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Hi guys, I've got four lines running around my 8x20 foot table using two

ZW's, two lines on each transformer plugged into an industrial power strip. Now I am starting to wire buildings, I have eleven Woodland Scenics buildings plus street lamps and a few of their lighted vehicles. Can I combine the trains with the buildings on the same power strip or should I keep the trains seperate? I also have a few Menards buildings and a few MTH buildings, I'm not an electrical whiz, so I'm not clear on voltages. Also what voltages should the ZW's be set at?

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A good power strip switch should be able to handle the load you mentioned.  The power strip will normally be switched On with the load mostly low on a ZW transformers as the trains will not be running.  The switch on the power strip is probably rated for 10 or 15 amps and will easily hold the lower load while running.  trains.  I am a big fan of power strips and have them on stereo systems to save receiver switches and make unplugging when not in use to protect from lightning.

It is good to use a power strip for train transformers as once they are phased by transformer plug orientation, they will stay orientated when switched On and Off with the power strip switch and when the plug of the power strip is removed and re installed.  The other lighting transformers can be phased also and stay that way when on the same power strip.  This will allow you to use the came "common' for trains and lights and may reduce running separate "common" for lights and tracks.  This the way I wired my 44 year old layout with three LWs and three lighting and switch transformers.  I like to keep it simple, easy and economical.

If I understand your last question you are planning to operate trains with the ZWs and also the lighting. voltage.  I would set the small levers B and C at 12vac for lights and 14 for switches.  My only cautions would be if the levers are accidentally moved when operating trains with the A or D levers and to check that 12vac is set must be checked with a VOM meter or if a volt meter is installed.

As I stated above I have separate small 40 or so watt transformers for lights and switches (I have 31 on the layout.)  I did this as the LW has 125 watts input power which is great for one train operation and in fact more wattage than the ZW for one train.  But I have a couple of 2 trains on 1 track relayed systems and the LW, 125 watts is a little low for running two trains at a time.  Therefore, I decided to let the LWs run only trains and I added two 12 volt lighting transformers ( as they have a steady watt demand) and one switch transformer ( which is a momentary demand) to take those loads off the LWs.  It is easy to find low ( 20 to 40 ) wattage 12 vac transformers at garage sales from out door lighting system or other applications.

Since you are in the building the layout phase you may be interested in my OGR post below that shows and tells how I built my post war toy Lionel and Marx layout.  The post has a table of contents at the bottom of page 1 and post 1 so you do not have to read through 8 pages of posts.  Pg 1 and post 1 should show up first if you hit the link below.


https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...ra-027-layout?page=1



Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

I use power strips for the convenience of easily separating electrical components and selective shutdown of power.    There was a time when surge protection was a concern but then one event changed that aspect.   My electronics (TV, stereo, computer, etc)  all were connected to good quality power strips with surge protection.  Then an outside event occurred where the power neutral to the house was broken (by a tree root).   Fortunately we were home when the power when the power started flickering so I immediately shut down the main breaker.   Later I could smell something and upon further inspection I noticed  a discolored power strip.   Upon further inspection each and every surge protected power strip was slightly discolored so everything else was also unplugged.   Once the power company had repaired the service (took until next day) I went about assessing the damages.   Besides the surge protected power strips any LED light was gone, the control boards for my garage door openers were gone, and the chargers for my battery power tools were toast.   Fortunately the appliances like AC, refrigerator, TV's etc were all ok.   Upon closer inspection the one surge protected power strip on the floor came close to setting the carpet on fire.  I have no doubt the house would have burned if I had not been home.  I'm very glad I keep my trains completely disconnected when not in use. 

The end result was not very bad, I was able to repair most everything and easily replaced LED lights.   Today there is not a single surge protected device in my house, instead I pay the power company for a meter based whole house surge protection (It comes with insurance),..



-Mike in NC,

A floating neutral is bad news, that has the potential to do a lot of damage.  I've seen it more often than I like, once at my house and twice at two different friends houses.

