DCC wiring help

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New Member
I've been searching for quite some time now and am now thoroughly confused. It's almost time for me to begin wiring the my layout (which is only 6x10) but I am completely lost on how to do so. The system I have is an NCE Power Cab - which looks/sounds easy enough to set up - but then I start reading about bus wires and splices and end up back at square one. I believe that I need 14 gauge wire to run from the system to the track...? Do I need to connect wires to the track every so many feet to keep a stable connection? What if I only run two wires from the system to the track - will it only power a small part of the layout?

Thanks in advance,


Active Member
The answer depends on a number of things:

Do you solder your rail joiners? How many trains do you wish to have running at one time?

Initially you can just connect a pair of wires from your command station and see how it goes. You won't hurt anything.

You may find that in some places you don't have power because of your rail joiners not making a good connection (which is why many folks solder them).

If you wish to have power fed to your layout in multiple locations that is easy to do.

I solder 18 gauge feeder wires (one red, one black) to my track and drop them through small holes (one hole per wire) drilled just outside the rails between a pair of ties.

Then under the layout I use 3M "suitcase" connectors (Scotchlok™ 905) to connect the feeder wires to my "bus" wires.

The "bus" wires are just a pair of 14 gauge wires (one red, one black) that start at my command station and then run under the layout from place to place as needed to connect the feeder wires.

You could "zig zag" around under the layout running from feeder wire location to feeder wire location or you could run the bus wires straight down the middle of the layout from one end to the other and then use feeder wires long enough to reach the bus wires.

When doing this be sure that you are consistent in wiring all of your red feeder wires to one rail and all your black feeder wires to the other rail.

If you find this confusing you can just take a car and temporarily mark in some non-destructive fashion one side as "red" and the other side as "black". Then you can push the car around you layout and observe at each location where you plan to have feeder wires to verify which rail is on the red side and which rail is on the black side. Of course when doing this you must not remove the car from the track.

Do you have any reversing loops? These take special consideration.

There is no one correct way to wire a layout but there are many little things that need to be done correctly to have a layout that functions well.


New Member
I would only be running 2 trains at any given time. I haven't been soldering the joiners but I go back and do them. No reverse loops - the layout is essentially one big yard. How often should I run feeder wires to the track? Or should I just run them to "dead spots"? Thanks for your help btw.


Active Member
Do you have a track plan you could post. Then we could mark it up with some likely good spots for feeder wires.

If not, placing feeder wires is basically about getting good "coverage". Think about a long stretch of straight track 12 feet in length (12 just makes the math simple). You might place your feeders at each end but then the point in the middle is 6 feet from the nearest feeder. On the other hand if you place feeders at 3 feet and 9 feet along the track then no place on the track is more then 3 feet from a feeder.

You don't have to fussy about the placement just keep in mind the above while you look at the track plan and think about where to put them.

What brand of turnouts are you using?


New Member
The best track plan I could post would be done in paint... I'm using a combination of Atlas code 83 #8 turnouts and custom line #6 turnouts. I'm still playing around with the track plan but I think the total number of turnouts will be around 30.


Active Member
OK those turnouts don't require any special wiring.

So examine your track plan and do your best to determine where you think you should have feeders, remembering that you are trying to achieve good "coverage".

Keep us posted.

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