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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Trackbuilders,

I'm in the process of making my next Tomy layout and...

Just wondering, do any of you have any tricks to make it easier to wire the track/jumpers (not making jumpers - done that too many times). I'm not new at building Tomy tracks, this will probably be my fourth of fifth build from scratch layout. Not new track... but pull up old layout, redeck the table top if necessary, put down a new layout, drill and drop the jumper-wire tracks and wire it up. The part I hate is laying on my back under the table wiring the whole thing up. Since the layout will have around 12 jumper locations (24 track pieces), it'll be alot of time on my back (on basement concrete floor). I've tried/used a mechanics creeper to move around and padded carpet remnants for comfort but it still is just a chore.

I've thought about getting a custom routed track a few times but I think I would just get bored with same layout after a few years (like I do now). But, the thought of just having to wire up a custom routed track, with fewer jumpers, just once, is starting to have its appeal. And, I'm not getting any younger...

Thanks for any tips,

Steve
 

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hey steve i feel your pain. i dont have any tips for wiring your present track but , heres a thought it sounds sill but my next 1 will be like this. maybe build your table height at say just about chest high(or a tick lower) that should give the room to work below the track and you could have extra room to make some shelving to store goodies and other stuff thats in the basement but at that height youd have to make up some type grabbing tool to pluck the littlecar up when it deslots at the far end of driver station.as i said it sounds silly but it could work!! good luck. joe g
 

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The back wrenching part of wiring is part of the price we pay for the love of the track layout. There are different ways to run the power taps from lane
driver stations. I have a 6 lane sectional layout & just beginning the process.
My preference is to run a wire from station to a terminal block. My layout will have 4 power taps, each lane will use an 8 barrier terminal block w/jumpers as necessary. The feed will go from station to 4 terminals of track feed. The
returning 4 common track wires will run from track back to terminal block. The single common wire from terminal block will return to red(brake), post of driver station. Some have run a pair of "trunk" wires from driver station below table to connect drop wires of power taps for track feed & common wires.
I would not recommend running a wire only to 1st power tap & continue jumpers from that point. This would negate the effect of the power taps. :)
 

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I use the drop tap method and spend virtually no time under the table to hookup taps. This method involves drilling a hole down through the track and table right up next to the inside of the rail and soldering a pre tinned wire fed from below to the side of the rail. The delicate part is all done topside, from prepping the tap wire to prepping the rail. The other end of the tap can go to a terminal strip or simply a threaded screw post that serves as a common connection for each particular rail connection. To solder the tap to the rail, I feed the tinned tap wire up from underneath, secure it with an alligator clip on the top so it does not fall back through the hole, solder the tinned tap wire to the tinned rail, then trim the tap wire flush with the top of the rail. To prep the side of the rail I clean it with a rat tile jewelers file, clean with isopropyl alcohol, apply rosin core flux, and tin it with solder. After everything a soldered and trimmed I clean it with a trimmed flux brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol and dry everything with a clean cloth. I then use an ohmmeter to verify continuity from the other end of the tap wire to the rail.

A good starting point for everything related to working on your track from underneath is to design your track table to make servicing easier. I used model railroad benchwork techniques with diagonal bracing and optimal cantilevered leg spacing rather than the horizontal bracing and massive legs out on the table edges as shown on popular soup to nuts how-to sites. I can slide under my table very easily, sweep and vacuum under it as well, because there is no horizontal member running along the bottom of the table frame. In the finished mode I have a skirt velcro'd around the periphery to hide the benchwork and the cantilevered leg placement makes it appear as though the table is floating in space.
 

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I just use the stock terminal tracks. One tap per lane, I rarely have any problems.
Of course, my track isn't that big. It's a 16x4 4 lane layout, but it seems to work good for me.

Rich
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the responses guys...

AFX - I already have a bunch of jumper tracks made (although I have drop tapped before - maybe that's why I have so many jumper tracks now) so I just need to drill four holes or cut a couple holes and make a slot with a jigsaw to drop the wires down from an existing jumper track. That goes pretty quick actually - it's the getting the power to all the barrier strips those jumper tracks get connected to.

Dyno - Yeah, that's pretty much the way I do it... Starting to think Max or TKO or Wiz...

