Sylvanau ... Track and Wiring

Train on layout


Track is Peco code 75, with Peco "Electrofrog" turnouts. This is the smallest rail that's practical for European modellers since European flange standards aren't up to North American practice. Peco code 75 rail provides a clearance of 1.3mm. The flanges on the wheels of European models is typically 1.2mm. There is an NEM standard for finer flanges, but until most European manufacturers start making track that can handle them, most models will continue to use the larger flanges. Fortunately, Peco code 75 can handle the finer flanges, as well as conventional European flanges.

I've never had much trouble with wiring, even when starting out on my N-scale layout. Like my N-scale layout, I'm using independent block wiring, where a pair of leads feed power to each block of track Each block is totally isolated from neighboring block, with no common rail between the blocks. The advantage with this scheme is that power is always fed to the track by a pair of wires, which can be considered a single cable. Likewise, insulated rail joiners are always used in pairs.

Although I've never had much trouble with wiring in the past, I've decided to be more conservative and feed power to the track at every pair of rail joiners. Furthermore, I'm adding SPDT switches to all turnout motors to ensure power is provided to the frog. I didn't to that on my N-scale layout, and the most tedious job on it was ensuring that the points were clean.


Wiring the Turnouts

How do you place the power feeds and insulated rail joiners? Look at the plan for a "electrofrog" turnout. Note that there is a potential short-circuit if power is fed to rails at the frog end. There are just a couple of simple rules to follow based on how the turnouts are situated.

First, insulated rail joiners must be used to isolate sections of track to prevent the possibility of short-circuit. The insulated gaps must be positioned between pairs of turnouts that join frog end to frog end. After applying this rule to the entire layout, you end up with a number of electrically isolated blocks.

Second, you need to properly position the power feeds. For each block, add a power feed (to both rails) at a point where power is fed only to the points end of the turnouts. Each block will have one section of track that satisfies that condition.

If you like, you can go a bit further and create additional blocks beyond the minimum number required by your plan. For example, for ladder yards, I've found that the tracks within the yard should be their own blocks. Otherwise, when bringing a train into a particular yard track, you may have to set the turnout at the opposite end to apply power to the track. In this layout, I've even placed two blocks within one station track to allow two locomotives to be parked on that track. Likewise, additional switched sections of track are useful in engine shop tracks since you normally want several locomotives parked there.

Turnout motor

Turnout Motors

I use the Peco turnout motors with Peco SPDT electrical switches glued on. First, I solder six wires to the assembly, three to the turnout solenoids, and the other three to the SPDT switch.

Since I mount the motors below the layout, the rod on the motor must be extended. Previously, the Peco turnout motors included an extension rod that could be glued on. But, they've stopped including the extension. Instead, they now sell a version of the turnout motor with a longer rod, that costs much more. I still buy the motors with the short rod, and then extend it using some brass stock.

Below the layout, I attach the motor to the plywood using half inch screws. This process really needs three hands, but a Robertson screwdriver really helps. First, I put the motor in place, inserting the rod through the hole in the turnout throw bar, and hold it place with one hand. Then, with the other hand, I place a screw and washer on the tip of the screwdriver and drive in the screw, repeating for both ends of the motor. The wires are then attached to a six pole terminal strip. (Other wires attached to the terminal strip lead to the rails of the turnout, and to the control panel.)

Bridge on layout

Duckunder Section

Since this layout runs around the room, there must be a duck-under somewhere. This duck-under section can be removed to make access easier during construction. This section features a 45cm long bridge over a river.

To ensure properment of the track at the joints, the track is mounted on small oak blocks rather than on cork roadbed at the edges.