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Author Topic: Doorbell wire  (Read 7790 times)
usher42

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« on: February 06, 2007, 02:39:25 AM »

Can i use doorbell wire for my HO layout from track to power pack.
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BIG BEAR

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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2007, 02:47:45 AM »


         I've seen others post, on previous board, about using door bell wire.
Probably a good substitute for buying new more expensive wires.
 
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Barry,

...all the Live long day... If she'd let me.
JM


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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2007, 02:49:09 AM »

Yes....it makes a pretty good feeder wire,  I personally wouldn't run it more than 12 ft from a power pack or larger gauge bus wire [a bus wire is the larger gauge  wire some use to connect feeders on to for constant voltage all around their layouts...the bus wire is connected to the DC terminals on the power pack, a feeder wire is connected to the bus wire then  to the tracks, usually by soldering].
 I use doorbell wire because it's easy to solder and relatively cheap, I've never had any trouble with it and I don't get voltage drops anywhere on my layout.
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bevernie

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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2007, 09:40:25 AM »

How about telephone wire? -Several conductors in one strand?
Mine is HO, but I've got LOTS of phone wire! I run DC, and don't think I'll ever go to DCC.
                                                                                       Ernie
                                                                           Hendersonville, NC
« Last Edit: February 06, 2007, 09:56:59 AM by bevernie » Logged

frank moorhead

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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2007, 09:46:31 AM »

telephone wire works great for me in n-scale
frank
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Whatlep

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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2007, 10:32:37 AM »

Phone wire works fine for me too.   I believe UK standard wire for this is the same as North America (50 volt carrier), but you may want to check.  Maximum power I've used is around 13 watts (1.1 Amps at 12 volts) with no problems at all.  I'm always slightly sceptical of "requirements" for heavy gauge wiring over reasonable distances.  If you ever get the chance to examine an LGB G scale loco, you'll find the internal wiring gauge is incredibly small, but those locos regularly handle 24 watts per motor (1.5 amps at 18 volts).
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Hoople

I like BIG steam.


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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2007, 11:50:07 AM »

Why don't you just use one wire if you have something about the size of a 4x8'?
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-Hoople-

Modeling UP, SP, and D&RGW in colorado between 1930 and 1960.

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LD303
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2007, 12:45:23 AM »

i like the 4 or 6 wire phone line and doorbell wire....the phone line is color coded so you can use it on switches and be sure all of them are wired the same....i use the phone line to power light bulbs in buildings too, either type is a good choice.
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glennk28

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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2007, 09:52:07 PM »

You are running afoul of the Laws of Physics.  No--the Physics Cops won't be there, they just send out gremlins to keep the power from all getting to the trains.

Seriously, most phone wire I have seen is about 24 gauge, bell wire about 20-22 ga. A Water analogy is often used with electricity.  You can only put a certain amount of water through a hose of a given diameter. Likewise, you can only get a certain amount of electricity thru a given size wire.If you have any significant run of track, or are running more than one loco, you should be using a minimum of 18 gauge wire.  Or--run bus wires of 12 ga building wire under the layout, and use the phone wire for feeders (not more than 6") to the track every 3-4 ft.

gj
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LD303
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2007, 12:17:45 AM »

i routinely run 2 locos at the head end of my trains.....ive got 2 runs of 40+\- ft.of mainline and 3 spur lines and a yard.....all the wire for the tracks is doorbell wire ,i use mrc railpower 1300 packs for the mainlines and the bachman wall packs for the spurs.....i have feeder wires every 6 ft. and all my switches are wired with phone line.....i check my voltages with a digital multi meter frequently...and even with 2 locos running i only have a 1-1.5 volt drop at the  farthest point from the power packs, the phone line handles the 12 vac for the switches just fine....never had any troubles at all.
   im sure the ''electrcians'' will be  furious that i would even think of using anything but 10 gauge primary wire and high voltage entrance wire for my layout.....but then again, im doing this for fun, not to impress the ''experts''.
    when dealing with a max. of 18 vdc and 12 vac......having ridiculously heavy gauge wire doesnt make a lot of sense. i cite the example of the wire in locos and power packs....its not ginourmous thick wire...its thin multi-strand wire....thinner and liter than doorbell wire and phone line.
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Nathan

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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2007, 01:07:17 AM »

Another type of wire one can find at a good price is 'trailer' wire that you can get at places like Northern Tool & Equipment in 100 foot rolls, or try your local auto supply discount house.  Get the 4 wire, normally it is #16 wire with four different colors.  Then use short drops of smaller wire from this to the track.  This should be good for most areas unless you have very large current draws or very long runs.  At trains shows our large scale club uses this wire for quick set ups and even on loops of several hundred feet with only two sets of feeders the only time we have had problems is when our one member puts on his PA-PB-PB-PA set with 12 to 14 lit passenger cars.

Nathan
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2007, 05:58:39 PM »

A Water analogy is often used with electricity.  You can only put a certain amount of water through a hose of a given diameter. Likewise, you can only get a certain amount of electricity thru a given size wire.

