Build #16: Wiring and Weathering (Part 1)

Last weekend I installed the track bus on all 3 modules (Segments F to H). This week, I added the feeders from the terminal points to the rails using AWG20 (0.5 sq.mm) wires. Each wire was connected to the respective points on the terminal strips.

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The DCC buzzer was helpful to detect any shorts while wiring. For such wiring, you would not normally make mistakes but as the layout gets larger and more tracks need to be wired, it is always good to have such buzzer. Thus, I started getting use to the habit of using DCC buzzer now.

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As this was my first time wiring and soldering the connections to the rails, I must say, I did a pretty rough work. Thank God it was just the hidden tracks but then again, there are always rooms for improvement. I used a jeweller’s file to remove excess solder from the top of the rails. With some weathering and ballasting, I should be able to hide some of the “ugly” parts.

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I learnt a technique of using long-nose plyer as heat sink when soldering. I used a piece of rubber band to make sure the plyer was also in tight grip before clamping it close to the point where I was soldering.

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I tried out this method as I heard of cases where the solder was too hot and caused the plastic ties to melt.

Once I completed all the wiring, I tested with Kato E8/9 engine. The unit ran smoothly on both tracks compared to the first trial run. In the first trial run, I connected the positive and negative wires to the end of a track (I tested using DC power). The closer the loco was to the power source, the faster it ran. Although the first run was smooth, I could now recall that the loco slowed toward the end of the line. However, with the track bus and feeders, I had a more consistent run without any perceived slowdown of the loco. I will measure the voltage again and upload some photos.

After a few runs, I decided to weather the plastic ties and the rails to remove the shining plastic look. I bought 3 acrylic colours – white, black and amber brown – from the 1 Euro shop. You do not need to get expensive ones as these would do the job too.

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A few drops of each colour on glass container and mix them as I painted the rails and ties. Again, no specific rules applied here. I just took a bit of brown and mixed with black, black mixed with white, white mixed with brown, etc. to get different shades of colour.

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I just brushed them on ties and rails. Don’t worry about the untidiness. The idea was to remove the shine from the plastic ties and rails, and at some parts, I put more black to show the oil stains from the engines.

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 With a piece of wood, I scrapped the top of the rail so that it became shiny again. You wanted to make sure that the locos can pick up the electricity from the rails.

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Well, that was a few hours of investment this week. Time to work on the yard throat and more care would be required in wiring this section. A preview of what I have laid at the throat so far. You would notice that I have used Peco concrete-sleeper flex tracks.

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6 thoughts on “Build #16: Wiring and Weathering (Part 1)

  1. Why don’t you solder to the underside of the tracks? Cut out some sleepers and replace them afterwards, and then you don’t have to hide a visible solder join.

    • Chris,

      Thanks for the advice. I had laid and glued the tracks to the cork before I realised I should have solder underside of the tracks. I will do this from now onwards esp. where turnouts are concerned.

      Cheers, Jimmy

      • I was just curious, as I’ve only ever read about people soldering to the sides. Maybe people have tried and soldering underneath is just too awkward?

      • Chris, there are few ways to solder the wire to the rail. One method is as per shown in my blog; the other is to solder underneath the rail as you mentioned. The “solder under rail” method requires more precise positioning of the hole so that you could thread through the baseboard. I would experiment with both methods. I would also reduce the thickness of the exposed wire so that the soldered point would not be thick and ugly. Again, it is lots of experimenting. Good luck!

  2. Nice update and well documented learn something new about using the long nose plier as heat sink but does it really works I needs to try out this new found method, I have heard about using some heat sink from electronic parts that you can salvage. By the way can you tell me more on the DCC buzzer thingy and how does it work?

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