To Solder Track Joints Or Not To Solder?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by planeshavings42, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. Cornreaper

    Cornreaper Member

    I've only got a small N-Scale (Code 80) door layout with maybe 35' of track. So I'm not too worried about rail expansion. Regardless, I soldered every single joint, and I've run feeders to every block as well as on either side of every (non power-routing) turnout. Basically, I don't have any more than 3 feet of track without feeders. So in addition to having plenty of evenly distributed power, this layout is indestructable! The problem with unsoldered joints over time is the buildup of crud in between the joints where you can't get to.
  2. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    i Am Using True Track So I Would Have To Remove All The Track Fron The Bed.

    i Think Extry Contacts Would Do Well.
  3. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    I solder ALL rail joiners INCLUDING those on turnouts and crossovers and put in feeder wires every 6 feet. I also have the layout divided into blocks for track control in DC and for use as power districts in DCC. I found out a long time ago that the person who screams out that something is impossible is almost always proven wrong by the person who just made it possible. Even with feeders, it's possible to have bad/dead areas. All it takes is one bad connection.
  4. stripes

    stripes Member

    Ok Guys, as a semi retired plumber, you got me thinking! (scary Huh) There is a product called liquid solder, that you just brush on a fitting. I wonder if that would work?
    Has anyone tried anything like that?
    I feel an experiment coming on!
  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think it is epoxy or plastic based. It is intended as a glue, not to conduct electricity. It might make a good, solid, mechanical connection, but it would probably insulate one rail from the next one.
  6. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Someone posted something that made me think. Good huh. It is a discussion board.

    Track expansion is actually track expansion or base extraction? Does foam actually expand and contract? Or is it just plywood? I wouldn't think pink and blue foam expands etc. It wouldn't make a good insulator then would it?

    So if I based my layout construction on lightweight foam...would I have problems with expansion?? This will be in an Arizona garage.
  7. Cornreaper

    Cornreaper Member

    LOL, I don't think you'll have much problem with expansion in AZ since it's always 192 degrees with a relative humidity of 0%!
  8. jflessne

    jflessne Member

    Hmmm I believe we have other Arizona gauge members that claim exspansion issues on there garage layout.
  9. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    One of the things that happens in Arizona is the very low humidity and high temps are going to really dry out any lumber product - quite a ways beyond what kiln drying at the mill will do. My supposition is that the wood benchwork is actually contracting in the summer dryness, which would cause the track to appear to expand. In winter, when humidity is a little higher, the wood would expand to closer to its orginal size.

    I could be wrong, too. There is about an 80 degree swing in temps in uninsulated garages in Arizona.

    Regardless of what the cause is, there are going to be issues with a garage that reaches 120 degrees in the summer, and can fall to below 40 in the winter or night.

    - it's not very comfortable for humans unless it's insulated. An air conditioning unit would help, but will actually worsen the wood contraction problem.
    - painting lumber/wood is almost a necessity to prevent it from drying so much that it cracks and splits. Using foam instead of pywood would be a good idea.
    - leaving some gaps on the straight track would be a great idea, also.

    my thoughts, your choices
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    David (Stripes)...

    Does the liquid solder contain any acid flux? If so, it's not for electrical joints...! Even the rosin flux should really be cleaned up if it gets anywhere - it will impede painting and weathering, etc.

  11. stripes

    stripes Member

    I honestly do not know! I would never use something like that as a profesional plumber as I need to stand behind my work. But, the thought occured to me that it might work for rails as it does not need to withstand water pressure. Also, this is intended for use on copper water pipe, it may not work on NS rail but should work on brass as we use solder to connect copper and brass all the time!
    I promise, this is something I will test out and give some feedback on!!!!
  12. Dave, you sure got me thinkin

    Hello Dave, your idea brought me to attention, my mind that is :D I think you have an outstanding idea there, even if it's not the brand you're refering to, I'll bet there is something out there on this order that will do the job, if not mabey it's time to get buisy, figure something out and patent it, darn, might not to late to get rich after all, as well as make life easier for model railroaders...sign1 :D
  13. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    just a thought,, what would happen if you painted the rail joints with automotive rear window defogger repair stuff?? it conducts electricity but likely gets exspensive,,
  14. meo1960

    meo1960 New Member

    Nice thinking. You got me thinking as well. I bet "JB Weld" would also work but who wants to wait 24 hours for it to set? My vote is to use wooden ties and forget about melting the plastic ones. Might even add to the visual if the wooden tie gets a burn mark in it?
  15. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I bought a rosin-core solder from George's Trains and it has worked well for me. I too had a few sections of track where the current stopped or the locos hesitated. Soldering seemed to solve most, but not all, of these.

    I'm still learning the basics of soldering and am a bit messy with it, either getting too much solder around the joins or not in the right spot.

    At any rate, I've only soldered a few sections so I can still relocate track if needed.

  16. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    I solder every "section" to feeder wires. A "section" can be any length up to and including 3 - three foot pieces for a total of nine feet. I only have problems when extremes of temperature happen. But the rails change no matter what length when the temp goes nuts [as it did last spring for us here].

    Anyhow, I believe in soldering rails for long lengths.

    I hope that helps :)
  17. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    I've never had a problem with Marklin HO C-track. I've pulled the track apart and pushed it together many times and never have had a dead spot. Also, I only have one feeder track for 160 ft. of track and can run 4 locos on 3 mains at the same time without a problem. The track connections are designed so as to minimize contact problems. Before I got into this hobby a number of years ago, I studied the pluses and minuses of DC, DCC and Marklin AC digital. I especially looked at the track from several manufacturers. It seemed that the Marklin system had the best design and least problems with track and locomotive contact. I went with that and don't regret it at all. Sure, it cost more at the start but it's a much more pleasurable hobby to have such reliability. However, with my Z gauge setups, which are DC, I do solder the leads to the feeder track and have several of them. But even then, I don't have to solder the track. It seems that it would be difficult to dismantle or change the setup. And I do that a lot. But, that's just me. Bob
  18. nhguy

    nhguy Member

    No you don't Stuart. If you solder a wire back from the joint on each section of track on the module's and connect the ends to a banana plug and the corresponding socket for the other module then you don't have to rely on the rail joiner for electrical continuity. It goes through the wires.

    Bill S.

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