DC Wiring Part 2 – Powering the track

Having finished isolating track the task was now to start powering the trackwork. There are going to be three independent DC systems:

  1. Powering the sections.
  2. Powering the turnouts.
  3. Powering any lights and accessories around the layout.

Before starting wiring I decided to clean up some of the track. I polished down many of the solder joints but importantly I filled in the gaps in the PCB ties and the gaps in the rails in the crossovers.

I used Woodland Scenics Foam Putty. It was the easiest to control of the three that I tried. I will be using it to build the ballast profile around and between the track so it didn’t matter if some got between the ties. Once hardened I polished the top of the ties and used my Dremel to remove any foam that got in between the rails.

I used a styrene shim that I then cut and sanded it down to straddle both rails. I then used my Dremel to cut the gap between the rails. I gave the rail a lick of paint .
Close up you can see the filled gaps but from a distance they start to disappear. Once the trackwork and ties have been buried I may go back and color the styrene shims a light grey or even pencil color. Although not perfect, the trackwork looks much better with the gaps filled.

I didn’t get as far as I hoped today but I made a start. The overall wiring concept for the track power simply involves adding two main buses that will separately power the two sections. I need to secure the buses to the board then run wires down to the tracks.

Here’s a little diagram I put together to help me understand what I have to do.

The throttle requires an AC input so I’ll have to buy an AC power transformer. Once that is done the rest is pretty straightforward. The two sections are powered from the throttle and controlled by an on-off SPST switch in the control board.

I want to suspend the bus below the board. I don’t want it held tightly against it. I was thinking of using ceiling clamps for curtains but the cost is more or less the same as having Shapeways make them for me. Therefore I did a quick design for a clamp and they will cost around $5  each to print up. The clamps will hold each bus away from the board which helps with maintenance.

This is a quick test fitting of the bus. It will be suspended below the board and held by my special clamps.
I’ve connected power wires to the track above. They will connect via male female connectors. I need to be able to remove sections from the power in order to isolate shorts. This type of connection allows me to do that.