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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?

I'm confused as to why you're using a ground bus wire and terminal strips for this setup.

Wouldn't it be easier to just run a black wire from the black posts on the rear of your Z-4K (possibly the B and C terminals) to the respective black posts on each of your MTB's and then just run a paired, stranded wire from each post on the MTB to each power drop or whatever you're powering ? 

@SteveH posted:

Arnold is something like this what you're thinking aobut?

Star Ground

Steve, your diagram essentially shows what I am doing with my ground bar wire under the middle of my layout near my transformers and two MTH terminal blocks.

Since my layout is fairly long, about 35 to 40 feet, the ground bar wire runs the entire length of it and has about 7 or 8  terminal strips spaced 10 to 12 feet apart, which connected to the 14 gauge stranded ground bar wire and the 16 gauge solid ground drop wires from the lock-ons.

@Richie C. posted:

I'm confused as to why you're using a ground bus wire and terminal strips for this setup.

Wouldn't it be easier to just run a black wire from the black posts on the rear of your Z-4K (possibly the B and C terminals) to the respective black posts on each of your MTB's and then just run a paired, stranded wire from each post on the MTB to each power drop or whatever you're powering ?

Ritchie, thanks for your input.

I used the ground bus wire and terminal strips to reduce the length and amount of wires under my layout and near my transformers.

Your idea of using paired wire would also reduce the number of wires under the layout but, if I understand your approach correctly, I would need a lot more MTH Terminal Blocks (MTH TBs) than the two 12 post MTB TBs that I currently have. Also, I have a lot of lock-ons (35) on my 40 foot layout with 2 main line loops with 4 reverse loops (one on each end) and 9 sidings. I believe if I did what you propose, I would have a lot more long wires under my layout than what I will have when I complete my re-wiring scheme.

Rich Wiemann, I misunderstood Richie C's diagram.

What I have is 14 gauge stranded insulated wire connecting a ground (U) post of each of the two Z4000 transformers to the main black ground post of the MTH Terminal Blocks. There is no 18 gauge wire between the transformers and MTH Terminal Blocks. Therefore, I don't think I have an overloading problem.

Steve, your diagram essentially shows what I am doing with my ground bar wire under the middle of my layout near my transformers and two MTH terminal blocks.

Since my layout is fairly long, about 35 to 40 feet, the ground bar wire runs the entire length of it and has about 7 or 8  terminal strips spaced 10 to 12 feet apart, which connected to the 14 gauge stranded ground bar wire and the 16 gauge solid ground drop wires from the lock-ons.

I think your scheme, Steve, would work well with a more square shaped layout where MTH Terminal Blocks would be in the center.

A few things about re-wiring in general.

Electrical tape often comes undone in a couple days. I'm going to use wire nuts to re-connect wires wherever I crimped and soldered wires together and applied electrical tape over the connection, which I can do fairly easily because I have plenty of slack in my wires.

Patience is a virtue when re-wiring a medium to large size layout. IMO, it is a big mistake to rush a re-wiiring project. I try my best to keep my wits about me and remain ruthlessly rational throughout the project.

It's a very good idea to make a diagram of the re-wiring you want to do. That was a great idea someone else shared on this thread.

Take your time to carefully label the wires so if any get disconnected, you know the correct way to re-connect them.

Don't give up if mistakes happen early on and/or the project seems to take forever. For me, the beginning was the hardest part. Later on, you get into a good routine and find that the project is moving along more quickly than it did at the beginning with much fewer mistakes.

Get good equipment like a good soldering gun. I recently spoke to a Forum member with a great layout who recommended a Weller Professional D 550. I got it and it works great; much more powerful than the prior soldering iron I was using.

Ritchie, thanks for your input.

I used the ground bus wire and terminal strips to reduce the length and amount of wires under my layout and near my transformers.

Your idea of using paired wire would also reduce the number of wires under the layout but, if I understand your approach correctly, I would need a lot more MTH Terminal Blocks (MTH TBs) than the two 12 post MTB TBs that I currently have. Also, I have a lot of lock-ons (35) on my 40 foot layout with 2 main line loops with 4 reverse loops (one on each end) and 9 sidings. I believe if I did what you propose, I would have a lot more long wires under my layout than what I will have when I complete my re-wiring scheme.

You're right that it would use slightly more wire and longer runs but, to me, those are non-issues and more than offset by, a) only having to essentially make one connection from the MTB to the lock-on versus having to make two connections to the lock-on doing it your way - positive from the MTB to the lock-on and negative from the ground terminal strip to the lock-on and b) the ease of identifying which wire goes to which lock-on if you ever have an issue (the MTB comes with a nice pre-printed sheet so you can list which port goes to which connection) - your way you have to make up your own sheet (not a big deal), but then identify which two wires are going to each lock-on.   

