More track work, and wiring!

The last update showed turnouts that had been completed and painted. Last week I installed six of them and some more straight sections of track. I’m pretty much done with laying track until I can get the bridges sorted out for crossing Lutgens Creek, and I don’t really want to build and install bridges until after I put up the new backdrops that I still need to order.

Got the Southern section of town mostly laid down.
Another view – the track is not quite as straight as I’d hoped, but it’ll do.

While I was installing the track I drilled the holes for power feeds. So after installing the latest batch of track I ran some 12ga solid wire bus bars through holes drilled through the L-girders under the center of the layout and then soldered 24ga feeders to all the turnouts and track sections. I had read that you should add feeders for each turnout and for each straight section so that’s what I did. I also added feeders for each frog on each turnout since I built them as insulated frogs and will need to route power when switching them. That was a lot of work.

Running the feeders. Red and Black for track power, Yellow for turnout frog power.

I also have to say that the plastic that MicroEngineering uses for their ties really stinks when you burn it with a soldering iron.

I had some trouble soldering the feeders to the 12ga bus bar wire. My little 35 watt pencil iron, which works great for building turnouts and soldering feeders to rail, just didn’t heat it fast enough to get it done.

I have a 200 watt Weller solder gun, so I grabbed that to try. It was not working very well, and never really got very hot. That was very annoying.

Next I grabbed a small butane torch I have. That was not a great plan. It’s not controllable enough and was melting the insulation while not heating the wire fast enough. And the burning insulation stunk.

Additionally I was using this super small diameter solder that I have which is great for small wires and circuit boards, but not so great for 12ga bus bars.

So I walked up to the hardware store to get some better solder. While I was there I saw that they had replacement tips for the solder gun, so I bought some. When I got home, I installed the new tip and holy cow! It was like a whole new solder gun! Heated up fast, heated the 12ga wire fast and made short work of soldering all the feeders to the bus! Lesson learned: If your solder gun tip looks like crap, it’s probably not going to work very well.

12 gauge bus bars.

After installing all the feeders, I grabbed my BrightBoy track cleaner and scrubbed all the paint and tarnish off the tops of the rails. That was a bit of work also.

But it was all worth it when I took my multi-meter and tested the track. It was not shorted, and every section and turnout had continuity to the proper bus bar! And in the next post I’ll actually run a locomotive on the track!

Still to be determined is the method for throwing the turnouts. I bought a BullFrog turnout control to test and assembled it. Now I need to mount it and make sure it works correctly.

BullFrog turnout control.

I also need to install some fascia board before I can install the turnout control knobs. Some days it feels like everything is waiting for something else to happen. I should really make a flow chart, or at least a sorted list.

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