Gentleman, I’m about to start running feeder wires to points on my layout and I was wondering which would render the best results. I’m using Atlas O track and I was trying to decide whether to use the Atlas Rail Joiners and extend them to my terminal block or should I just solder wire to the rails instead. As always, your expertise is always valuable. THANKS - MARSHELANGELO
Hello. I use Atlas track also. I wired my track using rail joiners with wires soldered to them. I hook all wires to MTH 24 port Terminal Block. I ran 2 wires from my MTH Z4000 to the 24 port Terminal Block. No problems at all.
I've used both methods and either one works well. My personal preference is to solder wire to the rail. I use a method that I read about here on the forum where I drill a 5/64" hole through the rail and then insert the end of the wire into the hole. This makes it easier to solder the wire to the track. Here is a picture that shows where I drill the holes and how the wire is inserted. I use 14 awg wire and it just fits in the hole.
Note that it is important to remove the blackening on the center rail before soldering. I recommend practicing on a spare piece of track until you get the hang of it.
Hey JOHN, that‘s definitely a technique that I’ve never heard of before. Definitely one to consider when my rail joiners run thin. I suspected that either technique would work, I was just trying to approach this situation at the highest level but your technique opens up a new level of application. I have a piece of curve track that just stepped up to the plate as a volunteer and I’m definitely going to give it a shot. Thanks for the insight on that piece of info. Thank you also PAULTRAINGUY, it’s off to the train room I go. Y’all take care.
I wired my Atlas track similar to the way JohnF did above, but I didn't solder it. I used forum member Ingeniero No. 1's (Alex) method which he detailed in his layout build thread. He wanted an alternative to soldering to the track as I recall.
I stumbled into his build thread shortly before I started installing my Atlas track. So I decided to try his method. For me, it worked very well. It was also pretty easy to do after the first couple of tries figuring out the process. I was very happy I found this before I started.
Here's a link to a post with all the details and a parts list of material used for everything you need to connect your track feeds using Alex's method. Forum member ENICHTER kindly gathered up all the info from Alex's thread and put it into this single post.
I used #16 stranded wire from OGR for the track connections as Alex did. Unfortunately I don't think they carry the wire any longer. Monoprice has a good replacement for the OGR wire in both #14 and #16 which is what I used. I can find you a link to it if you are interested. I first found this wire from a post by forum member Gilly a couple of years ago.
I soldered wire to the bottom of rail joiners. I first sanded the bottom of them, the black and nickle ones, then pre-tinned them (Very important step!). Next I stripped the end of 16 AWG wire, tinned it, and then bent it at 90 degrees, and soldered it to the bottom of the joiner pointing the wire away (Down) from the joiner. This gives a nice solid joint and now I drill a small hole under the rails to slide the wire into. Even without any ballast the wires are invisible for a nice clean look. Just know on the outside rail where you put the wire joiner you will have to either cut off or cut the middle out of the plastic tie snap so you can get the track together around the wire.
Atlas O sells rail joiners with a length of wire soldered to them - item #6090. I've used them on both my layouts and never had a problem.