HO Code 100 or Code 83

pv+ snipped-for-privacy@pobox.com (PV) wrote in


While wrapping the feeder around the bus might work in the short term, over time the connection can come loose. It's best to solder it.
If you use the correct gauges of wire, I don't see any reason good quality insulation displacement connectors (like the 3M Scotchlok) couldn't be used. It'd save soldering under the layout, but give you a reliable connection for some time to come. (Problems have been reported on various websites with the cheaper connectors, so spend the extra pennies and get the good ones.)

A 30W iron is fine. The key is using flux to promote heat transfer only where you want it. The area with flux heats faster and wicks solder away from a hot iron. A little container of flux costs less than $10 and lasts quite a long time.
Tin the feeders, apply flux to both rail and feeder, and make sure there's solder on the iron. Hold feeder in place, apply iron, and wait a second. It'll hiss and the solder will transfer. Remove iron, and the feeder has been soldered with no melting of ties.
It does take some practice, and having a finer soldering iron tip helps, especially when soldering to code 83 track.
Puckdropper
--
Never teach your apprentice everything you know.

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Puckdropper <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> writes:

Meh. Works fine for me, and has for years.

I like displacement connectors a lot, and I use them occasionally on splices, but they're a bit pricey to be used all over the place, and they're very, very permanent. It just takes a moment to slice some insulation off of the buss lines and wrap on the feeder. *
--
* PV Something like badgers, something like lizards, and something
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PV wrote:

<snip>
I agree completely. Many try to use far to low a wattage, thinking they're "protecting" the items being solderd from excessive heat. NOT true. Just the opposite in many cases.
I've done, and taught, technical soldering (electrical, electronic, and structural) to many students for many years.
For most work you need SUBSTANTIAL heat applied QUICKLY, with excellent heat transfer (CLEAN metal, proper flux). This is often best achieved with a substantial copper tip on the iron, that has STORED heat. It can thus transfer far more heat, briefly, than the continuous rated output of the iron. The tip can then "recharge" before the next item is soldered.
As you state, such procedure actually transfers far LESS total heat than using a low wattage iron, and 'frying' the parts. Properly done, soldering, especially electrical soldering, is almost like spot welding. First, clean and prepare the parts to be soldered, (perhaps) apply a small amount of appropriate flux, and make sure the soldering iron tip is clean (should look nice an shiney, like it was silver plated). Then apply the heat, and THEN apply the solder. It should just require a brief "pssst", and you're done. If it takes more than a couple seconds, you're doing something wrong.
Such rapid soldering is especially neccessary when dealing with sensitive semicondutor devices. It's also useful for avoiding melting plastic ties in trackwork, and similar situations.
The above problems illustrate the big weakness of soldering GUNS, their tips just don't store enough heat to make a quick soldering job possible. They're certainly convenient, and fine for rough work where excessive heating is not a big problem (heavy electrical (not electronic) joints, and light structural soldering
For most work, decent small soldering iron is the best, and most versatile, soldering tool. Some of the bigger "pencil" irons are fine, especially the ones with exchangeable tips and soldering (heat) elements. Then you can match the tool to the job. For most heavier work in model railroading, like soldering rail joints, I use perhaps a 37 Watt element and a nice BIG chisle tip to store heat.
When NOT actually soldering, unplug the iron, or reduce the voltage to it (a lamp dimmer works fine with a pre-resistance type soldering element (the most common type). You do NOT want to overheat the copper tip, or it will rapidly oxidize and be worthless. The tip should stay nice and shiney, and NOT become dull gray, black, brown, or crusted. Periodically re-"tin" it with fresh molten solder and maybe a little flux. Wiping it on a wet cloth or sponge is also effective in removing accumulated dirt or oxidation.
For heavier structural work you may need up to a 300 Watt iron with a MASSIVE tip. In such cases you should be considering a torch instead. Also very nice for structural work is a resistance soldering device. But that's a whole 'nother story.
And NEVER use a corrosive (usually zinc chloride) flux for electrical/electronic work. It's the "kiss of death" for your electronics and wire. Maybe not NOW, but a year or more in the future. Rosin fluxes are the safest for most model railroading applications.
Dan Mitchell Lab Services supervisor Physics & Engineering Univ. of Michigan - Flint =======================
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Any thoughts on type of solder?
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60/40 (tin/lead) rosin core is the standard. Otherwise you'll have to mess with the lead free stuff. Just make sure it's rosin core or "electrical" solder.
Puckdropper
--
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On 6/16/2010 2:35 PM Puckdropper spake thus:

