Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Feeder Frenzy..

"Hey DiIorio! I thought you said way back when that you were going to use battery powered locos so you wouldn't have to do all that tedious wiring?"  Well.. Um.. I did say that I wanted to do that but.. well I changed my mind OK?

Actually there's more to the story than that.  A few months back I started to have some reservations about the LiPo battery powered wireless systems.  As I researched the LiPo batteries, I was finding out that under some operating conditions, and during recharging, they give off a lot of heat and if you do a search on YouTube of exploding LiPo batteries you will see what can happen if you are not careful charging them the right way!  Maybe it's the shop teacher in me, but I'm always cognizant of safety issues and potential hazards.  

On my old layout in my former home I made sure there were egresses to exits from every point of the layout.  It amazes me how little thought is given to getting your crew members out of the layout fast and safely in case of an emergency.  I remember operating on Cal Winter's FEC layout in Miami during the Fort Lauderdale NMRA convention and feeling very uneasy about being in the layout room.  There was one door only and when all the operators were in the layout room (up to 20) 3 bridges were put in place across the doorway and the door SHUT.  If there would have been a fire we would have been toast.  It didn't help that Cal was outside keeping an eye on staging and not in the room with us.

On this new layout, I worry about anything that could cause a hazard to my guests, or my family.  The potential for at the very least, melted plastic steam engine tenders, or in the worst case, a fire started by a LiPo battery, had me weighing these hazards against the benefits of wireless battery operated trains.  In the end, the logistics (fitting all the hardware into the small steam engines I have, designing an accessible quick disconnect to get batteries out of the engines to charge them in a safe place i.e. outdoors) along with the potential safety concerns finally sealed the argument against the battery system.  I still think it's a neat system, but I'd maybe only revisit using it in a larger scale, like O-Scale narrow gauge. That's not going to happen anytime soon, though.

So.. I now have started dropping feeders and thus began the process of wiring the layout.  This doesn't bother me as much as it does other people, and I don't really mind putting in feeders and wiring in general (NO I'M NOT GOING TO COME OVER AND DO ALL YOUR WIRING FOR YOU.  I said I don't mind it on my own layout.  I don't LIVE to do wiring. :P ) and I already in the past two days dropped feeders on 90% of the York yard sections.  

One night I put on my Ben Harper Pandora station and sat at my work bench and stripped and prepared a large bunch of feeders.  I stripped one end and then bent and flattened the end to look a little bit like a spike head.

The underbelly of York yard and a bunch of feeders installed.  3m Scotch Lock connectors will be used to tie them into the bus line.

The topside of York yard with feeders ready to be lowered and soldered to the flextrack.

My goal is to drop 15-20 pair of feeders each time I work on the layout (which is exactly what I did in 1 1/2 hours tonight) and I figure I'll have the bulk of this done within the next two weeks along with running the bus lines for the DCC system.  Now, if I could only remember where I stored all those Frog Juicers I thought I wasn't going to need...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ted
    On a recent Model Railcast show podacst they talked about using wiring Marrets to attach a group of feeder wires to a short pigtail off of the mail bus. This allowed a section of track to be easily isolated if there was a problem without having to unsolder any joints.

    ken Rutherford