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Our club uses "suit case connectors" and likely for cost and sourcing reasons, they used lamp AC power cord for most of the wiring (all black, so only way to differentiate is a rib on the wire) and screw terminal barrier strips.

I would tell anyone this is how NOT to do it.

#1 the connectors come unplugged and are not positive locking.

#2 Crimping that many connectors and then into screw terminal barrier strips upside down under a table leads to loose terminals at the barrier strip, stripped out screw holes in the cheap barrier strips, and the all black lamp cord is impossible to figure out the ridged wire under the table. Edit, another thing, they stacked multiple wires under screw terminals, and that also contributes to a disaster.

For the love of trains- do anything but this method.

Last edited by Vernon Barry

Conversely, my home layout, I used 12-2 Yellow Romex SIMpull Type NM-B Cable, then stripped off the outer yellow sheath. That leaves a bare ground conductor and 2 insulated wires (white and black). Bare copper was common, Black line is outside mainline, and white is inside mainline and yard power. This pulled through holes in my framework under the table and makes basically a giant U under my U shaped layout.

I would use a razor knife to strip in the middle of a section of the bus wire, wrap my drop down #16 feeder wire, solder that joint, and then wrap with cloth electrical tape.

Maybe not everyone's ideal and workflow, but I have no power loss, minimal connections to come apart. As I changed out track sections, I cut those 16 gauge drop down feeders, and then reconnected the new track feeders using euro style screw connectors.

A large part of my plan was to not use crimped terminals anywhere. To me the advantage of using euro style terminals is not needing to terminal any attaching wires. Simply strip, insert, tighten the screw. My method of using the bus wiring, and #16 feeders soldered around eliminated buying distro blocks. It's a tradeoff of labor (soldering) VS a manufactured part. That said for the accessory areas it did make sense to use distribution simply for the number of powered buildings and so forth in a small area.

Distro only used for accessory voltage.

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For a layout that size. A 14 gauge buss would be fine. If the buss is sort of following the tracks and you have short feeders to the buss. 16 gauge should be okay for feeders.
I can’t help you as far as suitcase connectors as I rarely use them. You mentioned you can’t solder. I think this is    a skill sooner or later you are going to need in this hobby. A lot of people say they can’t solder and a lot of it has to do with what you have for equipment. There are a lot of how to videos on You Tube.
I use something like this to strip the buss wire. It will push back the insulation where needed just enough to wrap your feeder wire around it.

11FCABC9-26C8-44ED-AFDF-7E1F286BC563

The Weller is a popular soldering gun for this. For what you invest in Suitcase connectors you could spend on some soldering equipment and have it for other projects. A good place to hone your skills is under the layout.

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Last edited by Dave_C
@Jeff4643 posted:

I have a 8x12 layout. What would be the proper gauge wire to use for a bus line? Also I would like to use suit case connectors because I lack good soldering skills what kind can you recommend and where to purchase? Thanks

I like 14 gauge stranded copper wire for a bus wire, with 16-18 gauge for feeders, depending on length.

Suitcase connectors are available at the big box hardware stores and the big A.

I also like to use T-Tap connectors instead of suitcase connectors. They serve the same basic purpose but, IMHO, are easier to use and provide a more secure connection and less likely to become loose.

T-TAP CONNECTORS

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14 gauge stranded for the bus is fine, 16 or 18 for the drops will be fine as well. One alternate to the suitcase connector is the Wago connector. The downside (if it really is) is you need to cut the bus wire, the ends go into either end of the connector,and then you can attach you feeders into the other open slots in it. I have used them, but some layout guys I have met swear by them.

@Jeff4643 posted:

I have a 8x12 layout. What would be the proper gauge wire to use for a bus line? Also I would like to use suit case connectors because I lack good soldering skills what kind can you recommend and where to purchase? Thanks

Get yourself a nice roll of clear speaker wire 16 or 14 will do, nice thing is it in pairs already easy to strip and color coded for your use.

go simple or go home

I have to agree with Ed, and Thatguy'.. Speaker wire works great for busing, easy to work with, and relatively inexpensive compared to other wire'..  I use terminal connectors for lighting buildings.  Makes sense to use them Quick easy hook ups, The ones Vernon Barry shows work great.  I doubled up on one Euro type and ran 100 structures with multiple LEDs in them. 

Keep in mind, a 9 volt battery will run 100 LEDs.  using a 12VDC adapter will run 100s.

If you don't like soldering, {NO} problem.  Try Liquid electrical tape.  Excellent product'  All my buildings wiring are liquid taped.  As far as suite case connectors, I've had problems with them, so I can't recommend them in good faith.  I would explore all that is available.  Like everything else in the hobby, Everyone has their own favorite way of performing and using products to get the layout operational'...

Best of luck'...

As recommended by the late very knowledgeable Marty Fitzhenry, 14 gauge copper speaker wire is the way to go. As noted above, it is relatively cost effective and does a great job. Easy to work with and identify. Look for wire with the highest copper content and not copper coated aluminum. I use theater 14-2 speaker wire.

Hope this helps.

Michael

@Richie C. posted:

I like 14 gauge stranded copper wire for a bus wire, with 16-18 gauge for feeders, depending on length.

Suitcase connectors are available at the big box hardware stores and the big A.

I also like to use T-Tap connectors instead of suitcase connectors. They serve the same basic purpose but, IMHO, are easier to use and provide a more secure connection and less likely to become loose.

T-TAP CONNECTORS

I have an 8 X 16 layout and I used these type connectors.  They work great and can be easily taken apart if you ever need to change something or trouble shoot a wiring problem.

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