A reader writes:
In one of your articles, you described a "belt-and-suspenders" approach to electrical connectivity. In the article I was reading, you only eluded to it indirectly. Can you give a detailed description of how and why you do this? I too use AritoCraft track and would like a much more reliable method of ensuring electrical connectivity.
I was referring to using jumper cables in addition to the Aristo screw-in rail joiners. The brass track itself carries plenty of juice. The breakdown is always at the rail joiners.
Also, the rail joiners will fail eventually - EVERYBODY'S DO, so don't feel bad. In fact Aristo outlasts most of them. But as a backup, or just to make certain that the distant track is getting enough juice, I also run lots of jumper wires, using 16-gauge "lamp cord" and those little squeeze-on u-shaped connnectors you can buy at Radio Shack. THOSE will fail, too, though I could make them more reliable by soldering each one. But the chances of a rail joiner and jumper both going out on the same section at the same time are pretty low.
You can keep the polarity straight on the lamp cords by looking for the little bead that runs down one side. I always connect the beaded conductor to the outside rail.
Some folks recommend heavier jumper wires, but remember, the rails are still doing most of the work, and it's not like you're starting a car with your power supply.
On stretches with several short pieces of track, I may skip a couple pieces of track. On stretches with really long piecs, I may go, say, every other piece. If it turns out I need more, usually a few years later, I go back and add more.
Total cost is pretty low considering, and well worth the peace of mind.
Hope this helps. Have a GREAT spring,