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@cjack, like you I was apprehensive. How could tiny little levers hold wires securely? Do they really accept the smaller gauge wires well?

I can say after using them, they were an absolute upgrade to the wire nuts I had been using prior. They are a good compliment to terminal bus bars. Any new wiring on my layout as well as any disturbed wiring gets the wago lever nuts.

It's one of those things that once you actually have hands-on experience with them you'll wonder why you ever doubted.

Yep, that 3M double sided auto tape is really really strong.  But, you got to make sure that the surface is really clean and dry first.   No grunge or dust. 

Just used it last week to replace a trim piece on the side of the truck.

You only get one chance to get it right, though, so make sure that things are line up when you press it down on the underside of the table.

Mannyrock

I believe, but am not 100% sure, that the ground or common wire means that any ground wire for anything can be attached to a ground or common bus wire. Is that true?

If so, can I attach to the common bus wire all ground wires for the inner and outer main loops that are independently powered and interconnected?

Can I also attach to the common bus wire all ground wires for all of my 9 independently powered sidings?

In addition, can I attach to the same common bus wire all ground wires for my numerous postwar accessories? Arnold

Arnold,

You'll get plenty of different opinions on this but I keep my ground (or common) lines separate for each of my main lines. Thus both the hot and common wires, sometimes twisted together, go from the separate TIU output terminals (Fixed 1 and Fixed 2, for two main lines), via breakers, out to the track feed points. There are some technical reasons to do this, some related to troubleshooting and also for common (mode) noise rejection. Arguably it offers some advantages for the MTH DCS control system.

Last edited by Bruce Brown
@bmoran4 posted:

@Rich Wiemann, with common ground wiring, when you phase the transformers, the grounds are bonded together, therefore, any ground has a return path to any transformer.

I have two Z4000 transformers that are phased; one powers the 2 main lines, and the other powers the 9 sidings. Since both of these transformers are phased, including plugged in to the same power strip, I believe I can run all of the ground wires for the main lines and sidings to the same common bus wire.

The accessories are powered by a ZW, and the 022 switches are powered by a 2nd ZW. Both ZW transformers are also plugged in to the same power strip, and are probably also phased with each other and the Z4000 transformers, but there is no compelling reason to connect them to the common bus wire. The 022 switches have no ground wire, only a hot wire plugged in to the switch. Also, although the accessories contribute to the rat's nest of wires under the train tables, I'm hoping I don't need to re-wire them amy time soon.

Do you think the above is correct? Arnold

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari
@tstark posted:

Jumping on Arnold’s post! I thought I read some where that when you run a ground around the lay out to the various items that you should return it to the u post where you started, like a complete loop. Any thoughts on this.

thanks , Tstark

According to bmoran4 and Rich Wieman, if the transformers are phased, the grounds are bonded together, so the ground wires for all the lock-ons attached to the track powered by those phased transformers can be connected to the same ground bus wire.

Arnold, sounds like you phased your ZWs to your Z4000s but neglected to keep the grounds bonded connected. As such, you have 2 distinct "common ground" circuits. This isn't wrong, but introduces isolation which may or may not be desired, especially when considering track powered activated accessories.

The O22s pick up the common ground from the outside rail of the connected track.

Last edited by bmoran4

Progress report:

All of the hot wires for the 2 main lines are labelled and connected to the MTH Terminal Blocks powered by one Z4000.

I have also disconnected and removed all of the ground wires  for the 2 main lines except for the ground drop wires from the lock-ons. My next big project is to install the common bus wire the entire length of the layout and place terminal strips at 7 or 8 locations and connect the ground drop wires to those terminal strips (each with a bare 18 gauge copper wire threaded through the lower row of screws.

I now have substantially less wire underneath my layout. Instead of looking like a huge rat's nest/ bowl of spaghetti, it now looks like a medium sized one. LOL.

I have not yet started re-wiring the wires for the 9 sidings powered by the 2nd Z4000.

I once had a professor that would frequently say "as is obvious to the casual observer..."! There are many things about wiring that are not always obvious. You have correctly phased the two Z4000's supplying track power. The downside of using a common return is the current (amps) in the return is the sum of all the current in the four supply channels. So if two handles are supplying 4A and two are supplying 2A during operation the common return is carrying  12A, greatly increasing the voltage drop unless a much larger return conductor is used.

