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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may be a long thread, but I have lots of basic questions.

1. I am a new HO model railroader, as a child and adult with my kids, I had an American Flyer set, am a DIY so I’m reasonably familiar with electric. I have a layout with two 8 x 11’ panels connected with a 4 x 2’ panel to form a U shape. It will be relatively simple, not a lot of action, turnouts, accessories, no side panels, etc. Building with my grandson, not for me. I’m not a serious model railroader, but want to do it right without going overboard and spending excess hours.

2. I’ve run 3 bus powers that mirror the track layout with #14 solid copper and will next run connectors that will be no longer than 2’, most will be 1’. Is #24 solid copper sufficient for DC, can use heavier if needed? Also have some #16 & #18 twisted copper if that is better? Plan to use 3M #905 Scotchlok Suitcase connectors - are they ok?

3. What should the spacing be for connectors, I’m thinking 3 ft, but can easily do closer if needed – don’t want to scrimp? Should the connectors be closer on the upgrade of a trestle? Any place else they should be closer, like near turnouts?

4. I ran an AC bus in the center of each board for accessories with #14 solid copper – can I use #24 solid copper for the connectors, they’ll be a maximum of 2’ as the bus is in the middle of the 4’ wide panels? Not a lot of accessories, 3 turnouts, a few lights, 2 crossings, a few other small things. I will power the accessories on a dedicated transformer; each of the 3 trains will have a separate MRC 1370 transformer.

5. I have an Amtrak set with very long cars that won’t turn the corners on the layout, the ends of the cars jam each other. I have no room to make a larger radius. Is there such a thing as a long coupler or a coupler extension? If so, where can I buy them? What other options do I have so I can run the Amtrak?

6. On laying track, how far from the edge of the platform should the first track be, it is a free standing layout in the middle of the room? How far apart should tracks be that are running parallel to each other – can you tell me the distance from outside rail of one track to inside rail of second track? Any extra space needed on curves, if so, how much?

7. Thanks in advance for all your help.
 

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each of the 3 trains will have a separate MRC 1370 transformer.
This implies that you are planning on using DC power. That requires isolated blocks of track and block switches -- UNLESS you have three separate loops that are NOT connected in any way. If the tracks are connected, using DC block switching with THREE locos involves very complicated wiring. Running TWO locos is far less complicated, but still involves isolated blocks and a lot of wiring.

Do you have a track plan that we can see?
 

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Some answers

This may be a long thread, but I have lots of basic questions.
I am a new HO model railroader, as a child and adult with my kids, I had an American Flyer set, am a DIY so I’m reasonably familiar with electric. I have a layout with two 8 x 11’ panels connected with a 4 x 2’ panel to form a U shape. It will be relatively simple, not a lot of action, turnouts, accessories, no side panels, etc. Building with my grandson, not for me. I’m not a serious model railroader, but want to do it right without going overboard and spending excess hours.

2. I’ve run 3 bus powers that mirror the track layout with #14 solid copper and will next run connectors that will be no longer than 2’, most will be 1’. Is #24 solid copper sufficient for DC, can use heavier if needed? Also have some #16 & #18 twisted copper if that is better? Plan to use 3M #905 Scotchlok Suitcase connectors - are they ok?

3. What should the spacing be for connectors, I’m thinking 3 ft, but can easily do closer if needed – don’t want to scrimp? Should the connectors be closer on the upgrade of a trestle? Any place else they should be closer, like near turnouts?

4. I ran an AC bus in the center of each board for accessories with #14 solid copper – can I use #24 solid copper for the connectors, they’ll be a maximum of 2’ as the bus is in the middle of the 4’ wide panels? Not a lot of accessories, 3 turnouts, a few lights, 2 crossings, a few other small things. I will power the accessories on a dedicated transformer; each of the 3 trains will have a separate MRC 1370 transformer.

5. I have an Amtrak set with very long cars that won’t turn the corners on the layout, the ends of the cars jam each other. I have no room to make a larger radius. Is there such a thing as a long coupler or a coupler extension? If so, where can I buy them? What other options do I have so I can run the Amtrak?

6. On laying track, how far from the edge of the platform should the first track be, it is a free standing layout in the middle of the room? How far apart should tracks be that are running parallel to each other – can you tell me the distance from outside rail of one track to inside rail of second track? Any extra space needed on curves, if so, how much?

7. Thanks in advance for all your help.
rsco427;

Note: Where there is a common model railroad term for something, I put it in {these brackets} Please don't take this as criticism of you, for not using the "correct" word. It's not intended as such. We can figure out what you're saying without this technical lingo.)

Questions 1-4. Your wiring is fine. The wires you used for bus wires and {feeders} (your term"connectors) are big enough and a 3' spacing between the feeder wires is quite adequate. Yes 3M Scotchlock connectors are excellent quality, and have been used on many model railroads. One advantage of the 3M vs other brands is that they are easier to remove, and re-use, if you ever need to do so. Some others are effectively one-time use only. Many modelers prefer to solder all connections, including soldering feeder wires to bus wires. Either system will work well. Your choice. The only change to your wiring that I recommend changing would be to use stranded wire instead of solid wire. Stranded is less likely to break and possibly cause hard-to find electrical problems. For the same wire size, it can also handle a bit more current than solid wire; but with the wiring plan you have, that small difference won't even come into play.

