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Thread: Solid or Strand?

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    Default Solid or Strand?

    As I am about to begin my first layout, I wanted to check on opinions of stranded wire verses solid wire. Years ago anticipating the layout I had an opportunity to get 2 long rolls of a solid wire. They have 2 separate wires sheathed in plastic and twisted together along the entire roll. White/Purple. Odd color choice, but easy to distinguish in low light. I'd like to use it but do not want headaches later. The wire is a silver color when the coating is stripped. Opinions on strand vs solid? Thanks.

    Gryxter

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    I mostly use stranded. Solid is great for doing control panels or other things where you need to hold the wire to a shape, but otherwise I've found it's better to have the flexibility stranded has. When in doubt, though, I always use what I have!
    N scale CPR Kootenay Division, started May 2011!
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    Oh, and I take photos, too! http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=9296

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    For my buss,control panel wiring and feeders I used solid for everything else stranded.
    "It's not whats best......It's whats best for you"

    Gary

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    What gauge is that wire?

    Electrically, solid vs stranded doesn't make much difference.

    Physically, solid is always going to be stiffer than the equivalent size stranded wire, which makes it easier to use when working on things like track feeders, where you need the wire to keep a particular shape while soldering.

    Being more flexible, stranded is frequently used for bus wires, especially when you need a tail with a connector on it ( like you would have at the end of a module ).

    Paul

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    Seems to be a [small?] increased risk for creating a short with stranded wire since an errant strand can be touching the other wire / posts -- especially an issue in tight spots or with low light / poor visibility I would assume (but this has even happened to me in wiring a power supply).

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    My main bus is one solid and one strand, although not on purpose. I didn't notice that I did this until I got home, and I just went with what I had! Both seem to work just fine. The stranded is more flexible and was easier to put into place.
    Fribur
    My Layout

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    Quote Originally Posted by McNamee View Post
    g a short with stranded wire since an errant strand can be touching the other wire / posts
    I always tin the ends with solder to prevent that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by McNamee View Post
    Seems to be a [small?] increased risk for creating a short with stranded wire since an errant strand can be touching the other wire / posts -- especially an issue in tight spots or with low light / poor visibility I would assume (but this has even happened to me in wiring a power supply).
    :evil: https://www.google.nl/search?q=solde...ABw&gws_rd=ssl

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    If the wire is silver when stripped , it may be old Alluminum wire . Popular in old housing . Dont know how well it solders

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by aflica View Post
    If the wire is silver when stripped , it may be old Alluminum wire . Popular in old housing . Dont know how well it solders

    Steve


    Or it may not be aluminum. We don't know the size, but I doubt that a twisted pair is aluminum. IF it is aluminum, don't use it. But it is probably nickeled copper.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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    I used solid on my layout, it seemed to work well. Its ability to hold a shape saved me from having to buy fancy equipment to solder rail joiner feeders off-layout.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zosimas View Post
    I always tin the ends with solder to prevent that.
    Are you soldering the joints or using mechanical connectors?

    I found out recently that if you are using mechanical fasteners ( and it doesn't matter here if we are talking about crimp connections or screw terminals) also soldering stranded wire is asking for trouble.

    The problem is that solder is always softer than the wire, and it deforms over time, allowing the connections to loosen.

    The person who first mentioned this to me is a retired electrician from our local Honda plant. The last time we talked about this, he mentioned that he had to run tests for about 6 months to prove that to the electrical engineers.

    Paul

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    To all who have answered my question, thank you. My original plan was to use the (white/purple) solid twisted pair wire to run my layout. I would run the wire under the layout all the way around. A “U” shape is my plan. Then using smaller pieces, solder it to the track, and then use Scotch Locks to connect underneath. My curiosity is mainly to find out if there is a difference in the two types of wire. Is one safer, stronger, better conduction, or just more user friendly? I guess my biggest pet peeve is that I don’t live by any real running trains, nor do I know anyone besides myself interested in the hobby. So what I see on the internet, and read in the magazines, is sometimes tough to comprehend. I’d ask, but I believe that is best done in a different forum. : ) Don’t want to get in trouble being the new guy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryxter View Post
    Is one safer, stronger, better conduction, or just more user friendly?
    It depends...

    Stranded is more flexible and will take flexing/bending during operation.

    If you have a swing-out bridge, use stranded wire to connect it to the rest of the Layout, solid wire will break rather sooner than later. If you move your controller around, use stranded wire to connect it.

    For a regular layout, where you attach the wire once and don't bend it or vibrate it anymore, solid wire is fine and often easier to work with when you use screw terminals.

    In a car, where everything heats up and vibrates, most everything uses stranded wire.

    But always use the correct connectors. I'm not sure Scotch Locks work with solid wire, I believe they work much better with stranded wire because it has some way of strands being pushed aside and pressed together, where solid wire will have a groove where the connector connects, with little to no "springy" contact. But I may be wrong on this point, I don't use Scotch Locks that extensively.

    If you connect stranded wire, either use a long connector with the right "bending protection" or don't solder the wire but either screw it directly, if the connectors support it (if not, the strands will be pushed aside and not form a proper connection), or crimp the connector/crimp on end sleeves before screwing. Otherwise either the solder will be pushed aside, as @pbender mentioned, or worse the wire will break in the soldered part (because of the jump in stiffness between the soldered and non-soldered parts).

    Hope this helps to muddy the waters a little further

    Heiko

    P.S: By all means, do ask your questions - that's what this forum is for. Find the prototype sub forum for your prototype questions, the general wiring for, well, general wiring, the Layout Design for questions about where you "should" put your turnouts...

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    Hey thanks a bunch. That cleared up a few things. And I will heed your advise about using the correct forums. I REALLY want to stay on the good side of the law!

    Gryxter

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    Some of the 3M Scotchlok IDCs (Insulation Displacement Connectors) commonly used for model railroads are specified by 3M to work with both solid and stranded wire. Other 3M Scotchlok IDCs require one of the wires to be stranded while the other wire can be stranded or solid. You have to check the 3M data sheets.

    It is essential that you select the Scotchlok part designed for your combination of wire sizes. 3M makes a wide variety of these connectors for different sizes of wire. For example, I used part #558 on my small layout which has #18 bus wires and #22 feeders. If you use the wrong Scotchlok connector, you may end up with unreliable connections.

    There are IDCs made by companies other than 3M. I've heard bad things about the non-3M IDCs, but I have no personal experience with them.

    - Jeff

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