John’s video of his first layout

“Hello Al,

Please accept my apologies in not answering you earlier.

As a retired electrical engineer, my hints and tips are electrically based.

When wiring your layout, buy a reel of alarm cable. A 100 metre drum of 8 core alarm cable will cost under £20.00 plus v.a.t. This will give you 800 metres of cable for £20.00 which is the equivalent of 25p per metre.
Sleeving is a thin walled pliable plastic tube which comes in red, brown, blue, black, grey and green/yellow. 3mm diameter should be adequate for most needs, and costs around £5.00 for 100 metres. Push your cables through this sleeving. Use one sleeving colour for each function, e.g. red for track supplies, green/yellow for signalling, grey for points.

Use one colour per function which will make fault finding easier. E.g. when wiring points, I use green for the main line, red for the diversionary route and blue for the common return.

The alarm cable and sleeving may seem a large outlay, but when you compare the equivalent cost typically over £3 for 7 metres with buying 800 metres of connecting wire in small packets, the outlay is not so great.

Make a circuit diagram of your wiring.

Test each circuit and remedy any faults before going on to the next.



Some of you may remember John’s pics of his first layout (if you don’t, they are here).

Well, he’s been kind enough to take some video of it:

Big thanks to Cedric and John. Please keep ’em coming.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is is here.



15 Responses to John’s video of his first layout

  1. I am wiring my latest layout with 6 wire thermostat sleeved, six colored, 20 gauge cable wire. I use it to go from the control panel area to remote sections of the layout and fed to lights and switch track motors. On either end I have a break out terminal block, you can even integrate uses into one cable pull. I don’t recommend it for powering your track except for sidings etc.

  2. Cedric –

    Great tip. I too am a retired EE and would like to piggy back on your suggestion.

    1. You may be able to find multi-conductor cable less expensive at
    the local surplus electronics store.

    2. At first, leave a couple of spare wires. Layouts tend to grow with time and it is easier to put in a few spares than to have to add to the congestion under a layout almost complete.


  3. When developing a circuit, I like to temporarily use connecting-terminals with screws because it’s a lot easier during the project. When completely done, I remove the temporary terminals then solder most wires (especially low voltage circuits and/or thin wires), sometimes using crimp connectors for heavier wires … I was taught to do this as a “breadboard engineer” because, even though there’s two steps to the final wiring, it’s overall faster due to the time it takes to correct mistakes, especially when the final configuration is uncertain at the onset.

  4. As good a video as I’ve seen recently… Please give us more….

  5. one source of variable power is the old power pack out from your old desk top they are usually between 1.f volts to 12 volts 25 to 30 amps, this gives you enough power to control signals yard and street lights and of course all your buildings, the best thing is you don’t need resisters with your LEDs

  6. great electrical tips and what a great video am interested in seeing more,

  7. hello there…just watched your video and i am a new commer looking to make my first layout..
    i really like what you have done and your ideas on different colored plastic tubing.
    since i am new to the model railroading sence i do have a qhestion…what size or standard trains are these that you are showing in your video?

    i am trying to figure out what size trains i should be thinking of…ho,n-gauge,18 gauge..really am confused…
    any thought s on this would be very appreciated..
    thank you
    Roy in New york

  8. Thank you for the super videotography (sp?). I was actually able to enjoy your wonderful handy work on your structures and scenery. If more people would take the time, not worry about the speed of the train, I would get more out of the videos. After all, you took the train out of the box, added a few details and put it on the rails. Where the train passes through however, takes months to get just right and then the photographer whizzes past following the train. Al however, has gotten many of his people who submit to slow down, let the train pas two times. Great job Al. I try never to miss an episode. Thank you. E.

  9. Thanks for the few minutes of enjoyment and the tips on wiring.

  10. Wow John. I thought my first attempt (at doing my father inlaws layout) was pretty good. You put me to shame!!! I’ve watched this video 3 times now picking up new ideas and new details each time. In short order we can see the thought you put into this. Bravo sir (tipping my hat to you)

  11. A beautiful layout with lots of interesting terrain mixed with housing and town life. Wow!

  12. very nice vid, proper speed, nice sound

  13. What a deliciously detailed layout!!

  14. For Roy in New York, that layout would appear to be HO with various OO scenic and rolling stock items. The track gauge for both scales is the same (16.5mm) but HO is 3.5mm to the foot and OO is 4mm/foot, which is why those British Pullman cars look a bit large with that American loco. From the freight cars and the flag, I’m guessing John’s based in Australia?

  15. John, was so engrossed watching your video I thought something had gone wrong with my computer when the video suddenly stopped. B****y fantastic effort mate, can’t wait to see more. Any chance of seeing a track plan and where did you get the backdrops?
    I hope that when I start my first layout that I can get it to look half as good.
    Cheer Mike from South Australia

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