Thursday, November 15, 2012

Static Electricity Problems

In my post of July 29, I described how a low-cast rubber mat solved my floor covering problem. Well, I was a bit too quick to brag about it. Everything was fine until the weather started to get colder and the humidity lower. Static electricity reared its head. Walking only about five feet would generate enough static to put out a great spark when I touched almost anything, such as the rails on the layout. With sensitive decoders and command stations about, this did not seem to be a good situation to have. The question was what to do about it.

One end of the wire is stuck into the rubber mat about 4 inches while the other is soldered to an alligator clip which is then attached to a grounded nail.
I looked through various pages of advice on the internet and one suggested grounding the mats. I did this with a piece of 14-gauge solid wire stuck into the side of the mat. An alligator clip on the other end allowed me to attach the wire to one of the nails I shot into the concrete to secure the benchwork. This actually helped the situation but did not reduce it to levels I thought were acceptable. More research was done and I found an industrial static reducing spray, Staticide ACL 2001. I ordered a gallon of it, sprayed it on the matting with a garden sprayer and let it dry. It worked! The static electricity was gone. 

At the same time that I was applying the anti-static spray, I replaced the matting in my humidifier on the furnace. It hadn't been done in a couple of years. Right away, the humidity jumped up significantly which will also help the static problem during the winter. When I lived in Southern California, humidity, or lack thereof, was never a problem so this is rather new to me. The perils of living in the midwest, I guess. At least now I won't be blowing decoders during an op session.

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