Wiring help needed for yard

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by spitfire, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    What's the best way to run all the feeder wires coming off the yard ladder to the bus wires? Is it better to:

    1) solder each one individually to a separate part of the bus wire?

    2) solder several matching polarity feeders together and then solder that to the bus wire?

    3) attach each one to a terminal strip and then wire that to the bus wire?

    or does it matter? It seems to me that option 1 will result in a lot of wire stripping in a small area. I've never used a terminal strip, although in principal it sounds like the neatest, most efficient approach.

    Thanks in advance for your help. (Just to let you know all my wires are colour-coded red and green and match the red and green bus wires).

    Val
  2. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

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    Hi....I ran two BARE bus wires across the whole of the yard and then soldered small feeder wires from these to the tracks. The bus wires were loosely stapled to the base of the yard so I couls wrap the feeder wires around them and then solder.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

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    I would say whatever option keeps the feeders (small gauge) wires to the shortest length. In order to keep them short, you may want to split the bus to mimic the yard pattern (doesn't have to be an exact match). That is what we have in the yard at HOTrak.

    I would stay away from the terminal blocks. We have banned them from modules at HOTrak because they eventually fail, and they allow oxidation of the wires. Soldering provides a much better joint, from both strength and conductivity points-of-view. Do a good job with a hot iron, cover your joints with shrink tube, and you won't have to worry about them.

    Andrew
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

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    I run a short individual feeder to the bus wires. If you solder the feeders together and the run a wire to the bus, I think you will create resistance having all the wires soldered at one spot. I have heard that if you run individual feeders to the bus wire you actually reduce the resistance.

    Loren
  5. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Thanks for the quick replies everyone!! This is great because I want to work on this today.

    Gus, I think that could work as long as you added some insulation around the wires afterwards. Bare wires scare me! :eek:

    Andrew, thanks for the heads up on the terminal strips. I know they would be a lot neater, but the oxidization issue obviously rules out that option.

    Loren, thanks for the info on resistance. I had a feeling there was some reason why soldering all the feeders together was a bad idea - now I know why!

    Val
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

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    Actually, Gus' point is a bit of a contentious issue right now at HOTrak. A few of the guys have bare wire busses running under their modules. At ~14V and ~5amps they say it is not a concern, but others are not so sure. Does make it really easy though to add feeders wherever you like.

    The other problem with the terminal strips is that the screws tend to crush the wire. Tightening and loosening the screw a couple of times to "adust" can significantly weaken a solid wire, or cut through a good number of strands in stranded wire, thereby reducing its capacity.

    Andrew
  7. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Andrew, thanks for the additional info. For me, bare wires is a scary prospect, but it gives me an idea. If I could strip one large section of wire (instead of a bunch of smaller sections) and solder my feeders, it would save a lot of time and aggravation. Then I could insulate with electrical tape. (I'd use the paint-on insulation, but have no idea where to get it.)

    Val
  8. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

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    Funny, I'm in the midst of wiring a yard too! My answer to your question is it doesn't matter. Well, between choices 1 and 2 anyway. Yes, you should keep the length of a small gauge feeder short, but what is short? For me, about a foot is ok. I use 22 gauge for the feeders. I took a couple photos of my work in process. It is rather unsightly! I have a lot of feedres because in addition to a feeder for each length of rail. I use 7 feeders for each turnout. Yeah, a bit anal. I'm using Micro Engineering turnouts thrown manually. They have a nice spring locking mech for the points, but I still solder feeders to the points, using something like 30 gauge. Also feeders to the stock rails, and the short rails coming from the frog. The closure rails come with a wire attaching them to the stock rails so don't need feeders. The 7th feed is for the frog, which I won't use unless I need to in the future. But easier to solder before laying! I solder all my feeds on the workbench to the underside of the rail.

    So, you'll see in the first photo I have several white leads in one batch, and also a lone black lead. How many I attach is determined by how long the feed is and how much of a mess it would make if I ran too many together. In the pic I haven't soldered yet. I have one more section to do, see photo 2.

