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Thread: Wiring for track

  1. #1

    Default Wiring for track

    What is a good size wire for powering the track from my DigiTrax controller?
    Retirement is for when the weekends just aren't long enough anymore.

    Paul

  2. #2

    Default

    Paul,

    This is a "general rule of thumb" answer ... I use 12 gauge wire (solid or stranded) for my "main bus wiring" and either 18 gauge or CAT 5 wire for my drop feeders. I have an NCE Power Cab and 5 amp booster BUT, that shouldn't matter where the wire gauge is concerned.

    In broad terms, depending on how much track you have (I have around 170' of n scale) you could use any wire from perhaps 12 - 14 gauge for the main bus and anything between 18 and 22 gauge for the drop feeders.

    For drop feeders I prefer to use solid wire, it seems to be easier to control when soldering to the track.
    Cheers,

    Tony
    (aka wombat457)

    "...knowing what to do is one thing, being able to do it is another..."

    http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/f...Indoor-N-Scale

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Tony.
    Retirement is for when the weekends just aren't long enough anymore.

    Paul

  4. #4

    Default

    No problem Paul. You might want to ask about the differences between using stranded or solid wire. I can't remember but I think they have their individual pro's and con's.
    Cheers,

    Tony
    (aka wombat457)

    "...knowing what to do is one thing, being able to do it is another..."

    http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/f...Indoor-N-Scale

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by oplholik View Post
    What is a good size wire for powering the track from my DigiTrax controller?
    That depends on how you are going to wire it. Is this a large layout that is going to need multiple feeders, or is this a simple loop that is only going to need two wires to the track? The more feeders there are the smaller the wire can be.

  6. #6

    Default

    A small to medium layout I would recommend 14 gauge stranded wire. If possible, locate the Booster/Command unit in the center and run the buss wire out in either direction. Drop wires should be 18 to 22 gauge. Solder the rail joiners.

    Stranded wire is more flexible than solid and conducts electricity somewhat better than solid since electricity travels on the outside of the wire. Stranded wire is more expensive than solid wire.

    Greg
    THE MILWAUKEE NORTHERN

    Transporters of Wood, Coal, Ore and Anything Else

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  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg@mnrr View Post
    A small to medium layout I would recommend 14 gauge stranded wire. If possible, locate the Booster/Command unit in the center and run the buss wire out in either direction. Drop wires should be 18 to 22 gauge. Solder the rail joiners.

    Stranded wire is more flexible than solid and conducts electricity somewhat better than solid since electricity travels on the outside of the wire. Stranded wire is more expensive than solid wire.

    Greg
    Greg,

    Thanks for that, I knew there were pro's and con's just couldn't remember what they were.

    Paul,

    Horseman and Kevin make good points, not the least being the size of your layout and the more feeders you use, the smaller the gauge of wire that can be used.

    As nothing more than a guide, I attach a drop feeder to each length of flex track. Yep, that is over kill most likely but I do so I know every section of my track does have power to it and not reliant on rail joiners for the transfer of power from one section to the next.

    Kevin also suggested soldering your joins. I'm not sure if I would agree with that, at least not all of your joins. Depending on where you live and it's climatic changes, you may want to keep in mind expansion joints. Soldering all of your joins removes the possibility of the track expanding due to climate, humidity and so forth. This is a personal preference of course but the only joins I solder are those that occur on a curve, any curve and even then, I will only solder the "outside join" to hold it in place.

    Only other thing I would suggest is that whatever wire you use for your main keep that main wire bus for your track power only. For wiring accessories, structure lighting, street lighting etc, run a second bus wire and keep that for your accessories only.
    Cheers,

    Tony
    (aka wombat457)

    "...knowing what to do is one thing, being able to do it is another..."

    http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/f...Indoor-N-Scale

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks guys for the info. My layout is 36 X 80, and not a great deal of track.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Retirement is for when the weekends just aren't long enough anymore.

    Paul

  9. #9

    Default

    Paul,

    I'd use 12 or 14 gauge for the main then maybe 18 or 20 gauge for the feeders. I'd put a feeder at the N,S,E & W points of the main outer loop, a feeder half way round the inner loop, a set on each of the spurs and one on the little passing track at the top.

    Another way to identify the absolute minimum feeders (if any) you need is to connect your power to the track and run a train. If the train runs around all of the layout and all tracks within it then that is all the power you "actually" need. If the train stops half way around, then put a feeder in at that point and so on.

    Looks good by the way.
    Cheers,

    Tony
    (aka wombat457)

    "...knowing what to do is one thing, being able to do it is another..."

    http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/f...Indoor-N-Scale

  10. #10

    Default

    Thanks Tony. There are I suppose, whatcha call it's , A box that you run the main wire to, then run your feeders from there? Just need a name for that so I can look up and get them.
    Retirement is for when the weekends just aren't long enough anymore.

    Paul

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