Garden Railroad:

Wiring and Connections to the track





My layout is wired with this finely stranded 12 gauge outdoor low voltage wire.  (Low voltage wiring means the copper wires are finely stranded to reduce voltage drop over long distances.  Voltage drop is an important consideration in low voltage applications which is why this wire is made.)  It has a thick rubberized insulation and has held up well outside after four years with no signs of degradation.  It can be purchased at Lowes in 100ft sections (and shorter) for about $0.30/foot or at Home Depot in larger 500ft rolls for a lower per ft cost.


Connections to the track:

I've had great success using these ring terminals from Ace Hardware for the feeder wire connections on the layout.  For simplicity and ease of future disassembly, I chose to bolt them to the side of the split jaw clamps. 


Example of connection to Split-Jaw clamp (with a different type of ring terminal)


You may need to get a longer screw for those you are planning to connect your ring terminal in this manner.  A longer 3/4" version of this screw (6-32 socket cap) can be purchased online or at your local hardware store (Ace Hardware)  If you want to connect the terminal on the back side on the end of the screw, you will need a nut such as the Stainless steel Hillman's pictured below (also purchased from Ace Hardware).


To protect the wire and connections from moisture, I thoroughly soldered the terminal connections and wires leading back into the insulation. 





Feeder wire configuration:


Typically if you use Stainless steel track or use brass with slider joiners, you will need to run feeder wires to more than one location on your ovals.  Stainless steel track has a relatively high electrical resistance compared to brass so the more power you try to pass through longer linear feet of Stainless steel rail (even when using 100% direct to rail SS split jaw clamps at all connections) you will have more and more voltage drop. 


I have been successful in addressing the voltage drop issue by providing power to my two 235ft ovals with running a single power feeder to one location the oval, then daisy chaining jumper wires from that single location to other locations ~24-40ft from that main starting point.  At each 24-40ft point you end one jumper and start another till you come back around to the original feeder point.   



Here is an example diagram of a daisy chain configuration and how my layout is wired.  (Note:  Connections between jumper wires end and begin on the same split jaw clamp.  Spacing is pictured in the diagram to clearly mark out the different jumper wire connections.)



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