If running out of ports on the 12 port MTB is an issue, you have two alternatives - one, you can string (daisy chain) together multiple 12 port MTB's by simply using one port on the first MTB to connect to the red and black posts on the next MTB or you can always go to the 24 port MTB's, which would give you 24 lock-on connections per handle/loop and, of course, you can always string more 12 or 24 port MRB's to those if you don't have enough.

Today, I awakened the Frankenstein monster and applied power to the largely, but not completely, rewired layout. Initially, the inner main loop ran fine, but not the outer main loop.

After 2 or 3 hours, I finally discovered one wire in the wrong position. When I corrected that, the outer loop also ran fine.

Next problem I need to solve is a Passing Siding that gets no power. I'm not sure, but I think the problem has to do with an Atlas Heavy Duty (HD) Switch not working, probably because of a short. They are on back order at Atlas so I see I'll need to hunt one down to replace the burnt out Atlas switch.

Problem with the passing siding is solved. On a relatively new piece of tubular O Gauge track, the insulation (between the center rail and the metal tie) was out of position so the metal tie was touching the rail. This is the 1st time this has happened in my 6 decades of model railroading. I repositioned the piece of insulation so it was where it's supposed to be.

It took me about 2 hours in the early morning hours (ideas for solving the problem came to me in the middle of the night) going through a process of elimination to diagnose the cause of the short in the passing siding.

I still have more to do in this re-wiring project, but I am now well over the hump, and am a lot more productive than when I started.

The crawling king snake (me) will be crawling on the basement floor a lot less, and even that is less of a PITA. LOL.

The rest of the re-wiring will be less tedious and burdensome, more satisfying (I feel like I've acquired more skills and better tools, including a high quality soldering gun), and even fun at times.

However, it still looks like a rat's nest of wires, just a substantially smaller rat's nest than before. LOL.

I've seen in person, and on this Forum thread, extraordinarily well organized wiring systems under masterfully built layouts, and wonder, at this point, if I will ever even approach that level of wiring.

Arnold….great that you fixed the siding issue. Yes, insulating piece issues are few and far between. Even with that track record I still use my multimeter to check between the hot and outside rail before installing.

Oh well, it may not be the neatest but if its functional that’s all that matters. All the trains care about is getting the hot to the center rail and the return back to the transformer. Just run them and look at the journey you made in less than two weeks.

All electrical problems can be resolved with two agendas😁

KISS…keep it stupid simple😃…translation: start with the simple stuff first…is it plugged in?; is it getting voltage or current? Should it be?



Second-Don’t let the smoke out…unless it’s supposed to smoke😁



glad you got your issue solved.

I’m still trying to squeeze 25 hours out of the day to get Time to work on my new Distribution panel…had both Grandchildren for the last 7 weekdays-so no alone time there

Then the weekend 😀Wife had projects-obviously they included me 👍

Then today-she drove over a deer two others just drove over right after someone else hit it…it ripped the wiring harness for the fuel gauge off —so naturally she assumed someone siphoned all her gas when she wasn’t looking😀

So, now the insurance is involved

And I wonder, why does God keep sending the Fates to take away my Time for non model railroading activities???



anyway…

@fastman posted:

Switch power  Depending on what light bulbs your using on the switches, you have an abundance of electrical supply. How many switches can you operate at once? Cheers Charlie

Charlie, I use 18 volt blue tinted LEDs in the 022 switches and 18 volt incandescent bulbs in the controllers. The 16 remote control 022 switches haved fixed voltage plugs and are independently powered by a ZW used exclusively for the 022 switches, so you are correct in saying I have an abundance of power for the switches. Arnold

The following is a puzzle for you electrical geniuses out there.

One of my goals for this re-wiring project was to eliminate a voltage drop and resulting slowdown/stop of my conventional locomotives in 1 spot and in 1 direction of my layout.

I share this here because I suspect I'm not alone and that many of us have, or had, similar voltage drops.

I will post a video of this later, but for the moment, will share some information about the voltage drop.

The location is in "My Little Town" at the far left side of my layout where 2 reverse loops (1 for the inner loop and 1 for the outer loop) converge, and where I have 4 crossing gates activated by insulated track sections.

The 4 crossing gates draw power directly from a ZW, not the track.

The reverse loops are independently powered by the throttles of a Z4000.

Now it gets interesting: the voltage drop only occurs on the reverse loop for the outer main loop, not the inner main loop, of the layout  and only in 1 direction. Specifically, it occurs when the locomotive is running counter-clockwise, not clock-wise, through that reverse loop, and on, and in the vicinity of, the 022 switch. All 022 switches are independently powered by a 2nd ZW.

