Bus wire


John DeSantis
 

Hello all. What are your thoughts on using Romex for the bus wires? Pros and Cons. I like the fact that it's solid copper vs stranded. Thanks.


Steven Haworth
 

It's ok, but stranded will give you more physical surface area, which I believe works better for handling the AC-like frequency of DCC.  I read the details somewhere years ago, but don't remember all of it just now.  But - I ended up going w/ stranded.

Another consideration... I have some long wiring runs, and for some of the hidden track I'm using current detection, with the detection in a somewhat central location.  The details of that story are here - https://rgsrr.blogspot.com/2011/10/in-which-steven-discovers-capacitance.html.

But briefly, I ended up having to physically separate the two buss wires on some runs, and that's something you wouldn't be able to do w/ Romex.


On Fri, Apr 8, 2022 at 10:19 PM jdssr <jdssr@...> wrote:
Hello all. What are your thoughts on using Romex for the bus wires? Pros and Cons. I like the fact that it's solid copper vs stranded. Thanks.


Don Vollrath
 

You can use Romex as a source for buss wire. But removing the outer wrap without causing any damage to the insulation is not that easy.

I don’t see any advantage of using romex, other than initial availability (you happen to have a spool in your closet) and maybe cost per foot vs two individual spools of #12 or 14 AWG stranded. Stranded is easier to work with. Either way… Don’t forget to make twisted pairs before installation as DCC bus.

DonV


Jerry Michels
 

If Romex can easily handle household AC, I am sure it will easily handle our amps and volts. Jerry Michels


Jim Betz
 

JDSSR (I don't know your name),

  The wire size in Romex is fine.  The cons, as I see them, are that it isn't as flexible
as the same size wire without the extra insulation -and- that you can't twist Romex.
In addition, I like to use one of those wire strippers that "spreads" the insulation
of the track bus before I solder feeders to it (something you can't do with Romex).
Most Romex has a ground wire (uninsulated copper) - you don't need that for your
layout DCC wiring.
 
  If I were you I'd just get "solid 14 gauge wire" ... in as many colors as you need
for your layout.  My layout has 6 power districts - so I got 3 different colors of solid
14 gauge and used them in different combinations for my track bus.  I'm using
Cat 5/5E/6 wire for the feeders (no more than 18" long) to run from the track bus
to the track itself.
  I cut - and twist - 50 foot lengths of pairs of solid copper wire for my track bus
"stock".  And cut that to length as I do the actual wiring.
                                                                                                - Jim in the PNW


Steve Hubbard
 

I use #14 Romex on my layout for several reasons:  

1)  It's much cheaper than buying rolls of solid.
2)  It gave me the free solid copper conductor to connect the floating grounds on my Command station and Boosters.
3)  It's easy to strip the insulation off with a cable tool or a razer knife with blade extended 1 notch.

I use a drill to twist (3 per foot) the Romex in any length I need.  I have no issue separating the conductors to use "T" tap connecters for sub buss and feeders.


loumickie
 

I prefer individual rolls of solid wire for my bus; in my case I'm using #12 for the bus due to long runs. Romex would need to be stripped apart which is a pain.

Lou


John DeSantis
 

I thank you all for your input. It's greatly appreciated. I'm building a 4 x 8 layout with an outter and inner oval loop and a smalll yard, so the bus wires from the terminal block will be no longer than 12 feet each or shorter.The problem is rolls of solid copper wire are double the cost of the same length of Romex and I feel that stranded wire will not perform as well as solid copper after suitcase connectors are attached. I absolutely suck at soldering too. I have the tool to strip the outter casing of the Romex and I'm confident of positive results. I don't mind doing a little extra work stripping the casing. I'll be using #14 for the bus and # 20 for the feeders. Thank you all once again for your input. You guys are the best.

John D

On 04/09/2022 11:51 AM loumickie <loumickie@...> wrote:


I prefer individual rolls of solid wire for my bus; in my case I'm using #12 for the bus due to long runs. Romex would need to be stripped apart which is a pain.

Lou


JoAnn Donaldson
 

I use twist pair wire for my busing. The power from the DCS-100 goes to my PM42. From there I have four bus runs. My layout is almost 4X8, so each run is about 12 feet. This is because the PM42 is on a shelf under the layout. So it goes up to the end of the layout then goes around the corner of each side and then down the each side. So all total it is about 12 foot runs. I have my small layout setup as four zones. Two zones are the two hidden yard tracks, the third is the mainline and yard on the front side and the fourth is the interchange and industrial areas. This way is someone shorts a track, it don't take down the entire layout. A roll of 50 ft double wire should not be that expensive. four runs of 12 equal 48 feet. If your DS-100 is level with your layout even less. I use the suitcase connectors to connect my feeders to the bus wiring. I used 14 gauge wire for my bus wiring.

