Soldering Track???

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#1
Should I leave the rail joiners in place and solder right over them?

I am currently using a small butane torch with a removable tip? Good or Bad?

Should the track be laying flat while soldering or up on it's edge so that the outside of the track is facing up?
 
#2
Do a youtube search for "soldering track", you'll find some good how to's.

Essentially, you do want to solder the track into the rail joiners. They provide much more surface area than rail to rail butt joints.

A soldering iron is probably a better choice than a tourch. Much more control over where the heat is applied.

You should solder the outside of the track and it should be lying flat when you do so.

Doug
 

Selector

Active Member
#4
Use a sharp toothpick to force a bit of past flux into the crevices at the base of the rails where the joiner sits. Then heat the joiner and touch the solder wire to the ends of the joiner. As the flux begins to sputter and hiss, the solder should begin to melt and want to follow the flux. You don't need much of either flux or solder, but you do need clean rails...if they have been painted to weather them, it may be a lost cause.

You need a 30 watt, plus or minus a few, iron with a fine blade tip, or a good point. Let it heat up for a full six or seven minutes before you use it. Keep the tip clean...and tinned. Dip quickly in and out of the paste, then touch wire solder to the tip.

Also, you want the finest solder you can get. It should be less than 1 mm in diameter.
 
#5
track soldering

Some good advice so far.
Also I would suggest you attach a small alligator clip either side of the joint, to dissipate the heat, otherwise you will melt the ties.
Mac
 
#6
Some good advice so far.
Also I would suggest you attach a small alligator clip either side of the joint, to dissipate the heat, otherwise you will melt the ties.
Mac
How many ties have I melted - wow. This is a good tip. You can do it without a heat dissipater if you move quickly, but an extra tool certainly simplifies things.
 

RW&C

N Scale with Stone Tools
#9
Tommy, just clip them to the rail on either side of where you're soldering (leave room to get in with the iron). It gives the heat a better chance to escape into the air, rather than building in the rail and melting the ties.
 
#12
+1

The only note I'd add is after a long period of non-use the contamination warrants filing the tip - I hadn't used my iron in ~2 years :)eek:) and it wasn't getting hot enough - Threw the tip in the drill and gave it a good file to get back to "bare metal" and she's good to go again.

Cheers,
Ian
Tips are normally plated with multiple thin layers of material that increase tip life. Common platings are iron or nearly pure tin.

Once the coating is file or scraped away, the tip will deteriorate much faster.

Best way to clean a tip, unless it is at or beyond end-of-life or is a cheap unplated tip, is to heavily flux the tip, re-solder coat the working area, and wipe it with a wet natural sponge.

Tom
 
#13
Best way to clean a tip, unless it is at or beyond end-of-life or is a cheap unplated tip, is to heavily flux the tip, re-solder coat the working area, and wipe it with a wet natural sponge.
Indeed - But I was desperate!..... "Why isn't this thing melting solder?!"...... Flux melted, but it just wasn't getting hot enough to melt the solder :eek:

I guess I've reduced it's life, but at least it's now working again! ;)

Cheers,
Ian
 
#14
Soldering guns generally have plated tips but an electric iron type is usually solid copper, which heats the best but yes they all need cleaning. One thing to do is to keep a small shallow container of water with a little sponge in it and you can keep wiping your tip off to keep it clean also keep it tinned (coated with solder).
 
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#15
Indeed - But I was desperate!..... "Why isn't this thing melting solder?!"...... Flux melted, but it just wasn't getting hot enough to melt the solder :eek:

I guess I've reduced it's life, but at least it's now working again! ;)

Cheers,
Ian
I'm not saying it doesn't make something useless useful, just that it is a bad idea for tip life.

I had a boss, back in the 60's, that used to go through tips in his Weller guns left and right because he would let them get all nasty and then file them to health. He never used a tube tester either.

:)
 
#18
I'm not saying it doesn't make something useless useful, just that it is a bad idea for tip life.

I had a boss, back in the 60's, that used to go through tips in his Weller guns left and right because he would let them get all nasty and then file them to health.
Given the above, coupled with I was in the store, I bought a nice new Weller tip - Tiny little sucker. Plugged it into the iron (an adjustable 40W base station) and heated it up......

I think it's the first time ever I've overheated a tip - Is that even possible?

At one point, it "rejected" any solder I touched to it! [Too hot?]

And I never felt like it was properly tinned either - I suspect I overheated it - Will that destroy it, or is it recoverable?

While on the topic, how do you stop the tip "getting all nasty"? I'm religious about using the damp foam pad before & after use, but beyond that, dunno?

Comments?
Cheers,
Ian
 
#19
Given the above, coupled with I was in the store, I bought a nice new Weller tip - Tiny little sucker. Plugged it into the iron (an adjustable 40W base station) and heated it up......

I think it's the first time ever I've overheated a tip - Is that even possible?

At one point, it "rejected" any solder I touched to it! [Too hot?]

And I never felt like it was properly tinned either - I suspect I overheated it - Will that destroy it, or is it recoverable?

While on the topic, how do you stop the tip "getting all nasty"? I'm religious about using the damp foam pad before & after use, but beyond that, dunno?

Comments?
Cheers,
Ian
Hey Ian...

Some soldering tools are not temperature regulated, and sometimes things just go bad. Weller soldering guns for example have no temperature control. They depend on the user to know when to stop pulling the trigger.

The soldering station I have use two different systems. My older regulated pencils use a metal that loses its magnetic properties at a certain temp, and this releases a magnet that releases a switch. The tips are all stamped with a number for the degrees where they shut off.

My newer stations use a thermistor and have a dial to set temperature.

Of course I have cheap irons that have no regulation at all, so they overheat and ruin tips if left on for extended periods of non-use. The only way to make tips last a long time with my unregulated irons is to unplug them. :)


Tom
 
#20
Just a few thoughts on how I have been doing track work.
I have been soldering the power buss wires directly to the rails for better conductivity and keeps the cost down (powered joiners are expensive). I solder to whichever side is away from the viewer so the wire isn't seen. I so far have had no problems with engines or rolling stock hanging up on the joints on the inside of the rail. Also, I do not solder the rail joiners and the rail. At least where I live, changing seasons and poor insulation cause the rails on my layout to expand and contract. They can't do this when the rails are soldered together. Instead, I leave the rails loose and loosely solder a piece of copper wire ripped out of old ethernet/phone cord across the joints. This seems to greatly improve conductivity while still allowing the rails to expand and contract. Just a few suggestions.
 



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