To be even more specific, this morning I ran a Williams NW2 diesel at 8 volts, and the amps were 1.0 amp that dropped to .7 amp near that 022 switch. The diesel slowed down, almost stopped, but did not stop, at that switch.

There is no slow down when running an MTH Proto 2 or 3 on DCS.

What is your answer to this puzzle?

Arnold

Here is a video I took a couple of years ago demonstrating this voltage drop:

Some more info: there are 4 lock-ons with drop wires for power and ground on that reverse loop (1 just before the O22 switch, 1 just after that switch, and 2 before the insulated track sections). The power is drawn from the right throttle of a Z4000.

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Arnold, something to ponder: Even though the ZW is sending power to the crossing gates (hot side), since they're activated by the insulated rails, their common connection is through the track Common.  Gate activation increases the current flow which causes a slight voltage drop through the Track Common part of the wiring back to the Common ground bus connection.  Another matter is since the slow down only occurs in one direction, it may have something to do with the fact that only one outside rail has a hard connection to the Z-4000.  The other outside rail has the added resistance of the train wheels and axles.

All that aside, since the major slowdown evident in the video only appears to occur just before the switch where the train re-enters the mainline, there may be a couple of causes for this.  Depending on which outside rail is insulated and where the common feed is tied into this section of track, there may be poor conductivity between track sections on the Common powered outside rail.  If this Common powered outside rail is also the side which has the fibre insulating pin at the switch, then that last piece or two of track just before the switch only has it's Wired Common connection feeding in from one side and not the switch side.  Without more details on exactly how the Common wiring is configured, its difficult to know for sure how much any of this may be affecting the slow down.

If a locomotive has traction tires and they are all on the same side or has traction tires on the same side and the Common collector is only on one truck, that's also something to consider.

If you haven't already tried this, tightening the track around the Common connected outside rail pins, cleaning track, train and loco wheels may help.

Last edited by SteveH

My thought it was on the ground side as well, I don't think this is voltage drop caused by the hot side.  If you run a lighted car over the area, do you see the bulb dim (was thinking of this bc of the thought about traction tires). If the traction tire is on the ground rail that isn't insulated, it could cut down the return side significantly. You could try running several drops (ground) to the rail in the insulated section that is the return (non insulated) side and see if that helps (me I would find a way to attach them temporarily, like to each section of track in the insulated section, and see if it helps).

I would say maybe the transformers are out of phase (since they have to share a common ground for your setup to work ie one transformer powering the gates, the other the track), but it wouldn't be like this, I don't think they can be 'slightly out of phase' to cause a small power drop, it would be pretty evident, and not one way, either.

One other way would be in the insulated section to solder the rail joints on both common rails (within the section), to make sure that there is good flow on the negative rails, insulated and not and see if that helps, but making sure the connection is tight may be easier.

Steve and Bigkid, I believe what you say sounds like it has merit, though I don't fully understand all of it. Thank you for your input.

One reason I have not left no stone unturned in correcting this voltage drop is because for the train to slow down going through My Little Town is prototypical. A real train would also down down going through town.

Arnold- I just fixed the exact same problem on my upper loop. I only had one common wire connected in the rear of the loop. When I tested the voltage, it would go from say 10v with nothing on the track to 6v when a loco was drawing power. I added a second common drop on the front, and on the opposite outer rail from the rear connection. Problem solved. The current couldn't make it back to the transformer between the three switches. Good common connections are just as important as good hot connections. You would be amazed at the damage a loose neutral can do in building wiring.

This is a WbB conventional loco running at 8v. It would stall out before.

Bob

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To re-iterate, I'd suggest starting by improving the outside rail conductivity (lessen the resistance) at the track joints by either tightening the rail connection around the pin (pliers or crimpers) or as Bigkid mentioned by soldering the joints at the problem area.

If that doesn't improve operation, then identify where the Outside rail connection back to your Track Common is located in relation to the problem area.  If you do add another Common connection to the outside rail, you'd need to keep DCS track drop numbers and location recommendations in mind.

Last edited by SteveH

Continuity is King!

Big improvement:

I simply wired in series the ground terminals of 3 lock-ons around the curve and ending just beyond the switch as the train completes the reverse loop.

After having the trains down for 10 days or so while I re-wired the main lines, I am luxuriating in running trains again and - they have never run better thanks to all the outstanding advice I got on this thread.

Most of the re-wiring is done.

Next main project will be to get the sectional couch in the basement out of the house and then adding a 6 foot extension to the layout on the far left side where I will have a weathered custom made Lionel factory and a 2 stall engine house. That will give me 2 additional sidings to park trains. This layout expansion will be a very exciting and fun project and I will run a new Forum  thread about that project too. Arnold

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