Newb question about track wiring

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Dorkmaster Flek, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. I'm just getting started in HO scale stuff, but previously I setup O27 scale layouts with our family around Christmas, that sort of thing. The O27 track was easy to wire because we had those metal connectors that clip on the bottom of a piece of track and they have those two connectors for the wires where you push them down, insert the end of the wire and it pinches them in place when you let them go. But HO track is not quite as simple it seems. I'm sold on the Flex Track stuff, it looks great and everybody seems to use it quite a bit and is very happy with it. My question is how do you actually connect the wires to the track? :p I've seen people discuss soldering the feeder wires to the metal track joiners, but what about the rails themselves? Are there any sort of connectors specifically designed for hooking up wires to the track like those O27 ones? Looks/realism isn't a primary concern of mine (at least not yet), ease of use/installation is more important so I don't care if they're ugly. :)
  2. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    You can just buy these:


    Atlas makes those. They are terminal joiners. Hope this helps!
  3. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Normally when one doesn't use the terminal joiners, or the Atlas terminal strip which has screw connectors to connect power to the track, wires are soldered directly to the rail--ideally once every few feet, in order to ensure good electrical connection. It takes a little practice to avoid melting the ties sometimes. The terminal joiners are probably your best bet.
  4. That is precisely what I need! From the picture, it looks like you connect two pieces of track using the joiners, which also provides the power?
  5. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Yep! :thumb:
  6. Awesome, and I'm guessing the other ends of the wires are just ends that can be connected/soldered to whatever power source you have, correct? Also, what gauge is the wire for these connectors? Is it thick enough to be connected to a power supply, or should it be connected to a main bus wire?

    Oh, another question I just thought of. Can these clips be applied on a single rail only in certain sections with Flex Track, if needed? My situation would be with a block detection unit, specifically Digitrax's BDL168. In this situation (and also when using common rail wiring), I have an electrically isolated section of track with one rail being the common power line and the other rail is subdivided into multiple detection sections. This means I have the rail cut multiple times on one side, but not the other. Can Flex Track be bent so that you can cut in one spot on a single rail and insert one of these joiners in that particular spot? If so, I'm golden. :D
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The answers to these last questions is yes. I personally prefer to use rail joiners only to make mechanical connections to the rails, and actually solder the drop wires to the outside of the rail itself. Flex track does not have the cut away ties like sectional track has at each end, so you need to shave off the spike detail and tie plates on the last couple of ties at any joint to install the rail joiners. The rail joiners also work better on straight sections of track. There is a tendency for the rail to want to kink when you make the connection in the middle of a curve. It isn't a big problem to catch and solve, just be aware as you are laying your track.
  8. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    The standard method is to soder #20-#24 wire to the outside of the rail. This is not hard, and the worst thing that can happen is you melt a tie or two. For the BDL168, you should wire all of the blocks direct home, and gap both rails. You should solder the #20-#24 wire to the outside of each peice of rail, as rail joiners are horrible conductors of electricity, and then solder those feeders, no more than 6" long, to a bus, which should be made out of 18 guage wire. Then, you can run one bus for each block back to a wiring panel, where you can have your BDL168. Check out, although realize that the BDL168 wiring can be much thinner, as you will only have one train per block with detection.
  9. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Though this discussion hasn't really led to this yet, there's a concern if you're used to O27. With 3-rail track, there's no possible arrangement that can produce a short circuit. With 2-rail, there are several. This is where electrical gapping becomes essential.
  10. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    Yeah, basically no reversing loops unless you want to add a reversing module to your DCC system.

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