Benchwork & Terminal Strip Wiring

By Ty’s Model Railroad - 12/08/2010 10:20:00 PM

3 terminal strips installed in a row to a support beam under wooden benchwork with wire leads attached to one side

While I wait for a few last parts to arrive for my control panel, I’ve started on wiring the underside of my benchwork. I purchased three 10 position terminal strips off eBay and attached them to the underside of my bench along one of the support beams. I then connected a power lead from each track power block to the corresponding terminal connector. 

3 terminal strips installed in a row to a support beam under wooden benchwork with wire leads attached to one side

All of the switch machine and turn-table power leads were also wired to a terminal. The common DC and AC ground leads also attach to terminals on the strip. Once the control panel is attached to the benchwork, the power and control leads from it will pass through the large hole to the right of the terminal strips, connecting to their appropriate terminal on the terminal strip. 

The underside of model railroad benchwork showing wiring to various components and track sections

Terminal strips were very helpful in this situation as it gave a common point where my control panel wiring and layout wiring joined together. Furthermore, the strips keep everything neat and tidy. I tried to keep the wires as organized as possible. However, since I wired the layout in stages the final wiring resulted in lots of connection points along several individual leads. For these connections, I used high quality male & female connectors, wrapped in electrical tape to prevent loose connections. 

Trackside signal face with red, green, and yellow LEDs attached to power leads

I have also decided to build my own track signals from scratch. I purchased the small LED lights and black display faces off eBay for a very reasonable price ($5.00 for all of the LEDs and 8 black display faces). I used super glue to attach the LEDs to the display faces. I then soldered all the grounds together and ran one common ground to all 3 LEDs. I then soldered individual wires to each LED. 

Back side of a trackside signal with red, green, and yellow LEDs attached to power leads

These wires will then go to the control panel and their corresponding relay switch, which will control what LED is lit up depending on the turnout position. I used standard telephone cable for my leads, which worked perfectly as there was a black, red, yellow, and green wire which matched perfectly to the LED light colours. I still need to figure out how I’m going to construct the rest of the signal structure, but I’ll save that for the new year.

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