Gerry’s HO layout

“Hi Al,

I have been slowly building a new HO layout which is just now ready for electronics work as all base painting and landscaping is done.

But big problem as my first attempt to attach feeder wires off a bus line has resulted in cross circuits. Need help!!!

So need to get locomotives running before doing detail work on every square inch ovt next 10 years…

Had just 2 inches to spare to get boat in the garage and close the door…!

Thank you AL for your blog as I really enjoy it and Johns paper buildings keep me busy in winter as we return to Florida for winters.



HO scale

HO scale

HO scale model railroad

HO scale model rain

HO scale model railway

HO scale model railroad

HO scale

HO scale

HO scale

A huge thanks to Gerry – looks like he’s having fun. But who can help him with feeder wires?

Please leave a comment below if you can point Gerry in the right direction.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to your start, on your very own layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

22 Responses to Gerry’s HO layout

  1. Kai Willadsen says:

    Could the short be caused by the diagonal connections (track connecting one side of the loop with the other)?

  2. I’m no expert, but looking at the track diagramme, and the layout itself, it might be the track that crosses the layout over the double bridge that’s the issue. It means the inner supply rail at the start of the section meets the outer supply rail at the other end, resulting in a short circuit.

  3. Ruud de Sterke says:

    Hi Gerry,
    Looks like you have a layout with 2 rail DC or DCC. If there is any place where your loco can turn around and it is not a turn table, you are guaranteed to get problems . (Think for example of a cross over to the other side of the layout) If you really need that, you need to isolate that part of the layout and use a specific turnaround module for that part. But iti woud be better to completely skip such a part in the layout.

    If this is not the case. disconnect all feeders but one. Then the loco should be able to run at that part of the layout. Next, connect the feeders one by one and each time check if the loco still runs. If not, there is a problem with the last feeder you reconnected. Beware of switching the wires. Happened to me too often.



  4. Stephen White says:

    Gerry, I noticed that you have RED on left rail in both directions. Possibly one track should be the other way around? start removing sections of track wiring until the fault clears

  5. Stephen White says:

    Gerry, Hmm let me try again……It appears that you have RED wire connected to RIGHT HAND rail on both tracks…Perhaps one track should be the other way around?
    Start removing sections of wiring until the fault clears, then you know where it is.

  6. Roger Coleman says:

    I think it’s pretty simple. On the right hand side
    Below the figure 20 there are two problems one main line and one to the sidings. Basically there are two return loops where the power short circuits.
    Check out a website called Brian lambert and you will see the problem explained in perfect detail.
    I had a similar issue myself and couldn’t see it
    Once explained it was very clear.

  7. Peter Pocock says:

    Gerry, I note you are using dcc. Good. But you will likely have a “phase” issue. DC has polarity but DCC has a phase issue that can cause a short circuit. In plain language you have your black and red wires joined together somewhere? A quick way without the power on the tracks, is to use a Digital Multi meter with a buzzer built in. Put the probes on each track and it should stay silent. If it buzzes then your wires are back to front. You may have to break your layout up into sections (electrically speaking) to make the job easier.
    I note you have two reverse sections. They must have an auto reversed fitted, otherwise you will have a dead short. Probably a good idea to disconnect those two before you start.
    I hope the above helps, good luck

  8. Malcolm hodgson says:

    The others have answered your problem well.
    The easiest way to visualise this problem and to test for it is take any wagon and put a piece of red tape on one side and black tape on the other. Now put it on your layout.
    Make a note of which side faces you.
    Now run it round your layout and in each track section you reach just pop a bit of red tape down on the same side as the red tape on the wagon.
    Once you have been through every section of your ovals, now continue and take it through the crossovers.
    The wagon may now find itself on sections of the oval with the black and red sides reversed. Hence the short circuits.
    So you can tell instantly by looking at the wagon if the wrong colour has appeared in a section. The point at which this happens is where you need to cut the rails and put in insulated joints. You then put a polarity reversing control board in at that point.
    To see how to do this PECO do a handy little guide called wiring the layout which shows exactly this “reversing loop” problem.
    As a few have pointed out, if you really don’t need to cross from one side of the layout to the other then take them out and simplify your life!
    Hope this helps.
    North Wales.

  9. It is fixed….! The wagon idea worked perfectly and yes the inside loop and outside loop feeder wires had to be reversed. Thank you so much….! Note:
    There are no reversing loops as both cross overs go in same direction. Unfortunately the engines still did not work but a quick call to NCE and with Ed’s help I was able to get 1 engine coded correctly and it worked perfectly on first time around!!! I have gotten much better at welding feeder wires every 3 feet and using snap connectors so I am really really happy about that. But, My other 2 engines were not able to get coded so may need to get need new coders installed??? Very disappointing. But making major head way and appreciate everyone’s help. Gerry

  10. Bruce says:

    Mr. Coleman cited Brian Lambert web page.
    Google search Brian Lambert wiring problem.
    Nice layout.
    Hope you resolve the problem hastily.
    Bruce in SC USA

  11. Richard Scott says:

    There may be a short circuit at the area marked airport and another at the area marked port on the track plan drawing. they appear to be crossovers that will reverse direction of travel. If so, they will need to be isolated and have a reversing switch inserted if you have analog (DC) control , or a reversing module if DCC.

  12. Frank Polo says:


    It looks like a reverse loop where the track runs across at your wife’s heritage park. You’ll have to read up on this. Methods vary for DC Vs DCC.

  13. Scott in western Pennsylvania says:

    I would put money on the cross overs. That’s where mine was I like the idea of the tape on the car it would have made it easier for me to find mine. Good luck

  14. Ron Tinkham says:

    Gerry, Best to you in the process as it is great to view from here. I am learning more thanks to your post and the replies. I initially felt the use of a multimeter is going to solve any issues for me forward. That was going to be my suggestion is to get familiar with a multimeter (I’m still trying after a few years). Thank you for sharing this and thanks to the responders.

  15. Ron Nelson says:

    Looking at your track plan looks like you have reverse loops and if you do there is your problem.Reverse looks take special wiring. I have a MRC and runs really great with no problem. Ron sunny Florida.

  16. Norman Rosen says:

    Mal, the idea of black tape/red tape is brilliant!

  17. Jim AZ says:

    Well, good to see you’ve got the wiring issue resolved. But it’s great to see the progression of your layout coming to life. Great space and size for detailing scenes and scenery. Good start. Thanks for sharing.
    Jim AZ

  18. Robert Brady says:

    Gerry: I say it’s the bachmann lighted tressel bridges causing the short they’re DC One of my 2 was giving me a problem ,took it apart and built again and works.

  19. Lee Hirsch says:

    Gerry, glad you found your wiring problem and it was easily fixed. About your two decoders that won’t work. … who installed them? If it wasn’t you, I would contact who did, and see if they will take a look at them for you or swap them out. If you did them, the two main problems could be 1)a pinched wire between the decoder and the loco, or … 2) the same problem you had with the layout, two wires hooked up in reverse. Hope this helps. Fun layout!

  20. Alabama Mike says:

    Gary, your cross over is creating a double return loop. which is shorting your system. Also, at the end of the layout (the short leg) it looks like you have created another reverse loop on the inside track.

  21. You’ve got a wicked “S” curve across from that piece of square pink stone on the wall. Substitute a left hand turnout for the right hand one and you’ll see a big improvement. If you need to have an “S” curve, you should have a straight length equal to your longest car between the turnouts.

  22. Jeffrey Daley says:

    Gerry, Be encouraged, your layout is coming together beautifully and there are always going to be a few glitches! Keep on keeping on. Toot Toot! Jeff in Seattle

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