September 19, 2017

Resistance was not futile

Ohm my word, it finally happened. I finished wiring the tracks to the Aquia Line. There were a few glitches along the way,  such as I forgot to gap the turnout on the wharf, that caused a few head scratching moments. But after cutting those gaps, all was back to normal. Also, some of the guard rails of my frogs were not electrically connected to the neighboring rails, causing a few unexpected stalls. I fixed those by soldering jumpers. People that solder their frogs and guard rails don't have this problem.

I installed a Tony Trains Exchange On-Guard auto reverser circuit on one leg of the wye and added 9 Tam Valley Frog juicers to the turnouts. Both items are straight forward to install and worked great.

Engine Haupt,  equipped with a Tsunami sound decoder, chugs across the manual turnout from the Bakery siding
The turnout to the siding for the bakery could not use a frog juicer. This was because a locomotive entering that frog will also trigger the frog juicer on the frog of the adjacent crossover. Frog juicers do not work well when two are tripped by a loco at the same time.  To solve that problem, I added a manually operated SPDT toggle switch to handle the polarity on that frog to the fascia near that turnout. I added a switch plate on the fascia to help operators to remember to flip it when they also move the points.  Fortunately, that turnout is only switched when accessing the siding, so it normally will be set for "main line." This is the only non-automatic polarity switching frog on the layout. Hopefully it won't cause too many operational errors.  A better solution would be to add an under table mechanism, but that would require a new design as my current switch stands and point bridles are scale size and not easy to modify.

Some lessons learned from this wiring exercise.

1. Turn off layout power when wiring
2. Follow a color code to keep track of polarity - I used "red to rear."
3. Test for shorts after each connection
4. Wiring with bi-focals under the layout is tough. Bring a work light with you to better see under the bench work. My desk chair could be adjusted to allow sitting under the layout in some spots which helped make things more comfortable.
5. Testing DCC circuits with an Ohm meter can be tricky. Engines, especially battery powered,  left on the tracks will measure as high resistance shorts. Best to remove all engines when debugging.

With all the wiring done, it is time to do some testing, and that is on going.  The wye works well. I have a few rough spots in the track-work that tuning and adjusting should help alleviate.

I am thinking about modifying my links to prevent them from jamming when cars are backing. As long as the cars push coupler face to couple face they work well. But sometimes, the links jam in the pockets and don't allow the faces to touch. That can cause the cars to lift off the rails. I plan to make narrower links without the middle bar. Hopefully, that stops the derails that sometimes happen when backing up.


  1. Did I miss something? I thought you were using battery power and dead-rail?

    1. Two of 5 engines have battery power.They draw recharge power from the rails.
      Two have straight DCC with all wheel pick-up
      One has DCC with a current keeper.

      All have sound.

  2. Congratulations! Major accomplishment!