View Full Version : Under the wire...Catenary questions

13th Mar 2014, 01:49 PM
First I need to state this up front. This is my first hard look at Catenary and I have no Idea what I am Doing That being said I have a million questions. If you were just beginning to experiment with hanging catenary wire what would be the best way to go about planning, executing and ending up with a finished project that was worth doing. I was looking for a set of standards and have not been able find them. It would be nice be able to use my trolleys on other systems and have other folks be able to run a trolley on my layout.

Question 1 Is the overhead wire "Live" or is it the negative or ground ? Is direction or polarity a factor? What can be done to prevent damage to the wire if you get your hand tangled up in it? I suppose help with a shopping list for materials would be helpful.

Solder Soldering Iron Cutting pliers Needle nose pliers. Drill bits etc. Not sure about what gauge / type of wire to purchase or how to hang the wire.

13th Mar 2014, 03:26 PM
Start by joining the N-Cats on the N Scale Traction Yahoo Group.

The group has the N-Cat Source Book and the three Project Books in the Files folder.

To be technical the word Catenary refers to overhead wire that is supported by an parallel wire that is above it. It is used by high speed trains like the North East Corridor. Single wires strung between supports is called Trolley Wire.

Start with the books. I studied my copies a month before I started. When hanging trolley wire the first pole is the hardest. If going with Catenary the various European systems are easy but expensive.

There are a couple of ways to run power. I use a switch that chooses whether the power is two rail or overhead. This is great for testing stock equipment and when the wire has some oxidation. I use the powerpack for both direction and speed. But there are folks that use the poles for direction.

DCC is very rare. Plus it is a pain to install in a Bachmann car. The Peter Witt has DCC but a dummy pole for decoration. It is not popular with the N-Cats.

After reading the files a lot will be learned. Also don't discount those sites catering to the other scales. We use the same information but build our stuff smaller.

I am available for consultation.

13th Mar 2014, 05:31 PM
Thank you....I joined you should be able to figure who I am pretty easily ...my yahoo name reflects my interest in HO slot cars. The information must be the stuff that is missing from the Ncat site... Really nothing scary and most of the materials I have here already. All I need to buy is the actual wire and some Kato compact curves This will make a great shelf layout. For now I will keep reading and planning.


13th Mar 2014, 09:35 PM
They used to sell the books to support the N-Cat Site.
I had to buy mine.

I buy my wire at Michael's. I use silver jewelry wire. It's tough but easy to solder.
I forget whether it is 28 or 32 gauge, both are in the picture.
I've pull the wire off the poles a couple of times but never got tangled in it. A quick solder tack fixes it. But those are usually the joints that are just hanging on anyway.


jlaboda (RIP)
15th Mar 2014, 01:38 PM
Bob Knight of Traincat (http://traincat2.com/) has announced that they will be releasing a new system featuring all things needed to model it... suppose to be released sometime later this year. You can read more on this thread...

15th Mar 2014, 08:19 PM
New Haven Catenary
That's great if you are running the Northeast Corridor high speed/heavy freight route but is overkill for streetcars.

Train-Cat makes some great stuff.
But You use catenary supports and wire sections like rail joiners on sectional track. The price needs to be reasonable because you need a lot of them. They are not like track signals that appear every five miles. They are every hundred feet of so.