tracks and powered by track power. When the train trips the switch on either of these, I lose 1.5-2.0 V and the trains slow to a crawl, even if just running one train with no illuminated cars.

    My guess is the easy answer is to buy a ZW. But, I've got 4 other post-war era transformers, sitting idle including another matching 125W and 3 others rated at 90W. I'd hate to spend $400+ on a ZW if I can solve this problem with my existing power supplies. As you can see by name, with 4 young daughters, I need to save wherever possible.

    My thought is to connect both 125W transformers in parallel to the power bus (ensuring beforehand that they're in phase). Would this benefit? Any problems with that thought, such as blowing on-board electronics?

    Also, from the books I've read, it seems that the answer will be to create and power separate blocks. I have no problem doing this, and I guess I'd split the track into 2 blocks, put one accessory on each block, and power each block with a separate transformer. That seems to be what most people do, but I'm not sure why blocking is more advantageous than simply connecting the two transformers in parallel.

    Many thanks to anyone that can educate me. Guess I should've saved my physics books!
  2. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Come on you Hi Railers. Quit playing with your trains and answer this question.
  3. First I run my accessories from a separate power source. I do not use track power to run my accessories. Next, I use Lionel Infrared Detectors to run signals that need to be tripped by a passing train.

    I run about 200 ft of track and I use, based on the recommendation of a very competent electrical engineer from Texas that wires layouts for Lionel, two 180 watt bricks and a TPC 300 to run my TMCC. I also have power feeds at about 6-8 feet. I sometimes have three lighted passenger trains and two freights powered up on hot track. I can run all five with out the circuit breakers popping.
  4. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    I am modern too so I can't offer much help. I use a separate transformer for all accessories combined with infra red sensors. In addition I use two 180 watt bricks for my biggest line and one 180 watt brick for the smaller line.
  5. Chief Eagles

    Chief Eagles Active Member

    Buckeye is right. About every 6 to 8 feet apart. Mine are a little close. As for power, I'm running 3 Post War ZW's and 2 Post War KW's. One ZWOfor each mainline [2] and the other for all the siddings. KW for powering 22 switches and the other is powering accessories. Over kill I can tell you that. Runs trains well with TPC's for mainlines to run conventionals, TMCCI and TMCCII and DCS.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I'm not sure how TMCC would interface with the old transformers, so I'd like someone else to critique my thoughts.
    You should be able to take one PW transformer and use it to operate accessories. I would hook one side up to the outside rails and the other to a bus. The bus would take all the accessory wires that are hooked to the center rail. You can then adjust voltage so that the accs. work how you like them. If you have a multiple post transformer, you might run a couple of buses.
    Since the transformer is insulated, you shouldn't have any electrical problems. What I don't know is if it would affect the TMCC signals.
    With a lot of accs. at the same time, you might want to take a couple of transformers.
  7. Chief Eagles

    Chief Eagles Active Member

    TMCC engines operate on 18V +-. Some say they can operate on 16V but any lower and it will not work well at all. Nothing wrong with using PW transformers. TMCC is powered by a separate transformer [which should be plugged into a GROUNDED outlet]. The only wire connecting the Command Base to the layout is the common to the outside rail. Now with PW transformers, I recommend quick acting circuit breakers between the transformer and all other electronics [with me, all track power is fed through a MTH TIU to allow DCS operation too]. Quick blow fuses will work but have to be replaced. Breakers are just reset. Scott's Odds and Ends has the breaker boxes. I built my own from parts on OGR Backshop video. Also, all my PW transformers have had their circuit breakers replaced with automotive type resetting circuit breakers. Yes, they are 12V DC but that is OK. I get the blade type and a blade type fuse holder, remove the old one and solder this one in its place. I do wrap it in tape to prevent shorts. Hope this helps.
  8. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    i dont know if this will help, but when i was wiring a layout one time, i was wiring 2 post war transformers up late one night, i was tired, was supposed to be one for each main line. i ended up putting both transformers on one line. i turned them both on to run trains, one would run, the other just sit there, how i found out that i did what i did was when i went to stop the train that was running i shut the one transformer down but the train kept going.....! and i ran head on to a bumper,,,,,,,,,opps!
  9. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    What did you decide to do?
  10. raising4girls

    raising4girls New Member

    Thanks for asking. I got sidetracked (broken washer, dryer, and computer) a bit and have only completed part of the job. But, created 2 insulated blocks out of my mainline and sidings and I wired each block to a separate 125W PW (LW type) xformer. After getting the phasing correct, this seems to work well for the trains.

    But, the semaphore and gateman still draw too much voltage, so I bought a relay that I plan to hook to the insulated (switch) track and then to my accessory transformer. If my wiring plan is right, this should allow me to draw power from the accessory xformer while still using the insulated track as a switch.

    With any luck, I'll solve my computer virus problems tonight so I can get back to the trains.

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