I stood there, wondering why the train was getting closer…

… and then it hit me:

It’s because I now have power to the rails in Port Rowan.

Pictures don’t really tell the story. But this photo of the first train on the layout – a work extra of course – provides some clues:

First train.

First, there’s the fantastic starred headlight. Then there’s the loops of wiring that can be seen belowdecks. And finally, at the left … down in the benchwork and just beyond the roll of black duct tape … one can see the red and green polarity indicators glowing on the Hex Frog Juicer from Tam Valley Depot.

Here’s a closer look at the copper spaghetti:

Copper spaghetti.

There’s no doubt that this is my wiring – nobody else could do such a simple layout and still create a bird’s nest of a mess. The blue/clear copper cable is 10 gauge, heavily insulated speaker wire. I’m using it for the track bus.

Emerging from the black tape (there to relieve strain on the connections) are two pairs of drop feeders – copper and silver coloured wires in clear insulation. These are 22 gauge speaker wires and while they’re a bit on the thin side they solder well to the rails and they’re only about eight inches long. I’ve never experienced any problems with such fine wires for drop feeders.

The white wires each connect a turnout frog to the Hex Frog Juicer (also known as “The worst job at Orange Julius”). This is a marvellous device for DCC-powered layouts. At right, a pair of feeders from the track bus deliver power to the HFJ. The white wires – using five of the six terminals – each run to a turnout frog. And that’s it. Really, the biggest challenge is finding a safe place under the layout to mount the thing. As the photo shows, I’ve mounted it in the framing on a small block of wood so it gets some air behind it:

Hex Frog Juicer - the worst job at Orange Julius.

Now that I’ve taken the photo I will add an “awning” – a scrap of masonite that will extend over the HFJ like the bill on a ball cap. This will offer some protection against Things That Are Bad For Electronics that may fall from above – such as glue drips or dropped screwdrivers. I will still be able to access the board from underneath the layout if needed.

As a friend likes to say, “All the rest is scenery”. Well, in Port Rowan, at least…

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