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DCC With Existing Block Wiring

Grantley asks:

“I’m old school and my layout is already wired in a block system so I’m curious about changing to DCC with regards power and running buss wires under the tracks etc. Advice please before I take the plunge?”

5 Responses to DCC With Existing Block Wiring

  • James Jansen says:

    My small layout was wired for blocks and when I got DCC I just tied all the blocks together. The only reason to keep them separate is for short isolation.

  • Geoff says:

    If your blocks were created by insulating both rails, and you therefore have a power feed to every 6 feet of track or so, then you probably don’t need to worry about bus wires. But it is recommended that the bus wiring for DCC be larger than 14 AWG. If your block wiring is a smaller gauge, then you would need to add larger gauge bus wires, and use the block wiring as feeders, limiting their length to say 1 foot. So not too much work as long as you can get at the wiring!

    You say you have a small layout. How many different engines do you have moving at any one time? If not more than one, then what benefit do you expect to get from DCC? At a basic level, DCC allows you to have more than one engine on a layout without having to worry about parking all of them except the moving one in an isolated block. You probably already have that issue sorted out. When building a layout, DCC removes the need to plan where the isolating blocks will be. At a higher level, you can get coordinated sound and lights.

    And if you do convert to DCC, you need to either buy new engines or try and convert what you have.

    I’m not trying to put you off! I have DCC, and I love it, but I am starting over after a 15 years hiatus so I don’t have an old layout or engines to worry about. But if you are converting because everyone else uses it, that’s not a good reason.

  • Frank B says:

    I advise you to buy or borrow a basic book on DCC railroading, then you will have all the basic information at your fingertips. So before you buy, you know exactly what I want and what it can do.

    This was my route, and I was able to make good choices in advance.

  • phil johnson says:

    My layout was built long before I started DCC. Thus was built using block control DC. I kept the block system but rewired using much heavier gauge wire and rotary switches. (Large stable of DC locomotives) Thus far I’ve had no problems.

  • David Stokes says:

    The Northwest Bend is in its early stages, however until all track proves itself, I am wiring as if a DC layout, into blocks, specifically each station will be its own block, except for the Main, outside of Home signals (Between stations) are separate blocks also. A train will be able to run through a station on the main while another loco is shunting.

    When everything behaves, and I’ve decided which DCC system to purchase, I’ll connect in the bus wires and “chip” my locos.

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