If there are transformers supplying loads like lighting , these do not have to be in phase. One can use two separate transformers for these kind of loads and have them 180 degrees out of phase. Then, if each transformer supplies 4A the sum of the currents in a common return is Zero. This works for loads that do not need to be in phase, not for track power.

@bmoran4 posted:

Arnold, sounds like you phased your ZWs to your Z4000s but neglected to keep the grounds bonded connected. As such, you have 2 distinct "common ground" circuits. This isn't wrong, but introduces isolation which may or may not be desired, especially when considering track powered accessories.

The O22s pick up the common ground from the outside rail of the connected track.

So, does it follow that I won't have this problem as long as I do not connect the ground accessory wires to the common bus wire for the main lines and sidings?

@AmFlyer posted:

I once had a professor that would frequently say "as is obvious to the casual observer..."! There are many things about wiring that are not always obvious. You have correctly phased the two Z4000's supplying track power. The downside of using a common return is the current (amps) in the return is the sum of all the current in the four supply channels. So if two handles are supplying 4A and two are supplying 2A during operation the common return is carrying  12A, greatly increasing the voltage drop unless a much larger return conductor is used.

Tom, I'm sure what you say is accurate and I appreciate your input, but I do not fully understand it. LOL.

When I run my trains, I rarely run more than one locomotive at a time. I will often run a train from my inner loop to my outer loop, and vice-a-versa,  and from a main line to a siding, keeping the track voltage the same for the main loops and sidings.  By limiting my train operations this way, based on what you say, I think I will be OK connecting the ground wires for the main lines and sidings to the same common bus wire.

Does that make sense?

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

So, does it follow that I won't have this problem as long as I do not connect the ground accessory wires to the common bus wire for the main lines and sidings?

What problem do we speak of? Connecting or not connecting the grounds of phased transformers does not pose a problem either way. Generally speaking, most Lionel documentation recommendations are around one single common ground circuit. Connecting the common ground terminals on all transformers (in phase) would be the direction I would recommend and have personally taken on my layouts. It is more adventitious in my opinion do things in this single common ground manner to avoid more complex situations with track activated accessories such as crossing gates, non-derailing switches (O22s), connecting signals, operating cars and so on.

What is said above about additive current and whatnot is true, but generally this is addressed naturally because one can have multiple taps from the common ground to spread the load out and not need to run chunky wire everywhere.

Last edited by bmoran4
@bmoran4 posted:

Arnold, sounds like you phased your ZWs to your Z4000s but neglected to keep the grounds bonded connected. As such, you have 2 distinct "common ground" circuits. This isn't wrong, but introduces isolation which may or may not be desired, especially when considering track powered accessories.

The O22s pick up the common ground from the outside rail of the connected track.

So, does it follow that if I simply connected wires between a U Post for each of my transformers (two Z4000 and two ZW), and all transformers are otherwise phased, that all ground wires can be connected to one common ground bus wire without any problems?

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

Arnold, If you are not loading all four of the Z4000 handles at once that minimizes the current in a common return. If you are usually running just one train then you are fine. As mentioned above in three rail it is always best to tie the grounds together for anything that is connected to the track like action accessories. That connection is usually at the transformers but can be at the track as I commented.

@Bruce Brown posted:

This is entirely true. With the advent of DCS, and recommendations in Barry B's Bible, we got into further complexity in wiring, moving a bit away from the buss and more into star and home-run.

I think I'm using star/home run for the power lines, and the bus line for the common/ground only.

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

Great advice, Bruce.

Thanks to all you guys, I now have the information and knowledge I need to re-wire my layout. I have also bought the supplies I need for this project, including a good crimping tool that I just bought from Lowes. I also have fork/spade lugs, the terminal blocks and screws to mount the terminal blocks and TIU on a plywood board.

I will definitely replace the copper strips with the terminal blocks, and will color code the wiring, after which I will decide whether to keep my current feeder wires or replace them.

Concerning timing, part of me wants to get started immediately, and part of me wants to wait till I get a couple of locomotives back that are being repaired. Also, I know that once I disconnect the wires from the copper strips, my layout will down for a while, but I'm not sure how long.

I will give updates periodically.

Yes, we're getting close to Christmas. I am delaying any work on the layout that might make it 'dead' when kids and other guests visit for the holidays.

So, does it follow that if I simply connected wires between a U Post for each of my transformers (two Z4000 and two ZW), and all transformers are otherwise phased, that all ground wires can be connected to one common ground bus wire without any problems?

