Soldering onwards

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by RobertInOntario, Mar 19, 2007.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    A few months ago, I posted a thread on soldering and certainly appreciated (and used) the feedback that was offered.

    Well, I bought a soldering "iron" last week, and my father-in-law has given me a crash course in soldering. (I bought the soldering iron from George's Tains, a well-known Toronto LHS.) Soldering really isn't that difficult -- but it is a little messy & finnicky!

    So far, we've soldered a section of track where there were some fairly large gaps and the current would cut out (FYI, I'm using DC). I've tested this with a couple locos and, while I certainly now have current running through that section, the locos jiggle or shake as they travel through the joins. The soldered sections are (obviously) not as smooth as they should be and I'm either going to have to sand them down with emory cloth or file them.

    I had another section of track where the current occasionally cut out, but in this section, the track joined up nicely together (i.e., there were no gaps as there were in the other section). Here, I tried soldering the fishplates onto the track. I think this section is working better but need to test it more.

    Overall, this is working well, but I think I just need to practice more so that my work will be a little more neat. It's great to learn a new skill and see results.

  2. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Sounds like you're on your way, but it also sounds like you are violating all or some of these rules:
    • Just use enough solder to make the joint secure.
    • Make sure your solder doesn't flow inside the rails
    • Do not try to bridge a gap with the solder, you will not get a good connection
    • Keep the heat on the joint just a few seconds after you remove the solder. This will allow it to flow better
    • Be sure the joint is clean, and use flux if you can.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Robert: all track joints need work after soldering. The running surfaces (top and inside) will probably need to be filed down to the original metal (Unless you were g filling a gap). This was easier when the rail was brass.
    If you have big blobs, you can use soldering braid. This is a length of copper that is woven into something like a shoelace and will absorb molten solder. (Consumable product: cut clogged braid off and discard). Available at electronic supply stores or maybe George's.
    Heat rail before offering the solder to it; done right the solder should just flow. A little bit of non-acid flux will help. You should be using resin core electronic wire solder.
  4. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Don! I think you're right in that I've probably been using too much solder. Yes, I also used solder to bridge the gap -- if you can't use solder, is there anything else you can use (as I thought that was one of the advantages of using solder)? I also realize I should have done a better cleaning job as well. I'll keep practising. I know I tend to be heavy-handed with things so I'll try not to use too much solder! I appreciate your feedback. Thanks again, Rob
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    You shouldn't have any gaps. You should have metal-to-metal. If you're soldering tracks, you need to snug the rails up against each other and the rail joiner will carry the current once you solder it. The same goes for when you're soldering wires together. The wires need to be twisted together and they should not depend on the solder for a bond. The solder is there to keep them in that position and to keep them from being pulled apart.
  6. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Oh yeah, if your rails won't go together, then you need to trim them until they do.
  7. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Don. I'll try to follow this. Some of my trackwork hasn't joined up exactly. In particular, I've found it hard to cut the small bits of track to the exact length that they need to be. I need to be more patient and careful in doing this (sometimes I rush or get careless, and that's why the gaps appear).

    Thanks for the other info, especially that the solder is there simply to hold the join or wire in place.
  8. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, David. That totally makes sense. I've already noticed that the trains pass through the newly-soldered sections after I've filed and smoothed them out a bit. I just need to do that a little more.

    Otherwise, as far as I can tell, we are doing most of the other things such as heating up the area beforehand and we are using a resin core solder. Your technique for removing blobs of solder sounds good too -- I think we've already made up such a device from some copper wire.

    At any rate, I usually get better with these things after more & more practice, so I'll just carry on. I don't plan to solder all the joins -- just the ones that are giving me some grief.

    BTW, one of my tender-driven locos often stops (or hesitates) at certain sections of the track that are [probably] poorly joined, so these are some of the sections that I'll focus on.

  9. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 Member

    Im sorry but where did you solder your track together that you have to sand it down for a smoother ride?
  10. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    You talk about cutting pieces of track, so I suppose you are using flextrack right ?
  11. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Yes ... I've had to cut & add some small "custom-length" bits of flextrack to finish up certain sections of track.

  12. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Well, I was using solder to fill in some 1-2mm gaps between sections of track (where the current often cuts out). I'm learning that I really shouldn't do this or at least that it's not the wisest thing to do.

    My other option is to try to cut another tiny piece of flexitrack to fill in this section of track, but that also gets finnicky (it either ends up being slightly too short or too long).

    At any rate, I'm definitely getting current through this section now. I've only had a chance to test it with two locos & they've both jiggled as they went through. I'm worried that my more "tempermental" locos will derail, so I'll have to file and smooth this section down further as 60103 has already pointed out.

    I'm learning, albeit slowly -- thanks again!

  13. woodone

    woodone Member

    Here is a way to get your track cut to the right length. I hope that I can explaine. Fasten your track down, The next section of track that you are putting in should be a filler track. IE it is fitting between your two tracks that you have fastend down. The filler track is attachd to one or the other via rail jointers, let the filler track lay down where you are going to put it,let the free end lay over your second fixed track. Let it over lap the track and you can cut your filler track a little longer that your need. After you get your filler track cut you then can mark your fixed track and cut. Your filler track should fit right in without any gaps. I use a felt marker ( make a black mark on both rails) on the fixed track and when I lay my filler track I use a sharp knife to mark the fixed rails. The knife will make a bright mark in the black marker ink on the rails showing you where to make your cuts.
    Hope this helps
  14. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks -- that does sound like a good technique and I will have to try that. Rob
  15. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    Pratice makes perfect. When I started into electronics at the age of 11. My best friends Dad, who got me into Ham Radio, taught me how to solder. Many years later, I went to a local tech college for electronics. I had entire year on how to solder and desoldering!

    This is what I have tride and works with Atlas track. On the rail joiner, add alittle solder flux. Join the 2 pieces of track together. Use a 30 watt soldering iron. Heat up at the joint area. Apply solder on the heated area. NEVER apply solder to the iron! You will have a good electrical connection and clean track. You should use some flux remover to clean the track. Might be a good idea to use a "Bright Boy" to finish the job.

    This is my 2 cents worth of information. I have some more info in The Techical Area with pictures.:thumb:

  16. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Andy. That sounds like good advice and makes sense. I'll give it a try. Yes, I have made the mistake of getting solder on the iron :oops: -- live and learn. At any rate, I hope to try again in a few days. Thanks again, Rob
  17. rsn48

    rsn48 Member

    You can fill gaps with styrene and super glue, used with a "kicker" to speed up set time. I've used this on my railroad as each flex track is its own block, the styrene isolates the track from one another. But I've used the same technique on other folks layouts where the track is gapped a little to wide and the owner doesn't want to tear up the track.

    I get styrene from either thicker sheets of the stuff (bought at the hobby store) or I use stips of styrene used in scratch building. I cut a piece of that is close to the gap size (height) and glue it in with super glue with kicker sprayed on. I then use a sprue cutter to nibble away the excess styrene, and then file it down with those small files you find at the hobby stores.

    After the styrene is in, filed down and tested using various cars, I then get a black magic marker and put some on a finger, then I work that black into the white styrene to tone down the white, after I'm done the styrene basically disappears into the track work.
  18. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Wouldn't it be possible , instead of using styrene , to cut a piece of rail with the same length as the gap, then file the bottom so it falls into the rail joiner, then solder it to the rail joiner ?
  19. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    The idea of the styrene is to keep a gap where you actually wanted a gap, but hiding it, and keeping the trakwork smooth.


Share This Page