On Saturday, April 9, 2022, 04:44:23 PM CDT, John DeSantis <jdssr@...> wrote:


I thank you all for your input. It's greatly appreciated. I'm building a 4 x 8 layout with an outter and inner oval loop and a smalll yard, so the bus wires from the terminal block will be no longer than 12 feet each or shorter.The problem is rolls of solid copper wire are double the cost of the same length of Romex and I feel that stranded wire will not perform as well as solid copper after suitcase connectors are attached. I absolutely suck at soldering too. I have the tool to strip the outter casing of the Romex and I'm confident of positive results. I don't mind doing a little extra work stripping the casing. I'll be using #14 for the bus and # 20 for the feeders. Thank you all once again for your input. You guys are the best.

John D
On 04/09/2022 11:51 AM loumickie <loumickie@...> wrote:


I prefer individual rolls of solid wire for my bus; in my case I'm using #12 for the bus due to long runs. Romex would need to be stripped apart which is a pain.

Lou


Don Weigt
 

John D,

Using 14 gauge bus wire on a layout that size is almost certainly overkill, but won't cause any functional difficulties. We all appreciate things that, like the old Timex ads,"Take a licking and keep on ticking"... But, heavier wire does cost more, and is lots stiffer, especially if solid. Stranded is much more flexible. What you are proposing should work fine, if you don't mind the extra expense and difficulty. If Romex costs less than the alternatives, and you like working with it, then use it. Heavier wiring than needed won't cause problems, lighter than needed certainly will.
--
Don Weigt
Connecticut


thomasmclae
 

You do not really need to solder or use suitcase connectors.
My Club uses 18G stranded for bus wires, and they terminate every 6-8 feet in terminal strips, with crimp spade connectors.
Over 40 sections (Modules/tables) and no issues with track power drops, even when running 4-5 Lokos in each power district.
Each loop has a separate booster, but each loop runs all the way around the layout.

--
---
Thomas
DeSoto, TX


Jerry Michels
 

Thomas,

I am a big advocate for terminal blocks. They are inexpensive, provide a very secure attachment, and probably most important to us, they allow quick trouble-shooting.

Jerry Michels Amarillo Railroad Museum


Jim Betz
 

Thomas,
  I feel I have to respond.  What works on your club (or on any layout) does not 
mean it will work somewhere else.  The recommendations for how to wire are
based upon "best practices" and are meant to make it easy to get it right the
first time and not wonder when it will fail/cause problems.  With marginal 
wiring (which in my opinion your 18 gauge is) you may not see a problem -
until you do something seemingly simple such as add a relatively small
amount of track or change how many trains are running at the same time or
how many trains are in the same power district ... and there will be problems.
  If your 18g wire only runs 6-8 feet and then there is larger wire between
that point (terminal strip) and the booster ... then it should be OK.  I've never
seen 18g wire recommended for bus wires.
  I am NOT recommending that your club rewire and eliminate the 18g wire.
I am a firm believer in "if it ain't broke don't fix it".  And if some change does
give problems I'd only fix the areas that changed and not the entire layout.

                                                        - just saying ... Jim in the PNW


Jerry Michels
 

I know this is not germane to the specific topic, but something that would help in providing answers would be for posters to give an idea of the size of their layout. Or at least how many blocks the layout has. I am a firm believer in best practices, but these can vary depending on what a person is trying to do. Jerry Michels


PennsyNut
 

My comment is generic. We MR are very adept and adaptive in how we do things. There's more than one way to skin a snake. Now - for bus: You need to calculate what you need for your specific layout. Not everyone needs 10, 12 or 14 AWG. Only the larger layouts. On my 12" x 24' shelf, with lots of track. I used 18 AWG from the command station to terminal blocks. And from the TB to each feeder, I use the same wire as for the feeders, 22 AWG.
That is 22 AWG from rail to terminal block. The longest wire is not more than 10'. (The command station is in the middle of the layout, so track goes no more than 12'. And you don't need wire to the end of the layout, just on the last piece of track.) Now, this may not be what "is recommended", but does work. Each wire carries the adequate voltage and amperage to power a loco or two. In almost 2 yrs of running, I have had no problem.
--
Morgan Bilbo, DCC since 8/18. Model PRR 1952.


Tim
 

I used to use wire stripped out of 12AWG Romex, but switched over to stranded wire for several reasons. My layout will fill a 32' x 32' space in the basement, so it's a little bigger than yours.
  • I wind up using at least twice as much white wire as I do black wire. This is because all of my block detection for ABS signals is on the white side. If you aren't doing signals, this isn't as much of an issue.
  • The 12 AWG stranded wire is much easier to work with, since it isn't as stiff.
  • Stripping the outer sheath off was a pain.
  • I had no use for the bare ground wire. It seemed like a waste to just toss it.
When I last bought a 500' spool of 12 AWG stranded wire, it wasn't that much more than Romex, but that may have changed.

I wanted no question about whether a wire carried AC or DCC or something else. Using unstripped Romex seemed to be asking for trouble.

The increased surface area has to do with skin effect, but a DCC signal isn't a high enough frequency for that to make much difference.

Tim Rumph
Lancaster, SC