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I have just come across a report about a garden shed fire in Kent. The Fire Service said that there was "A model train set in the shed and a workshop and we believe the fire started due to an electrical fault." They went on to urge householders to employ qualified electricians to carry out electrical wiring, so I assume the fault was in the mains wiring, not the 'train set' !
Full details at http://www.kentonline.co.uk/aroundkent/new...ticle_id=403944
Regards,
John Webb
 

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It would not surprise me if in a few years time all model railway electrical wiring has to be certified by a qualified electrician prior to powering the system up. One advantage of DCC is that you don't need any!

Even DCC layouts would have to be professionally certified though as the certifier would confirm that no home made electrical wiring is present. It all means more jobs so it has to be a good thing for employment prospects of Eastern Europeans in the UK.

Certification is actaully the case right now as far as club layouts go if clubs wish to attend exibitions. No certificate and sorry we cannot let you put your plug in Mr Clubperson.

Happy modelling
Gary

PS that Kent online link. The news is full of hangings, murders, shootings, drugs and kerb crawling! I didn't think the area around Margate was like that!
 

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Isn't it just typical of how association could lead to vilification?

These sorts of press comments can be so misunderstood by the non-cognoscenti?

Whilst doubtless the Fire Officer was correct in the assertion that ''an electrical fault'' possibly caused the fire.....and we assume it was on the mains side......there is no reason to asume [any] electrical fire is as a result of amateur workmanship.

yet this is the very thing the fire office wishes up to believe, with his follow-up statement.

electrical faults can occur just as much as a result of amateur workmanship, as that of a PROFESSIONAL.

[a ''who guards the jailor'' thing?]

Wiring mains electrical systems isn't black magic, or a dark art, whose secrets are only imparted to those chosen few who wish to make a profession...or ''living'' out of it.

The secrets of the trade are available to one and all.

especially to those who SEEK THE INFORMATION....like, a lot of railway modellers.

What would have been a more HELPFUL statement from those concerned...[but would be unlikely to be reported in its entirety, due to a lack of sensationalist impact], would be something like, if one is in doubt as to how to [wire a mains circuit]....employ a tradesperson to do the job.

Instead, those with model railways are now subjected to ridicule?

so, is railway modelling to be subject to the same general ridicule as...the Reliant Robin?
 

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[Certification is actaully the case right now as far as club layouts go if clubs wish to attend exibitions. No certificate and sorry we cannot let you put your plug in Mr Clubperson]

that even applies to the usage of an electric kettle at work
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
An interesting comment, Gary. At present the 12-15 volt wiring on a model railway counts as "Separated extra-low voltage" (SELV) wiring and does not come within the requirements of the IEE Wiring Regs (BS7671) on electrical installation in buildings other than to be kept at a minimum distance from the mains wiring. So it would require a major change in both the Wiring Regs (and Building Regulations?) to cover such wiring that was independent of the building.
It might be argued that in clubhouses and at public exhibitions you need to show that such wiring is alright, but I suspect that the danger is very small. However, the larger currents used by a DCC layout or by the Hornby live steamer, for example, might end up being considered a higher hazard.

We'll have to wait and see.

Regards,
John Webb
 

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QUOTE PS that Kent online link. The news is full of hangings, murders, shootings, drugs and kerb crawling! I didn't think the area around Margate was like that!

Perhaps it's a slow news day with only a few muggings to report otherwise!


Regarding this nannying at exhibitions - who cares about 12V and loose wires, and more importantly who comes round to make a snap inspection?! If I were organising an exhibition I would take the very greatest of pleasure in not bothering will all this rubbish and damn the law, if it applies of course to 12V model railways!!

Discrete rebellion and non-compliance is the solution in my opinion. What is wrong with a bit of risk? Life is/would be so boring without it. Why is not possible to hire a venue and deliberately decide not to offer insurance/health and safety cover etc. in the event of the model trains causing injury by a child being electrocuted by 12V (haha not likely) or a clumsy person straying out of bounds and tripping over a wire - and - have large signs saying "BEWARE OF 12V TRACKS AND TRAILING WIRES - ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK"? After all if a carpark can choose not to provide compensation for damage to a car parked there why can we not have the same at exhibitions?

Goedel, who is off to microwave the dog dry...
 

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QUOTE Gary: Certification is actaully the case right now as far as club layouts go if clubs wish to attend exibitions. No certificate and sorry we cannot let you put your plug in Mr Clubperson.

I presume this covers the mains (high voltage) side of the system. It seems reasonable to me that exhibition organisers should insist that all connections to the mains - plugs, cables, transformers etc - are properly wired, correctly fused and in good condition. Mains electricity must be treated with respect.