    The 3rd photo has absolutely nothing to do with anything!

    Attached Files:

  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

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    Val,

    Use shrink tubing, not electrical tape. Requires a bit of thinking (to make sure you put it on the bus wire before you run it) but is neater and not as sticky!

    The paint on stuff should be available at electronics stores. I think that Lee Valley had some at one point as well...

    Gary -

    Nice looking work there... 7 feeders per turnout! You are dedicated my friend! Love that last shot of the train on the bridge.


    Andrew
  10. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

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  11. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Again, thanks for the timely replies! :thumb:

    Gary, instead of running a lot of wires from the turnouts, I soldered the ladder tracks together. It's short enough that I don't anticipate any buckling. What you've done with many feeders in one place, but soldered to the bus wire is more or less what I will do. Love the bridge btw!!

    Andrew, I will look into Lee Valley as a source of paint on insulation.

    Loren, thanks. I already have a wire stripper, something I bought some time ago, and have used it a lot already on the feeder wires.

    Oh, forgot to mention, my feeders are all about 12" long and are 20 guage. The bus is 12 IIRC.

    Val
  12. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

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    Thanks Andrew. Regarding the paint on insulation, I got some at my local hardware store. The brand is Liquid Tape. Great stuff. Perhaps a search for it will reveal an on line seller. Electrical tape tends to give up its grip with time Val. If you can't get the paint on type, a couple thick coats of acrylic paint may be better than tape. Just don't have any strands of wire sticking out!
  13. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

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    Hi Val, Yeah, soldering the track together is logical and fine, I wasn't concerned with buckling either. For this small yard I only used rail joiners where I felt they would really be needed. Mostly I glued the track down to plywood with the rails lined up and said good enough. How smart this was will take awhile to discover! I used scale railbars ca'd to the rails to join the track pieces together, and every 39" feet along the flex track. I don't have available photos of this specifically, I thought I would do so after ballasting and final painting. But I found this corner of a large format pic which just barely shows one joint between turnouts, in the lower left corner. In the center of the photo you can see where I used similar railbars to connect my code 70 rail to a length of code 55, representing the old original yard lead. with the wood trestle replaced, a new yard throat was built, and I wanted to represent brand new ties next to original ties/rail. It'll look better when done, of course (I hope!)

    I screwed up and used quick reply, photo to follow!
  14. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

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    And also a pic of the yard itself in all its unfinished glory.

    Attached Files:

  15. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Another quick question. Is is okay to take a secondary wire off the bus wire (same gauge) to feed into the Zephyr power inputs? I'm thinking a T configuration.

    Edit: the reason is that it will save doubling the bus wire back to where I want the Zephyr to be.

    Val
  16. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

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    Not sure what you're asking Val, are you asking if you can have, in effect, the buss be connected to the same power source in multiple places? I say yes, others may say no, but I feel it is no problem. However, don't do this with your digitrax loco net. The loco net should not be arrainged in a loop.
  17. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Man, I wish I had the patience to do that. I bet it looks amazing!!!!!

    Val
  18. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Gary, hopefully the diagrams below will explain. Because the Zephyr is also the throttle I want it adjacent to the yard ladder. I also want the tracks shown in darker grey to hook up to the front end of the bus wire, while the lighter grey tracks will hook up to the tail end of the bus wire.

    I'm just trying to save wire is all!! sign1

    Val

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  19. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

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    Hi....Either one of those 2 configurations will work. #1 is better because you'll have a shorter length.
    My bare bus wires run perpendicular to the yard tracks, with one end of each soldered to the main bus wires. My feeders are about 6"-8" long.

    Gary...Is that a Grand Valley bridge...? Looks awesome..!!
  20. TCH

    TCH Member

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    I use methods 1 and 2 to attach my feeders [ mostly 1 ]

    I also don`t worry about insulating the joins as I make sure I strip the insulation off 2 or 3 inches apart then there is no chance of a short.