Blocks, common-rail wiring or not?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by csxnscale, Dec 26, 2003.

  1. csxnscale

    csxnscale Member

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    I need to divide the layout I'm currently building in blocks.
    I plan to go later on DCC, but for now I'll use DC.
    The turnouts used are Peco insulfrog and there are no reverse loops in the layout plan.
    Can I use common-rail wiring (cutting only the + tracks) or do I have to cut both tracks to create blocks ?
    Paul
  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

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    If you could post a photo of the plan, I could tell you better. On the other hand if as you say you are using Peco "Insulated" turnouts, then as soon as you flick a turnout over it will stop the power to whatever loco is on that track. Another point is that with this kind of insulated turnout you really only need 2 wires to power up the whole system, albiet you can only run one train at a time so this is where BLOCK control comes in. It is always better to cut both rails as shorts can apply otherwise.
    Try and post your plan.
    Shamus
    [​IMG]
  3. csxnscale

    csxnscale Member

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    Thanks, Paul.
    Here is the trackplan.
    The red dots are my suggested places to cut the rail to create the blocks. The dot with small spur in the yard will be the program track when I switch to DCC later.
    Now the question is cut both rails or only the + rail ?
    Paul

    [​IMG]
  4. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man Member

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    Seeing as power feed the the rail's should be every 3 to 4 feet,I would "cut both + and - rail's as Insulater's are cheap.For DCC control just link them all together.

    MM
  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    For dcc you might want to leave some separate blocks just to help isolate problems if you have any electrical shorts. If you choose to run a couple of separate blocks for isolation purposes with dcc, you can't use common rail, both rails have to be cut and insulated.
  6. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man Member

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    Thanks Russ. I should of said link together as needed.

    MM
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    I wired my layout cutting double gaps but the outside rails were all wired to a common terminal strip. The inside rails were wired to the cab selector switches.
    This can help tracing electrical faults.
    For DCC, this may help if you divide the layout into power districts. There was an article about how you can common up your power one way or you can common it up the other way but trying to do both ways is a no-no.
    Whether you want to gap for the frogs in DCC is another consideration. If you have a passing siding and you turn both switches against it, any loco on the siding will go dead. This means that your sound system and lights cut out. Of course, it's sometimes nice to be able to shut the thing off!
    Jst noticed: the gap in the upper right corner is in the wrong rail.
  8. csxnscale

    csxnscale Member

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    Thanks for help I guess I better start cutting only one rail ( + rail) and leave the - rail uncut for strength. I necesary I can always use my Dremel to cut the - rail later.
    Paul
  9. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

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    My advice is to cut BOTH rails, better be safe than sorry later when all is ballasted.
    Shamus
    [​IMG]
  10. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member

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    There is an article in a recent issue of Railroad Model Craftsman (December or January, I think) showing how to use common rail on a DC/DCC (switchable) layout using NCE DCC.

    Edit: It was the December issue:

    "DCC or d.c. or both by Bob Savino
    When faced with the decision of whether to scrap its d.c. operations in favor of DCC, the Garden State Model Railway Club opted to wire its layout so that either system could be used with just the flip of a switch."


    Best wishes for the new year,
  11. Lightbender

    Lightbender Member

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    Hello csxnscale,

    I guess it doesn't matter if your proposed block design is only temporary but if you were to try to run it DC you may be disappointed especially if you are having other operators. Of course DCC will eliminate any operating problems.

    I like to include only one multi access turnout per block and use on/off switches for dead-end sidings. I have attached a suggestion for your consideration. The blue dots are breaks for blocks and the green ones are for on/off
    [​IMG]
  12. csxnscale

    csxnscale Member

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    Thanks ,

    Tony with your proposal I have to increase the number of blocks.
    Other people tell me to keep the number of blocks at minimum.
    I still not sure what to do.
    PS: this is a single operator railroad.
    Paul
  13. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

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    Flextrack may stay put a little better when only gapping one side for common rail. And common rail should work fine as long as there are no complexites of wyes, reverse loops, etc.

    I'm not sure why you have been advised to have fewer blocks, but they can always be added or removed by dremel or solder :D Electrically speaking, you can remove a block by simply hard wiring it rather than giving that block it's own switch.

    The hardest part about changing it on the fly, is soldering the power feeds after weathering the track, so it's best to add a lot of power feeds up front. This will also reduce the chances of a voltage drop (or a bad rail joint) effecting the loco performance. Even if you are not the best at soldering and you melt some ties, no prob., just rip some ties off some scrap track and slide them under for looks. My preference is a lot of small wire power feeds, rather than fewer large wire feeds, so it's looks better and the redundancy increases reliability.
  14. csxnscale

    csxnscale Member

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    Thanks Jon,
    That looks the idea for me, following Tony's advice on more blocks and your advice on common rail, I had the same thoughts on strength with common rail wiring and flex.
    Paul
  15. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

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    Do I see a couple of reversing loops there?? That means it is a must to cut both rails, otherwise I can guarantee a dead short.
  16. csxnscale

    csxnscale Member

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    No Dick I think you see it wrong.
    This trackplan is one from John Armstrong. It is like two figure eights running parallel. From each figure eight you can escape to the other but the direction of travel on each figure eight is respected. See it as two mainlines with right hand drive on each figure eight.
    Hope this make sense.
    Paul
  17. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

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    If you want to make sure the two rails never cross (short out as in a reverse loop), you could test it when it's all assembled, either before cutting any gaps, or if you want to gap the uncommon rail, just jumper across the gaps. If a train will run, there's no short. You could even connect a 9V battery across the track and see if it sparks with no loco on track. Of course, an ohm meter would tell as well... :D
  18. csxnscale

    csxnscale Member

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    Thanks Jon,
    Have an Ohm meter on my bench, so that would be an easy one.
    Paul