David
 

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QUOTE Discrete rebellion and non-compliance is the solution in my opinion. What is wrong with a bit of risk? Life is/would be so boring without it.

sadly it is this very attitude which results in too many deaths, serious injuries.....and more importantly from an exhibition organiser's viewpoint, seriously massive litigation, in the event of an accident.

Health & Safety [legislation] came about BECAUSE of the cavalier attitude towards BASIC safety proceedures, on the part of employers, employees, organisers, and those generally responsible.

The days of sending 12 year old kids underneath moving cotton looms to retrieve odds and ends, at huge personal risk, have become intolerable to society.

Health and Safety is about raising awareness, of the fact that innocent actions on our part may well result in serious consequences for another.

For instance, if you own/drive a car, you are personally responsible in ensuring that car does not present any sort of danger to others.
To ASSUME others are aware of any risks you and your car pose, is dellusionary, and will result in having to answer to the law of the land.

As far as exhibitors are concerned, it is entirely reasonable that those wishing to display their wares/efforts, and needing a mains electricity power supply to do so, should be able to provide reasonable proof that their equipment will not compromise the safety and integrety of the building, or those others within it.

In the same way it is entirely reasonable to expect the owners of said venue to provide the appropriate fire escape and protection?

or is that a risk too far?
 

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QUOTE (alastairq @ 6 Oct 2007, 18:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>sadly it is this very attitude which results in too many deaths, serious injuries.....and more importantly from an exhibition organiser's viewpoint, seriously massive litigation, in the event of an accident.

Health & Safety [legislation] came about BECAUSE of the cavalier attitude towards BASIC safety proceedures, on the part of employers, employees, organisers, and those generally responsible.
Haha I think you got the wrong end of the stick there! I was not advocating cavalier behaviour of any kind but merely common-sense - i.e. not going overboard with uneccessary certification of 12V model railways etc. which Gary was talking about.

And it is the same old nonsense the Health and Safety Fascists wheel out to face any objection on the grounds of practicality, common sense or a personal obligation to society (today a bizarre concept) - namely that those who complain are clearly in favour of children up chimneys, dodging wiring and legionnaires disease in air conditioning etc. which is of course NONSENSE.

This is just like the PC Fascists who scream 'racist' or 'homophobe' or 'fascist' (oh the irony!) at anyone who dares to question just what a 'Democratic Support Officer' (do they help infirm people put their vote paper into a ballot box?) of the council does, or a 'Social Cohesion Officer' (glueing Muslims and Christians together despite the headlines from the Middle East perhaps?) is for? It couldn't possibly be a case of a Labour government creating a client class of voters who depend on Labour for their non-jobs at the expense of the fools still in private employ?

Goedel
 

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QUOTE uneccessary certification of 12V model railways

firstly, it isn't the 12 volt side that gets certified...its the 220/240volt mains side that needs checking....from transformer to wall socket.

secondly, don't confuse ''political correctness'' with ''health & Safety''....they are two, very different things.

political correctness is about not labelling anyone as a fascist without reasonable, accurate cause.

Health & safety is about not leaving one's car door wide open [for which one is responsible], on the expectation said fascist should actually ''watch where they are going'', and not collide with the door....its your car, your car door...your responsibility to create that safe environmetn around that car...no-one else's.

HOWEVER.....if said fascist actually exercises due care and concern for their OWN personal safety, and avoids that door you've inconsiderately left open, then we have achieved a safe environment..at that time.......no accident occurred, DESPITE one party not being as careful and responsible as they ought to have been.

If BOTH party's exercise responsibility in creating a 'safe' environment, then we would all see a huge reduction in injuries, deaths etc, from accidents .

sadly, health and safety issues arise because of a LACK of thought ....a LACK of common sense.

Besides, I understand fascism to be a distinctly right-wing political view?

Health and Safety legislation came about from distinctly SOCIALIST (ie reds under beds, etc) political pressures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Having worked on aspects of fire safety for 28 years before I retired, I am more and more convinced that things getting "banned by Health and Safety" are mostly incorrectly attributed. It is far more often the insurers of a venue, event or the like who demand that this and that be done over and above the "reasonable and practicable" requirements of Health and Safety legislation. And why does this happen? It's because in the past two decades greedy individuals have been increasingly encouraged by greedy lawyers to claim, causing the said insurers to protect their profits by demanding more from their clients.

Right - my rant is over!

