Skip to main content

Before going any further I decided I better check that I wired everything correctly. I'm glad I did. My digital multi-meter, like most of them, acts as continuity checker when you select the lowest Ohms setting. Out of 74 circuits, two were wired improperly. In one, I had mis-marked the leads themselves so the green throttle leads were marked as red and vice versa. In the other, I had just screwed the leads to the wrong buss. If I hadn't rung out each side, those track blocks would have been dead or a different voltage than their neighbors and would have been a pain in the butt to troubleshoot. Now they're all correct. I also checked those circuits that would be controlled by the interlock and they too were in good shape.


So with that out of the way, I started wiring the hot side to all the LED indicators. I'm installing the single current-limiting resistor in this line which feeds either the red or green LED. I then joined five of them with one other lead into a larger ferrule. This lead will ultimately be joined with a few more going into the DC+ distribution block. Since the block only has 17 positions so combining them is a good idea. The wire is 26 AWG which can handle 2.5 amps. The LEDs only draw .02 amps so there's no change of overloading anything.


I had started bundling groups of wires with tie wraps, but when I ran into the first toggle's problem, I clipped all of them off. I'll wait until all the wires are correct and powered up before making everything pretty(ier).


LED Install 02.


I'm using heat shrink tubing as much as possible to insulate all the splices. In one of the first ones I did, I picked a size that was too small and had to resort to electrical tape.

LED Install 01


In my last iterations, I took great pains to adhere the wiring to the panel so it would stay in place when the panel was open for service. In this case, the panel opened upwards. In this version, the panel opens downwards and the wire naturally lays in place. In this case, I'm more concerned about shaping the cables so they don't foul the hinge when the panel is raised.


Here's the latest wiring diagram modified from the incandescent version. I must say that LED did add a level of complexity. If I had enough of the incandescents, I would have used them. They worked on AC from the 10 volt tap on the transformer. But the LEDs are going to look very good once they're all installed. Not shown is the LED voltage = 12 fed through a Laptop power supply.


Block Toggle Wiring Diagram


Images (3)
  • LED Install 02.
  • LED Install 01
  • Block Toggle Wiring Diagram

This is "non-pic-post". I've now completed installing 17 LEDs and only 23 more to go...ugh! It's painstaking work since I want to make sure that every joint is perfect and every exposed area is covered with heat shrink tubing. I'm also having to glue in the red LEDs since they're slightly smaller than 5mm so the Gorilla glue has to dry overnight to make a strong joint. I'm off tomorrow and will install some more.

Excellent! Send my commission in the mail...;-)


Today I went looking for a #2 wood screw to attach those Euro-style barrier strips. The hobby shop has servo mounting screws, but they're too short. I need something longer than a half inch. They suggested Fastenal, an industrial supplier of screws that I never heard of. Well...they have 16 stores in Louisville alone. They didn't have them in stock, but could have them by Monday (no shipping). So I got one hundred #2 X 5/8" for $6.00. They're phillips, pan-head screws and should work fine.


I'll post again later tonight when I get the ground DC lines hooked up and make the LEDs light up.

Thanks! Here's an update.


Continued wiring today for a little bit with the help of #2 grandson. Engine passing over crossing in the middle of the reverse-loop zone promptly stopped. I had that block ending one track section past the crossing. What I hadn't taken into account was that there is no power passing through Ross crossing. The center is isolated and stops power flow from either direction. This means I need feeders on both sides of the crossing to feed the tracks that pass over that section. I'll have to add some jumpers and hope that DCS doesn't mind to much.


 Insulated Crossing


The other thing I found is more serious. My J1-a doesn't like the "S" curve leading into the yards. I was worried about this, but didn't think it would be this bad. The engine only has flanges on the first and last driver, but they were binding going through this section when I pushed it by hand (it's not yet powered). This problem may also manifest itself with the Q2 and S1, but those are not out of their boxes yet. I went back to the RRTrack drawing board and came up with a realignment. It means some significant surgery of well-glued track.


Here's the culprit.

Reverse Curve Problem


Here's the curve removed, but it entails some major surgery. By moving the #4 that leads into the yard further around the bend, it eliminates the "S" curve completely. And, best of all, no new parts need to be purchased. I haven't wired these tracks in yet, so if I'm going to make a change, it should be now.


 S-Curve Removal ver 2

Yard track loss is minimal, and it looks a whole lot better (to me). Too bad I didn't think of this when I designed it the first time. 20/20 hindsight. Removing and re-gluing the track and roadbed will not be easy, but the "S" curve is intolerable.


Images (3)
  • Reverse Curve Problem
  • Insulated Crossing
  • S-Curve Removal ver 2
Last edited by Trainman2001

Update on the J1-a. While the engine now runs through the S curve mechanically, electrically it's another story. Apparently my wire splice to fix the wire that broke on the real roller created a dead short. The engine no longer runs and trips the Z-4000 breaker. It's now in the repair cradle waiting to be completely disassembled (remove boiler, so I can do a proper splice on that wire and get rid of the jumper from the front roller to the rear.


I post an update about the fix when I do it.


I did get four more tracks powered so 33 down and 5 more to go. The engine servicing tracks are now live.

I have some Atlas bumpers with lights on top, but they don't fit the Ross tracks too well. I'm going to build some out of Ross cross ties of which I have a whole bag just for this purpose. I'm very careful moving them into the sidings just for that reason... no bumpers.


