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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I'm now looking to start wiring up my layout and intending to use 24/0.2 multistrand for the bus wiring and 1/0.6 solid core as the dropper wire which will be soldered to the rails at intervals. (Hope I've got the right sort of wire, my system will work on 2.5amps).

I'm undecided on how to connect the droppers to the bus wiring. I've read that 'snap-lock' connectors are good, but I'm worried that they'll either cut the wire completely or won't give a good electrical connection. I had thought about using the terminal blocks with the two screws, but have also read that it is not good to cut the bus wire. Does this matter if it is connected throgh the terminal blocks?

I'd be really grateful to hear from someone who has experience of either. I'm always open to another idea, but I'd rather avoid soldering them. I'll have enough of soldering the droppers to the rails!

As always many thanks for helping me along my DCC journey.

Mark
 

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QUOTE (digger1962 @ 15 Feb 2009, 21:00) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi. I'm now looking to start wiring up my layout and intending to use 24/0.2 multistrand for the bus wiring and 1/0.6 solid core as the dropper wire which will be soldered to the rails at intervals. (Hope I've got the right sort of wire, my system will work on 2.5amps).

I'm undecided on how to connect the droppers to the bus wiring. I've read that 'snap-lock' connectors are good, but I'm worried that they'll either cut the wire completely or won't give a good electrical connection. I had thought about using the terminal blocks with the two screws, but have also read that it is not good to cut the bus wire. Does this matter if it is connected throgh the terminal blocks?

I'd be really grateful to hear from someone who has experience of either. I'm always open to another idea, but I'd rather avoid soldering them. I'll have enough of soldering the droppers to the rails!

As always many thanks for helping me along my DCC journey.

Mark

Hello Mark.
I use the snap lock type connectors & have had no problems with them but make sure that you use the correct size for your wiring. I use 32/0.2 for the bus wires & 16/0.2 for the droppers all multi strand. My layout is 21ft x 9ft in OO gauge using the NCE 5 amp Power Pro system.What size is your layout & what gauge ?
 

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I used a 'squeeze, pull and strip' wire stripper to strip insulation in mid wire and then soldered every dropper to the bus wire.

I didn't fancy soldering wires to rails so used a drilled hole in every metal rail joiner and soldered the dropper wire to those.
 

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Hi Mark

Used the snap lock connectors on my layout, no problems at all. Easier then trying to solder under the base boards. if you are clever you can usually take two feeds from one connector, handy when wiring sidings etc.

Regards Mike
 

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I solder the wires to the rails, which I found very easy to do. I run my power bus to tag strips with two strips under each baseboard and then solder the wires to each strip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hello Mark.
I use the snap lock type connectors & have had no problems with them but make sure that you use the correct size for your wiring. I use 32/0.2 for the bus wires & 16/0.2 for the droppers all multi strand. My layout is 21ft x 9ft in OO gauge using the NCE 5 amp Power Pro system.What size is your layout & what gauge ?

Hi Tony.

Many thanks for this. My layout is 12' X 6' in OO gauge with a small extra board on one side.

Is my planned wiring not up to the job? I had chosen solid core for the droppers as I thought this would be better for soldering to the rail joiners.

Always happy to take advice.

Mark.
 

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QUOTE (digger1962 @ 16 Feb 2009, 20:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hello Mark.
I use the snap lock type connectors & have had no problems with them but make sure that you use the correct size for your wiring. I use 32/0.2 for the bus wires & 16/0.2 for the droppers all multi strand. My layout is 21ft x 9ft in OO gauge using the NCE 5 amp Power Pro system.What size is your layout & what gauge ?

Hi Tony.

Many thanks for this. My layout is 12' X 6' in OO gauge with a small extra board on one side.

Is my planned wiring not up to the job? I had chosen solid core for the droppers as I thought this would be better for soldering to the rail joiners.

Always happy to take advice.

Mark.

Hi Mark.
You can ask a question & get a hundred answers.Thats what I did & I got some great advice from Richard Johnson of Aus.Thats why I ended up using the gauge of wire that I have used.
Ultimately people can only tell you what works for them but that doesn't mean that they are right, maybe just lucky lol.

I have used multi core cable & found it very easy to work with. The 32/0.2 bus cables mean that there is always plenty of power available even at the end of a long stretch of track. I solder the 16/0.2 dropper wires directly to the bottom of each 36inch section of track. Easy to do with a small bit of practice. The main thing is to make sure that the rail is clean otherwise you won't get a good solder joint. Do NOT solder wires to the rail joiners & use these to get power to the track. It may seem easy & quick to do but over time dirt etc will get between the rail & the joiners & resistance will also build up resulting in a bad joint. If your track is already down you can still solder the dropper wires to the sides of the rails facing away from you which will mean that the joints won't be visible as you look at the layout. If your track is already down it may be easier to use the solid copper dropper wires.

There are very good snap fit type connectors available from Rapid Electronics in the UK. I have used these & found them great. Make sure that you use the correct size for the cables you are using. If you haven't yet bought the cable I would suggest using the sizes that I use but you should be ok with your wire sizes considering the size of your layout. If you need to ask any more questions or need links to the snap connectors that I use please ask.
 

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***Hi

Tony has given you some good advice - do not solder to joiners - the only thing they are good for long term is alignment of the track and they should not be used as power connectors - electrolytic corrosion WILL happen eventually and then problems will happen.

I use this procedure.

