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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok I'm finally getting ready to start laying track outdoors. I'm going to have track power and am wondering what the rest of the world does with the wires from the power supply to the track. Do you....

A. bury just the cables and bring them up to the track where you need to?

B. Bury conduit and run the cables through that with up runs to the track?

C. Soemthing else... What?
 

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A buried mainline with feeders popping up where you want then to attach to the track works fine. Just remember to put some type of waterproof sealer on the joint so that it doesn't corrode.

Mark
 

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I only have one pair of connectors to my 130' of track. They are not buried or in conduit, they just run behind a bush from where I have my power supply. No problems in 3 years. I use rail clamps so I didn't need to add feeders every X feet.



I do recommend some electrical grease or something like Mark mentioned as even the rail clamps can corrode and cause connection issues after a while.
 

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I seem to remember this subject from a recent post. If you have access to old extension cords, the orange type usually used in conjuntion with power

tools, grab them. They make excellent wiring for our railroads. They are me4ant to be used outdoors, and hold up very well in the elements. I bury

mine a couple of incehs below the surface. I've had some of them out there for quite a few years with not a single problem.
 

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If you can bury conduit I heartily recommend it.

Then you can pull inexpensive wire through it (the insulation is thinner) and have nice large feeders and no power problems.

I ran a "daisy chain" of conduit around my yard, bring each conduit up with a 90% "sweep" then put the next one next to it to the next location.

I pulled 10 gauge stranded and with all the locos I run, no voltage drops anywhere. I connect to SS track about every 30 foot. Since I can run up to 5 locos in one train, losing 4 volts would be a big deal. If you run only one loco at a time, it's not as big a deal.

The conduit made it so I can change/upgrade/add easily.

Regards, Greg
 

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It's easy to just bury your wire in the trench that contains the ballast under your track. That way you don't accidently dig through it at some point in the future when you're trying to get that big weed out. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/satisfied.gif
 

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Conduit is the safest method and the most organized. Burying wire in the trench beneath the track is also an excellent idea.

I am not proposing that my methods are any better than either of these, however it does have some advantages.

For instance, as your rail empire changes, we all make alterations to our layouts as we see improvements that can be made, the conduit method

doesn't lend itself to alterations quite that easily.

And for burying wire in the track trench, when those chages or improvements need to be made, track must be disturbed.

By using extension cords, the orange round type, they only need to be just below the surface. And it's tough to slice through one with a shovel.
 

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Hey Scott,
I live in Cedar Rapids, IA, so we're in about the same climate zone. I built my garden railway in 1994 and made the first connection to 125 feet of track with 12 gauge cord made by Malibu lighting. I had just one connection position and ran with no problem at all for 11 years. In 2005 I added 200 feet of stainless steel at first without adding any connections points. There was almost no degradation in performance except for a small hiccup at the halfway point. I added another connection point and the problem went away. I have had absolutely no problem with the Malibu wire degrading and performance of my locos has been flawless. Incidentally, I run LGB, Bachmann and Aristo locos. I don't have any experience with buried conduit but so far, no problem.
Joe Hall
 

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Can always use sprikler wire, that is designed to be buried and withstand most of mother nature.
Been using it for 9+ years, no problems. just use conductive grease at all rail connections.
I use vasoline when making any wiring connections using wirenuts.
Someone here at one time suggested using plastic film canisters for splicing wire connections outside.
Then fill up the canister with vasoline to prevent corrosion.
Depending how big you are going, it is always a good idea to use "feeder" points thruought the main line to ensure conductivity in case of bad track connections (which can occur over time or people walking on track). Just a little more insurance.

Also can use Malibu lighting wire. It is heavier gauge
I like the sprinkler wire, you can get it in 5 conductor and 7 conductor. Better for future addons or remote switching or building lighting. Can also double up on wires for higher current draws.

This has worked very well for me, your "mileage" can/may vary

Have Fun
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well Thanks everyone for your input.... I am going to use Malibu lighting wire. I will probably use conduit to at least get to the area of my roadbed but then may just bury the wire from there. The control center will be under my deck attached to one of the support posts along the stairs for easy access. I will be using feeders in at least a couple of different places along the line. Not worried about adding expansion, powered switches, or lighting. The building lighting is provided by the malibu light system run only to the buildings and I will only have about 6 switches on the entire layout.
 

