Question on using multiple power on track

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Floyd, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    I don't know if this has been covered or not (probably has and I haven't been able to find it!)
    My question is, can a person hook up more than one power pack, safely and without burning something out, to a track in order to get more power to the engines.:confused: They seem to slow down towards the end of a long run?
    I recently went to an HO Auction and got a large box which had several Power Controllers including MRC 7000 Sound and Power, MRC Railine 370 Power Pack, MRC Throttle Master Model 550, American Flier Pike Master 32661, Arthu Fulmer Model 15-5009, AHM Thunder Line (two of these), AHM Model 70277, Aurora Plastic Model Motoring Power pack.
    Wanted to make best us of these? Thanks
  2. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...Unless you have a very large layout any one of the MRC packs should be able to run your locos. If you're experiencing slow downs it's probably due to bad rail joiners which can cause power loss at distance from your track feeders. If that's the case, you can run a power bus and run several feeders to the track at different points. Make sure you always solder the same pole to the same rail.

    NEVER connect two power packs to the same section of track. You'll let the smoke out of everything in sight.
    To use more than one pack, you'll have to break up the layout into several "blocks" which are insulated from each other.
    I suggest you get one of the layout wiring books that are available. It can save you a lot of grief and/or hair pulling....
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    You should never connect two power packs in parallel like that. If one power pack was even slightly lower than the other, and I'm talking millivolts, the higher supply will try to equalize the two and will draw more current trying to do so. The bigger the difference, the higher the current. You can burn up one supply without ever connecting them to a load. Get yourself a cheap voltmeter and measure the voltage as it comes out of the power pack without being hooked up to the rails. Measure it again when you have it hooked up and an engine running on the tracks. If it drops appreciably you may have a flaky power pack. If the voltage on the tracks vary as you go along and have an engine in them, then as Gus says, you have some cleaning up to do on your trackwork and electrical connections.
  4. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Gus and Don...What would I do without all of you fine folks out there? I really appreciate your responses and I will follow your advice. I will not use power packs together and if I make seperate sections, I will use one power pack for each. Again thanks and have a great day:thumb:
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Floyd: wiring 2 power packs to the same track is like hooking an extension cord to 2 sockets.
    What you can do is wire track sections (blocks) to a selector switch to choose which power pack controls which block. You can use this to use power pack A to run a train around the whole layout, while power pack B runs a different train. This is called block wiring. There are variations on this, depending on how many opertors/trains you have.
  6. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    David thanks for your reply. Guess my question shows my ignorance as relates to train wiring procedures. I do not need my hair or anything else singed.:shock: I'll do some reading and searching on Block Wiring.

    Once again great people on this site:thumb:
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Floyd: There are some easy wiring books (and some more difficult ones). Atlas makes some basic wiring devices built into little flat boxes that can be hooked together. They also write books on using them. These should be available through any basic train shop.
    There are more books with titles like How to Wire your Model Railroad. I think it's been around forever.
  8. who_dat73

    who_dat73 Member

    The basic's of blok wiring for us new guys is insulate one side of the track then run a wire from the power to a toggel switch then to the dead part of the track after the insulater you flip the switch it put power to the rail the train moves.
    Running extra feeders is always a good idea as it keeps power to all parts of the track as joiners can fail for whatever reason, That is basicly take the power wire tie in whowever many wires you want to feed to the track and solder them to the outside of the rails but always make sure you are feeding the power from this wire to the same rail so you dont make a short..
    Hope this helps
    Just my Two cents worth
  9. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Mike thanks for the information. I will try my had at soldering as indicated. This will be my first attempt to solder anythin so hope it is not to complicated.:thumb:
  10. who_dat73

