To solder or not to solder

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by jasbourre, Dec 8, 2004.

  1. jasbourre

    jasbourre Member

    I got my cork glued down, now I'm interested in peoples oppinions on soldering, do I solder just the curves, everything or nothing at all, please help.

    And since you are reading this, how about glue vs nails. Your oppinion natures, cus I'm not sure what to do here, please help.

  2. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    I've never built a track, so I have no personal experience. I just picked up a Kalmbach book on Garden Railroading (for beginners), and one of the authors there strongly recommends soldering everthing except turnouts. Makes sense to me, however my experience is that only copper and brass are actually solderable. The author suggests stainless is solderable--something fundamental must have changed in the past few years, I guess.

    Is this a good idea? I don't know.
  3. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    Hello, I used a latex contact cement to hold down my cork roadbed and track. I'd solder the curves, but leave the straight sections for expansion.
  4. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    I solder all railjoiners to make sure current reaches all points but do cut expansion gaps where necessary for expansion.
  5. seanm

    seanm Member

    Depends on your situation? Are you in a place were there are wild swings of temp? If so, leave some expansion in the straits. DO solder feeders to the rails often. DO solder the joiners on curves... the straits are up to you. DO NOT rely on joiners to conduct electricity. They will for a while, but once they fill with crud and corrosion, they will not.
  6. jasbourre

    jasbourre Member

    Thanks guys this helps, I'm off to lay some track.
  7. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    While I have no experience building track, I do have some engineering experience (NOT railroad engineering...mechanical & materials engineering). I don't see any connection between issues of expansion and contraction and the issue of soldering joints. I may not have thought of something, but to my mind, whether a section of track is soldered or not has nothing whatsoever to do with the track's behavior through temp changes. Expansion in either case does not happen at the joints--it happens along the entire length of each piece of track.

    The only difference in the two situations that I can imagine is this: if the joints aren't soldered, then the individual sections of track can expand toward one another until a) they physically butt up against one another, or b) the screws or clips on the rails resist any further relative motion of the rail. Case b) is equivalent, at that point, to case a).

    When cases a) or b) have been reached, the situation is identical to rails that are soldered together. At that point, the entire track shape itself expands (or contracts).

    This all from a guy who has never built yet a single track. Tell me where I'm wrong.
  8. davido

    davido Member

    bongo boy, it ain't the track that expands and contracts it's the wood it's stuck to.


  9. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Bongo,The only thing I solder is the curves..You see its NOT necessary to solder every joint never has been and never will be and I will stake my 53 years in the hobby on that. :D
  10. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Yeah, it's mostly the wood, but in a big layout the metal expansion comes into play also. When you ballast the plastic ties to the wood they start pushing against the rails as the wood expands and contracts with humity/tempature changes. Pretty soon the plastic no longer hold the track securley and the track goes out of gauge and your trains start derailing. If you leave small gaps in your track every 6 to 8 feet in the straights then the rail can slide in the ties lenghtwise rather than push on them sideways. Fred
  11. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    BB if the railjoiners haven't been soldered, then there is a small gap which is enough to handle the expansion of the metal rails. I solder the railjoiners to allow uninterupted current flow. I then cut an expansion slot for each three sections of track and that does it for me. I don't need as many track feeders that way. If I didn't solder the railjoiners then I would have a track feeder for every section of track.
    I have never had an issue of wood expanding.
  12. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I looked up the physical properties of Nickel Silver and it expands/contracts .000009 inch per degree F per inch. So 10 feet would grow in length .02 inches in 20 a degrees tempature change. Remember that for Jeporday, LOL Fred
  13. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    So taking that figure and putting it into a loop with a 60 feet circumference circle will mean the rail would increase in length .120 inch in 20 degrees. If the joints are gapped in spots the rail will slide in the ties and circumference will stay the same. But if all joints are soldered the circumference must become larger which will then increase the diameter of the oval aprox. .040 inch. This will push sideways .020 inch on each and every tie on the layout. Fred
  14. billk

    billk Active Member

    A more "real world" case, 48in diameter circle and a 100deg F change, produces nearly the same result of .020in. BUT wouldn't the effect of temperature and humidity changes on the wood components in the benchwork, etc., still be a bigger problem?
  15. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Yeah, it is on my layout. But that's hard to measure and quantify and is subject to interpetation and disagreement. The track figures alone are reason enough to use expansion joints and can be quantified. As to 60 feet, that was just a nice round number. In fact, in an oval the side push in a sealed oval would be greater on the curved ends because the straights would push the track in a linear vector into the curved areas and cause more side pressure in those areas. That too is hard to quantify. Fred

    Attached Files:

  16. dwight77

    dwight77 Member

    I have never soldered any of my track joints and have only used solder to attach the power wire to the track. I have always used a hot solder gun. I have seen these advertisements for "COLD SOLDERING". Has anyone tried this or found it to be good, bad, or ??????. I know this question doesn;t exactly go along with the expansion problem, but I was still curious about this form of soldering.

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