Power Pole Connectors

ModelRailroadForums.com is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
I was swayed into using Power Pole Connectors to connect my modules together. The pitch was how much more reliable they are than the old Ford trailer type connectors we have been using in the modular club.
I finally have my modules set up and connected the PPCs. Fired up the command station, and nothing. Started checking the PPC between the CS and the first module. Wiggle it a little and the lights flicker. Pull the PPC apart and check with VOM, sporadic electricity reading. I check the setting of the connectors to be sure they are assembled correctly. They are all properly seated and soldered. I plug it back together. Intermittent power to the track. Wiggle the connection and the power cuts on and off. I use alligator jumpers to get power to the module. No power to the adjacent modules. Yep, the PPCs going to them are intermittent. All the way down the line. The PPCs are intermittent contact. They might be ok with one, maybe two ganged together, but 6 is way beyond their capacity to do the job.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
Right now, I can only twist wires together.
Every single one of these ganged PPCs have failed. Really torques me that the guy pushed these things as the solve all electrical plug connector problems. Same guy who got me into the ESU system. That was a major failure too. I'm sure he will say that I didn't assemble them right. Criminey, ya solder the metal connector to the wire then push it into the plastic shell until it clicks. Did that but they don't always make the electrical connection.
 

twforeman

Certified Great Northern Nut
I used to use power pole connectors on my RC cars. I never had any connectivity issues. I'm not sure what the issue is other than making sure the contacts are actually fully seated.

If you get any solder on the outside of the contact barrel that can cause issue with fitting into the housings.
 

wvg_ca

Well-Known Member
Same guy who got me into the ESU system. That was a major failure too.
the ESU is -supposed- to be one of the better systems out there ... no real idea, i have a MRC thingy, and i have never been interested enough in changing to even price out another box ... i do know that MRC is one of the lowest price systems out there, well, next tp DCC++ which i also have ..
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
They are all properly seated and soldered.
NO, NO, NO, NO!!! Never, ever, ever, solder a Power Pole connector. For them to work properly, they must be crimped with the proper Power Pole crimping tool. Then they work perfectly. I have been using Anderson Power Poles for over 20 years and have never had any problems with them. Full disclosure: I don't use them on the railroad. I use them on all my amateur radio equipment. I currently have 20 sets in use on my base station, 6 sets in use for the portable gear, and 1 set in the car.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
I tried the crimping process and that makes it worse. The wire needs to be somewhat ridged to be able to push the connector into the plastic shell. Without that solder to help, it's like pushing a garden hose uphill.
In addition, only two of them together might work sometimes but ya still have to do a lot of wiggling. I'm using 6 plugs ganged together which makes it virtually impossible to get all six contacts to stay together. There seems to be a precision alignment problem in the plastic shell. Even after the metal connector clicks into place, they can slide about 1/16" which makes some of them impossible to get the hump of the connector to slide over its mate.
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
I'm sure this is obvious and you've looked at it a dozen times, but ... are the contacts installed in the proper orientation? None of my power poles have any wiggle in them at all.

For reference: http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Public Service/TrainingModules/Technical/Anderson powerpole.pdf

(I know the article mentions soldering, but the guy who introduced me to power poles went on at length about why to never solder a power pole. I'll save you that discussion.)
 

Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
GUYS - I have no idea of the connections involved, but wouldn't something like this be better? I'm trying to wrap my head around a "powerpole" as I have never even seen one?
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
I don't know what the size wire is, but it looks awful thin. The modules require a minimum 14 gauge wire to carry the current and voltage over the distance.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
As for the wiggle, yeah, about 1/16" in and out. That keeps the humps on the contact end of the connector from actually riding up and over each other to secure the connection. All I can think now is that I prolly have a bad batch of the plastic shells that allow to much movement. Typical of how things work for me.
 

twforeman

Certified Great Northern Nut
If the ganged shells are moving relative to each other you can glue them together. Or there should be a hole that you can put a pin in to keep them aligned.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
Yep, did that. They are secure so they don't move in their cluster. It's just that contact piece that moves inside the shell when the plugs are pushed together.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
These are the connectors in question.
Real complex to assemble. Crimp or solder wire into the metal contact. Push the contact into the plastic shell until it clicks.
Now, maybe there are some other steps in the process they just didn't bother to print because everyone, and I mean everyone from the pygmies in Borea Borea to the convent nuns at the Vatican to the Eskimos in Alaska and the preschoolers in Kenya know those steps. For some reason, those steps escape me.


20200703_202305.jpg
 

Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
I guess I am just simple-minded!
I still don't understand how they are supposed to work?

Is that ONE connector - or TWO?
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
Those are two connectors Sherrel. The wire is soldered or crimped into the metal connector then the metal connector is pressed into the large square end of the plastic shell. The end with the little hump on it is supposed to be at the far end of the plastic connector. The connector is completed. To join the two together, you press one end that you can see the little hump in into the other connector with the little hump and they are supposed to be a secure reliable connection.
The problem I'm having with em was the metal connector isn't staying seated all the way into the plastic shell but seeing that it isn't secure, it will move back when the other connector is plugged in which keeps the two humps from riding up and over each other to form a solid connection.

Here is a link to a video that shows how they are assembled and plugged together.

 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
Aside from your guess that you have defective housings, the only other thing I can think of is: are you positive the contacts haven't been inserted in the housings up side down?
 

Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
kEN, THANKS FOR THE U-TUBE!
I thought I was missing something -- The pic were only showing 1/2 of the equation.
I think I have a better understanding now!
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Top