Joe - Chest high!!! Um... I'd like my kids to be able to use it without sitting on bar stools :) Though, with the right beverage, that doesn't sound too bad to me. Actually table height is already set...

NTx - If terminal tracks and one tap per lane works for you, that's cool. Maybe I'm just anal and want to minimize the power loss as much as possible. It's seems like you can feel the car getting soft on acceleration or top end when the power isn't consistent. As for track size, not too much larger than yours. Table is 4x22, layout is fast and flowing, just need a few more 18" curves (if I don't go with a custom routed... really considering it now...).

Steve
 

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I might suggest temporarily raising the table height. Either milk crates, cinder blocks, or something sturdy. The trick is to pick it up without putting too much flex on the table. While elevated, do all the wiring (you should be able to sit up rather than lying on a creeper) and then when you're done, remove the blocks to drop it back down to the normal height. This might help depending on the size and shape of your table..
 

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If you plan to keep changing the layout, then what I'm about to suggest won't work.

I had a layout that once built, remained unchanged for many years. It was/is 881" per lap, and was a conglomeration of old Model Motoring, AFX, and Tomy track sections for the four-lanes. I got tired of the problems with the old track and switched to 100% Tomy. The attached picture shows the crew removing the old Model Motoring stuff.

Anyway, because I was determined to eliminate any problems for the races held at my home, I SOLDERED every joint. Not as hard as you might think. The Tomy track has a nice area at the bent rail joint to place the solder. I simply dabbed in some flux, applied heat, and the solder stuck. Plastic melting was actually quite minimal, and any raised plastic was easily trimmed off. I dropped three power taps. The track actually runs well with a single power tap, but I ran three anyway. I ran them to a terminal strip so they could be "un-jumped" at any time. This lets me debug the track for any solder joints that have broken. It's rare, but easy to find with an ohm meter across the terminals. That lets me determine what area of the track to investigate, and the broken joint is usually visible.

The track hosted races for "DAMAR - HO Racing Since 1970" in the Rochester NY area. The layout has been in its current configuration since 1994. DAMAR dissolved in 2005 when I moved to Kentucky. I moved the track down here, breaking the table into three parts. Just got it running today and in the 700 mile journey I only had two solder joints break.

I'm sold on the approach. But as I said, if you want to keep changing the layout, not a good idea for you. I added a ton of scenery to my layout, like model railroading, so changing the layout was never a consideration.
 

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My latest track is 82 feet running length and I soldered every joint and dropped 6 taps. Soldering the joints was easy with the right iron, a Weller WES51 temperature controlled unit with a narrow screwdriver tip. I have had zero problems with power or joint expansion and the solder does smooth out the Tomy Ziggy Rail factor. I did not glue the track pieces together.

My track is scenic'd so I don't plan on switching the layout any time soon and if I had to move the track I would leave the track on the table, maybe cutting it in two pieces, and detach the top from the supports. Repairing scenery is very easy.

I did have to replace one track piece when a nail that I was shooting to attach my side wall decided to take a turn and shot through a track piece. I desoldered the joints with the same iron and a solder sucker and had the new track piece soldered in place within 10 minutes at the most.
 

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If you plan to keep changing the layout, then what I'm about to suggest won't work.

I had a layout that once built, remained unchanged for many years. It was/is 881" per lap, and was a conglomeration of old Model Motoring, AFX, and Tomy track sections for the four-lanes. I got tired of the problems with the old track and switched to 100% Tomy. The attached picture shows the crew removing the old Model Motoring stuff.

Love the pic with the old vintage construction vehicles!

I had a banked track that I wound up not being happy with.
My crew had to pull it up and rework some sections, but wound up taking it out.



Had to make it fun, to soften the blow of having to redo it. :eek:

Rich
www.myspace.com/northtexasslotcars
 

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LOL! Looks like you must be building in hostile territory as the worker guiding the shovel is holding an M-16!

I tried a banked turn a couple different times too. Never as much fun as you think they're gonna be.
 

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None

As far as power taps.......We have built tracks up to 65' long with no meaningful loss of power across the length of the track. In my mind, taps are debatable depending on how big the track is.

Jim Norton
Huntsville, AL
 
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