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Model Railroad Layout Wiring for DCC

Wiring for DCC can strike fear into any railfan, especially one with a finished DC-based system. Actually, wiring for DCC is not much much different from conventional DC wiring correctly installed, although some precautions must be observed.

The essential component for trouble-free operation is to begin with a solid bus distribution system. We use 12-gauge for most railroads, and sometimes 10-gauge for very long runs. A large, high-capacity bus prevents overheating during the inevitable short, and brownouts at the far ends of the layout. This way the wiring does not add to the overall impedance. We also zone the layout into manageable blocks which are isolated from each other. A short in one does not take down another.

The photograph shows the end of a bus which terminates with a pair of screw eyes. Crimp connectors are used to join the track feeders to the end of the bus. Separate busses are used for switch machine power and signaling. Non-DCC busses are lighter in gauge and are consistently color coded for easy identification at any part of the layout.

We crimp rather than solder bus connections thereby avoiding having to insulate the resulting connection. For new work, connections to the rail are made to the bottom of the rail rather than the side. Feeder connections are not visible to layout visitors.

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