Sunday, May 31, 2015


Inevitably for me, following the visible progress of roadbed construction and track laying, the next necessary step—wiring—always seems to be a “downer.”  Nonetheless, wiring is essential to making the magic of trains run.  My prior post on wiring my railroad ( discussed why it seems to take longer for me to get track into operation.  I am happy to report basic track wiring has been accomplished on the mountain grade!

I distribute my DCC boosters around the layout to minimize power and DCC signal losses.  This results in a “station panel” associated with each of the boosters.  The panel for Wicopee and Cruzatte is about as basic as such panels get for my railroad.  The detection block wiring for a station is gathered into a pair of terminal strips.  These are fed by a circuit breaker, which receives power from the DCC booster.   Space is left on the station panel for subsequent installation of block detection circuit boards and power switch machine control boards.  For now, all the blocks get jumpered together.

Station panel for Wicopee and Cruzatte.

One issue addressed in locating the DCC boosters around the layout has been the installation of the NCE Control Bus between boosters.  This is a four-conductor cable that uses RJ-H connectors at each end.  NCE supplies a short cable with each booster, but longer cable runs are up to the end-user.  Unfortunately, four-conductor flat cable and RJ-H connectors have vanished from regular consumer supply houses.  My solution has been to run Cat5e cable between booster locations, splicing half of the NCE-supplied cable onto each end. 

Cable connections to the DCC booster for Wicopee and Cruzatte.  The green wire is a ground needed among the boosters.  The gray wire laying on top of the booster is the Cat5e cabled that has the NCE-supplied short cable spliced onto the end. 

NCE specifies a “daisy chain” set of connections from one booster to the next.  My chain begins with the command station under Springfield, passes through the boosters for Eugene Depot and Oakridge and now connects to the large booster for the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard—the staging loop in the “back room.”  From this large booster, the command bus snakes back to a corner, up the wall and out on the upper level to the booster for Crescent Lake (upper level staging).  The command bus then has to back track to begin working it’s way out to the booster for Cascade summit and McCredie Springs.  Finally, the last leg extends around to the booster for Wicopee and Cruzatte.  A look at my track plan will give you an idea of where these locations are in my basement space.

With all of the cables run through the layout and end connections made, it was time to see if I got it together right.  My pair of Athearn GP35s that seem so handy for these check out tasks, got called upon once again.  They are seen in the photo below.  Look closely, you will see the headlight is on! 

Locomotive check out of wiring to the track at Wicopee.  The headlight is on and it runs!

I am getting very close to actually running over the full mainline!

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