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Book Review
Wiring Your Model Railroad
Wiring Your Model Railroad, Essential Series
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

Wiring Your Model Railroad, book 12491, is the latest book of the Essential Series from Kalmbach Publishing. Authored by Dr. Larry Puckett, a former Model Railroader magazine contributing editor for 11 years and author who counts a book and 170 articles to his credit in several model railroad publications, this book explains the sometimes mystifying technology and art of model railroad wiring through 127 pages with 140 color photos.

Wiring Your Model Railroad has the ISBN 9781627001755 and is an 8 1/4 x 10 3/4 softcover. Kalmbach tells us;
    If model railroaders could own one book about wiring, this would be the best choice. In Wiring Your Model Railroad, Larry Puckett provides a helpful overview of all things wiring, including traditional wiring and DCC. This is the first wiring book any modeler should buy, and it’s a useful reference guide for experienced modelers. Most importantly, it is the first book any publisher has released on this topic in 15 years. So, it’s the most current and reliable source of model railroad wiring information you’ll find anywhere.

Between the covers
Wiring Your Model Railroad is full of detailed and concise information. Dr. Puckett has "been there, done that" in this hobby and he successfully imparts his knowledge and experience to the reader.

    Chapter 1 Basics of wiring
    Chapter 2 Traditional DC power
    Chapter 3 Digital Command Control (DCC) basics
    Chapter 4 Turnouts and crossings
    Chapter 5 Cab control for DC
    Chapter 6 Wiring a layout for DCC
    Chapter 7 Reverse loops and wyes
    Chapter 8 Turnout controls
    Chapter 9 Control panels
    Chapter 10 Layout wiring
    Chapter 11 Basics of soldering
    Chapter 12 Signals, detection, and computers
    Chapter 13 Maintenance and accessories
    Appendix A: Build a working interlocking
    Appendix B: List of manufacturers
    About the author

The text is well organized and easily read, flowing like electricity through a well-wired layout! The opening chapters present the history of electric trains, starting with a battery powered trolley in the late 1890s. It discusses the different ideas for powering trains (DC vs AC, battery vs house electricity, etc.) and the development in controlling that power. A predecessor of DCC, the 1963 release from GE of the Astrac command control system, is mentioned. Model railroading icon Allen McCelland and control of his beloved V&O is discussed. The text continues with explanations of basic electricity and the difference between DC and AC, and DC power packs verses DCC systems. We learn how to calculate how much power required for a layout. Discussion and diagrams of electrical pickup wheel configurations for steam and diesel and electric locomotives is included.

Starting on page 18 is Digital Command Control (DCC) basics. This clearly discusses DCC components and electronic demand, the ability for computer interfacing, and wireless control.

Eight pages later is Turnouts and crossings. Turnouts are very important and have the ability to fluster modelers. This chapter explains how to make them work well, including how to convert older ones to ‘DCC friendly’ types. Addition sections present the use of ground throws and special track: crossings; crossovers; slip switches.

Cab control for DC begins on page 36. Modelers loyal to DC cab control and those interested in it are introduced to wiring special trackwork in separate sections: Blocks; Passing tracks; Wyes and reversing loops. Creating panel diagrams is also discussed. Ten pages later we learn about wiring DCC in Wiring a layout for DCC. A separate six-page chapter about preparation of specialty track is Reverse loops and wyes.

A complex (for me) chapter explains in seven pages how to control turnouts, discusses controlling frog polarity, and design of routes in Turnout controls.

Fourteen pages presents Control panels, including sections Types of wire, Plugs and Connectors. The apparatus of a panel are included, such as different types of controls, i.e., push button, lights, toggles.

Chapters 10 Layout wiring and 11 Basics of soldering, explain those less than glamorous yet essential topics, without which everything else is moot. How else would any of the subjects operate as presented in the next chapter, Signals, detection, and computers? Eight pages show us how to create signals, reed switches and photo sensors, block detection and signals, and how to control with computers.

Maintenance and accessories demonstrates in nine pages how to install DCC and keep everything running.

Finally, we come to the bonus Appendix A: Build a working interlocking. Originally presented in THE MODEL RAILROADER’S GUIDE TO JUNCTIONS, we learn how to create an interlocking panel and signal controls. Demonstrated is how to install small interlocking levers instead of buttons or switches. Other sections include assembling a CTC panel and erecting a Semaphore signal and mechanism. Wrapping it up is Appendix B, a current list of many model companies.

photographs and graphics
A strength of Kalmbach is that they are not afraid to enrich their books with an investment of high quality photographs and original artwork. Wiring Your Model Railroad is full of mainly color photographs - 140 of them! Dozens of line art and colored charts, tables, illustrations and diagrams support the text. This visual support is outstanding - period!

Electrifying my layout is no longer the same carefree task process as it was in my youth, when if a Tyco loco stalled on a Snap Switch, I would just reach across the table and give it a whack with a pool cue! Nowadays, that would break off about a hundred dollars of detail parts! Thus I am much more finicky with my wiring. To me it is a daunting task, especially with the variety of turnouts available, and the knowledge that a short could weld a favorite locomotive to the rails!

Wiring Your Model Railroad is therefore an essential resource for me as I create my model railroad empire. I am highly impressed with the depth and clarity of the text. The photographic and graphic support is outstanding.

I highly recommend this book to every model railroader, novice to Master Model Railroader!

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on RAILROADMODELING.
Highs: Excellent photographic and graphic support of a concise, in-depth and detailed text.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: I highly recommend this book to every model railroader, novice to Master Model Railroader!
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781627001755
  Suggested Retail:  $21.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Sep 25, 2015

Our Thanks to Kalmbach Publishing Co.!
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


"Sometimes mystifying" is right! When building a model railroad, you have to have a broad range of skills! For me, wiring is not as difficult as realistic flora. It's good that reference material like this is available for the various aspects! -Sean H
SEP 25, 2015 - 12:05 AM

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