Cut and place the track so its ready to fix down. Makr the tops of the rails with a felt tip pen where droppers would be best placed - usuallu about the middle of each length.

before you remove the track, use a pen or pencil to mark the underlay just inside the rail closest to the viewer and do the same with the other rail, so both have a mark on the undrlay.

remove the track and drill a 3mm hole slightly off each mark, so it will be UNDER the respective rail when the track is replaced.

turn the track over and remove the web from between the sleepers at the place you marked the rail tops.

use a small file and gently rub the underside of the exposed rail bottom to perfectly clean it.

apply a small amount of flux with a cotton bud (not acid flux!!) and with a clean soldering Iron tip, pick up a wee bit of solder and apply tip to the rail - it should tin the rail in les than one second.

strip the dropper for about 8mm (stranded really is best - about 16/.02 is fine, small OK if the droppers will always be under 300mm long) and twist then tin it using the same procedure as with the rail - a dab of flux then a wee bit of solder.

bend the stripped end to a right angle about 2mm from the insulation and cut the bent end to 2 or 3mm long.

apply a wee bit more flux to the tinned rail. Hold the bent part of the tinned wire to the rail bottom and again with a tiny bit of solder on the tip heat them - they will flow together instantly. take the Iron away and count to 5 before releasing the wire.

You now have a securely soldered dropper.

When both rails are done, you can take the track back to the layout and feed the droppers through the small holes as you lay it.

You will now have trac laid with two totally invisible droppers already in place, taking away a lot os stress and fussing about! Repeat for every bit of track/point that needs wires adding to it, and by the time you've laid the track, the layout will be already half wired!

Important - you need to use the right solder and flux. Do not use lead free solder - its not easy for a non-solderer to get on with! a few pence spent in this area will save you lots of grief.

leaded with silver added is best for nickel silver track / wiring. Bromsgrove Models or Euroscale (both are MRF list members who can be reached by PM or email) can supply you with the right stuff ex UK, or I can supply you ex AU.

Richard

DCCconcepts
 

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Paul Hamilton aka &quot;Lancashire Fusilier&quot;
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Good tips there for your next catalogue / website update Richard - thanks for that. Just one point of clarification. As this is an electrical connection do you promote the use of a 179 type solder (quicker "set" time on the join) or the (in my opinion) slightly better flowing 145 solder for this work? Or does it really matter? And is there a difference between steel rail (like the C&L type) or the more common Nickle Silver?
 

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*** Hi LF

179 has a quicker melt transition and is designed to flow into/onto wire, brass and copper etc with a very quick and positive intermolecular bond so is better for the average "occasional solderer" who will have far lower chances of making dry joints with it. It also has a better final strength in the "dropper application". However if U want to use the 145 detail solder and prefer it then do it - it will also work fine.

Same applies to both NS and Steel rail - I actually use 179 most of the time though, as I like working on such things with the very thin 179 (0.6mm solder diameter) as "less is more" when soldering droppers.

BTW - First batch of our newly developed "much better" whitemetal solder is nearly here - I'm looking forward to its arrival and as soon as I've done quality tests it'll be packaged and ready for your workbench! Melting point is slightly raised to 100 degrees but compared to traditional 70 degree stuff, flow is improved, strength is better, brittleness reduced and its not necessary to always tin brass first. Pre production sample tests showed it was perfect for use with our non acid Sapphire flux too...

I have high hopes for it as its the culmination of a years faffing around with various nasty "metals + additives" concoctions!

regards

Richard
 

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To answer the question about connecting dropper wires to the BUS:

I figured that
  • I wanted a good connector
  • no soldering under the baseboards
  • a means to connect multiple droppers to a connection node
  • I wanted to be able to add a connection node to the BUS without cutting the BUS

I group feeders together and connect them to the DCC BUS using this type of connector (Legrand):



The DCC BUS itself is low resistance (6mm²) speaker wire that should maintain a good DCC signal all around the track. I use a continuous wire from one side to the other. That is why these connectors come in handy - they allow me to add feeders wherever I want without cutting the copper. I just trim back a bit of the insulating plastic, drop in the wire under the screw, replace the screw, tighten and add the cap that prevents splitting.



The DCC BUS is just under 20 metres long and it works fine with my Lenz LZV100 command station roughly in the middle. If I need to add a booster later, I can either split the Main DCC BUS into two sections or add another under the baseboards.



Note, these connectors are above the baseboards as they are under a hill. Most of them on the rest of the layout are under the baseboard. The screw can screw out completely allowing the connector to be fitted over a cable without cutting the cable. I have a pair of connectors about every meter and a half around the BUS.
 

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Paul Hamilton aka &quot;Lancashire Fusilier&quot;
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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 18 Feb 2009, 21:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>*** Hi LF

179 has a quicker melt transition and is designed to flow into/onto wire, brass and copper etc with a very quick and positive intermolecular bond so is better for the average "occasional solderer" who will have far lower chances of making dry joints with it. It also has a better final strength in the "dropper application". However if U want to use the 145 detail solder and prefer it then do it - it will also work fine.

Same applies to both NS and Steel rail - I actually use 179 most of the time though, as I like working on such things with the very thin 179 (0.6mm solder diameter) as "less is more" when soldering droppers.

BTW - First batch of our newly developed "much better" whitemetal solder is nearly here - I'm looking forward to its arrival and as soon as I've done quality tests it'll be packaged and ready for your workbench! Melting point is slightly raised to 100 degrees but compared to traditional 70 degree stuff, flow is improved, strength is better, brittleness reduced and its not necessary to always tin brass first. Pre production sample tests showed it was perfect for use with our non acid Sapphire flux too...

I have high hopes for it as its the culmination of a years faffing around with various nasty "metals + additives" concoctions!

regards

Richard

Thanks for the clarity on the 179 solder - I will use it for my layout then.

Look fwd to the whitemetal solder too for the loco constructions. Should be good not to worry about tinning all the hand rail knobs and cab side beadings etc.
 
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