What gauge track bus wire?

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Mannix, May 11, 2006.

  1. Mannix

    Mannix Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    0
    I will be using Prodigy Express for my layout. What gauge wire should I use for the track bus and what gauge for the feeder wires? I have one book that says to use 14 gauge wire for the track bus. That is the same size wire that is used in wiring a house. Is that too heavy?
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2002
    Messages:
    5,718
    Likes Received:
    0
    Better to err on the side of caution - heavy is better than too light. Household wiring in Ontario calls for 12 ga. If you are doing even a moderate run (i.e. more than a 4x8, but not a bsement empire) I would consider stranded 14 or 12 ga. The feeders to the track can be smaller (18 to 20 ga), as long as you keep them short.

    Andrew
  3. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    931
    Likes Received:
    0
    Unless you have a very large layout, anything over 14 gauge is overkill. My layout is 10 foot by 20 foot , with DCS and I use 18 gague on the layout. The ones that I have just built, 12 by 8 foot and 6 by 8 foot with two main lines have also been done in 18 gauge wire.

    DCS recomands to use 16 gague wire, but I can tell you that I have not had any problems with any of my layouts.

    tom
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    5,135
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wire is not too heavy until it causes the benchwork to sag.
    It's a trade off at that point between cost and availability. A minimum would be lamp cord on a small layout, up to the 12 size on a larger one. Over a certain size you will want power districts.
  5. Mannix

    Mannix Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the information. I am ready to start laying some tracks.
    Mannix
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2002
    Messages:
    5,718
    Likes Received:
    0
    Re: brass track.

    The brass track is just as good a conductor as nickle silver. The problem comes with oxidation - the oxides of nickle silver conduct electricity, while the oxide of brass does not. That means that your track should be very clean, regardless of whether it is NS, brass or something else.

    If you have brass track, I would say use it for now, unless you want to spend the money to replace it. You might try a very, very small amount of clipper oil once you have cleaned the track. This will help improve conductivity, and slow the oxidation. See Ralph's "Great Wahl Clipper Oil Experiment" thread in the General Talk forum.

    Andrew
  7. Harold Cole

    Harold Cole Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think 14 gauge wire is good enough.I just happened to have 10 gauge romex house wire laying in the garage,so that is what i used.I,ve got a 16x16 layout and with this settup and droppers every 6' i have little to no voltage drop.