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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Guys!
I am starting a ceiling track in my new to me house!
Any suggestions? I have 150 feet of track only needing 100 feet or so,
I will sort through what I have for the best pieces. I have a 40 watt transformer (lionel). Do you think it will power the 100 feet of track or should I run jumpers at different points along the route?
Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Be well !
Marty
 

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A 40 watt transformer is rather light duty, but I'd recommend extra power feeds for a loop that big regardless of transformer size for good reliability and even power distribution throughout. As far as transformer size, it sort of depends on what you're planning on running up there. The track loop size shouldn't make much of a difference, but if you're running much more than a starter locomotive with a few unlighted freight cars you might want to look into something larger (more like 80 watts minimum)

As an example, I just did a quick check of the amperage draw of a Postwar Lionel locomotive (which has a large AC type motor) with three lighted passenger cars. At 15 volts the set draws about 4 amps. Power (Wattage)= voltage x current (amps)= 15v x 4 amps=60 watts. Your 40 watt transformer probably wouldn't be able to handle it.

A modern starter locomotive (DC can motor) with a couple of freight cars and a lighted caboose only drew about 2 amps at 15v. 15V x 2A= 30 watts, which would be within the capabilities of your transformer.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply,
My layout will be 20'X12' no lighted cars or accesories just the Lionel Trains Southern Pacific GP-20 Diesel Engine Locomotive 6-18831 pulling aprox. 10-12 cars. I used to have a slot car layout I built years ago and used wire jumpers through out the lay out. I'm figuring that my I could use the jumpers if I have problems with power at the farthest length of the lay out? At one point when I set up the train on top of the slot car lay out I used a 12 volt 7a/h battery with a potentiometer and ran the train and had no problems. A friend gave me the transformer and an old Christmas set he had from way back. So as soon as I move in my home the garage is the first thing I am renovating! Move in date July 16 !!!
 

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Before you build it, set up the 64 foot rectangle on the garage floor or driveway and see the result. You will have a good voltage drop if you are not using 3 foot track pieces. I have old track and with an 8ft by 8ft I use a ZW.
You can start with smaller circle and see how the 40 watts works
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Before you build it, set up the 64 foot rectangle on the garage floor or driveway and see the result. You will have a good voltage drop if you are not using 3 foot track pieces. I have old track and with an 8ft by 8ft I use a ZW.
You can start with smaller circle and see how the 40 watts works


Great idea maybe i'll set it up here at work !!! When the boss is away ? ? ?
 

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Your 40 watt transformer would probably work to power that engine with that train as long as you don't plan on expanding too much. I believe it has dual DC can motors vs the older open frame AC motors, so its power needs shouldn't be as great as my example above. As T-Man said, you need to keep resistance between track sections in mind. It all adds up rather quickly on a 40 watt transformer, so the more you do to keep resistance down in the track the more power you'll have for the train. Starting with one power feed opposite the transformer is definitely a good place to start, especially if you're going to do a test setup. You'll quickly see if you need more feeds. Also ensure that all the track pin connections are tight at the joints.

I tend to go to the extreme when it comes to track wiring as I've mainly dealt with public displays that I need to be reliable over longer periods of time with somewhat less maintenance. On an 8'x20' Christmas layout I do, I believe I space out about 10 power feeds around the main two perimeter loops. We also use the longer sections of track where possible vs the short 10 inch pieces. The fewer track joints, the better in my opinion. A small track I fixed up for the manager in a restaurant at work (maybe 4'x8' or less?) I soldered feeders to every track section around the layout since it runs every 15 minutes from 9:30 am to 5 pm and I can't be there to do maintenance every day. So far no issues there and I try to get there to clean the track and do maintenance on the locomotive about once a month.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I agree with the jumpers from track section to another, Over kill it because Once it is up there I will not remove it even if I sell the house! Bonus for the new owner ha ha ha ! I'm bringing the track and such to work with me Friday it's my day at the shop no one here but me and set up the track above my tool room and do some testing.
Thanks again
 

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If you solder jumpers between the track sections to help out the pin connections, multiple feed wire points might not be as critically necessary but can't hurt either. Testing is the best way to know for sure!

It all depends on how much time you want to commit. I hate wiring my Christmas display due to the time it takes, but the reliability issues I had in years prior to putting all the work into it disappeared and made it very much worth the effort.
 

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Soldering the track connections is best. As an alternative, you can make sure all the pins are tight, and then splay the outer two rails outward (slightly) at the pin ends. This will help for better connections. The object is to reduce the resistance of the track to electrical flow. I would suggest, at a minimum, four power drops to your layout. One drop in the middle of each side and one drop in the middle of each end.
 

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I use metal brushes (brass,stainless steel) on the pins (top & bottom sides) on each track section. Set up an assembly line and 100 pieces of track takes five minutes. Brush across all three pins, turn the track over and repeat. As side benefit, you see the condition of the pins, especially if they're lose. Use a wire cutter to crimp the rail on loose pins at the pin's indent. Use a spare pin to align the crimp on the indent.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks to all for the great suggestions I will be using all of them to have a smooth running lay out!
God Bless you all!
Marty
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Back again! I am so blessed! I needed a more wattage transformer and God blessed me with one for free! Brand New! My Co-worker saw me playing with my trains at work and gave me his father in laws train set from 2003 Its a Christmas set, used once! Brand NEW 80 watt transformer and the trains, complete set!
Now I wont have any more power issues! I will still use the jumpers from track to track due to their age. I read up on the conductivity of the rails and read that I should use Dielectric grease? Anybody use it?
Thanks
Marty
 

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Thanks for the discussion and instruction. I just finished building my workshop and will soon be ready to begin setting it up. I plan to put in a shelf train around the perimeter of my 16 x 20 work room, so that's 72 feet of track. The discussion about the drops i very helpful and timely for me. I also plan to have a 6 x 16 O gauge layout and a 6 x 16 S gauge layout right above it and have room for a G gauge garden train outside.
 
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