I think having the mains equipment checked to Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) standards before it's taken into an exhibition is quite reasonable. After all, while the building's installation should protect every one if faulty equipment is plugged in, it may do so at the expense of cutting off the power to a number of other users. This at the least is inconvenient, at most it mght severely interrupt the exhibition and the pleasure of those attending while the fault is found, isolated and power restored.

Regards,
John Webb
 

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QUOTE (alastairq @ 6 Oct 2007, 19:21) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>sadly, health and safety issues arise because of a LACK of thought ....a LACK of common sense.
I agree exactly with this, but this is unrelated to the ridiculous H & S regulations which do in fact work against common sense and sensible thought through the ridiculous ways they are implemented. Health and safety issues are completely mis-addressed by the health and safety legislation!

QUOTE Besides, I understand fascism to be a distinctly right-wing political view?
No no no. Fascist as in thought processes! In their heads these people do not tollerate others having different views but label them as child-slavery fans or dodgy-wiring enthusiasts or racist or homophobic etc. and demonise them. This is mental fascism!! It is not a question of political left and right but of thought process.

QUOTE Health and Safety legislation came about from distinctly SOCIALIST (ie reds under beds, etc) political pressures.
Exactly, this is what I said! So all the non-job holders of either H&S or PC origin vote Labour to perpetuate their non-jobs, to the cost of everyone else...

Goedel
 

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my non-job (because I enjoy it?) involves instruction..with the major emphasis on health and safety.

the reason is simple...the equipment my students are learning to operate hardly ever 'injures' folk when safety proceedures are ignored or short -changed.......................it invariably KILLS folk, such is the size and power.

as such, this equipment, and its lesser brothers, are responsible for a death rate higher than that usually associated with the general occupation of my students.

the trouble with common sense is, it is not evenly distributed within the population.

with health and safety issues, the proceedures and processes often seem churlish.

yet whilst no incident of injury actually happens..and this includes 'near-misses'....H&S is not considered.

Only when someone's life has been irrevocably altered by some innocent, forgotten act, does H&S come into our thoughts....and, what to do to prevent such a happening occuring again.

yet, whilst in any given 'situation', no harm befalls anybody, this may well be due to H&S actually working.

check out any building site?

I doubt anybody would consider entering such a working area without wearing a hard hat?

but people do forget, or ignore.....and folk still get their brains splattered by falling debris.

sometimes, employers don't enforce H&S, or pay lip service to it, and workers are put at risk...H&S officials are then needed to compel employers to comply....so the non-jobsworths really perform a vital function, especially when in this day and age, financial considerations always come first.
 

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QUOTE the trouble with common sense is,
... that it is rather badly named as it so often seems to be less than common, or perhaps the term is confused with 20:20 hindsight?

David
 

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plus, it is often confused with ''learning by experience'' (ie the hard way???)

common sense involves an element of reasoning.
 

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My understanding is that Warley club require Portable Appliance Testing of all mains electrical equipment with a layout /stand at their show at the NEC , and this is because of the requirements of the venue (the NEC) - everything that passed gets a sticker I believe. This is a test of the insulation/earthing. It is not a testing of the low voltage wiring on a layout - though if you've bolted an uncased mains transformer under the layout , you'll fail (And if anyone ever touches the thing while its under power they'll die by electrocution - uncased transformers are literally lethal)

I've been round this one, at some length, both with an electrician in the club riding a hobby horse (facing off with another electrician in the club) , and in an exchange on one of the websites with an anti DCC nut who claimed DCC layouts were fire risks and was visibly making up scare stories as he went along ( I recall he claimed that if you used dropper wires it would be unsafe unless you fitted an individual fuse to each dropper. ) Neither can be ranked among the more sensible discussions I've had, and I'm assured by folk who have spent many years working with electrical and electronic equipment professionally that both were talking rubbish

I've never heard of any suggestion that the low voltage circuits require certifaction or checking, though it's a good idea to ensure all wiring is rated adequetely for the loads carried. Quite apart from anything else, the thicker the wire , the less voltage drop you get at a given current, and voltage drop is a Bad Thing. The one area that does worry me is the suggestion often made that a layout can be converted from DC to DCC just by connecting up[ a DCC system and turning on all the section switches. What's widely sold as "layout wire" seems to be 1.3A rated; the typical DCC system pushes out 2.7A - 5A depending on brand , and I do worry about the implications . I'd argue that long wiring runs (eg main feed return, connections) should be at least 3A rated wire, or higher regardless of whether youre using DC or DCC

Gary
QUOTE It would not surprise me if in a few years time all model railway electrical wiring has to be certified by a qualified electrician prior to powering the system up. One advantage of DCC is that you don't need any!