Mine created minimal damage, I noticed it on my shop meters, one side of the box was at 90 volts, the other one was at 145 volts.  I immediately cut the main power and called the power company, they responded pretty quickly and repaired the lines.

One of my friends was not so lucky, it took out every TV, stereo, wireless phones, , and most of the other line powered electronics.  It even killed his furnace control board and thermostat.

Hi guys, I've got four lines running around my 8x20 foot table using two

ZW's, two lines on each transformer plugged into an industrial power strip. Now I am starting to wire buildings, I have eleven Woodland Scenics buildings plus street lamps and a few of their lighted vehicles. Can I combine the trains with the buildings on the same power strip or should I keep the trains seperate? I also have a few Menards buildings and a few MTH buildings, I'm not an electrical whiz, so I'm not clear on voltages. Also what voltages should the ZW's be set at?

I like to go the extra step and use an APC that way it not only smooths out the incoming power but in a power jump or drop the unit will switch over to battery and protect the equipment.

Some examples can be found here: https://www.apc.com/us/en/prod...e/61888-backups-pro/

So are junk power strips made anywhere in the world.

Have you been able to find American made power strips?

How about some examples for those of us considering buying one?

Mike

@Mellow Hudson Mike, I use a Plug Mold #20T-143 US-made power strip - like you’d find under an office desk. Seems pretty heavy duty.010855A7-2269-48E6-92D6-67EC8DA43C8F

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Last edited by trestleking

Another alternative to a factory-made power strip is to make your own. This assumes that you really need the functions of a power strip, such as semi-permanent plug orientation and the ability to switch all the receptacles on and off at the same. A home-made one is much more robust and reliable than the store ones.

Using off-the-shelf electrical parts, you could make a 4- or 6-outlet box, with a control switch. You would need a 3- or 4-gang box, https://tboxh.bing.com/th/id/OIP.DVmjMAVQx5WJXVhAuDRAFQHaHa?pid=ImgDet&rs=1 , 3 duplex receptacles, and a 15-amp switch. A rare but available face plate is needed: 3 outlets, and one switch. or if you use Decora style components, the faceplate is easier to find.  Add a 6-foot length of SJ cord with a plug and voila!

In the good old days of playing in a R&R band, I used to make these so that the band wouldn't light up the stage with the el cheapo store-bought ones.

Last edited by Arthur P. Bloom

Authur

Switchable power strips can be found at many garage sales for $1 or $2.

I have dozens of them, many on power tools as well as audio systems to save hard to fix receiver ON/OFF switches and to start up many auxiliary audio gear simultaneously saving wear and tear on there ON/OFF switches.  They also allow me to unplug audio gear with one plug to protect from lightening strikes when not in use.

I get picky and usually only buy ones with a working ON indicator lights.  It will cost much more than $2 and an hour or two of my precious train running or improving the layout time to buy the stuff and make the homemade power strip.

Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

"It will cost much more than $2 and an hour or two of my precious train running or improving the layout time to buy the stuff and make the homemade power strip."

Apples vs oranges.  Depends upon what peace of mind is worth to you. I've seen lots of melted power strips and several house fires caused by them. Never seen a problem using the components I mentioned.

Authur

Switchable power strips can be found at many garage sales for $1 or $2.

I have dozens of them, many on power tools as well as audio systems to save hard to fix receiver ON/OFF switches and to start up many auxiliary audio gear simultaneously saving wear and tear on there ON/OFF switches.  They also allow me to unplug audio gear with one plug to protect from lightening strikes when not in use.

Charlie

Charlie,

Arthur has a good point.

You're missing something very important here.  Early on in this thread was a discussion about how authorities in NYC have determined that too many of the inexpensive power strips are not safe.  The strips have actually caused fires, which is how these folks determined that there was a problem with them.

I'm not saying that your $1 or $2 garage sale specials fall into that category, but they very likely could.

Look for a type certification approval.  UL listing (or CSA in Canada) is important here.  But even if present a UL or CSA stamp could easily be faked on imported goods.

Mike

Last edited by Mellow Hudson Mike

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