I like the water analogy, but why don't we take it a bit further.  The water pressure in my house is 40 psi (pounds per square inch.)  If I connect up 100 feet of water hose, it will produce 5 gpm (gallons per minute) of water flow.  The pressure difference from one end of the hose to the other is 40 psi.  Now lets suppose I want to get more water out of that hose.  If I increase the water pressure in my house to 80 psi, the same hose will now produce 10 gpm.  At 320 psi, it will produce 40 gpm.  In other words, all I have to do to put more water through the same hose is increase the pressure difference from one end to the other.  Of course, if I increase the pressure too much - boom, my hose blows up.

It works the same with electricity.  If I take 10 feet of #20 wire (the 'hose',) I can push 1 amp (the 'water flow')  through it with a voltage drop (the 'pressure difference') of .01 volts.  If I put 10 amps through the same piece of wire, I need .1 volts to push it through.  Note that this is the voltage difference between the ends.  If there is zero voltage at the far end (the wire is shorted to a large conductor at the far end) then the input voltage at the near end must be .1 volts to drive 10 amps through.  If we have 12 volts at the near end, and drive 10 amps through the wire, we will have 11.9 volts at the far end.  The voltage difference is 12.0 - 11.9 = .1 volts.  As you see, it is the pressure difference between the ends of the hose that drives the water through the hose, just like it is the voltage difference between the ends of the wire that drives the current through the wire. 

What happens if we drive too much current through a wire?  The insulation melts off the wire, rendering it useless or the wire itself melts.  Typical insulations used in wiring chassis will fail at around 11 amps.  The wire itself will melt in 5 seconds at about 68 amps.

So what does all this mean?  It means you can use 20 gauge appliance wire to wire your model railroad if the wires are short enough and the current is low enough.  On a 4' x 8' layout, few runs of wire would exceed 12.5 feet (down a long side, plus down a short side, plus a little bit.)  So out and back would not exceed 25'.  At 10 ohms/1000 feet, the resistance would be only .25 ohms.  At 4 amps (enough for 8 locomotives) the maximum voltage drop would be 1 volt.  Not enough to worry about in either dc or DCC.

But lets up the size of the layout.  On my own layout, I have a couple of DCC power districts that are 50 feet from my power manager (electronic circuit breakers.)  Will 20 gauge wire do the job?  Well, 50 feet out and 50 feet back is 100 feet.  That is 1 ohm at 10 ohms per 1000 feet.  I run 5 amps to each of these districts.  So the drop could be as high as 5 volts.  Much too high.  So in this case, 20 gauge wire just won't do.  Based on price per foot and availability, 14 gauge house wiring is a good choice.  At .5 ohms per 1000 feet, the voltage loss is only .25 volts at 5 amps, and it works very well.

Want to super size the layout?  How about 1400 feet of wire carrying 10 amps on an outdoor layout?  Well, it turns out even 10 gauge wire is inadequate, if it is the only thing carrying the current. 

So sometimes the experts are right, and you do need big wires.   But in usher-42's case, 10 gauge or anything near it would be ridiculous.  Common bell wire would be just fine.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2007, 10:57:01 AM by Jim Banner » Logged

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Seasaltchap

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« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2007, 10:39:55 PM »

Jim,

We had the discussion about "50 feet out, and 50 feet back" constituting a ring main, whereby the belt n' bracers approach would give twice the current to hold the voltage.

A household hedge trimmer or electric drill will gradually burn out on very long extension leads of insufficient gauge, as will a loco, where the loss of voltage drives the amperage(current) up to meet the wattage of the motor.

Watts are amps' x volts, move one and you inversely move the other to meet the work load on the motor, the wattage being drawn. (476 watts = 1 HP)

Have I got it right?

Regards

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Phoenix AZ: OO enthusiast modelling GWR 1895-1939, Box Station Wiltshire; S&DJR Writhington Colliery, Nr. Radstock.

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Seasaltchap

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« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2007, 11:03:25 PM »


Correction to typo --  746 watts = 1 horsepower.

Further:

Appliances in the US are sold by Amperage, which is the heating effect.

Whereas electric fires in Europe are sold by Amperage for the amount of heat they will provide: appliances with motors are sold by wattage for the amount of work they will do.

Another difference in the national psychies!
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Phoenix AZ: OO enthusiast modelling GWR 1895-1939, Box Station Wiltshire; S&DJR Writhington Colliery, Nr. Radstock.

Interested in making friends on the site with similar interests.
ddellacca

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« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2007, 12:02:09 AM »

Stewart,

quote
Appliances in the US are sold by Amperage, which is the heating effect.

unquote

Not entirely true.

Many appliances with motors, example vacuum cleaners, are described
using amperage as a (supposedly power) comparison for marketing
purposes. Amperage does not in any way describe heating effect.

Many other appliances, example microwaves, are sold using wattage as
the unit of power. Wattage does not describe the amount of work a
unit will do, only the amount of power the unit can use if operating
properly.

Also, amperage is a measure of the amount of current, not heat.
Wattage is a measure of the amount of power used, not the amount of
work performed.

Dick
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