Tonight, I was able to finish the control panel installation of all switch controllers and run the 14vac feeder from the fixed tap on the Z-4000 transformer. I then added some more cable ties to bunch the wires together and make it easier to lift them clear of the hinge line when I finally close and secure the panel front.


Here's the panel in final form with all it's wiring in place. There's over 380 leads with terminations on both ends. No wonder it looks ridiculous.


Panel Finished Form


And here's the inside. I've added as many cable ties as makes sense. In my days working at the long-gone, Fischer and Porter Co., they made control panels for chemical, water-treatment, and power plants. The guys that built them were "artists" in the truest sense of the word. Even more impressive than the electronic instrument panel boards were the pneumatic ones. In them, every tube was bent perfectly, nested with others and it was amazing to see them go together. This panel is NOT one of them. But one of the challenges I had was having the front panel pull forward, and being rather thin Plexiglass. If I was wiring it from the back, I would have run the leads more uniformly and fastened them to the panel.


Panel Finished Form 3


Here's the barrier strips fully loaded with all 26 switch leads. Now I'll bring the field wiring in. They will fasten on the other size of the barriers; green to green, yellow to yellow, but now there will be an additional red lead that will tie into the 14vac power buss. I bought some more wire today at The Home Depot, a decent, 4-conductor phone wire. It's round in cross-section so I bought a Klein radial stripper to make it a little easier taking the insulation off.


Panel Finished Form 4


You can see the 14vac jumper running from buss to buss. The transformer also has a 10 VAC fixed output which I may use for house lighting and other scenery applications.


Next work session will methodically bring in the field wiring from all 26 switches and we'll be in the train running business. When that happens it will be almost a full year to bring the Pennsylvania and Pacific RR back to life. I thought I could do it faster, but this is about what it takes.


Images (3)
  • Panel Finished Form
  • Panel Finished Form 3
  • Panel Finished Form 4
Last edited by Trainman2001

Just a quick status report...I fastened all 26 of the 3-wire junction blocks under the platform and hooked up all the switch machine pigtails. You can plainly see the Euro Style junction block at work and how the wire ferrules integrate with it.


 Switches Alive 3


Then I was able to connect and test 7, 3-wire cables from the field and terminated them to the other side of the barrier strips. Here I decided to install the hot leads individually into the buss bars since it simplifies the task a bit by being able to connect all of the ferrules with the wires out of the control box. I just will double and triple up the hot leads in buss bar to accommodate all 26 of them.


 Switches Alive 2


It went very quickly since I'm getting so good at it. I predict that one or two more good working sessions will complete this project phase and there will be trains running.


Here's 6 of the switch controllers powered up. As I noted in the last post, the labels are from their previous life on the old layout. I will re-label them based on which direction of the switch would be considered the main line, or, as in the case of the reverse loops, I'll use some other indication showing the straight and diverging direction. The layout is simple, but has some complexity and will require rehearsal to run it correctly.


Switches Alive 1


In all of these pictures you can sort of see through the panel front. That's because I can't close it completely... yet. Once all the wiring is done and tested, I will insert a piece of heavy twine under all of the cabling at the hinge line. I'll then get the grandsons to lift the wires above the hinge so I can push the panel fully closed. At that point, you won't see through the panel.


Images (3)
  • Switches Alive 3
  • Switches Alive 2
  • Switches Alive 1
Last edited by Trainman2001
Originally Posted by Trainman2001:

I have some Atlas bumpers with lights on top, but they don't fit the Ross tracks too well. I'm going to build some out of Ross cross ties of which I have a whole bag just for this purpose. I'm very careful moving them into the sidings just for that reason... no bumpers.



Do you happen to know where you got the Atlas bumpers with lights? Or did you make them? If you made them, could you offer up a pointer or two on how you did it. I have been looking for these but haven't found any.


And BTW, looks like you are building a very fine layout, I have enjoyed reading your posts about it's construction. I'm sure it will be really nice!



Originally Posted by Trainman2001:

So... I went down to the layout and photographed one of the bumpers. The reason you had trouble finding an Atlas version is because these are by Lionel. I mis-remembered since I purchased them 14 years ago. Regardless, they don't really fit Ross track. 


I like the light since it's confirmation that the siding is energized.

Thank You, Trainman2001.


Was afraid of that. Might pick up some of the Lionel's and see how they fit the Atlas track. Probably no better than they fit the Ross, but just maybe? Lights on powered sidings is what I wanted also, as you said above.



FWIW, picked these up yesterday at my LHS and they fit perfectly on my Atlas track, looks like they would fit well on Ross track also. They're kind of pricey, but they are very nice. They are heavy die cast, have a spring bumper and have set screws to hold them in place. Just thought you might be interested, if so, they are Lionel 6-62283, here is a link...


Originally Posted by Trainman2001:

Mark, I see you've found the other thread.


I'm using the Lionel bumpers at this time. At some point I'll make something more scale-like. Three of them are going to fall inside the engine house. In prototype service they probably be some kind of concrete structure.


Thanks for reading!

Yes Trainman, I found the other thread.  After my reply about the bumpers, I started back at the beginning.  Excellent reading, and lots of good ideas of what worked and what didn't work for you.


Thank you for writing!

Add Reply

The Track Planning and Layout Design Forum is sponsored by

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.