Layout wiring question

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ClarkW, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. ClarkW

    ClarkW New Member


    Just a few questions about layout wiring.

    My system is in HO, using code 83 flex track. I am using a Digitrax system.

    Here come the questions:

    What gauge wire is recommended for the main buss?
    What gauge wire is recommended for the feeders (from the buss to the tracks)?
    What spacing is recommended between connections, on the rails, for the feeders?
    When you run the feeders up through the layout surface to connect them to the rails, how do you connect the feeder to the rails? (do you bend over the end of the feeder, fan it and solder it to the rail side, do you bend the end and solder it to the underside of the rail - what)
    What else do I need to know about the general track wiring?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

  2. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member


    (1) as thick as you can. Many use normal house wiring cable available from DIY and electrical wholesalers quite cheap.
    (2) pretty thin, assuming you can make your feeders say 6" or less. I use what looks like bell wire or thinner, depending upon whether they're visible or not. You can get this from Tandy/RS or some computer outlets... Try to get lots of thin strands rather than solid-cored cable. Nice colours will help you organise stuff.
    (3) one per piece of track is best, then you're not reliant on rail joiners. If you solder every rail joiner, you can get away with one every 4-8 feet depending on how lucky you're feeling.
    (4) You can solder underneath, which looks lovely (invisible), but it's quite tricky, and very tricky once the rail is down. Me, I do it the other way around -- after laying the track, I get my 6" bit of wire (red or black) and put solder on the end, and flux on the outside edge of the rail. Then put the wire against the rail and hit it with the iron until the solder melts on to the rail and the wire is snug. After that, I drill a tiny hole next to the rail between the ties and pull the wire down it. So all that's left above the layout is the bare wire soldered to the rail. Once I have enough done I go underneath and attach all the dangling feeders to my bus. Or rather, I route the bus in the most efficient way to go past each feeder. This makes it a lot tidier and the wires a lot shorter than feeding the wires upwards. Once the rails have been hit with a spray can of rusty brown and the ballasting done, you can't see the feeders.
    (5) What else? Read the Wiringfordcc website, and decide how you're going to do the turnouts. I thought I'd simplify his instructions, but he's actually right. You're best to do every single recommendation on that website, including isolating the frogs and connecting up the point rails...

  3. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi Clark, I use 14 gauge for the bus, and 22 for the feeders. I use drops on every rail. I drill clearance holes in the bottom of the rail and solder the feed in at my workbench, then drill a hole in the roadbed to push the wire thru when I lay the track. I find this much easier than getting an invisable joint on track already laid. Your comment about flattening the wire and soldering to the base of the rail is a good one. Particularly if you can drill the hole for it thru a tie, then the wire can look like a spike. But drills that small are short so thats usually not an option.

  4. hminky

    hminky Member

  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Clark: I like solid wire for the feeders. There's no movement involved (you hope) and you don't run the risk of one strand sticking up and tangling with the wheels.
    I solder to the side of the rails as I can't solder to the bottoms.
    Suggest that you have something to test the wiring as you go along -- possibly have a loco to run as you wind the feeders onto the bus wires. Undo the controls from the bus before you solder -- don't know why, but I once blew an LED by soldering it while powered up.
    Have heat sinks on your rails when soldering. I use track gauges, and the plastic ties solidify with the track in gauge.
  6. ClarkW

    ClarkW New Member

    Thanks for the great information. I have bookmarked the links and should be able to start wiring this weekend.

    Again, Thanks


Share This Page