    who_dat73 Member

    One thing I might mention also I made the mistake of using the pipe solder that I used to fix the pipes in the house BAD IDEA go to Radio Shack or somwhere and get real thin flux core solder otherwise you risk melting the plastic ties because you cant get enuf heat to melt the solder also Tin the wires before trying to attach them heat them up and give them a good cote of solder then put it ot the rail and attach and in my opinion for a new guy to soldering putting it on a rail joiner works best if possable:thumb:
    Most inportant take your time and if you have extra track practice on that before you try it on the real thing.. If not let me know I have some I will sned you to try your hand on
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Floyd: on soldering:
    solder the wire to the outside or underside of the rail. Use fairly fine wire and make a small right-angled bend at the end that will tuck into the notch in the rail. Tin the end of the wire i.e. heat it up and add a thin coat of solder.
    Get some metal blocks to put on the rails each side of the job to absorb excess heat. You don't want plastic ties to melt away. I use a couple of track gauges so that the track doesn't widen out (or narrow) at that point.
    Keep the wire absolutely still until the solder solidifies. If it looks like paste or is matt, do it again.
  12. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Mike and Dave....Thanks for the information and pointers on doing the soldering. Mike I have bookoos of track from an auction so plenty to practice on.:)
    One question for Dave (another one:confused:) What do you mean by "mat" in the last sentence of your reply?
  13. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    "Matte" - Dull look to it. A good soldered connection should be nice and shiney.

    Here is a good article on soldering technique.

    I know I keep plugging these guys, however their simple to follow instructions and aritcles also saved me a tonne of grief.

    There is also a video link here. You can watch on-line or stream it. Look down for "How to solder trackwork" and click on the media player links to the right.

    Fast Tracks | Users' Guies & Documentation

    The only difference is like it been alread mentioned. Use a Rosin based flux not Acid like what is recommended for the turnout building. Simple because you won't be able to pick up your trackwork and wash it with soapy water in the sink. Also, I've had a heck of time locating the .015 Rosin solder anywhere other then with these guys. I can find .020 at The Source (formerly known a Radio Shack) and it works just as well you just don't need as much per joint per se.
  14. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Tetters thanks for the information.:thumb: I have looked at the mentioned site and looked at their video.....Very imformative. I think I am ready to give it a try as soon as I get the right kind of solder.
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If you don't have metal blocks to use as heat sinks to keep the ties from melting, you can wet a couple of old wash cloths, t shirts, any sort of cloth that will absorb water and lay wet rags across the rails an inch or so away from your connection on each side. The water will stop the heat from transferring beyond the wet cloth.
  16. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    A couple of years ago I finally managed to locate a can of liquid electical flux* in a good electronics store. I've only used it a couple of times but I like it better than the rosin core solder. This would help if you can't find cored solder and have to work with straight wire or a big block.
    If you have a choice, take the lowest melting point solder for trackwork; you could use a higher melter for extra locations, like make-your-own frogs.

    * not to be confused with GERN medicinal flux. :mrgreen:
  17. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    On Soldering: This is what I did after practicing on the soldering. I ran the two DC leads from the power pack to the underside of the layout tables. I then let these two wires set aside until I soldered two wires to the track, one on each side. I made sure that the hot wire was on the outside rail throughout the layout and that the ground was on the inside track. I then ran the two soldered wires from each "section??" and tied in to my origianal two wires comming from the power pack keeping red to all the reds and white to all the whites. I used plastic electrical connectors to join them all together and the trains are RUNNING!!!. There were a lot of wires and I was wondering if there are other suggested ways of making the power connections. I layed two seperate track sections so am using two power sources, one for each. Is this the way it should be done? Any comments are more than welcome.
  18. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Floyd, are the plastic connectors the crimp type or the suitcase type? The suitcase type won't shorten your bus wires if you have to add more connections.
    This way sounds as good as any. Other way is to run each feeder all the way back to a terminal block. This is more suited to block wiring.
    With bus wires, I tend to strip the wire and then wrap and solder. Actually I wrap it first and test the electrics before soldering. Final step is a bit of tape -- I'll use liquid electrical tape next time.
  19. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    :wave:David and thanks for your reply. I used those screw in connectors that are usually used in house wiring, of course I used the small ones. I am not familiar with "suitcase" types of connectors:confused:.

    I didn' think about soldering the wires after twisting them so I will go back and do that.

    Hope Santa brought you what you were asking for:thumb:
  20. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Floyd: if you're using wire nuts, you shouldn't solder them. I don't know why, but real electricians don't solder power wires.

    The worst bit about my method is trying to strip in the middle of a wire, but it does cut down on joints.
    The suitcase is a plastic device with metal probes in it. It folds up like a suitcase over the wires and you have one continuous wire and a spur wire going out. I've only seen them.

Share This Page