NTRAK Modular Railroading Society, Inc
NTRAK Alternate Wiring Recommended Practice, 2005
Purpose of the Recommended Practice
The original NTRAK standard specifying 18 gauge stranded "zip wire" for main track busses, 16 gauge for the "White" coded DC power bus and Cinch-Jones 302 Series two pin connectors remains the "standard wiring" for NTRAK modules. For individuals or clubs looking for wiring with less voltage loss, the following are "Recommended Practices" (RPs) which should be considered for new construction, refurbishing of existing modules and for modules used primarily with Digital Command Control (DCC). The goal of this RP is to provide a common approach to reducing wire and connector losses and to increase the number of power feeds to the tracks.
RP - Track Bus
Each NTRAK track (red, yellow, blue, green, etc.) shall have a continuous (unbroken) electrical bus running the length of the module. The bus shall be 12-gauge stranded copper zip wire (red/black zip wire, outdoor low-voltage lighting wire or speaker wire, or equivalent). This wire has a thin section between the two wires and can be "zipped" apart. One side of the covering has a rib molded along its length; connect the ribbed wire (or red wire in the case of red/black zip wire) to the front rail of the associated track and to the red or colored connector at the end of each bus.
The length of the bus wire is the length of the module plus 12" at each end.
Each bus will be connected to other modules using Anderson PP30 30 Amp Powerpole connectors at each end of the module, as follows:
RP - Color Coding
If red/black pairs of Powerpole connectors are used, they shall be color coded with tape or paint in accordance with NTRAK color standards, as shown in the photo and per the 2nd column of the color chart below. Alternately, appropriate colored Powerpole housings may be used as shown in the 3rd column below.
RP - Track Feeders
Each track shall be connected to its corresponding electrical bus by pairs
of feeder wires located every two feet beginning one foot from the module
end. One or two foot long modules require only one feeder per track located
at the center of the module. Solid core 18–22 gauge insulated wire shall be
soldered to the outside or bottom of the rails and to the electrical bus.
Feeder wires should be kept as short as possible.
RP - Private Tracks
If the track(s) will only be powered from the connecting NTRAK track, then
simply connect a pair of feeders from the connecting track bus to the
private track. (If the turnouts are Electrofrog be sure to gap both (2) frog
rails at the frog end of the turnout.)
RP - White Wire
The White Wire is NOT required for DCC operation; however, for compatibility with existing NTRAK modules the white wire must be included in the module wiring. While the NTRAK Electrical Standard specifies 16-gauge stranded "zip cord" with Cinch-Jones connectors on each end this Recommended Practice recommends the same 12-gauge wire used for the Electrical Bus.
For the White Wire, Powerpole connectors at both module ends shall be arranged horizontally, red (DC +) on the left and black (DC -) on the right, as shown below.
Use of the White Wire for private track powering or accessories is
RP - Adapter Cables
Since the use of Anderson Powerpole connectors is a Recommended
Practice rather than the NTRAK Electrical Standard, adapters from
Powerpole connectors to Cinch- Jones connectors shall be provided
for modules (or module sets) wired with Powerpole connectors. See
photo in next column.
Color-coding should be applied to the adapter cables using tape, paint, or appropriately colored Powerpole housings in place of the red housing.
Standard - 120VAC Wiring
This represents no change from the current standard. A UL/CSA
approved heavy duty, multi-outlet, extension unit with a grounded
(three wire) power cord, 14- gauge wire, 15-Amp capacity is required
for each module. The outlets should be at the left end of the module
and the plug at the right end. Use Stanley 1-1/4" Safety Cup Hooks
#752976 or equivalent to retain and anchor the cord to the underside
of the module. This unit shall be removable to meet safety codes.
Where to get Powerpole Connectors
Powerpole connector pairs are available through the NTRAK Model Railroading Society's business office. An online Order Form and pricing is available at http://www.ntrak.org/order_form.htm. All sets include an instruction sheet.
Set “Red/Black” has 10 Red/Black housing pairs and two extra
Powerpoles are also carried by major industrial electronics
Material for this RP was furnished by Doug
Stuard and John Wallis.
NTRAK Order Dept., c/o Dave Porter, PO Box 3618,
Parker CO 80134, website at
Copyright 2002 - 2009
NTRAK, Inc. All rights reserved.