DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections

Now that the control panel has been designed and fitted I have begun the wiring. The steps are basically:

  1. Lay missing sections of track.
  2. Isolate rails .
  3. Connect sections to the control panel.
  4. Wire up the crossovers and connect them to the control panel.
  5. Add the turnout motors and connect them to the control panel.
  6. Add three docks to the exit points for the removable cassettes.
I had previously left several sections to be laid with rail while I focused on the turnouts and the crossovers. I have begun to lay those sections. It sometimes has meant removing rail and adding new ties but the goal is to lay the rail in complete and isolated sections wherever possible. The various tracks that will comprise a single wiring section will be powered by a single bus connected to an on/off (SPST) switch.

I decided to reduce the sections from nine to two. These two wiring sections correspond to the two distinct freight operations on the layout – the branchline and the electric traction line. The traction depot also has two tracks (3 and 4) that are isolated in order to store two locomotives. I’ll decide on the colors of the lines on the diagram another time. I’m leaning towards grey/black/brown to tone things down a bit.


I have a power reading meter which I will use later in the project to test for levels. In order to isolate sections however I just needed a quick and easy method to spot that a section was isolated. I put together this grain of rice bulb with a couple of crocodile clips. Once connected to each rail I added power from the throttle. If the light did not shine then I had a short. I then used my Dremel to cut into each copper tie until the light came on at which point I knew that I had removed all shorts. It has proved a very quick simple method.

I’m isolating the single stretches of track first, then the turnouts and then the crossovers.

I’ll be spending the rest of the week isolating rails then I’ll be travelling to Europe and will continue on my return in mid-January.