Building large O gage layout, 17x38’, using Atlas track and switches. I am soldering my power and ground wires directly to the rails. Does it matter if you connect the ground to the same rail ( inside or outside) all the way around a given main line or can you switch back and forth between inside and out side rails since they are connected through the axels of the train? I am switching back and forth in an attempt to hide wiring on elevated sections of track.

Original Post

Smart money is on dropping in some jumpers between the outside tracks if you'd like to make sure you have good continuity.  Since you're building, why not solder to the bottom of the rail and drop it through the base, that way you can hide them from either side?

Bobby Cox posted:

Does it matter if you connect the ground to the same rail ( inside or outside) all the way around a given main line or can you switch back and forth between inside and out side rails since they are connected through the axels of the train? I am switching back and forth in an attempt to hide wiring on elevated sections of track.

It is actually the tiny wheel contact patch where the electricity flows, the axle just connects the wheels and even then some are insulated/split axles. Like the others have mentioned connect them now while it is easy.

You want to plan you switches with your installation.  Auto-non-derail involves small sections of the outside rail used as switch triggers.  From the white styrene isolation to the frog.  Each side of the frog is a seperate trigger piece. 

 

Lehigh74 posted:

Always good practice to connect common to both outside rails, especially if you have sidings.  I have sometimes neglected to do that and a few times, I had to go back and add a common to the siding.

I agree with Bob!  I am using all Atlas Track & I connect the Common to both outside rails at every connection point! Especially if you are using  Gargraves or Atlas Track with TMCC or Legacy !!!

Ok, I spoke with Steve Horvath (works for Atlas) regarding the need to have ground going to both outside rails or switch ground from one outside rail to the other. He said with Atlas Track it was not necessary because in every Atlas switch both outside rails are connected by a jumper thus spreading the ground between them as well as the track sections connected to each end of the switch. Does this make sense to everyone? Thanks, Bobby

Ok, I spoke with Steve Horvath (works for Atlas) regarding the need to have ground going to both outside rails or switch ground from one outside rail to the other. He said with Atlas Track it was not necessary because in every Atlas switch both outside rails are connected by a jumper thus spreading the ground between them as well as the track sections connected to each end of the switch. Does this make sense to everyone? Thanks, Bobby

I would not rely on the Atlas switch jumpers alone to provide a connection between the outside rails. I can envision a scenario where a derailment causes a short circuit and the fault current could be flowing through the Atlas jumper. Not good, especially if your overload protection is slow...  The aforementioned recommendations to connect common to both outer rails are sound advice. 

I did not do common on both outside rails on my layout using ATLAS O track and I have a fair amount of yards plus a large turntable with numerous spurs.  I have experienced no problems in 3 years.  I run conventional, DCS, TMCC & Legacy.  Believe Steve Horvath’s advice is right on.  Steve knows the electrical side of things.

Craig

Member TCA, LCCA, LOTS, TTOS

Owner "South Fork Railroad"

I wouldn't trust the jumpers in Atlas switches unless they've improved a LOT.  The older switches used to cook their anemic jumpers with just the current of a passing locomotive.

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