Herc, a trick to use to keep from melting ties when first learning to solder is to cut out the little "spacers" that are between the ties on the bottom of the track. The idea is to be able to slide the ties near the end of the track together to get about 3 inches or so of bare rail on both sides of where you solder the joiners into place. Next get 2 wash cloths or rags made of material that will absorb lots of water. Lay out the track on your work bench, connect the two rail sections with your rail joiners, and slide the ties back from the joiners. Take your 2 rags that have been soaking in a bowl of water, wring them out so that they are wet but not dripping, and lay them over the top of the sections of rail and tie. Leave about 2 inches or so of the rail on each side of the rail joiners sticking out so they don't get wet. You now have a most effective heat sink that will allow you to solder the rail joiners to the ends of the rail, but you can't get the rail that is over the ties hot enough to melt the ties until you have added enough heat to boil all of the water out of the rags to completely dry!