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Discussion in 'FAQs' started by schulzy190, Jan 14, 2006.
What gauge of wire would you recomend for doing such a task?
I think that the usual practice is to use fairly substantial wire to run a "bus" wire around the layout, then use lighter gauge wire to run feeders from the bus to the track wherever they're required. I used some #12 household wiring that I had on hand as my bus wire. This is probably overkill, but you're better with "too heavy" rather than "too light". For the feeders, I used whatever I had available, including 18, 20, and 22 gauge wire, both solid and stranded. Solid is easier to solder to the rails and stranded is more flexible and less prone to breakage when moved repeatedly. Use whichever is most suitable for your situation. Since all of my track is soldered together, I only install feeders where insulating gaps make it necessary. Usually this also involves routing the feeders through switches to control power distribution.
As Wayne says, you could use a heavy bus, like #12 for main distribution and run #22 feeders off that. For my layout, I'm using blocks and running everything to a control panel, so I'm "home running" every connection using #22 stranded security wire. I happen to have a reel of that wire left over and hate to waste it. That should suffice since I'm only feeding in some cases less than a foot of track. I run multiple feeders on longer sections because of how I'm doing it. I'm also soldering each rail joiner so I'm assured a good connection between rail sections. When I'm finished, I will measure each section with a meter while the track is under load to be sure I don't have any voltage drops. I emphasise "under load" because that's the only way you can really check this.