Discussion in 'FAQs' started by droyen_flyboy, Sep 12, 2001.

  1. droyen_flyboy

    droyen_flyboy New Member

    Just thought I would put in my 2 cents on a subject which maybe newbies would be interested. While constructing my Nscale layout I was having considerable difficulty with soldering the railjoiners. I seems I just could not get the rail to heat up fast enough to melt the solder. By the time the solder melted,the plastic ties were also. I had almost finished laying the track before I discovered the problem. A film develops on the tip of the soldering iron which appears to act as an insulator. The solution in my case was to use a piece of sandpaper to clean the tip before soldering each joint. The results were AMAZING! After cleaning the tip, it only took a few second to solder each joint.
    The point is, when soldering make sure your iron tip is CLEAN!
  2. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Soldering rail joiners


    That's heaps of soldering!:eek:

    The only soldering of railjoins I have done is where there is a slight gap in the rails. (I use flextrack). Have you soldered all you joins? For conductivity purposes?
  3. droyen_flyboy

    droyen_flyboy New Member

    Yes, I soldered all joint for just that reason. This may have been overkill but at the time I had read that this was best to insure proper conductivity. I just recently got the layout up and running and have had no electrical problems to mention. I did have some problem figuring out how to position block swithes during dual cab operation. If I had a block switch positioned wrong, the power packs would shut down if I got cab A into Cab B territory going the opposite direction. Turns out it was just doing what it was supposed to do. Got to position the block switches correctly.
    In any case, as I mentioned, soldering the rail joints only take a few seconds IF the soldering iron tip is CLEAN!
  4. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Kewl. I agree that everything you can do for conductivity needs to be done. I'm not running any blocks as my layout is not big enough. (1.2m * 2.4m). I do run 3 separate curciuts though. Inner loop, outer loop and yards. Due to turnout location etc and need for insulation, I have had to supply power to a number of points on the layout. I haven't found it necessary to solder railjoins for this reason. However I have soldered every wiring join, no matter how or where it is. I do agree with needing a good clean tip for proper heat conductivity when sodering, and getting the solder to stick nice and neatly.
  5. scudrunr

    scudrunr New Member

    Does anyone know if you can get solder without the acid or resin core? thats the stuff that builds up on your iron and turns black, i have discovered taking the black stuff off a while ago and it works great, I always cleen my tip just with a screw driver and it works great. does wonders for your job even
  6. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I lightly swipe the tip with a file each time I start soldering. I then apply some liquid flux, let it smoke off and apply a small amount of solder. Then wipe it clean on a damp sponge, and you are ready to solder for quite a while with just occasional swipes on the sponge. When laying flex track, I solder feeds to the bottom of rail joiners and then solder the joiner to each rail, I do this on every other rail joint, in this way ensuring every rail has a feeder. When handlaying, I drill a hole to fit 22 gauge wire in the bottom of each rail (I use a dremel drillpress) I then solder in either a black or white wire and lay the rail. Later, I solder these drops to the bus wire I run beneath. I only use rail joiners on my handlaid track on curves. All rail joints on straight sections are betwen ties and I have had no alighment problems.

  7. JeffGerow

    JeffGerow Member

    You can get solder without flux, however you can't solder without flux. With solid solder, you must use external flux. Remember not to use acid flux with electrical connections, the acid combined with the current will eat the connection. And, yes it does build up on the tip and must be cleaned; you can also use a small wet sponge to clean the tip (such as supplied with solder stations).
    I have a small, curvy HO railroad with all flextrack joiners soldered and it's worked fine for some 15+ years in a marginally heated room (it had a radiator that I removed, so now heat comes from the rest of the house)
  8. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member


    Can you beleive I had to take soldering classes when I went to the local Technical College for electronics? :p It's true! However, I have been soldering since the age of 10.

    I use to work on my friends Lionel layout. His Dad taught me how to solder. I am also a Ham Radio Operator. So, I solder connectors for my antenna cables and mic cables.

    I did some soldering of my H.O. track because the electricity was flowing poorly. I used a 100 watt Radio Shack soldering gun. Here are some rules about using different wattages for your pratices.

    15 watt solder pencil is for electronic curcits
    20 -35 watt soldering irons are for small up to 10 gauge
    100 watts and higher are for large guage wire solder jobs. This is what you should use.

    The soldering time is very short. Make sure you know where you want the solder. It is very hard to move it once you are done. I have a couple of pieces of track on the floor that I soldered because I didn't need them anymore.

    One more thing. Use electronic solder!!! Pay a visit to your local Radio Shack or electronic store.

    All the best,
  9. wiskrbiscu

    wiskrbiscu New Member

    I've been meaning to reply to this post since joining the Gauge. So here goes. Being a solder tech for the US Navy for the last 16 years I have learnt a little about what works and what doesn't. As others have said a clean tip is a must. But the methods to cleaning the tip and keeping the tip in good shape is another matter. It is best to use a damp (not wet because it cools the iron too much) sponge while soldering. Wiping the tip after each task. This removes unused solder (which, if left on the iron could cause a "cold joint") and removes any flux residue. After you are done soldering for the day (or to do some honey-do stuff) wipe iron on sponge and let cool, after the iron has cooled, wipe it thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol, this will clean the tip of anyresidue left after using the sponge, this is all the tip needs to stay in tip top shape. I've found that using metal objects on the tip causes premature failure and even makes it harder to solder small connections. Most commercially available irons have removable tips that can be replaced with larger or smaller pointed tips. It's all up to you on how to keep you gear in top shape but this method has worked for me. My 2 1/2 cents worth.

    Jody :D

    P.S. Once done soldering your rail joints or wires it is recommended that you clean the area with the isopropyl to get rid of the flux. Flux can cause corrosion which inhibits the proper flow of electrical current thru your system.

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