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The Randall Museum in San Francisco hosts a large HO-scale model train layout. Created by the Golden Gate Model Railroad Club starting in 1961, the layout was donated to the Museum in 2015. Since then I have started automatizing trains running on the layout. I am also the de-facto layout maintainer. This blog describes various updates on the Randall project and I maintain a separate blog for all my electronics not directly related to Randall.

2019-05-31 - Back Room Electrical Outlets

Category Randall

The other day the back room had no power, while seemingly the rest of the layout had some. I don’t know if there are electrical schemas around -- I certainly don’t have any -- so I decided I’d document that and make a schema myself. Since I’m not an electrician, I need to look up how these folks draw their schemas first. In the meantime I compiled this:

The train room has a circuit breaker box in the front. Two circuits called “North” and “South” power the various outlets in the main train room, with outlets mounted on the pillars. There are other circuits for the lights. So that part is easy and for the main train room everything is fairly obvious. We turn it all off at the end of the day.

The back room uses a mix of circuits. Some outlets are controlled by the South circuit, the main workbench is on the North circuit. There’s one outlet and the lights which are on a 3rd circuit not controlled by anything above. In two places I found scribbled something which I decoded as meaning “breaker in boiler room”, which is an adjacent room where they have the heater and a bunch of large electrical panels.

The museum’s electrician was around and she was looking for a specific breaker box to turn off some outside light appliance. Coincidence? I think not. I showed her the one breaker box we have in the room, and in exchange she showed me the one from the actual boiler room (to which I have otherwise no access). We concluded that the circuit in the back tagged with “boiler room” cannot be in the boiler room’s panel. Instead it probably means it’s on the train room’s circuit breaker box which is next to the boiler room. I’ll have to come back on a Sunday when there’s no activity and try that by simply turning off all the circuits one by one till I find the one controlling the back room. I kinda care about understanding this as I use this as a “24/7” circuit for computer equipment I want all at all times for remote access.


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