How to wire a model train for DCC

Joe’s been back in touch, this time he shows us how to wire a model train for DCC:

If you missed Joe’s first missive, it’s here.

“Hi Alistair,

My story part ll.

I finally completed my total rewiring for DCC. I have simplified the wiring by eliminated 3 quarters of all former wires for blocks, power, etc. I should have done this a long time ago.

model railroad wiring

My best tool for wiring, is my home made lounge chair on wheels so you don’t break your back while wiring.

How to wire a model train for DCC creeper chair

I added a 52” x 13” lower yard as shown to my existing 4’ x 8’ layout. Before and after the completion. Added, engine house, signal tower, freight station, water tower, “I Havitt” Sand/Gravel Company and “Nutty Slack Coal and Coke Merchant”.

yard for model railroad

model train freight

model train gravel commpany

I Havitt” Sand/Gravel company

model railroad coal

“Nutty Slack Coal and Coke merchant”.

signal box

model train passenger station

Small passenger station

freight station

Freight station

model train box car

Box van Willey

How to wire a model train for DCC

model railroad passenger station

When you have a large Passenger station, you need a car park. So you build one.

model train gas station

Added an ESSO petrol station but needed employees! So some were hired and are doing a great job.

model railroad garage

model train garage

Needed some road repairs due the over use of traffic on the tunnel road.

How to wire a model train for DCC

Began construction of a new mountain, using cardboard strips hot melded together, applied Hydrocal plaster, Sculptamold and painted an earth tone. I then molded rock formations with Hydrocal and painted them, hopefully made them look realistic.

plaster mountain

The mountain was completed by adding handmade pine and oak trees, foliage, rock formations and a Sheppard’s house with sheep and horse.

model train figure

The next stage, part three, I am finishing the above High Street layout. When completed it will drop in to the opening next to the base of the mountain. It will include” Just Plug” lighting for all buildings and street lights. For the first attempt ever, I plan to construct a pond using “Realistic Water” from Woodland Scenics.

In order to control my DCC system, I purchased an MRC Prodigy Express DCC System. Also purchased, two Hornby locomotives; “Mallard” LNER Class A4 with sound and DCC fitted LNER 0-6-0T , Class J 83.


A huge thanks to Joe for showing us how to wire a model train for DCC.

It’s such a pleasure seeing a layout grow and the personal touches being added. I loved it – Part 1 is here if you missed it.

And I thought his lounge chair on wheels whas a brilliant idea.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

29 Responses to How to wire a model train for DCC

  1. Eric says:

    Great attention to detail there Joe, love your hillside and scenes.
    Eric (Leeds) UK

  2. NJ Mark says:

    Beautiful work. The organized chaos brings reality to the layout. Cheers! NJ Mark

  3. John Frye says:

    Joe, looks like you have made one of the observations about life that I have. It’s not clean straight lines and orderly. It’s stuff, lots of stuff, and maybe more dirt than my Mom would have tolerated. People going through their life with more than a little dis-order. One of the modelers I have always admired, the late John Allen and his famous “Gorre & Daphetid” railroad had plenty of this chaos and stuff. Great work on making scenes that catch and hold the eye!
    John from Baltimore

  4. Ed Hansen says:

    Is there any way to access the old posts? I have been saving them for when I start my layout in a couple of months when I retire. That’s a lot of information lost for me. Any help is appreciated.

  5. george zaky says:

    Wow! Didnt put together that you were the “Mint” guy until I looked at your previous post. Great work.
    Please describe the DCC in detail for us hopeless types that want to make the big move.
    Again thanx for the fabulous layout and narrative
    George from NY

  6. Bill Wilson says:

    I love the lounge chair. 😊

    Bill W

  7. Lewis Brumberg Jr. says:

    Please tell us we can access the old posts. I have saved everyone that I received. Joe, your work is fantastic. I have never seen rocks so real looking. You have many talents to share. Thank you

  8. don kadunc says:

    You asked how we liked a listing of posts by the authors. Can you do this to allow axes to their older posts? Then if they post again you can refer back to the post with the list. i don’t know if that is possible, but there is a lot of info that will be lost.

  9. Rick Manning says:

    Hi Al, On the saving of emails dilemma, one possible solution might be, take screen shots of the ones you want to save and send them to where you want to, an electronic file or print them for an old school file. Thanx for all your hard work keeping this helpful site up and running.

  10. Well done Joe , got a lot of detail on there ..Dangerous Dave

  11. BC Bob says:

    Great looking layout Joe. Lots of detail in a very bush site. Little details always make a model look real. I was wondering about the sand and gravel sign. Was it a over ambitious fence painter that painted over the L or is there a grave yard hidden in there? 😉

  12. Ralph Samples says:

    Will the Golden Search Key still work to hunt for old posts that can no longer be access using links in older emails?

