HO Wiring and Power Distribution

by Charles R. Hentz

Under the layout near each of our four main lines we have two twelve gauge solid wires (one red and one black) stapled to the cross beams that support our risers to the roadbed. Each three foot section of flex track get a 22 gauge wire soldered to the outer edge of the track. These are feed through holes to the 12 gauge buss wire that is below the layout. These are also soldered. In fact we solder all wires that are not going to terminal strips. We do not depend on the continuity of rail joiners. We also use only Nichol silver track and turnouts. All other wiring gets hung in shower curtain hooks in eye screws from the layout structure. Each of our 12 gauge bus lines have an end point and do not form a complete loop as our trains do. We also add an occasional twist to this pair. This is according to Digitax recommendations. Please be sure to insulate any wires that may touch causing a short circuit. This happen once when one pair of drop wires accidentally came in contact. Careful wiring pays off in more time running trains and less time trying to trouble shoot.

Since each locomotive needs about one half ampere of current, you will need five amp. supply to run ten locomotives. We have a Digitrax PS2012 Regulated Power Supply that can output 20 amperes. Each of our three Digitax DB 150 Boosters can handle five amperes of current. Since our layout is large, we would suffer a complete shut down if one locomotive derailed. That is why we have divided our layout into eight sections using Digitrax PM42 Power Management. A derailment only affects that section while trains continue to run in the other sections.

We mount all our equipment on a plywood door so that it can be spread out , organized and can be accessible without interfering with the underside of the layout. When a short circuit occurs, one of the leds on the outside of the door will not be on or blink as the PM42 tries to restore power. Each of these are labeled so we know where to look for the short. Most of the time it is a train that is on a turnout that is not thrown in the correct direction.