Question 5 Yes, {long shank couplers} are available. If you are trying to run long cars around tight curves (not recommended) then it would work better to have the couplers attached to the {trucks} (the swiveling wheel and frame assemblies under each end of the car) rather than mounted to the body of the car. The swiveling action of the trucks will help keep the couplers in the middle of the track. You say the actual car bodies are hitting each other. How tight are the curves, what radius? How long are the cars, preferably in scale feet. A common passenger car length is 85 feet, but some are shorter. On tight radius curves, the shorter the better. If you don't know the scale foot length of the car just measure it in regular, full sized inches.

Question 6 How far in from the edge of the table track should be, and the distance between tracks, depends on the amount of overhang your longest car or locomotive has when passing through your tightest curve. The overhang varies wildly with the car/loco length and the track's curve radius. This is one of several good reasons for not trying to operate long cars on tight curves. As for distance from the table edge, since you have an Island-type table, with no room walls for the train to hit, that's going to be a matter of keeping the trains from hitting the floor!:eek: Most modelers leave enough real estate outside their track so that derailments won't include a long free fall to disaster. Where that can't be done, some use Plexiglas edge walls to contain the errant trains. If you do this remember, you have just constructed a wall right next to the layout, one that overhanging cars can now hit. So you would need to leave enough clearance to avoid that. One possible solution would be to build a sort of "rain-gutter-type" train catcher around the table edges, but just below track level. For this to be effective the outer wall of the "gutter" needs to be several inches higher than track level, or a train can sail right over the gutter, and onto the floor!
You may want to look at the "Beginner's Q&A" section of this forum. There is a lot of good info available there. Another reference I recommend is the book, "Introduction to Model Railroading" by Jeff Wilson. You can order a copy from https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/products/books It covers many aspects of the hobby in simple text, and many color photos.

Welcome to the forum;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
 

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your wire sizes are more than adequate 14 solid will run 17 amps ok 24 will carry 2.1 amps . the only draw back of solid is vibration causing it to brake inside insolation but should not be of major concern for you, you will need block isolation unless you are running 3 separate loops. looks like I type to slow.
 

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These are just my opinions. I like the #14 wire for for the bus wire. #24 for the feeders (to the track) is a little on the small side. If it were me I would use the #18. Maybe a little
on the large side but if you can work with it great. I am not a big fan of the suitecase
connectors. I would twist and solder the wires together. Keep some slack in the wire in case you need to change things around. You will have no problems that way.
I don't know what kind of couplers are on the passenger cars. But yes, depending on your couplers you can get longer couplers which would give you more spacing between cars.
If you have more questions just put them on the end of this thread
I think you are asking if wires to the track should be 3 feet apart. Some people do 6 feet.
Some do 10 feet or more. And then some nuts like me would like to do wires to each section of track. Otherwise you are depending on the track connectors to transfer the power to the next piece of track. Sometimes it works and sometimes they don't.
Good luck and have fun. Your grandson is a lucky fellow.
 

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This is not train related, but since you are so new here you may want to contact gunrunnerjohn and see if he can change your user name for you. Putting your email address out for all to see like that is like waving a red flag in front of a bull for spammers. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Change my name

You got trapped by the SPAM filter, I turned you loose.

I didn't realize it, but my public name is my email address, I'd like to change that immediately. I looked on the profile page but don't see where I can do it. If you must change, please do so using "LilCal". If I must do it, can you advise how to accomplish? Thanks in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
MtRR75:

I don't have a paper track plan, but there will be 3 separate loops that are not connected. It is DC, and each loop will have a separate transformer. I've read about block wiring and don't want to get into something that complicated, that's why I kept 3 loops with 3 transformers. The 3 turnouts will be for a yard and I'll probably insulate the 3 yard runs and move the trains manually onto the hot track if I want to run them. All 3 turnouts will be off the same loop and will be about 8" apart. A 4th transformer will power the turnouts and other minor accessories.

All others:

Thanks for the great input, very much appreciated and will help me immensely. I have some work to do on the Amtrak curve challenge and will get some long shank couplers and attach to the trucks - really appreciate that one. I will figure out how to address the space issue on the edge of the layout, plexiglas or a gutter are good ideas. I don't want to give up layout real estate by moving the track far away from the edge, with 3 loops the radii are already tight.
 

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Small space. Small scale?

MtRR75:

I don't have a paper track plan, but there will be 3 separate loops that are not connected. It is DC, and each loop will have a separate transformer. I've read about block wiring and don't want to get into something that complicated, that's why I kept 3 loops with 3 transformers. The 3 turnouts will be for a yard and I'll probably insulate the 3 yard runs and move the trains manually onto the hot track if I want to run them. All 3 turnouts will be off the same loop and will be about 8" apart. A 4th transformer will power the turnouts and other minor accessories.

All others:

Thanks for the great input, very much appreciated and will help me immensely. I have some work to do on the Amtrak curve challenge and will get some long shank couplers and attach to the trucks - really appreciate that one. I will figure out how to address the space issue on the edge of the layout, plexiglas or a gutter are good ideas. I don't want to give up layout real estate by moving the track far away from the edge, with 3 loops the radii are already tight.
lilCal;

Since you are so cramped for space, you might consider switching to N-scale or Z-scale. I know you have some HO-scale equipment, but switching to a smaller scale will ease you out of the Amtrak challenge. It can turn around in slightly over 1/2 the space required for HO, or you can use 18" or 15" radius curves and easily accommodate 85' cars and large locos in the smaller scale. Just a suggestion.

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
 
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