    Ralph in Eureka, MO. USA

  13. Al…
    Great post as usual…
    Question on saving files (I have been saving your posts for years now).. Any chance of you maybe collecting them by authors and setting up new links?
    Maybe a files section easily accessed from the home page…
    Just a couple of thoughts…
    Thank you…
    John from California…
    P.S. — I need to see more of John’s creative structure videos… They are informative, fun, and a real life when either the modeling doldrums or even depression sets in…

  14. James Carry says:

    All do enjoy all the layouts tips and tricks. I myself am searching for a Doctor Who phone box in Ho scale is that doable in print? And do you offer this item?

  15. Michael Palumbo says:

    Great detail & lots of “little” things that.bring your setup to “life” !
    Great job !😁

  16. Cary E Price says:

    Great job Joe, love all the activity and detail in your layout! Thanks for keeping the site going Al, always look forward to it! Cary in KY

  17. Cary B says:

    Hello Joe,
    Your layout looks great and has very many interesting details. The narrative is quite interesting and I enjoyed viewing the layout thru all the photos.
    Thanks for sharing
    Cary from USA Maryland

  18. George B says:

    DCC the only way to go, my old layout 900 feet of track only one block, two operators with 8 amps of power, with 20 pairs of 18 gage wire to track. Why I can only run 3 trains, son 2 trains power used maybe 2.5 amps and two slow spots that I did not fix. I believe in Keep It Simple S____ or KISS. Cost keep me from doing it for years, I added up costs of controls and block wiring, time OUCH. Plugged the system in 2 wires to the layout ran and old DC engine on position zero and I had the start of DCC on my layout. Put five cheap decoders in engines the fun began and now I install sound 20 years later with no problems. There has been way too much written about DCC just do it and KISS the problem and start the fun and learning. I did not follow conventional wine practices of the 60s/70s for old Pittman motor engines and high current requirements. I did put switches for engines so they could stay on layout unpowered. Most railroaders in knowledge will say ouch to way I power my layout, but it worked with no problems. Just get started for fun and learning. Solve problems as you make them for fun

  19. Bob From Towson says:

    The lounge chair or something similar too it is a MUST when working under a layout…It saves your back and legs. Its also soo much more comfortable while doing all that wiring ….

  20. Tom says:

    awesome. Im a newbie and need all the help and advice I can get. Im using G scale and would love some track plans and what tracks are used and how many of each. Ive been dying to set my trains up outdoors but don’t have access to what I have asked. any help would be greatly appreciated.

  21. Charlie Muller says:

    Great layout work! Just to let others know, you can buy mechanics wheeled stools and chairs, which are made for low work, for as little as $30 – $40.

  22. Rich B. says:

    This is well done, the attention to detail and scenes is unsurpassed. Mountain work looks very authentic.

    Only thing here is the kitty litter ballast/bolder size rocks and stones scattered all over the place. Life-like railroad that may have had the cat up there scratching around, just doesn’t fit with this level of work. People are way to shiny, a bit of dull coat may possibly remedy that. Their stands here and there seem not to detract from scenes.

    Electrical does look cleaned up. Never had luck with “suitcase connectors” period…
    1) Too large for wire size here. Look for intermittent and no-connections, crushed wire strands and maybe not contact together at all?

    2) Those can be too small for splicing also, have had to actually split insulation apart to make good connections or they won’t even penetrate through the insulation!

    3) Few other options available but to each his own…

    For sure, not my RR and he can do as he pleases. I’ll be looking for a few of those comments from the ones that show up with a one liner and can’t spell lol.

    regards, rich (no capitols on purpose)

  23. ernest eaton says:

    It boggles the mind how many great layouts that are out there. I have a lot of 0 gauge “stuff” but no room big enough to start a layout. But I do enjoy looking at all of the ones that you publish. Keep up the good work guys and you too Alastair.

  24. robert dale tiemann says:

    very cool. really good terrain.

  25. TJK says:

    Can not wait to see Rich B’s layout!

  26. DustykUK says:

    Lots of good ideas there. I like the chair on wheels, designed to support your head when working under the baseboard. I find my head is really heavy after a very short time. (Some would say there is a reason for that…)

  27. Ken bird says:

    Hi Joe, layout looks awesome. I have a question , where do you find those old 2 axl box cars. I can’t seem to find any on the websites I have. Thanks
    Ken from Wyoming.

  28. Steve Ruple says:

    Very nice layout Joe and lots of scenery shots.

  29. Steve Ruple says:

    I have a email attachment on all of Al’s old emails that I can look-up for all of his emails, that’s how I look-up old emails. I also have a log book that I keep all of his special email’s that I want to keep for ideas for my layouts.

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