Telephone Wire?

Discussion in 'DC' started by trainchaser007, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    Jim,
    I was thinking maybe you could visit a Locomotive scrap yard, get a battery knife switch and maybe a couple short pieces of traction motor cable, that might handle the voltage and amperage. :D:D:D
    But, I agree with Keith, just a simple switch, would be more than adequate.
    Tom Holley
     
  2. SteveM

    SteveM Member Frisco.org Supporter

    There would need to be a second switched spur or siding somewhere for the first loco to hide in. when the "staged" loco is to run. Uh oh, the Zalma Branch is growing!
     
  3. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Hey now! I've got two sidings thank you. But speaking of growing..... That's another thread. And if I knew where there was a loco scrap you know I would be there getting something for sure.
     
  4. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    I'll send my spare pennies for you to put in your fuse box, too. :)

    Best Regards,
     
  5. Rick McClellan

    Rick McClellan 2009 Engineer of the Year

    And peanut butter. Mmmmmm. Good.
     
  6. FriscoFriend

    FriscoFriend Passed Away April 12, 2018 Frisco.org Supporter

  7. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

  8. trainchaser007

    trainchaser007 Passed away September 22, 2017

    This is my first time back on the site since posting the original question to this thread. Quite frankly, I'm overwhelmed in all the technical electrical lingo. I think sharing a few details about my specific situation may help people help me.
    1. My layout is a 4x8 DC layout (NOT DCC).
    2. I've never ran wire for a layout. I've always relied on the track to supply power, always with less than desired results, regardless of what power packs I use.
    3. Locomotives gradually lose power (get slower) as they get further from the rerailers and gradually gain power (speed up) as they get closer (there are no grades to climb or decend). Ocassinally they just stop and have to be tapped, bumped, or even pushed a little by hand to get them going again.
    4. Will soldering telephone wire to the rails solve the problem I described or do I need to do something different? If I need something different, what is the most economical solution?
    5. I'm not an electrician so please keep answers as simple as possible.
     
  9. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I'll give this a shot. I also have a DC 4x8 and to be honest it should have consistent power all the way around with only one set of feeder wires as long as the connection is good. Soldering a feeder to each rail isn't a bad idea but a power drop isn't causing the stalls. That would be dirty wheels, dirty track or dirty motor contacts or a combination of the three. If your loco slows on tight curves you might want to check that your wheels are in gage and that your curve radius isn't to tight for your loco. Just some stuff to check. Sounds to me like it's probably oxidation or dirt related. Good luck.
     
  10. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Answers:
    3) The reason for the drop in performance as the loco gets farther away from the electrical connection is due to resistance at each connection point; every rail joiner adds some resistance to the circuit that drops the available voltage to the locomotive.
    4) Yes. Solder a wire connection to each section of rail, (inside and outside railson each track section) and then solder those wires to a larger wire (bus), one for each of the two parts of the circuit; inside rail is one, outside rail is the other. The busses then connect to your transformer.
     
  11. trainchaser007

    trainchaser007 Passed away September 22, 2017

    My final conclusion is that there seems to be no consensus among the replies as to whether or not the loss of power to my locomotives is caused by track resistance. Even if resistance is the cause of the problem, there is no clear consensus as to whether or not I can use telephone wire to wire my layout. Clearly some of the replies I received disagree. In order to sort all of this out, I plan on asking my uncle who is an industrial electrician.
     
  12. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    I believe I answered your questions directly as indicated above and the answers were simple and direct with an explanation why you were experiencing the issues.

    There was no dissention regarding my responses since the symptoms you provide give enough information to support my diagnosis as the root cause.

    The other users also pointed out that it is important to keep the track and wheels clean regardless.
     
  13. trainchaser007

    trainchaser007 Passed away September 22, 2017

    I would like to thank all of the users who have responded to my initial question. Below are a few quotes from responses to this thread in the order in which they were posted. In my opinion, there seems to be at least some disagreement on the whole "telephone wire" issue. (My conclusion follows the quotes.) Please take a look...

    SABRR – “No, you cannot use telephone wire. It will not handle the voltage or the amperage, and you will cause a fire! Telephone wire is not meant to handle those loads as the signal is not energized and is extremely low.”

    Klrwhizkid – “Telephone interconnect wire is 24 gauge single conductor (non-stranded) wire...24 gauge, single conductor (non-stranded) wire is…not recommended for providing electrical connections for current to the track.”

    Fred72933 – “But a 4x8 board could run on telephone wire all day long and never even get warm.”

    Renapper – “I am a retired Electrical/Electronics Engineer with close to 50 years experience… Track drops are so short that you can use just about anything you want, why; because you are very unlikely to draw maximum current on any track section ever.”

    Jim James – “I also have a DC 4x8 and to be honest it should have consistent power all the way around with only one set of feeder wires as long as the connection is good. Soldering a feeder to each rail isn't a bad idea but a power drop isn't causing the stalls.”

    Klrwhizkid – “The reason for the drop in performance as the loco gets farther away from the electrical connection is due to resistance at each connection point; every rail joiner adds some resistance to the circuit that drops the available voltage to the locomotive…Solder a wire connection to each section of rail.”

    My new conclusion:
    Since I didn't know which opinion to go with, I consulted my uncle, an industrial electrician. Given the electrical information on my power pack, he highly recommended that I do not use telephone wire to power track. He said that even if the wire itself can handle the current, neither the wire nor the insulation is designed to carry the load and that the insulation would probably not "hold up" even if the wire could carry the load.
    Honestly, I was doubtful that telephone wire could be used to power track but I wanted to ask before I spent money on electrical wire that I possibly didn't need. Bottom line - I will not be using telephone wire to power rails! For me, the risk of telephone wire causing a fire simply outweighs the possibility of saving a little expense on electrical wire. Afterall, the electrical wire needed to do the job is far less expensive than replacing everything that could possibly be lost in a house fire. Again, I would like to thank all the users who responded to this thread. Ship it on the Frisco!
     
  14. renapper

    renapper Passed away March 8, 2013

    If you want to save money on your wire, use 16 or 18 gauge lamp cord, it has both wires to power your track and it is flexible and I have used it for years on all of my layouts.
     
  15. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Frisco.org Supporter Frisco.org Supporter

    I like Richard's suggestion.:D
    It's easier to work with and solder.
     
  16. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    |-|Yep, I agree, 18 lamp cord or speaker wire is probably the easiest, best, wire for this, you can get about anywhere. It usually comes with 1 wire tinned (different color) so you can keep polarity right a little easier too.
    Tom Holley|-|
     
  17. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I vote this the tip of the day!
     
  18. TAG1014

    TAG1014 Frisco.org Supporter Frisco.org Supporter

    Why would lamp cord for instance, with multi strands, be any better (Or any worse, for that matter) than single strand wire?

    Tom G.
     
  19. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    The reason stranded conductors are better than solid conductors is that about 80% of the current travels on the surface of the conductor. For a given diameter conductor, if it is broken up into a group of strands the same diameter, the surface area increases dramatically. To see the concept in practice, take a look at welding cable; it is designed to be flexible, of course, but the primary reason for the cable to have such fine strands is to increase the surface area of the conductor, making better able to conduct the high amounts of current necessary for welding with less loss to resistance in the cable.
     
  20. renapper

    renapper Passed away March 8, 2013

    Solid wire is used mostly in Structure wiring where it will not be moved much once installed, otherwise stranded wire is preferred in most other cases, and large wires, like #8-0000 are stranded because you could not work with them at all if they were solid; and the skin effect that Keith is refering to does not happen at low frequency, it only takes effect at Radio frequencies not at DC or below audio frequencies.
     

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