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Just when you think you're all that, along comes Alvin and his chipmonk pals. In the beginning of this season, I had some trouble with one turnout

not working. It seems that I ran some zip cord right where the chipmonks wanted to be. The little buggers chewedthrogh one side of the zip cord. I

knew I had buried wire in the area, so it wasn't hard to find. When I pulled up the wire, the frayed end told all.

By the way, it's only been the last three years that we have had chipmonks. They must follow people as we populate an area. We moved here in 1974.

Country road, not many houses, and no squirrels. As the 80s hit and the housing boom started so did the squirrels.
 

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I had a cartoon years ago where one chipmonk was saying to the other:

"Wow, you're right! This new fiber optic cable tasts much better!"
 

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I used Malibu wire for 18 years with no problems. I soldered it right to the rail joiners. I had about 100 feet of track and had four places were power was hooked up. Ran all the wires back to a central box, that's where I hooked them all together.
 

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What are we doing wrong? Our garden railroad is only about 30' by 30' with two loops and some sidings. We've cleaned the track, soldered many of the joints, and have several feeders to each loop as they are wired in blocks controlled by simple toggle switches in the control box. We use an Aristocraft 10 amp power supply with two remote control boxes attached, one for each track. When I try to run trains, they hesitate, and jerk and stop from time to time. Oddly enough, they were running perfectly one hot afternoon, but as the sun went behind the trees, they started to mess up. We have LGB, Bachmann, USA and Aristocraft engines. Our little garden is looking nice with the 'trees' and buildings we have. It is very frustrating that we cannot get the trains to run more smoothly. Anybody have a suggestion? Please?
 

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You need to measure the voltage at the rails while under load. A voltmeter right where the wires get to the rails while the train "goes by" is a good way to measure.

If you measure with no load, you will learn nothing, because voltage drop occurs under load. Open circuit (no load) will show full voltage with a poor connection.

If that voltage reading under load is not significantly lower than at the power pack, then work away from the joiners until you find your trouble spot.

Hesitate and jerk and stop could be something else, like dirty wheels, erratic track pickup, etc etc.

Make sure your locos work on a test track first.

Regards, Greg
 

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Posted By CSG on 06/13/2009 3:09 PM
What are we doing wrong? Our garden railroad is only about 30' by 30' with two loops and some sidings. We've cleaned the track, soldered many of the joints, and have several feeders to each loop as they are wired in blocks controlled by simple toggle switches in the control box. We use an Aristocraft 10 amp power supply with two remote control boxes attached, one for each track. When I try to run trains, they hesitate, and jerk and stop from time to time. Oddly enough, they were running perfectly one hot afternoon, but as the sun went behind the trees, they started to mess up. We have LGB, Bachmann, USA and Aristocraft engines. Our little garden is looking nice with the 'trees' and buildings we have. It is very frustrating that we cannot get the trains to run more smoothly. Anybody have a suggestion? Please?





What have you been cleaning the track with? sounds like a dirty track problem.
 

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We have used a track cleaning car that employs abrasive pads and when that didn't quite do the job, I crawl around the track with a bright boy. Is there a chemical cleaner that is known to work well? Thanks.
 

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well, I just cleaned up from a run and I admit that the KISS theory works.

My layout is approx 75 to 85 feet' curved dogbone bit.

Today I did some landscaping, took out George's pole sander, lightly did a rub on the dirty tracks then pulled out the cooler with all of the electonics, TIU, Bridgewerks, Power bar, extension cord and remote. ( This from the tool shed... ) Connected the 12 gauge wire to the track via alligator clips, loaded up my Triplex and Hudson and poof !!!!


Not bad... Voltage AT TRACK = 24 Volts. Amperage approx 2.5 amps running both the triplex and Hudson. Going over the Aristo #6's I had 2 shorts ( 2 blown fuses) and had to manually adjust the switch.


Only issue were those Aristo # 6's..... 2010 budget will allow for replacement with something which I hope is decent.



AML flex track is the absolute best, study, forgiving and especially for me.

gg




PS: my next layout will be radically different and very long and elevated... I will probably use the star method for power distribution.
 

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PS:

I just re-read my last post...

I am starting to sound like you saavy guys !! Not bad for " I did it bit eh?"


Bonus....

gg




PS: Nick and Semper are going to be jealous...
 
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