How to solder wires to track (3 hands?)

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by prodigy2k7, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 Member

    I thought I made a topic named "How to solder wires to track (3 hands?)" in the past but couldnt find it in search.

    How do I solder with 3 objects (wire, solder, soldering iron) with only two hands?

    How exactly do I solder the wires to the track? I have tried and am not even able to get even close to doing it properly...

    is 20 gauge stranded too big? (seems big compared to rail and hard to solder)
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    20 ga stranded is too big, but you need 18 or bigger for your buss wires. This question wasn't asked, but the answer wouldn't be complete without mentioning that you need to run buss wires under the benchwork with short drop wires from the rails to the buss.

    I would use 22 ga drop wires. I think solid wire is probably better for the drop wires than stranded, but either will work.

    The secret is to "tin" both the wire and the outside of the rail with solder and flux first, before you put them together. I like to drill a small hole in between the ties to the outside of the rail where I want to run the drop. Then I strip the drop wire and bend the end to go over tight against the rail and along the outside web. I cut the little strips connecting the ties under the rails on either side of where I want to solder and slide the ties back. Lay a damp cloth or paper towel over the rail and ties adjacent to the solder connection to act as a heat sink and keep from melting the ties. Now put a little flux on the outside of the rail and the wire or use rosen core solder and "tin" or melt solder into both the rail and the wire. After both cool downput the wire up tight against the rail, and heat with your soldering iron. Let the solder on the rail and the solder on the wire melt together, and take away the soldering iron, but hold the wire tightly in place until the solder hardens.

    When everything is cooled down, take away your heat sinks, slide the ties back into place and thread the wire down through the hole to the buss wire below. I use a razor knife to cut a small section of insulation off the buss wires, wrap end of the stripped drop wire around the stripped section of buss wire and solder the two together.

    By the way the rail will not be hard to hold in place, just hold your iron in one hand and the solder in the other. For tinning the drop wire, I use a small scrap piece of plywood to protect my work bench. Lay the wire on the plywood, and use one hand for the solder the other for the iron.
  3. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 Member

    Thanks :) ill try it out soon
  4. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    I solder the bus to the track connectors, with stranded wire, then assemble the track and pin it (before nailing) with pushpins. Flux your track and joiners before assembling. Affix heatsinks (I use beefy steel clamps) 1/2" outboard of the track connectors. Heat the joint and touch the solder to it — it will follow the flux, and you should end up with a solid joint.

    Don't solder every joint. Expansion and contraction from temperature chances can cause your trackwork to buckle, or break apart. Solder alternate joints, and give it some room to play.

    Scott Fraser
  5. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 Member

    Im talking about soldering feeders not track to track

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