Ask Phil: Wiring or tracklaying first?

23 April 2021
What is the correct sequence when laying track and wiring it up for DCC? Fix the track down first and then solder wire to it from below the baseboard or wire the track and then fix it down? Graham via e-mail

In my opinion, it's easier to lay track and solder wires rather than try to guess where you need wire before pinning anything down.

This way, you can test the track before wiring. You need to be able to push some stock around with no lumps, bumps or derailments before worrying about electricity.

I can't overstate just how important it is to test your track before ballasting. Any problems aren't going to go away, so deal with them now!

Once everything is running, you'll need to connect the track to your wiring. Soldering wire dropped to the sides of the rail is a nice discrete way to do this.

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How many, and where you need these droppers depends on the track layout, but I'd be inclined to add a set at the toe end of each point. You could put these on before laying the track, but it makes life harder, and you'll end up drilling bigger holes than necessary to accommodate the wire. Better to do this job after laying and nice small holes that the ballast doesn't fall down.

For more advice about DCC, head to our dedicated section.

Top tips for wiring your model railway.