Wiring Walthers DCC turnouts on a block DC layout

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Santa Fe Jack, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    Greetings, all.

    I've just completed phase I of my DC layout wiring, meaning that the blocks and turnouts are wired. (Not yet done is the turntable.) And I've got some trouble that I need help with...

    Walthers DCC-Friendly turnouts and how to wire them. I got these, since they are universally recommended over the old ones, and since someday this layout may get rewired as DCC (who knows...). Some of the turnouts work fine -- those with wiring attached to track adjoining all three "ends". But others have dead spots.

    I had thought that with the wiring cross-connections on the bottom of the turnout I could get away with having power coming in on one of the three tracks and getting distributed to all the others. Apparently this is not so.

    My main question:
    Do I need to run track power to each part of the turnout?

    This is a pain as all the track is down (though not permanently), but I will do this additional wiring if I must.

    Also - I read here: http://www.wiringfordcc.com/switches_walthers.htm
    that one should not use common rail. Yikes! I have used a common rail everywhere. And yet, the turnouts with power all around work fine... Or does this just spell trouble if the layout ever got converted to DCC?

    So - two concerns above. The most important one, however, is the matter of having to add more power leads to get power to all three parts of the turnout... is this necessary?

    All advice appreciated!
  2. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    The link you posted appears to answer some of the questions. Theoretically, you only need to put one set of feeders to the turnouts, the factory installed bonding jumpers will feed all the rest of the turnout. It was mentioned that some of the early-run turnouts had problems with the bond jumpers. You may have some of them. Since you are having problems, I assume you have some bad bond jumpers. Looks like you need to feed the sections that don't have power. Poor quality control from Walthers I guess.

    I would also recommend that you feed the points like it shows on the link. I would not rely on the rail joiners or contact with the stock rails to feed the points, especially over the long haul as things get loose and oxidized.
  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Also: It isn't too difficult to add feeders even though the switches are already in place. A drill with small bit, some wire, solder to edge of rail, and let the ballast hide the wire.
  4. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Sorry for the multiple posts:

    How big is your layout? If it isn't all that huge, when you change over to DCC, the common rail will not be a problem. Essentially you can wire the entire layout as one big block. All the left hand rails can be tied together, all the right hand rails can be tied together. To make the change, you can just "jump out" your block switches.

    Now, if it is a huge layout, you may want to keep the tracks in seperate blocks, fed by circuit breakers between the booster and track.
  5. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Heck, I did 3, may as well do one more.

    If it was me, I would feed all three tracks that leave the turnout anyway. I would run wires from the bus under the layout up to each of them. I prefer feeding every piece of track with a seperate feeder. I don't solder the rail joiners to allow for expansion, therefore, the seperate feeder.

    One thing is for certain: It is possible to not have enough feeders, but it is impossible to have too many. Not enough can lead to problems down the road. Too many, no big deal. I would prefer to err on the safe side.
  6. A solution to Gary's apparent multiposting fetish...USE THE MODIFY BUTTON!

    A solution to the problem that the OP asked about...


    What Gary said?
  7. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Heehee... thanks for informing me of that option. Wait... where is the MODIFY BUTTON?

    Hey, I did find another useful option in the User CP... a person has the option to view messages without sigs showing up! Cool!

  8. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Its the "EDIT" button at the bottom right next to the "Quote" button Gary.
  9. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    Thanks for the response(s), Gary. I think I will have to run more feeders. The layout is a 10-ft x 6-ft rectangle, and there will never be expansion, since it's a self-contained, closed, portable (theoretically) system.

    I finally did locate a super-long 1/8" drill bit, which is ideal or drilling through my few inches of foam benchwork. Frogs, too, eh? Well, yes, I suppose a bit more work now while I am set up for it and the track is merely pinned in place will save having to do it later, when all the ballast is in place and the track is glued down. I will have to stretch my patience a bit more. But at least this weekend I finally got trains running on the track, after about 18 months of work! Yay!

    About the common rail: As it now stands, my common rails are all blocked, along with the powered rail, and they are all wired together. So if/when the layout goes to DCC, as you said, it will be easy to simply connect the powered rails all together at the block where they currently all go to their separate power switches.

    But a remaining nagging question, why should I never use common rail in a DCC layout? What is that about?
  10. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Well, actually, on a smaller layout such as yours, you will have a "right hand" common rail and a "left hand" common rail, so there is no worry at all. In other words, no blocks. Common rail problems and DCC would only occur where you had multiple blocks controlled through seperate "circuit breaker" cards or perhaps seperate boosters. Each block would need to be totally isolated from the other blocks, meaning no common rail between blocks. You would need this only on large DCC layouts.

    Now, take the above with a grain of salt, there is a remote possibility that I don't have a clue of what I speak.
  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Ralph, oh, the EDIT button, not the MODIFY button!:thumb:
  12. d'oh I forgot lol the little button there is quick reply not modify...

    One forum I frequent has a "Modify" button that looks about 99.999% identical to that one XD
  13. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    Well, it's time for a followup, now that I have finally dug into the turnouts and seen how they are wired and how they need to be wired.

    It turns out that I have been overenthusiastic in my support of the quality of the Walthers-Shinohara code 83 DCC nickel-silver turnouts. From those that I have lifted from the layout for service, about half of the crossover links are not functional, from the factory. These links are thin metal bars or strips that electrically connect right-hand and left-hand rails underneath the ties (right-to-right, and left-to-left, not to each other). It's a good idea they had, but it is not executed so well.

    Having to resolder these connections is a PITA, since it means cutting away much of the ties and other plastic in order to get the soldering iron in there and not melt all the plastic. It seems that the factory tried to do a little spot weld for each connection. Too bad half of these spot welds are faulty! :(

    So, it's a laborious task to remove each of some 20-odd turnouts, solder wires to the points, and to the frogs, and repair all this clever crossover wiring that was not done right. In the end, however, I expect it will all be worth it, in smooth running and every little piece of track having power like it is supposed to.

    So - a "heads up" to anyone buying these turnouts: Check the crossover links under the ties carefully. See if they wiggle or can be pried out with little effort. If so, fix them before putting them down! :roll:

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