Track Power – DC


What is the best method for bringing power to tracks with a controller? How many attachments, bus line?

Answer ( 1 )


    I’m working on layout number 7 or 8 and all have been two rail layouts. Some were American Flyer AC and the more recent ones HO scale DC. My first few were block wiring with switches controlling power to each block and two wires, one for each rail. The blocks were isolated from each other, Toothpicks for Flyer and plastic rail joiners for HO. My last two HO layout used ‘common rail’ wiring. One rail is continuous over the whole layout and the second is divided into blocks. I don’t have reverse loops on either of these layouts so shorts are not a problem. I have still maintained two wires to each block from the switch panel that controls which throttle runs the track. I did have reverse loops on my first American Flyer layout and had the necessary electrical switches to keep the polarity correct. My current throttles are on longish wires to allow me to walk partway around the layout to see what went crashing to the floor in that last Bang. If you look through the blog you will see some layouts with throttles arranged on a board with the required electrical switches nearby for block selection and control. There are a number of good books that describe block wiring and straight DC operation. I have two editions of the Atlas electrical wiring book and can recommend them as being easy to understand and cover the basics needed to run trains. Block wiring minimizes the wire resistance needed by limiting the length of wire needed to get between the power controller and block switches to the track block. I use solder connections to the track as well as solder connections to rail joiners to get from the wire to the track itself. Atlas makes prewired joiners if you don’t want to solder, but they will need to be extended to your central control/power routing panel. It seems that in the past (4 or 5 decades ago!) I’ve seen throttles that you could unplug and move around that talked to a central control that maintained your settings while it was unplugged, but I don’t think I’ve seen much about them lately. The simple answer is wire from your throttle and power distribution to the track itself for each block in the track. Good Luck and Have Fun! Ray

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