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STrack power.

Stokeyboy

6 posts

Hi all. Have decided to embark on constructing a new layout (DCC). It has been many years since I had my last one. Now looking at all the info available it would seem a DCC bus is the way to go for more reliability etc. However, it would seem with all the wiring and soldering involved you need a degree in electrical engineering!. Anyone know of a more  simplified way to power the track, bearing in mind it is only approx 7 X 4. Power will come from the Elite and layout will consist of 3 loops and a couple of sidings.Many thanks.

Chrissaf

7400 posts


Community Moderator

Technically and assuming all Hornby track, the simplest track power arrangement is a SINGLE DCC power track / power clip attached to ANY convenient track piece on the layout. Then fit Hornby R8232 DCC point clips to ALL the points on your layout. The R8232 DCC point clips pass the DCC power through all the points to all extremes of the layout. This assumes that your three ovals (loops) have points that form cross-overs between them.

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The downside to this approach is that long term electrical reliability of the layout is totally dependant upon the physical resilience of the mechanical track joiners and the R8232 point clips. Over time, the track joiners can work loose due in part to the vibration of rolling stock running over them. The movement of the rails inside the track joiners due to seasonal heat variations causing expansion and contraction. Plus a certain amount of tarnishing that will build up over time. Tarnishing and corrosion has been known to cause R8232 DCC point clips to heat up and glow red hot, melting the plastic on the points around them (an extreme scenario I grant you, but one that does get reported on the forum).

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It is these longer term effects and issues that most layout builders want to eliminate by installing a DCC power bus system. A simple DCC power bus does not need to be complicated. It is basically a pair of thick wires running in a strategic route under the layout baseboard, to which thinner dropper wires are attached. These thin dropper wires then get soldered directly to either the outside or underside of the rails. Some people just put in a few strategic droppers so that each side of every point has at least one power feed (this eliminates the need to fit the R8232 DCC point clips). Or the other extreme is to fit a dropper to each and every individual track piece so that the track joiner has no function to pass DCC power through it, and is relegated to just performing the physical / mechanical track joining function.

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You can implement a BUS strategy as simple or as complicated as you want. Or limit its complication to your skill set capability.

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Some things to note:

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  • Modern Nickle Silver rails solder really easily. It is near impossible to neatly solder the much older Hornby steel rails (magnets do not stick to Nickle Silver rails). You need a soldering iron that is appropriately sized for the job. I would suggest a fairly small iron no more than 20 watts. Use 60/40 Lead/Tin solder. This is more expensive than the 'Lead Free' solder, but far more easy to use by a novice. Even if the 60/40 solder is Multi-core (that is to say contains flux), still use a separate flux product as part of the soldering kit you put together.
  • The thicker BUS wires are typically 32/0.2mm wire (32 strands of 0.2mm diameter wire in a common PVC insulation).
  • The thinner dropper wires should be kept short, less than 300mm and are typically 7/0.2mm wires.
  • Use wires with two different colours. If a dropper wire is crossed with another you will create a short circuit, so it is important to test for a short using a multi-meter after connecting each individual dropper pair as trying to find a short circuit later is near impossible. Cheap multi-meters (less than £6) can be bought on ebay. Using different colours helps prevent mis-wiring inadvertent shorts. Personal opinion here, but I recommend stranded wire rather than solid wire, so avoid recycling electrical domestic Twin & Earth solid conductor cables.
  • If you use a BUS system, then you don't need a traditional Hornby power track / power clip connection from your Elite controller. Just attach the end of the BUS directly to the 'TRACK A&B' terminals on the Elite.

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TIP: I write long posts. If you intend to write a reply, it would be appreciated if you didn't use the 'White Arrow in Blue Box' button. This is not a 'Reply to this post button. It is best to write any reply you want to make in the 'Reply Text Box' at the very bottom of the page and click the Green 'Reply' button.

Chris........ Making the wood in the trees visible.

Stokeyboy

6 posts

Plenty of food for thought there!. Thanks for your advice.

BagEndJct

282 posts

I am hopeless at soldering so I used a number of Hornby Digital Power Connecting Clips (R8242) plus a couple of R82841 Power tracks I had on hand to get power to as many parts of my layout as possible, especially remote sidings! Believing in belts and braces, I also used the R8232 DCC point clips Chris mentioned above.

 

Small holes were drilled in the baseboard adjacent to the clips & rails, and they were then connected to my power bus under the board. This was made much easier by using special joiners, splicers and clips available in kits specifically for this purpose (Google "dcc power bus wire starter kit"). I found one of these kits enormously helpful. By the way, I am still very much a DCC/Railmaster newcomer.

Railmaster Pro Pack. ELink. Windows 10 64-bit.

mjb1961

452 posts

Hi ,,,,,I can't solder either so I used fishplatees with wires already soldered to them ,,,plentiful on eBay ,,,each one was connected to the bus wire via terminal blocks ,,,plentiful on eBay also ,,,there is no soldering invloved at all useing this method ,,,,,mjb

Rog (RJ)

1787 posts

Soldering is pretty easy but you have to practice.  Get some scraps of copper wire and start by just getting the solder to stick to it.  Then twist two pieces together and solder them.  After a bit of practice with pieces of wire you can move on to soldering scraps of rail.

 

There are many, many guides to soldering on the web but practice is key.

Rog :-) I don't model anything in particular, I just play trains. Living on the South side of Nottingham. Keep taking the tablets. http://www.modelrailwayforum.co.uk/ The phoenix has risen from the ashes

Ericm0hff

5675 posts

Why not learn to solder? It is dead easy, and you will save yourself a fortune in minor repairs and maintenance.

Loads of 'how to's' on the tube, and it's only dangerous if you pick the soldering iron up by the hot end! (We've all done it - once!) Embarassed

if it works first time, you did something wrong!

St1ngr4y

1999 posts

I soldered dropper wires to metal rail joiners, and the wires then connect to a track bus under the baseboard. Having completed that, Peco decided to introduce ready-wired rail joiners to the market.

 

Ray

DCC Elite + Railmaster+ProPack, Windows 10 desktop

BagEndJct

282 posts

Rog & Eric

I have tried everything, believe me. With a solder "pistol", I am a bit better than I used to be. But I believe it's like making pastry (I can't do that either, even with frozen pastry, it cracks & splits and tastes like concrete) you either can or you can't. My Mum could make great pastry and my Dad was a great solderer (he had one connected to a Calor gas bottle, I think); I inherited neither skill.

 

mjb and Ray 

Great news about ready soldered fishplates etc. Too late now though. My track is laid now and it works pretty well now with my track connectors and rails. If a loco gets stuck anywhere, I give that section a "clean" using Track Magic. Magic!

 

However, I do have to take one section of track up to replace some points. I may think about using those ready-soldered gizmos as it's a section that has always give some problems, power-wise, for some reason.

 

Railmaster Pro Pack. ELink. Windows 10 64-bit.

walkingthedog

17582 posts

Don’t use ready wired fishplates. They are not the ideal solution. 

WTD ........... Nurse, the screens.

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