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I am planning a layout (3 rail, 2 parallel ovals, roughly 14X7) with DCS control.  I want Legacy control also, but I will wire for DCS following the requirements in Barry's book, the 3rd edition of which I have.  I will then add the Legacy to the output common of the TIU so that the layout has a Legacy signal (at least that is my understanding).

Other than Barry's book, I know nothing and have no experience, but there are certain things I want to do if they will not interfere with the DCS signal.

I know I need divide the layout into track blocks that are electrically isolated from one another (I know I need to isolate the power center rail, but I am not sure if I need to isolate the outer common rail also), with no more than one power feed to each block, so each block has a single power (and digital) feed to it.  Hopefully I am on the right track so far.

I want to use Atlas sectional track.  I love the track but I do not want to rely on the rail joiners for conducting electricity from one track to the next.  Also, I do not want to solder the rail joints.  Instead, I want to jumper the track sections with a wire from one track section to another within the track block.

My question is:  Is it OK to jumper the individual track sections within an electrically isolated track block for DCS control (strong DCS signal strength).  It seems to me that jumpering the track sections within the block would be OK, but on the other hand it seems it might result in effect in having multiple power and DCS signal feeds to each block, which I must avoid.

Any help is appreciated.  Please do not hesitate to correct me if any of my reasoning is wrong.  Sorry if this has been addressed in another thread.

Thank you in advance,


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 I can answer some of your questions..

Making blocks.     only  the center rail needs to have a insulated pin (or cut) ..leave  all the outside rails connected.  It really doesn't make any difference where the "U" connection gets hooked up, I use an outside rail. Others use  the black output  on a tiu channel.  If all the power supplies  commons are tied together as well as the outside rails it's pretty much the same thing .


 I think   jumpering the track sections is a great idea  for a good connection between track  sections. however you would not jumper blocks together,. I the same thing  with some ross switches that are not pre wired.

It would go something like this....  Paired wire From the tiu output  to a terminal  strip,    from the terminal  strip  to the track block. one set of feeders to each block.

Last edited by Gregg

FWIW, I also use Atlas track with only the rail joiners connecting the track pieces to each other. I made sure the connections were snug when assembling the track and I have had no problems with this setup. If you have any used Atlas track, just make sure you are using the dimpled rail joiners and not the originals. If you have any that are not dimpled, discard them and replace them with the dimpled ones. I have some used track, but have never seen one of the older rail joiners. I don't see any difference between a jumper and a rail joiner so if you want to use the jumpers I think you would be just fine with them, but maybe Barry will comment on that one so you can be certain.

As Gregg said above, isolate your blocks using the center rail only and leave all the outside rails connected with no isolation joiners. Connect your power feeds to the center of the blocks (or as close as you can get to center) using both a power wire and a common wire. Many folks here more knowledgeable than I recommend connecting both outside rails together on track systems like Atlas, where the outside rails are isolated from each other. I did not so this on my layout, but it is only 6'x16' and it might make a difference on a larger layout.

I also had DCS for quite a while before I had Legacy. When I added my Legacy system I just connected the Legacy signal wire to the common outputs of my TIU and that also works just fine here. It was really very easy to add.

As only a suggestion for connecting your power feeds to Atlas track, forum member Ingeniero No1 developed a great method using #16 stranded wire and small screws. I used his method on mine and could not be happier with it. I was really glad I found his build thread before I wired my permanent layout. I didn't want to solder because I am planning to add on and change things around. I have already moved a couple of things and it was very easy to do with this method.

Here is a link to the details of Ingeniero No 1's track connection method. Go to the top of this thread and I believe he also states he uses just the rail joiners for connecting track. His layout is much larger than mine, and also much nicer as well. In his posts there is a link to his build thread which also contains some more tips on how he laid his Atlas track, lots of good stuff there and he has a really nice layout too!

pferddy posted:

Gregg --  Thank you very much.  Most appreciated.  So, should I tie the outside rails together with a jumper within each track block?  Do I need to do anything with the switches (also Atlas).


Hey you're welcome,    Yes I would... It's those darn traction tired  engines   along with 2 /3 rail engine that operate just a little bit better if the outside rail are connected together especially when the engine is running with no cars.   I don't have any Atlas  switches.  If the wires are really thin I might add heavier wire tying all center rail together on the switch. I suppose now is the time before laying down track on the layout.


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