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do you solder the wires or "just" crimp them in place?  If you crimp, do I need to get a special tool for that?  Finally, what gauge wire do you use?  I thought I read somewhere on here that someone used 16 gauge but another person used 20 gauge??

Thanks for the help.

Last edited by Larry Mullen
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One generally crimps the spade connectors using a crimping tool. Your connectors and crimping tool need to be of compatible types. Use of smaller wire gauge requires more drops to share the current load. I find 18 gauge is a good balance.

You can see in this post a common style crimping tool:


I personally like the Klein Ratcheting Crimp Tool for the standard vinyl crimp connectors::

The jaws are changeable (sold separately) for other terminal types:


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I'm running conventional control on my layout using 18 gauge wire for my feeders to my track, hot and common, every 6 pieces of Fastrack, tin the wires, put a drop of rosin core solder directly on the metal tabs that hold the track to the plastic roadies, connect an TVS Diode at every track feeder to track connection from hot to common to protect the locomotives from voltage spikes and cover the connections with a good quality electrical tape. I also solder jumper wires from one piece of Fastrack metal tabs, hot and common, to the next piece of track in that six piece section of Fastrack and cover those connections also with good quality electrical tape. I try to be as close to center of the six pieces of Fastrack for best power conductivity. My opinion only, you can't get a better connection than a good soldered connection. Even when I use crimp spade connectors to connect to my barrier strips I still solder the wire to the crimp connectors. Overkill? Maybe, but the less times I need to get down under the layout and back up is going to be much better on my bad knees, legs and back. I also use 12 gauge wires fused from my MTH Z-1000 transformers and an TVS Diode from hot to common at the transformers track outputs for my power and common feeds to my barrier strips for both my loops. It's very time consuming but I hope everything will work as planned when I do get the first loop finished. Then on to the second loop. One day at a time. 👍

I solder to the tabs like Gary but do not connect it all together to the extent he has gone.  I do a drop about every 12' from a terminal block.  Before putting the track together I take the time to make sure the pins are making good contact.  Haven't had an issue yet.

I've seem too many of the crimp connections work loose and cause issues. 

I'm soldering the track pieces together because most of my Fastrack is probably 10-12 years old, my old layout had to be torn down for me to have a hospital bed for awhile, and it was stored in my garage almost 6 years. I cleaned it up the best I could, tossed quite a few pieces that had rusted too much to save, so I'm obviously concerned about Electrical Conductivity through the rail joints, that's why I'm doing feeders every 6 pieces of track and jumper wires both hot and common between each piece of track in that six piece section. It's a lot of soldering but I want to take the time to hopefully reduce chances of issues once I get it together. It's been a challenging project from the start but I'm too stubborn to not keep going!😂

@Catdaddy posted:

Not to highjack thread, but how does the membership feel about using cutoff power cords for wire, with the crimped connectors…..I need to make up about a dozen, I have been saving cords but I am having second thoughts.

As long as you use the same color power chord for power drops you should be fine. Color codef wiring is a habit to form especially with multi levels and multi track main lines!

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