The Cashaway Valley Railroad
With connections to the Norfolk & Western Railway
"On time and on track to the future"
The Digitrax Chief was installed on the Cashaway Valley Railroad on March 4, 1997. The starter set was installed in about 10 minutes and was powered from an MRC Tech II 1500 Power Pack. If you start with a Power Pack, it appears that the Digitrax recommendation to use the N scale setting, even for HO, does not apply. With the DCS100 set on N, one engine (a Lifelike Proto 2000 GP18) ran fair. When a second train, in Analog mode, an Atlas S2, was added neither train ran at any where near operating speeds. I changed the DCS100 to HO and the results were dramatic. I am sure it has to do with the amperage available. The Digitrax recommendation for an appropriate power supply is 6.25 amps at 18 volts. Simply put, the power source needs to be high on your list of things to buy. I have decided to defer it until I can run larger gauge bus wires around the layout. I added a UP-3 panel to allow me to move the one throttle I have from one end of the layout to the other. Installation is simple and I asked a friend who is in the telpephone business to crimp the RJ12 connectors to the 6 wire flat cable.
It's April 5,1997 and I have just finished the Lenz LE103 installation. Also, I could not wait and have received the power supply that I was going to defer. Now I must go under the layout and run those BIGGER bus wires. Everything I read says; "Use single core solid house wire." I'll be stopping at Home Depot this coming week. I will give a full account of my installation upon its completion.
That was written over 10 years ago. The DCS100 from Digitrax is still humming along and if you check out the CTC pages you will see that I have made a lot of progress in that time.
This is the full account of cleaning up 8 years of block control wiring. Step one was to decide on the bus wire. After looking at all the options, I decided on 14AWG wire. At the local hardware store they had two conductor, with a ground, for about 10 cents a foot. I got a hundred foot roll. Step two was to split the insulation so that I could separate the two wires and discard the ground wire. I ran a utility knife down the middle and pulled it off the wire. Step three was to clean off the top shelve under the layout, which stored 17 years worth of Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman. Step four was to decide on the path of the bus wires. Since the mainline was installed on risers I decided that I would drill two holes in each riser about 3" below the sub-roadbed and pull the wire around the layout following the mainline. I then fabricated a spool to feed the two wires through the holes in the risers all the way around. Then I spliced in to this first pull, and pulled bus wire down to the end of the yard.
The old wiring was based on Linn Westcotts block wiring scheme. Each block was double gapped and was fed back to a wiring matrix feeding DPDT toggles on the Master Control Panel. There is no reason to worry about the gaps as you will have feeders for each block, in fact it's a good idea to have feeders every 8' to10'. If your getting ready to rewire, the first thing to do is to go to my links page and click on the GREAT DCC Stuff link and get Allan Gartners plans for the short circuit detector. It takes two minutes to build and the parts cost less than $5.00.
Once you have the detector built and in place, go around the layout and either solder new feeder wires from the track or, as I did, cut the old feeder wires under the roadbed so they are about 6" long. I had used a color scheme, Green was the N rail and Orange was the S rail (most of the time). The short circuit detector went off three times as I reconnected the 15 blocks. Seems that I must have gotten turned around when I originally did the wiring and rather than correct the wiring I just soldered on the correct color before I got to the wiring matrix. You will need the wire stipper from Radio Shack that allows you to grab a wire in the middle and by squeezing the handle push the insulation left and right to leave a bare wire to solder your feeder to. I offset the connections about 3" so that I would not have to tape over the T connection of the feeder to the bus. I took great pleasure in pulling out feeder wires that were up to 25' in length and cleaning up what had become a real mess under the table. I also marked the feeder locations on my computer based track plan. Maybe you can teach old dogs new tricks?