I am finishing up the rail laying phase of my project. Total track length is 2,033 inches with 14 switches.  My question is:

1)  Will I distribute power to center rail from a central point (buss) feeding individually from the buss to various locations for smooth power distribution?

2)  Is the power (on/off) to each section controlled by insulators installed on outside rail.  Or am I insulating the center rail instead.

I did a search for a book that might be really up-to-date, but nothing new that covers all available technologies.  I will run Legacy with their module that will allow me to use conventional for my older MTH and some older Lionel engines.  I also will be running new Legacy Visionline and other newer Lionel.


Many thanks for input. 



TCA 18-73717

Original Post

The Buss should work fine, though if you intend to power off sections to park locomotives you'll need to place a switch in the lead to that section or block and yes, center rail insulators to create blocks. Post a rough sketch?

You'll want to insulate/block off the center rail at various points if you want to have different block sections. In that case you would run a power wire from each switch (a spst switch, for example) to each section of track you blocked off.

If you're running all DCS/TMCC/Legacy locomotives you can just run a power bus and connect it to the center rail in various spots.

Santa Fe, All the Way

It really depends on a lot of variables - how many transformers - how many engines mu'd - lighted passenger cars - how many engines total

10- 14 power feeds should do and well as common feeds to both rails (jumper the track and use one wire)

I agree, put up a shot of the track plan and intended operational druthers.


Arctic Railroad

Bryant Dunivan 111417 posted:

I will post a sketch when I get home.  I am doing the complete Custom Signals set up.  I expect this to be Challenging.  Will post soon.

Ok, thanks. The track power circuit will be different than the signaling circuits. Track power is not challenging. You can make a pencil sketch of the track plan and add a photo of it to post, unless you are you using track planning software.

Has anyone taken over the business from Custom Signals? Are you sure you really want to go through all of that for signals?


Arctic Railroad

Last edited by Moonman

My preference, based on experience is to run power from transformer handle(s) to a control panel, which has a toggle switch for each of my (76) blocks [plus the controllers for each of my 47 switches], and then run 14 gauge wire from each switch to its respective block.  This gives max control when running conventional, and the ability to deaden sections of the layout when running command [DCS for me].  It also allows full control from a centralized layout.

For common (outside rail), I suggest using a bare wire (maybe 12 gauge if you can find it), looping completely around the layout with frequent drops to the outside rails.

You haven't mentioned wire gauge.  I strongly recommend 14-gauge to reduce voltage drop on long runs.



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