Powerlines

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nekom

Member
I want to run powerlines to get power to various points in my railroad. Is there any special gauge of wire required for this? One thing I have an abundance of is category 5 ethernet cable. It's pretty thin, I don't know what gauge this amounts to, but will this be good enough to use if i strip it down to bare copper? Anyone have a better way to simulate real power lines?
 

lemscate

Member
Well, it depends on what you're planning to run off the powerlines. A few streetlights or interior lights ought to be fine, but something like a motorized bridge would probably be right out. CAT-5 cable works out to a little less than 3 1/4 inches in HO scale with the insulation, which I'd estimate to be about the right size. Stripped CAT-5 (which probably wouldn't be easy to do) might be about right for N scale. Another method I've seen used is solder. The thin stuff is about the same diameter as insulated CAT-5, but is all metal (though I don't know how much the resistance would be over a sizable length). It's soft, so it's easy to form droop. I don't see what would stop you from running connections from it to lights or what have you.

I'm sure you'll get people saying to don't run power over scale power lines, but I sure as heck won't. I've thought of doing it myself to eliminate wire runs from yardlights to the ground, but got lazy. Go ahead and try some CAT-5 or light solder and let us know how it works!
 

Trucula

Drum Driver
I have seen thread used...But you want to be sure its the last thing you do because working around them is DANGEROUS!!!... :D seriously...If you reach over and catch on them while working on the layout you can pull the whole lines over...pole after pole...It's hard to get them to sag like real lines...We are using a fine wire we obtained from a guy that works on electronics...But if your going to "true scale"..I don't think you could actually even see them on an HO layout...I used thread before and would lap each insulater and a spot of glue...then to the next...But i suggest doing like a few spans before gluing because when you tension one side...it pulls the other side tighter or more loose...its time consuming but looks great....there is a company that makes actual lines for this...do a search...Our club president is a lineman and I was a splicer for the phone company...His layout was awesome when it came to pole work...with guy wires, pole to pole guys, service lines, ect...He had guys climbing on the poles...trucks setting poles...guys buring lines...was pretty cool...Another cool idea I saw was to micro drill the X-arms and run thru them...but my eyes aren't that good anymore...LOL :(
 
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B_Kosanda

Member
I use two different things to simulate power lines. It is especially important to use extremely flexible (wire) since you want it to hang properly, without kinks. The first type I use is fine solder. It hangs really well and is super flexible. Could be a problem if it is hit with your arm. The second thing I use is fly fishing line. This line is extremely flexible too and far more resiliant than solder.

Bill
 

nekom

Member
well my layout is HO scale, and I was hoping to use actual wire to conduct electricity, though thread doesn't sound like a terrible alternative. I can always run the wire underground. I want to keep to scale as much as possible, but I don't want to burn my house down from overheating wires or anything. I doubt that'll be a problem, but I also want it to work :)
 

B_Kosanda

Member
I run a 5 VDC power bus around my layout using 16 gauge romex. When I need power to light a building or power a signal, I tap off the wire at the point I need it. Obviously, this wire is under the layout.

Bill
 
Wow real power on the poles, that is detailed. The small wire doesnt bother me if you are running bulbs for poles or a lite per wire in a bldg.

Dont think it would burn the house down just turn it off when you are gone. And if you smell it you gotta problem. Most wires that over heat tend to show disformation on the insulation long before they overheat.

Good Luck
 

nekom

Member
Wow real power on the poles, that is detailed. The small wire doesnt bother me if you are running bulbs for poles or a lite per wire in a bldg.

Dont think it would burn the house down just turn it off when you are gone. And if you smell it you gotta problem. Most wires that over heat tend to show disformation on the insulation long before they overheat.

Good Luck
Well I'd like to have functioning power lines, that's my idea, but maybe it's not the most reasonable way to go. I'm definately not leaving any power to anything when I'm not there, and when I am there, well I do have a couple heavy industrial fire extinguishers in the house, though I'd rather not have to use them ;)
 




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