As others have answered Yes to this, I believe it requires clarification as long as that one common ground bus wire is sized large enough to carry the return of potentially four transformers. This is where my previous comment on think of the weakest link came in. If you continue to use the TB with the 18 wire between the terminals as you string these together the next TB sees increasing additive current. These TBs towards the end of the string could eventually see excessive current. Therefore, using the current TB with 18 wire would benefit from being returned to individual U terminal on the transformer.  Arnold hope this helps.

Arnold here is a visual that might help, assuming the transformers have been phased together.

This would be an acceptable buss wiring scheme

8FC5E663-6073-4E51-B44B-1D6B4B16A48D

This would not be as the weak link is the 18 TB jumper in TB 3 or 4 as the currents start to add up and potentially exceed the carrying capacity.

6EEBAEAF-D1F3-45C3-8419-C6A60A0010AE

This would be ok also going back to the same transformer as the hot.

7A6C3384-8843-4551-AA50-8D97F14E8735

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Arnold, I give you credit for rewiring your layout. Not an easy task. I kept mine pretty simple. I ran a buss around the layout, and have drops wired into the buss. I used neutral bars (AKA ground bars) to make the connections. I tinned the ends of the wires before I terminated them. I got the idea from Alan Arnold. I use DCS and have a signal strength of 10 at all points on the layout.

Andy



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For those considering re-wiring an existing layout, the hardest for me was all the crawling I had to do on the basement floor.

My layout is 48 to 50 inches off the floor, which is fairly high and should make the re-wiring easier. Nonetheless, it was still difficult for me.

The good news is I think I'm done with most of this crawling on the floor. What a relief!

While doing all the crawling, I had a funny thought that provided me with some comic relief:  "I'm the crawling king snake, and I rule my den." That is a line of lyrics from one of my least favorite Doors' songs: Crawling King Snake. That song appeared on the 2nd side of their Waiting for the Sun album.

The lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison, identified with snakes and other reptiles and often wore leather pants during concerts. He would also make primal screams during songs that sometimes had a reptilian quality. He was one strange dude but, IMO, had a great voice as a lead singer for a rock and roll band.

I tried to sing like him as a teenager, including the primal screams jumping an octave at the end of the song like he did in Light My Fire, and ruined whatever little voice I had.

LOL, Arnold

Today, I finished installing the hot wires for the 2 main lines. The primary hot wires are long 14 gauge stranded red insulated wires. Each one runs from the red or hot side of the MTH Terminal Block (MTB) for the particular main line loop (I have an MTB for the outer loop and another MTB for the inner loop). The other end of each primary hot  is connected to a short 16 gauge solid insulated drop wire from the lock-on.

The only exceptions are at the far left side and far right side of the outer loop main line of my 35 to 40 foot layout. There, I have a terminal strip at each end (with a bare 18 gauge wire threaded through the lower row of screws) to service the 3 or 4  hot/power drop wires from the lock-ons in that vicinity.. A primary hot wire (long 14 gauge stranded red) with a fork lug at the end is attached to the 1st screw on the lower row. The short hot drop wires are attached to the upper row of screws in the terminal strip.

Prior to seeing Rich's wiring diagrams that he recently posted, I had made a rough diagram showing the common bus wire and each terminal strip along it. The next step for me is to refine my diagram incorporating Rich's ideas.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will begin installing the common bus wire tomorrow with the terminal strips for it. Arnold

I am now about half way through installing the ground bus wire, including the terminal strips.

Next step is for me to connect all of the ground drop wires from the lock-ons to the terminal strips along the ground bus wire.

I have a question. I think I know the answer but am not 100% sure. I have my MTH Terminal Blocks (one for the inner main loop and one for the outer main loop) at the mid-point of my long and narrow layout and in front of my transformers. Can I simply run a short 14 gauge stranded and insulated wire from the black ground main terminal of each MTH Terminal block to a screw on a nearby terminal strip?

Arnold

Arnold I’m having trouble visualizing your wiring layout with the MTH TB placement. Is the MTH TB being supplied from your transformers? And than is the MTH TB the supply for the ground bus/terminal strip loop?

Yes, the MTH TB red post for the outer loop is getting power from the right Z4000 throttle (A terminal) with DCS, and the MTH TB red post for the inner loop is getting power from the left Z4000 throttle (D terminal) with DCS.

The black post for each MTH TB has a wire that is connected to a nearby terminal strip for the ground bus wire.

What do you think of this?

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