Wiring Questions

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by TerryR, Jan 31, 2003.

  1. TerryR

    TerryR Member

    I'm at a bit of a loss as to where to start.

    I've attached my track plan. The actual track is a little different but it's logically the same - I reshaped the loop on the right and moved the sidings inside the loop but all the connections are in the same places.

    I'm still not sure if I'm going DCC right away. I definitely will at some point but there's a cost issue until I find work again. In fact, I won't be running any trains at all for a while but I want to add the feeders before I ballast the track.

    I know I need to insulate some sections but where are the most efficient places to do that? Also, how do I do that? I assume that a small cut in the track is insufficient as a wheel can bridge the gap (?) Don't some locomotives pick up from multiple wheels? What happend when one is one side of the break and one is on the other?


    Attached Files:

  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah


    Terry: last question first
    Several ways to do gaps. Plastic Rail joiners. Cut a gap with razor saw or Dremel tool. Leave a bit when you lay the rails (Not for beginners). If you cut a gap, put some insulating material in to keep the rails apart when the weather changes.
    If you wire the layout properly, when a wheel goes over a gap the rails should be at the same polarity and from the same controller. If you are crossing from one controller to another, you need a common rail so that there is always a circuit.
    Are you using insulated or electrical frogs? Electrical frogs will require a gap on the frog side beyond the frog. You can combine them if there are several in a row. Gap should be as close to a frog a practical so that you don't leave metal wheels over the gap when the turnout is thrown the other way.
    Are you planning to run several trains at once? Pre-DCC you need blocks to separate them and these are arbitrary -- where you think they're needed.
    I'll check your plan again for other items.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Reverse loops

    you have reverse loops or wyes at both ends of your layout, caused by your crossovers. Is your primary running mode back and forth along the straight track or around the loops?
  4. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Terry, Shamus or someone else will come along and draw where the gaps and feeds should be. Those two reverse loops will cause some work. I understand you are not ready to spend the money for DCC yet. Consider this: If you haven't yet spent the money for a couple power packs and a bunch of switches, the money required for them is not going to be much less than the $160 required for a Digitrax Zephyr, which should be perfect for your layout. Those two reverse loops then are easy as pie to both wire and operate. No direction switches to bother with. In fact, I have two MRC reverse modules I can give you, as I now use Tony's (Tony's Train Exchange) I found the MRC ones don't work well with steam locos, but fine with diesels. My guess is that the MRC unit requires some current draw rather than just having the gap bridged by any metal object. Diesel wheels provide that, pilot wheels of the steamers, which don't pick up power for the loco, don't. Anyway, you're in New Brunswick, not far away, they are yours if you want them, save you about $60.
  5. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Terry,
    Nice plan, I have placed all of the power/insulated & reverse area's for you.

    Attached Files:

  6. TerryR

    TerryR Member


    The eventual plan is to have two express trains swapping ends along the straight sections and two other trains (one local passenger & one freight??) running around the loop. The center section will be shared. This will be under computer control.

    I don't currently have any plans for the sidings but may use them in the future. At the moment, I'm more interested in modelling than operations.

    For the insulating, would it work if I make cuts with the Dremel and then glue(?) styrene in there and then carve it to match the rail profile? Do I need to do this on both rails?

    I guess I have electrical frogs - my turnouts are Atlas #6 powered. At the moment, I have a direct short between the rails - no more than 5 ohms between any two places you care to pick.


    Thank you for your kind offer. I'll let you know if/when I need them.


    Many thanks. Would I be correct in assuming this is for non-DCC? Would I also be correct in assuming that I could get away with less breaks if I go DCC but that this setup will work for both?
  7. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Terry, The Atlas switches don't require any additional wiring. Your short is caused by the reverse loops. Cutting gaps as shown by Shamus will enable straight Dc operation, DCC would require fewer but will work with the ones shown. The short should disappear once the gaps are cut. Yes, cutting with the Dremel then gluing in a styrene spacer is a good method. Gaps in both rails are only required for the reverse loops.
  8. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Oh, BTW, most of the gaps Shamus drew aren't needed with Atlas turnouts. They would be required with some others. Gaps would only be needed in order to be able to turn off power to sections of track, for when operating multiple trains. Each train running at the same time requires a power pack. I hate to sound repititious, but DCC won't cost much more than those.

    Good luck
  9. TerryR

    TerryR Member


    I hear what you say. I don't doubt that DCC is the way to go for the final configuration but I'm not so sure about the intermediate stages.

    As I said, I'm between jobs right now and can't reasonably justify spending all the money in one chunk until I am working again. In fact, all I want to do now is drop the feeders through and make the cuts so I can get on with the ballasting. I may try and run one train as an intermediate stage.

    I guess my dilemma is that I want to get something running as cheap as possible but I don't want to buy anything that won't be useful in the final configuration.
  10. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    The gaps and power placements were for PECO track & points, thats all I ever work with. Mine are all live frogs, not insulated ones.

    Even using DCC you would still have to do all of it as shown if using any live frog points (Switches) otherwise you would get shorts all over the track.

    Any track or points(Switches) which have LIVE frogs would also need the above. Only insulated frogs don't need insulating from each other.


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