HO, Track soldering, recomendations

Hi all
Any recomendation on iron wattage for soldering rail joints on HO nickel silver track.
I will be using a track tool, clips on both pieces with a cutout for
the soldering, acts as a heat sink and keeps the track alligned.
Wally
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wally, I have a 75 watt Weller gun. Heats up the area fast. I like it much better than the lower wattage irons I've used. Its not large or very heavy and has been good for soldering some very small parts as well. Probably 40 watts would do the job with out a problem though. Bruce

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

In general, a high wattage, high temp iron, with a small tip works better than a lower temp iron. The key to soldering without heat damage is to get the well fluxed (rosin only....not acid) joint up to flow heat as fast as possible. The heat has less time to spread, and cools the joint faster when you remove the iron. Even for small IC soldering I use a 75 watt iron. A small tip keeps the heat localized where you want it.
John H.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:
Wally,

Others have suggested high wattage irons, but you can get success with smaller wattage irons if you use the appropriate tip to do the soldering. The problem with soldering plastic based track is getting the heat into the rail fast enough to get the solder molten before too much heat travels down the rail to melt the plastic track fixings.
If the tip is pointed, then it presents a very small area of contact and heat takes a time to travel into the rail. This then gives you the problem situation where the heat has time to conduct down the rail while you're waiting on enough being transferred to melt your solder. However, if you use a tip shaped like the end of a screwdriver blade, then you can put a lot more of the tip in contact with the rail and get a much more rapid transfer of heat, therefore your rail gets up to solder melting heat very quickly and doesn't get time to conduct too far down the rail. A 25W iron with a screwdriver shaped blade should handle Code 100 rail and smaller. For larger scales and rail sizes, you will probably have to move up to the 50 -100W soldering irons.
It's worth buying an iron with replaceable copper tips so that you can file up the best shape to suit the job in hand. You can't do much with plated steel tips since filing would destroy the plating and ruin the tip.
It's worth trying out a good few test runs on a spare piece of track. Once you get a good tip shape, you'll find that you can solder plastic track quickly without the need for heat sinks to prevent damage to the plastic. Applying a bit of resin flux to the rail does help in the transfer of heat, and carrying solder to the joint on the tip does help the heat transfer as well - but that can be seen as breaking the rules for soldering :-) But it works. :-)
Jim.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Has any one else used Solder-It silversolder for track joint soldering?
Wally wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm not familiar with that product.
Silver solders, in general, are higher temperature and more expensive than regular tin-lead solders, and are not needed for most track soldering. Overkill at best. The higher temperatures would also make for more "melted plastic tie" problems and such. Simply not needed.
Also, don't confuse "silver bearing solders" (like Stay-Brite) with true silver (hard) solders. Both are good products, but address quite different applications.
"Silver bearing solders" are useful since they are stronger than tin-lead solders, will stick to a wider range of metals, and can still be soldered with common guns and irons. They are significantly more expensive, a s previously mentioned.
True "Silver Solder" is a high silver content solder, and or any of a variety of copper based solders, and require near red-heat to attain soldering temperature. These can usually ONLY be worked with a torch. A well made joint can be VERY strong. It's used for joining bandsaw blades, among other things.
Dan Mitchell ========= Charles Kimbrough wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
My bad. This is silver bearing solder paste. A smalldab at the joint and quick heat it is done. Good hard joint and not as much heat needed as regular solder. http://www.elexp.com/sdr_7459.htm is the web site.
"Daniel A. Mitchell" wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
This might work just fine, but I've not tried it. I have used other tin-lead (both acid and rosin type) soldering pastes, and they can be handy at times.
The flux in this product almost certainly corrosive, but that's not a big problem on RAIL joints. Just keep it away from wires.
If it has silver in it, and the silver actually melts (presumably it does) than the soldering temperature is something like 430-530 degrees F. (depending on alloy). This is a little above the norm for soft solders.
Ordinary tin-lead soft solders melt between 360 and 490 degrees F. (depending on alloy).
Thus the appropriate regular solder can be used at a LOWER temperatures than these silver bearing solders, though there is a considerable temperature 'overlap' depending on the exact alloy used.
As I said, silver bearing solders are a bit stronger than more common soft solders, but conventional solder is amply strong for rail joints so this isn't a big issue.
If it works, is cost competitive, and is convenient, fine.
Dan Mitchell =========
Charles Kimbrough wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Solder pastes generally don't work well as they need time at the temp to melt to a solid mass and that means more high heat for a longer time and that is bad on the plastic track.
-- Bob May Losing weight is easy! If you ever want to lose weight, eat and drink less. Works every time it is tried!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
1. I highly recommend a variable wattage soldering station, like the Hakko 936 I use. You adjust the temperature (wattage) from 392 to 896F. I set mine at 750 for just about everything, including decoder installation. At that temp, solder fast. NERD's recommendations regarding flux and clean rail is very important regardless of the soldering iron temp.
2. Silver solder needs a higher temperature. I've tried it and decided against it. Higher temp means longer waits for the rails (wires, etc.) to get hot enough to allow the solder to flow. I use regular Kester solder and reasonable ventilation. Since it contains lead, don't eat or other wise stick your fingers in body orifices until after you wash your hands.
Ed.
in article snipped-for-privacy@a-err.com, Charles Kimbrough at snipped-for-privacy@a-err.com wrote on 1/20/04 4:28 AM:

--
Ed Oates
http://home.earthlink.net/~edoates
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
With an IRON, which is the preferred tool, about 35-40 watts is quite sufficient. You do NOT need a high wattage tool. What you *DO* need is a reasonably large copper tip, probably a 'chisel' shaped one.
The idea is to STORE heat in the mass of copper, which can then flow QUICKLY to the joint when the iron is applied to it. Such a tip can, momentarily, transfer heat at a rate *FAR* greater than the electrical element's rating.
The tip can 'recharge' between soldering applications. The electrical element need only supply the time-average heat needed. If you solder anything like I do, the iron will only be actually soldering perhaps 20% of the time ... just 'idling' the rest.
If you've 'prepped' a whole bunch of joints ahead of time, and want to solder them ALL quickly, one after the other, THEN would need a higher power (wattage) iron.
And, I can't stress enough the need to keep the tip of the iron CLEAN, and well 'tinned' (coated with molten solder. It should look like glossy silver plate at all time when you are soldering with it. Wipe the tip on a WET sponge, and re-tin as needed. Do NOT allow the iron to overheat, or it will burn the 'tin' off, and start to look a dull dark gray in color. Worse, and it gets all dark and 'crusty'. Bad, very BAD! Clean and re-tin IMMEDIATELY, and turn down the heat!
Simple soldering irons (NOT 'guns') are purely resistive devices, they can be controlled well using just a common inexpensive lamp dimmer. Most lamp dimmers are rated at 600 watts, so any common soldering iron will not overload them.
Also make sure the rails (or whatever) being joined are CLEAN. 95% of the problems most novices have in soldering are caused by failure to clean the metals. The base metal must be exposed, and not allowed to oxidize (which may take only seconds to occur). Sand, wire brush, and/or chemically clean the parts being joined. Then use an appropriate flux. The flux does further cleaning, aids heat transfer, and keeps oxygen away from the hot metal. While a rosin based flux is safer, and perfectly adequate if the metal is decently cleaned first, acid fluxes CAN be used on rail joints if absolutely necessary.
NEVER use an acid flux (liquid, paste, or cored solder) to solder wires for electrical purposes. Use **ONLY** rosin fluxes (liquid, paste, or cored solder) for electrical applications.
Good luck.
Dan Mitchell ========= Wally wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I use a Weller TCP iron (the one that you change the tip to get a different temp range or tip size) with a medium sized chisel tip at 700F. This gets the rail hot enough to freely flow the solder without too much overheating. In addition, I don't solder the 16ga. or so wire directly to the rail but rather put a piece of 26ga. solid wire (phone wire is usually what I use) into the end of the power wire and solder that to the rail with the end of the larger wire at the level of the bottom of the ties, just sticking out of the roadbed. The wire is always soldered to the back side of the rail (you generally can't see it then!) and the wire is laid alongside the web of the rail on the base for minimal obstruction to the flanges of the wheels. Sometimes, the wire needs to be soldered to the base of the rail and that is done with the wire going crosswise to the direction of the rail for best contact. With those, I make sure that there is some flexing area and glue the end of the power wire to the roadbed so it doesn't pull on the joint. In addition, tin the wire and the rail before hand, making sure that you clean the rail where you are going to solder so that the final heating of the rail is again short.
-- Bob May Losing weight is easy! If you ever want to lose weight, eat and drink less. Works every time it is tried!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
A resistance soldering unit will do the trick and, if done properly, won't melt the plastic ties. You can build one using a car battery charger, foot pedal and carbon welding rods. Not to difficult and it works very well.
Jeff Hensley

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Haved a look at http://www.lcpinternational.co.uk/cl / It contains lots of soldering tips and hints. Regards, Bruce Fletcher Yorkshire, UK Home page - http://uk.geocities.com/ snipped-for-privacy@btinternet.com/

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.