Soldering rail joiners

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Dashdriver, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    Radio shack sellls a electronics kit with a 30 watt iron and aluminum heatsink, about 1' of solder, needle nose pliers, nippers, screwdrivers, and a iron holder for $20. Good little kit:thumb:
  2. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Do be careful of the type of solder you get. Some solders have a much higher melting point than others. Stay away from acid core solders, the acid will make electrical connections corrode over time.

  3. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Two thoughts on the situation. Most railjoiners are too long and are really obvious when looking at the layout. I cut the rail joiner to about 2/3 to 1/2 the original size, (and even smaller as you develop more experience) and solder the rail joiner into place. (I then slide a piece of tie underneath the rail joiner (this may require a bit of filing of the plastic that holds the rail into place).

    I don't connect my track feeds to the rail joiner as I have enough problems trying to keep the track aligned, etc without also trying to focus on the track feed. Instead, I place my track feed at inconspicuous places along the layout. I simply drill a hole alongside the rail and insert the track feed. A bit of flux, solder and soldering iron to the rail does the job (tin the track feed ahead of time). If you get a blob of solder, it's a simple matter of filing the blob down so that it doesn't look conspicuous.

    Solder has a silver shine and is really obvious alongside the rail. Since I paint my track with Tremclad red oxide followed by an overcoat of Tremclad flat black, I do the same thing with the railjoiners and the solder joints. Only I use a Q-tip to dab a couple of coats of red oxide followed by flat black. With the ballast in place, it's almost impossible to see the solder joints or the rail joiners.

    Bob M.
  4. Relic

    Relic Member

    I've been at this model RR thing about three years now and in my quest for information I've been on quite a few sites and must say now that this is the absolute best! Nobody's rude or big feeling and bail right in to help any/everybody .
    still haven't used my new tripod
  5. berraf

    berraf Member

    Thanks all for a very instructive lesson in the noble art of soldering without melting the ties.
    I think I got the point in hoe to do it.
    The idea of soldering the wire to the bottom of the railjoiner would be great as it wont be easy to see the wire.
    I´m quite amazed off the little amount of solder it needs to do a great job.
  6. bestfamily01

    bestfamily01 New Member

    I use a 15 watt for small circuit board stuff, and 25 watt for general purpose soldering. The cold heat iron was great (while it lasted) for repairing the tail motor on my RC heli (tiny wires, tiny motor). I was never able to solder anything large enough to carry ANY current with it.
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    A wet cloth laid over the track on either side of where you want to solder will act as a great heat sink. One other trick I use with flex track is to cut out the tie spacers under the ties on either side of where I want to solder. Then I slide the last 3-4 ties on each side of the solder joint back away from the joint. I put my wet rags between the solder joint and the ties. If you melt ties, don't worry about it, just remove the melted ones. I bought a bag of Campbell wood ties 20 years ago. I think I stained them using Min Wax teak stain, which is almost the exact color of the ties on Atlas flex track. Just slide a wooden tie under the track as needed to fill in and under the rail joiners. Once ballast is down, you won't be able to tell the plastic ties from the wooden ones!
  8. JR&Son

    JR&Son Member

    I use a 45 watt Weller (the iron ends are changeable down to 15 watt)
    I clamp, stake or otherwise make sure the track cant move,
    Heat it up quick, solder it in place and call it good.
    I think that the low watt irons are too slow to transfer the heat fast enough.
    Melting ties all the way back, eventually it will get hot enough to solder
    But ties will be melted as it does so.

  9. CAS

    CAS Member

    Thanks for the help on how to solder.

    I went to Radio Shack, and bought a 5 pc. soldering tool set($7.99) The kit included, 1 - 30 watt soldering iron,soldering iron stand, aluminum heatsink, solder, and a soldering tool.

    I flux my track and wire, then tinned my solder. Now the solder flows on very thin. no big clump of solder any more. And no more melted ties, and burnt fingers.

    Thanks again,
  10. berraf

    berraf Member

    Sounds like you found out how to do a fine soldering event :)
    Soldering is no magic but before you know how to do it you surely can believe it´s only magicians that know the trick.
    Congratulations CAS!
  11. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Yep, it's quite easy once you know how to do it right.. I think the biggest mistake first-timers make is applying the solder straight to the joint, resulting in a big ugly goober glob of solder on the joint. If you tinned the surfaces properly first, that never happens. :thumb:

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