Wattage needed for 40 foot O scale layout around kids room

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by Jcniv69, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Jcniv69

    Jcniv69 New Member


    Newbie here. I will be installing an O scale Lionel layout around my son's room, on a shelf along all 4 walls. The total distance will be approx 40-45 feet. Will the single 80 watt transformer be enough power for that much track? Or are there 'booster' power transformers I could add?

    Any advice on how to do this would be aporeciated! :)

  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Welcome to Zealot.
    Distance should not be a factor in how many watts. What does happen is that resistance builds up in the track, especially at joins between sections, and the voltage drops off. What you need to do is add extra feeders around the layout. I like to use lamp cord -- overkill, maybe, but easy to get. Then run feeders from the cord up to the track; my feeling is every 6 to 8 feet. Attach smaller wires (or the same size) to the lamp cord (now it's a bus) and the track. Use the same attachment to the track as your main power source, or you can solder if you're careful. Keep the inside and outside rails straight. If you get slowdowns, add more feeders in between. Fancy track work like holdings sections will make it more complicated; I assume you only have one train.
    Where transformer size comes in is in the amount of train you can operate. I use an 80 watt with the Polar express with about 6 lighted coaches. What happens is that each function in the train consumes more watts. Adding lighted cars, sound effects, accessories, lighted switches, will add to the burden. Someplace around here there should be a post suggesting how many watts each item consumes. (Lionel's instruction books 50 years ago had a table ...)
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Forgot: if you have TMCC operating system, I think there are booster units. I don't have any experience with it.
  4. Jcniv69

    Jcniv69 New Member

    Thanks. That's a good tip. However, the layout will be up high, above the closets and doors. So I don't want a bunch of wire showing underneath. Does that make sense? I want a very clean look as people look up at the layout...

    I have heard a lot about TMCC and would like more detail on how that works. Are booster blocks placed every so many feet?
  5. gbbari

    gbbari New Member

    Shelf O gauge layout - power concerns

    John - your wires should not be visible to observers if you run them on the top of the shelf tucked against the wall.

    On a different note, 80W should handle a single engine train just fine even with a few lit passenger cars. The key is keeping the track clean and making sure track connections are physically and electrically tight. One trick that will work on a level layout like yours (no grades) is a little CRC 2-26 sprayed on a cloth and wiped along the track rails. A liberal dose will improve electrical conductivity significantly although it will slightly reduce traction for a short while. If you have lubricated all your wheel bearings on all of your cars (use CRC 2-26 for that too), then everything should be very smooth and power should not be a problem.

    The CRC product is a special electrical lubricant. Do NOT substitute any other lubricant. NOTE: For the engine, however, use whatever grease / oil the manufacturer recommends. You can get the CRC 2-26 on the engine wheel treads (part that touches the rails), but not its bearings. I get my CRC 2-26 at Home Depot; I'd bet your better hardware stores carry it also.
  6. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member


    The guys on a HOn3 list that I lurk on use CRC-26 by wiping it on the railhead, and letting it dry before running trains. They claim the the rails, treated like that actually increase the tractive effort of their tiny locomotives. I have started using the stuff like that. I haven't doe any scientific testing to check pulling power, but electrical pickup is significantly improved.

    fantastic stuff, I have seen it at Home Depot, and Lowe's, in the electrical department. I recommend it highly it really helps with my tiny HO and Hon3 logging power, where due to small sizr and light weight you need every last possible electron

    Bill Nelson

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