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Bus Feed Wires

This question from a reader:

I have installed a single strand, heavier than 18 volt bus line as my feeder throughout my HO layout. Are there any advantages of disadvantages to doing this? I have as of yet not hooked the wiring up but only have slung this wire for the length of the layout.”

5 Responses to Bus Feed Wires

  • Dale Arendssays:

    Depends on the size of the layout and the size of the bus wire. Personally, for any line over about 6 feet (or 2 meters) I would use #14 wire. Over about 20 feet (6 meters), I’d go to #12 wire. Solid wire is fine for bus lines

  • Richard R. Duldsays:


  • Morgan Bilbosays:

    I can throw a monkey wrench in here. I had a cable, that contained 8 wires of 22 gauge. That cable was longer than my layout. So, after a while of deliberating. I then used one wire all the way from the track to the command station. Used terminal blocks and the nice part is: I have as many as 12 wires “in a bundle” and use large straws to group them. As for color. I used brown,red and those colors for one rail and the blue, green and those colors for the other rail. So, it’s not the color coding of red and black. But is different enough. The problem I had was with tracing. But. I wired them one at a time and have only had to trace one that apparently got wired wrong. But it was easily fixed and that was that.
    So, I’m not sure about all this about AWG 12,13,14. Those are a lot more difficult to handle. I have, as said, about 12 sets of feeders. I suppose on a large layout, my method would be too cumbersome. But my shelf is 24 feet long. Command station near the middle, and the length of wires is not more than 10 feet. This works for me. If applicable, you might try it. And just FYI I started with AWG 18 for feeders and was planning on AWG 14 for the buss. But my method eliminated the cumbersomeness. ? Like that word? LOL Finally, the smaller wires are very easy to handle, solder and are nice and flexible.

  • Herveysays:

    Need a bit of clarification I assume 18 volt bus line means 18 gauge bus line, also is this for a DCC layout?. Will try to answer none the less. Yes a bus wire is a good thing, other wise you are putting all your faith in good contacts at the joiners. Also track is not the most efficient means to conduct the electricity. As you get away from the track feed the power to the locomotive drops off. Size of the bus is determined by length. Generally up to 40 ft from the power source a 14 gauge wire will suffice. Beyond 40 ft from the power source you will need to go to 12 gauge wire

  • mikesays:

    This is one of the most basis items in making a layout. You must run feeder wires to your track from the buss. I used 14ga buss wires, they need to be wrapped around each other every couple feet I don’t know why, but it is a fact. I think for a modest DCC layout 16ga or evan 18ga would be fine, you are not running that much amperage, volts, etc. The feeder wires I ran from buss to track are 20ga and they have been in place 5 years, no problem, 16 x 4.5 layout (feet). The feeders can be spaced as you see fit, don’t skimp on them, they are cheap although not easy to install, more feeders, less stalling and stopping of locos.

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