Agree on the type of solder. Of course, don't ever use plumbing-type solder (acid core).
If I could bend this topic just a little bit, a question for our cousins over there on the east side of the pond: Do the new EU rules (RoHS) banning lead solder apply even to consumer sales? Can you not buy tin/lead solder at the hardware store or hobby shop? If so, you have my deepest sympathies. All I've heard about that lead-free crap is horror stories. (And I'm a big advocate of keeping lead out of the environment, but ...)
--
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It is very difficult to find. A little while ago I bought a large reel of solder only to find that it was that useless lead free stuff and I was having the devil's own job to even get the soldering iron bit to tin with it.
Luckily I live not too far from an 'Aladdin's Cave' store, named Squires, in Bognor Regis, which carries just about everything you need for all sorts of modelling and was able to get some proper lead/tin solder (only 40/60) which has proved far superior. I now keep the two reels of solder far apart on only use the lead free on soldering large wires to the bus bars on my loft layout.
Elf'n'safety cause a lot of problems.
--
Mike Hughes
A Taxi driver licensed for London and Brighton
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what temp does that stuff melt at? I would suspect that it will work with some of the water based wetting agents.
-- Bob May
rmay at nethere.com http: slash /nav.to slash bobmay http: slash /bobmay dot astronomy.net
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Bob May wrote:

NOT following the current branch of this thread, but related ...
Melting Temperatures of common Tin-Lead solders, arranged in decreasing order:
Melting temperatures:     0/100 621 F (pure Lead)                     30/70 491 F                     40/60 460 F                     100/0 449 F (pure Tin)                     50/50 421 F                     60/40 374 F                     63/37 361 F "Eutectic"
It is interesting to note that some of the alloys melt at lower temperatures than either of their component metals! This is common for many alloys.
For a given alloy, usually the lowest melting point mix is called "Eutectic", it's a state when ALL components of the alloy melt at the same time (temperature). With OTHER alloys (mixtures), components will melt at slightly different temperatures, causing a sort-of "putty" or "granular" state in the melt. This CAN sometimes be useful in structural soldering.
As stated previously, the common 60/40 Tin Lead solder is the most useful for most electronic uses ... note that it's NEARLY the "eutectic" mix.
Other specialty solders have melting temperatures as low as 190 degrees F., a temperature below that of boiling water, and high-temp solders (usually copper-bearing) may exceed 1000 degrees F. melting temperature, though many call soldering at such copper-melt temperatures "brazing". It's not fundamentally different, but much stronger. One limitation, of course, is that the materials being brazed must be able to stand the heat.
All these specialty solders also have matching fluxes.
The most readily available (in the USA) silver-bearing solder is "Stay-Bright", a tin-silver solder with a melting point of 430 F, about the same as the plumbing grade tin-lead solders, and attainable with a common soldering iron.
Higher silver content makes a stronger solder, but considerably increases the melting temperature. These normally require use of a torch.
All kinds of solders with widely varying properties are available for soldering 'difficult" materials, like stainless steel.
Sometimes a variety of solders with different melting points are useful for assembling complex structures. Start with the higher melting point solder to assemble subcomponents, then use the lower temperature solders to assemble these ... thus avoiding un-soldering previous joints.
Dan Mitchell ==========
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I like this stuff a lot, but mostly for electronics work and not sticking feeders on rail. For the latter I have a big fat roll of rosin core lead solder because it seems to melt the fastest. Probably because of the lower melting point.