The last time I looked under either the club project or my own little layout, there was quite a bit of wire actually . The wire free system was Exactoscale's Red Arrow, which involved rechargable batteries in the loco and an infrared control signal , and which seems to have died with Bernard Weller

I'd assume it was the mains side that caused the fire here - and one would expect it to be wiring on the workshop side or the mains supply. I believe it is now illegal to carry out mains wiring yourself - unless you are a certified electrician already
 

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Ravenser,

I quite agree with you regarding the need for adequate wiring. I run a Hornby 'Live steamer' in which the one loco takes up to over 6 amps. I've used 1 sq mm wire on my layout, which isn't a large one (3.2m by 1.6m) and this wired in a 'ring' round the layout works very well. Bearing in mind that accessories as well as locos are supplied through the DCC feeder rather than a separate supply then the wiring does need to cope with minimum voltage drop.

Re the legal position on home wiring: The newish (Jan 2005) Part P of the Building Regulations requirements:
No need to notify the local Building Control bodies:
Installation work carried out by an individual or firm recognised as competent by an authorised scheme;
Minor works including replacement of accessories and minor replacement of wire.
To be notified to Building Control prior to the work:
Work in a kitchen, bathroom, shower-room, outdoors and other 'special areas' (excluding replacements)
and all other work involving a new circuit.

DIY people can continue their own work but besides notifying Building Control of intended works must also pay a fee to Building Control for their work to be tested and inspected by the local authority on completion.

Portable equipment that plugs into a socket does not come under Part P.
Regards,
John Webb
 

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Gary, you said:
"I'd argue that long wiring runs (eg main feed return, connections) should be at least 3A rated wire, or higher regardless of whether youre using DC or DCC"

***Gary, medium hookup wire, the stuff used for droppers, is rated higher than 3 amps - so is most mains fuze wire!!! Its far too small for DCC hookup on all but a 1 metre test track!!

The whole concept of using wire "rated in amps" is fallacious I'm afraid - the issue is voltage drop over distance, and to prevent voltage drop on a wire carrying several amps you need MUCH bigger wire than that.

To keep the wording simple, if the run is more than a few feet, solely to avoid voltage drop under load (for the power bus that the droppers connect to) you should use wire that has the same amount of copper as 240 volt 10 amp wire as a minimum.

For a very large layout, the wire needs to be even bigger... considerably so!

I repeat - all this has nothing to do with current capacity, and everything to do with delivering the same voltage all around the layout when the system is under load.

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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Richard - don't blame Gary here , blame me.

I'm not an electrician , but the stuff in question comes from Maplins and is described on the packet, as 7/0.2 wire, 16/0.2 wire and 24/0.2 wire, figures of 1.3A , 3A and 5A being quoted on the labels in the shop

The stuff being commonly sold in the UK at shows labelled "layout wire" seems to be the lightest of these 3. If people are using this for main runs of wiring to sections on DC layouts(and I suspect some people are), then I have my doubts about simply hooking a DCC system up to a DC layout

On my own current small project , I've tried to use 16/0.2 wire for the droppers , though its a little awkward to solder neatly and conceal especially in the thin ballast that results with using SMP. There is a little 7/0.2 wire used where I ran out, and all pieces of track have their own dropper - longer ones have two droppers. Connections from bus to sockets for interboard cable and from NCE facia panel to NCE autoswitch device are 24/0.2 wire

Droppers are connected to buses which are taken from 240V mains cable (live and neutral wires) , which is solid core . The layout is 8'6" long, and the system used is NCE PowerCab - the transformer supplied is labelled 1.11A at 15V. I'm being prudent in case something capable of delivering 3A to 4A is ever connected

The current club project uses 7/0.2 wire for droppers , wired to power buses made from solid mains cable . The club chairman was talked out of demanding replacement of all dropper wires with 16/0.2 wire on health and safety grounds by someone with a professional electrical background

I don't think there are any of what you would class as "very large layouts" - the big perminent layouts in 100' x 30' rooms - in existance in the UK - certainly not DCC ones
 

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One thing that doesn't seem to have been mentioned yet is the insurance aspect of faulty wiring. When I set up my garage for my layout I got a professional in so I could get the wiring *(of the garage) certified when I could easily have got my father in law to do it far more cheaply. The reason being that I work in insurance industry reviewing complaints and every day on my desk I see loads of knocked back claims because people didn't go to the trouble of getting a professional to do the job. The reason Warley will be checking layouts is because their insurance may well be conditional upon that. If you do not have a valid certificate for your wiring you may well find any claim for an incident such as this would be rejected due to exclusions for faulty workmanship or the like.
 
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