Can I use #24 AWG wire for N scale turnouts? : LUSENET : Wiring for DCC : One Thread

Our N-Scale group is creating a large multi-module yard. We're using Peco Electrofrog Code 55 turnouts.

My question: Would #24 AWG stranded wire be large enough to use as jumpers across the closure rails and stock rails?

-- Ralph H. Hall (, April 06, 1998


It is extremely important to keep in mind that when sizing wire to be feeding track, you size the wire as if it has to carry the full amount of power that the booster is capable of putting out. So even if you are using a little N scale locomotive, you have to size wire for the 3.5 or more amps your particular booster is capable of putting out.

This means if you bought a 10 amp G scale booster you would have to size all your N scale wiring for 10 amps. Therefore, do NOT buy a G scale booster for N. Buy 3 3.5 amps boosters instead. Yes it will cost more, but it sure beats burning down your house.

Here, the reader wants to use 24 AWG stranded wire for jumpers on code 55 turnouts. Given the small size of these turnouts, a reasonable request. So I ran an experiment. (I love devising new ways to start fires in the interest of science!)

When used as a jumper on a turnout, the wire is bare and exposed to air. This permits it to be cooled a bit. It is also attached to the turnout metal which further helps cool it.

I then created a short, but not a "dead" short, across my booster forcing it to supply about 3 amps. The wire got warm, but not hot enough to start a fire. Note: Do NOT use 24 AWG for any other type of track feeder. Where the wire is insulated and/or running through wood, heat can build up. Fire IS possible!

While it would appear that bare #24 AWG would be okay in this application, I would like recommend use solid #22 AWG. It is about the same size as #24, but relatively speaking, can carry much more power without getting hot.

As long as you don't knick your wire when you strip it or kink it, solid is great. I use solid for jumpers on turnouts and all track feeders. Compared to it's stranded equivelent, it is much smaller and less noticable and it's easier to work with.

Solid has gained a bad reputation because it breaks when you bend it back and forth enough times. Well, don't do this! If you still are having a hard time getting comfortiable with solid again, think about this: Every telephone in the US is wired with solid wire. It used to be 22 AWG. Then it was 24 AWG. If solid was really a problem, imagine the communication nightmare the phone company would have and the headaches we would have to live with day in and out.

Go for it! Have fun!

-- Allan W. Gartner (, April 06, 1998.

Just to add a little to Allan's reply.. As stated it is not the scale but the total current the booster/s are capable of putting out.. And in the name of fire safety all wiring on a layout has to be able to handle this current.

As far as solid wire, a GOOD set of wire strippers is a very good investment here.. By good I do not mean the universal ones you buy at your local discount store, the ones that cut bolts, crimp connectors, ect.. But a good quality designed to strip wire with in the range of the size/s you need. You can find these at you local electronic supply houses.


-- Don Crano (, April 10, 1998.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