I've only done one kit that was put together via soldering (a rather cool tin building), and silver solder and a small torch worked great for it. Lead solder makes me a little nervous when you have to use high heat, because if you get too hot, you get lead vapor and it's mad hatter time. *
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On 6/22/2010 8:36 AM PV spake thus:

Not sure you need to worry much, since the boiling point of lead is 3182 F. Does an ordinary torch get things that hot?
--
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You get lead vapor well below that temperature. I want to say 700 or so fahrenheit. Also - I was wrong about the mad hatter thing, that's mercury. But lead vapor is plenty bad too. *
--
* PV Something like badgers, something like lizards, and something
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On Jun 22, 3:15pm, pv+ snipped-for-privacy@pobox.com (PV) wrote:

Only if you get high on it.
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(PV) wrote:

You can't get high on lead. It's too heavy!
--
Frank Rosenbaum
Please note the new email address: snipped-for-privacy@optimum.net
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wrote:

Didn't you ever hear of Led Zepplin?
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wrote:

Yup.
But kindly note that they wrote "Stairway to Heaven" only after trying to fly the thing and discovering that one would be better off walking.
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On Jun 22, 8:36am, pv+ snipped-for-privacy@pobox.com (PV) wrote:

Considering the juxtaposition of the two lines above, I think you can probably stop worrying.
It's obviously far too late. (;-P
~Pete
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Ype, but what is the melting temp of hte no lead solders? All of those listed are leaded solders.
-- Bob May
rmay at nethere.com http: slash /nav.to slash bobmay http: slash /bobmay dot astronomy.net
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None wrote:

Any decent electronic solder will serve for model railroad uses. Any electronics supply should have these. Alpha and Kester are popular brands. These are usually a 60/40 type (60% tin - 40% lead) ... this has good "wetting" qualities, a low melting point, and is reasonably ductile. Most will have a rosin core, and are largely self-fluxing.
A higher lead solder is stronger and has a higher melting point, and is cheaper (Tin is expensive!). Such used to be common for plumbing work, but lead is now banned from THAT application.
Higher tin solders are more ductile, but more expensive. The added cost is not warranted for most applications.
Additional flux may be needed for some applications ... this is available in small bottles as an alcohol-rosin solution.
A good product, but harder to find is a soldering "paste" made from rosin, alcohol, and ground up solder. It's an all-in-one product. It's not suitable for all uses,a nd is often better for small structural rather than electrical purposes. Still, it can be handy.
and avoid all OTHER soldering pastes .. almost all are a grease-based zinc chloride product and are CORROSIVE ... even some labels "No Corrode". In extreme cases these may be useful for structural soldering of dirty metal. That's almost an oxymoron ... ALWAYS try to clean the metal before soldering.
Such acid-based solder fluxes ARE used in some structural soldering, but all residue must be cleaned off and/or neutralized after the job is finished.
Actually, the rosin fluxes used in much electronic work are also an acid in their molten form when heated, however, they are almost inert when cooled and solidified. It's usually not even necessary to remove the residue, though it may LOOK messy. A little alcohol or other solvent can remove such if desired. There are some critical applications where even this mild flux is not desired, but that's not a problem with most any model railroad use.
There are also a LOT of specialty solders. Low melting point solders use Bismuth or Indium, and are used to solder heat sensitive materials.
Higher melting point solders are usually stronger, and will join more difficult materials, assuming they can withstand the heat. The next notch up from common solders are "silver-bearing solders" like "Stay Bright". These contain a small amount of silver (5%?), are really useful, are stronger and more ductile than Tin-Lead solders, will 'stick' to more things, and can still be worked with a soldering iron.
Still higher melting point solders need a torch (even a common Propane torch is often inadequate). They are often called "hard" solders. One family of these are "Silver Brazes". Many require red-heat to even melt, and require odd and often toxic fluxes (fluorides are one family). These solders typically include silver, cadmium, and copper. The fumes may be toxic. They are FAR stronger than ordinary solders, and will join many things that can't be otherwse soldered ... like cast iron.
Dan Mitchell ===========
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I'll note that a drop of white glue between rails where isolation is desired will kepe the rails apart yet not cause any derailment problems. as long sas the glue isn't so large as to imping on the sides of the rail.
-- Bob May
rmay at nethere.com http: slash /nav.to slash bobmay http: slash /bobmay dot astronomy.net
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