To string utility wire or not?

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by scottmitchell74, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

    Has anyone else struggled with whether or not to string the power and telephone wires on your utility poles? I've seen some photos that look great, but I'm concerned about things getting tangled, the wire getting in the way and other things I haven't even thought of. What's been the experience around here? Thanks!
  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Put a small fly on each post, and see if the spiders will string between them :tb-biggrin:

    Nope, not gonna happen on my layout (I also have a dearth of utility poles, so folks won't ask)
  3. Jerry M. LaBoda

    Jerry M. LaBoda TrainBoard Supporter

    Berkshire Junction has a product called EZ-line that is proving to be a very valuable way of stringing wire, especially so in that it remains flexible so that there is no damage in case the wires are accidentally touched.
  4. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    How modern is your era being modeled? A lot of utilities get buried today, and instead of poles you have those gray or green transformers on pads, and smaller versions here and there. If you have to use poles along the track mount them to the side of the track opposite the edge of the layout. That way you can reach a derailed car without having to reach over the wires or poles.
  5. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Don't do it! IMHO, of course. It is just something in the way to be broken off the first time you clean track or re-rail a car.

    But...I would pick a good place to take pictures and string some only in that location. It does look nice. I do recommend EZ Line for that and a lot of other things like guy-wire.
  6. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Supporter

    I use Berkshire EZ-Line, Fine for in town, and Heavy for transmission from the power plant to the substation. The photos are indistinct, but show the lines if you look closely.

    BTW, EZ-Line stretches over 100% without breaking, then returns quickly to its original shape. The Heavy line in the photo crosses in front of the house interior power panel, but isn't harmed when the panel door is opened to access the circuit breakers because of stretching.


  7. Seated Viper

    Seated Viper TrainBoard Member

    I've seen EZ Line in use. It does make quite a difference to how the layout looks but it isn't going to happen on mine.


    Pete Davies
  8. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

    Unless you can get the natural droop, I wouldn't bother.
  9. scottmitchell74

    scottmitchell74 TrainBoard Member

    The very late 50's, on one half, and the early 80's on the other. I'm doing sort of a split scene. However, the rolling stock and lines will always be B&O and friends up to the late 50's.

    Thanks for the input all! Both sides made sense! I'll have to see how things go as I move along. I like the idea of having one little area for photos that have lines.
  10. W Neal

    W Neal TrainBoard Member

    Besides being able to reach the track easily, its a corss that line (no pun intended) thing. "I did it here, but those poles look funny without wires over there..."

    Also struggled with the natural droop thing too. Great point mcJaco. "How do I capture that look", I have wondered.

    Its kinda like the "do I put in the fence wires?" dilemma. For now, I am happy to "see them in my mind". Maybe someday...
  11. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Supporter

    I thought I had solved the droop question when I strung the Fine line in town....WRONG. After a few days all droops had shrunk to straight. So I compromised, and left the Fine line the way it wanted to look, besides the poles are close enough together that it doesn't look bad. However, I found that the Heavy line will end up a nice realistic droop after shrinking if I initially put in a really deep sag. It then shrank to a slight droop after a few days which looks great between the tall transmission towers.
  12. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

    How about.... use some superfine metal wire lightly glued to the power line poles (not "wrapped"), and use a blackening solution on it when it's strung. Easier to repair if it gets knocked or bent, and you can choose your "sag". No difference, really, from the live catenary quite a few N guys run. :) Pretty sure seveal of those blackening solutions will do copper too.
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I have some of the EZ Line, which I am about ready to install. It will be a short segment and not that close to track, so I should be safe.
  14. 3DTrains

    3DTrains TrainBoard Supporter

    For near edge scenes, glue a spring from a disposable lighter to the bottom of the poles.
  15. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Supporter

    That sounds like a great tip! I need to try that to replace the telephone pole that I broke off on the edge of my layout.
  16. Chaya

    Chaya TrainBoard Supporter

    Like W Neal said, it's like the fence wire issue. I have some EZ line and was thinking of using it, but more and more I'm heading away from it. For one thing, telephone poles always ran along tracks in the parts of the country I'm modeling. Anything along the tracks is going to get mangled by my fingers (and I know this from experience). For another, it's like fence wire. I will never use fence wire because to me it always looks way too big. In real life, you can barely even see fence wire.
  17. robert3985

    robert3985 TrainBoard Member

    I'm also torn about stringing "utility wire". I've used .002" stainless wire in the past, but it didn't sag, was shiny and looked like crap in my photos because all I could see was where it was shining.

    I have seen a local N-scale modeler use the EZ line on his modular layouts, and (much to my chagrin) while viewing his nicely detailed layout, I snagged my sleeve on his EZ wire a couple of times...and its stretchiness caused there to be no problem. So, I'm thinking that the elastic EZ Wire will obviate any damage that my big fingers my cause by catching against it. It just stretches and comes back...without breaking poles.

    Since one of the things I do with my layout is take ultra closeups, the wire is really necessary unless I want to Photoshop it in. No, I'm not hung up on the idea that Photoshopping is "cheating", but I also like the idea of seeing it strung with my eyes. However, I have never taken a macro photo using EZ wire, so I am not sure how it is going to appear in my photos.

    From looking at photos and observing the prototype wires strung along the U.P. mainline where I'm modeling, the small "telegraph" wires are strung pretty tightly, so there really isn't much sag. However the secondary power lines do sag...and I'm planning on using thicker EZ Wire for these, and hanging it loosely.

    When I get a little further along in my scenery and detailing I'll give it a try...but first...I am going to improve my "utility poles" before I worry about stringing wire on pieces of trash like what is commercially available.

    Guess I'm gonna have to scratch build 'em to be like what's alongside U.P.'s trackage up Weber and Echo Canyons...'cause that's what I'm modeling!

    I hope calling Atlas or Heljan utility poles or whatever else is out there "pieces of trash" (I exclude out-of-production N Scale of Nevada pole kits from my "trash list") doesn't offend anyone. But...they are.

    No...I don't believe in the "3 Foot Rule" (ever try putting your cars on the track from three feet away?)

    When I'm scratch building U.P. cantilever signal bridges and my embossed rivets are a scale 3/4" in diameter...just like the prototypes, and Type D signal heads with snow hoods out of .003" brass for my layout, it seems really counter-intuitive to stick a utility pole alongside 'em that has "insulators" on the crossarms that are about a scale foot and a half in diameter!

    Barbed wire fences. I'm gonna use .003" suture silk for these. Yup...that's still big for "bob-wire" but it doesn't look too bad in close-up photos since it's only about 25% bigger than what is a true scale size for bob-wire. Remember, bob-wire is two wires twisted together, so it's about 3/8" in diameter...and .003" suture silk is less than a scale 1/2 inch in diameter, so it's pretty good for this application...especially with a little wash of brownish-gray on it.

    When I get some strung, I'll post some photos and let you be the judge.

    Bob Gilmore
  18. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki TrainBoard Member

    I think wired telegraph/power poles are a natural along almost any RR right-of-way.

    To see poles without wires in model RR images (unless the layout is ultra-modern) just doesn't look right.

    Between using EZ Line and places the poles on the other side of the ROW, a lot of the problems they present for modelers goes away.

    The Atlas poles while not so hot out of the box can be improved a great deal with "scratching" (I use a razor saw) and painting. I think you can tell which is the new pole. :)


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