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SSoldering problem


43 posts

Hi all,

I'm having issues with wiring a layout for me and my son, specifically soldering. I've read some articles where it recommends a track bus and droppers soldered to the track at intervals so that's what I've done. As well as being better generally,

it's also because I've had issues with older engines shorting out on certain points and I've got some insulated joiners. Anyway, I've also read that mains electric cable is good for the track bus which I thought was useful as I had some spare. I stripped out

the earth (i.e. bare) wire and did a loop under the baseboard.

I had real problems soldering the droppers to new track pieces. I've got 3 versions of track - older pieces made in England, some in Austria(!) and new pieces from China. I can solder easily

to the older bits, but cannot solder to the new bits. I've tried fishplates and the underside of the rails with no luck, solder just rolls off. I managed to get round that, sometimes by swapping fishplates from older pieces onto new ones and managed to finish

all the droppers. The easy bit I thought was then to solder to the bare copper earth cable, but I can't solder to that either. I would have though solder (the electrical stuff) would have happily stuck to copper, but again just rolls off. I've scrubbed some

areas with emery paper, but to no avail.

Any ideas? I've spent all weekend doing this and I'm mightily cheased off that it's still not finished. Grrrr.



19346 posts

Are you using flux?

WTD ........... Nurse, the screens.


7352 posts

The soldering iron must be at full operating temperature, hotter is better. A temperature controlled iron is the best type to use. The tip must be clean. Also the surfaces to be soldered.
See the 009man's video to see how he does it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1YkdrYlGbM&

Get off the line Bobby.


1062 posts

Firstly, you cannot solder easily to the Hornby metal rail joiner (Fishplate) they are manufactured from some sort of stainless material that just wont solder! P**o fishplates do take solder OK. Solder wires to the under sides of rails between sleepers

or to the outsides of the rail web.

When soldering ensure your soldering iron is of sufficient wattage. I recommend an iron with at least a 25 watt element or higher wattage. Next ensure the iron tip is in first class condition.
Use if possible

lead content 60/40 rosen corded solder, rather than the more modern Lead Free types as these lead free types require a hotter melting temperature.

Ensure the area to be soldered is free of grease and oil etc. Ideally use a fibre pencil to clean the

area. - You can scratch/burnish the area clean if wished with a file or knife blade etc but the fibre pencil IMO is best.

Ensure the soldering iron has reached its full operating temperature. Allow at least a full 5 minutes to elapse from switching

it on before commencing to solder.

Coat the irons tip with some cored solder (Tinning it). Then hold the tinned tip onto the previously cleaned area. Allow a couple of seconds and solder should flow from the tip onto the rail. Feed solder onto the heated

rail if necessary. Tin the stripped end of a piece of wire. Place wire against the pre tinned rail. Tin the irons tip again and place iron on top of the wire allowing its heat to transfer through the wire into the rail. The two areas of pre tinned solder will

flow into one, as soon as this occurs immediately remove the iron and do not move the joint for at least a full 10 seconds.

You should not use any flux that contains acid - Plumbers flux etc, as these will corrode the joint. Acid fluxes have to be washed

off with running water. This of course can't be done with an electrical joint. They will also cause an electrical joint to fail eventually! Due to the acid eating away at the joint.
Rosen cord solder contains its own flux, which is suitable for electrical

work. But if you need to use additional flux then only uses those sold specifically for electrical work. Carrs Orange label or Sapphire flux from DCC Concepts are two such items. Or use 're-flow' flux. This can be obtained from ebay suppliers.

Broken? It wasn't me. I never touched it!


7352 posts

When I started writing my post I was going to say, don't solder to fishplates because some may be stainless steel which doesn't like solder, and carbon will build up in them over time, but I had forgotten all about it half way through my reply. Must be

getting really old. :-(

Get off the line Bobby.


43 posts

Cheers for the tips. The iron is a cheapy one from Maplin that I bought for some electronics work a few years ago. The solder is for electrical work and contains flux. Not sure of the exact type, I'll have a look tonight. I've tinned the dropper wires

no problem and with the rails that work it's quick and painless, but some just won't take it. With the heavy electrical mains cable, maybe my iron just isn't heating it up enough because it's too weedy. I'll have another go tonight.


Rog (RJ)

1956 posts

Almost certainly the problem is not a big enough soldering iron for soldering the droppers to the bus. I'd recommend 30 watts for this job.

Rog :-) I don't model anything in particular, I just play trains. Living on the South side of Nottingham. Keep taking the tablets. https://www.modelrailwayforum.co.uk/

Its not all wattage with soldering irons - the way they are arranged re the soldering bit can have a lot of influence. I have no problems soldering wires to track using a 17W or 25W Antex iron. I had a 17W one for years and when it finally packed in I

bought a 25W Antex iron but found it too hot for many situations and bought another 17W one. It was explained to me many years ago at school the effect of heat dissapation and its impact on a soldering iron. The Antex iron are arranged so that the bit slides

down the shank so all heat has to pass into the metal of the bit whereas other types have the bit fitted inside the shank. A lot of heat is consequently lost to the surrounding air and never reaches the bit. This was demonstrated by a 18W Weller iron which

in all honesty had difficulty melting butter.


1396 posts

Soldering does my head in! Why is it i can solder thin wre strands, but if i try out thicker the solder just deosnt stick? Ie tried cleaning, sanding, scratching, and heating, with no luck, the solder just isnt interested in stcking!!!!!!!!!!!

Say it as it is, and Keep it Rail!

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