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As has been said make sure the surface is clean but also if you 'tin' the track and the wire first you will get a better joint .
By 'tin' i mean heat the track where you want to solder and put a small amout of solder there (wait untill it flows onto the cleaned aera and looks like a very small hill) , do the same with the wire , and then heat them together to make the joint .
The reason for doing it this way is that the track takes a lot more heat to solder on to than the wire and if there is already so solder on the track it will melt quicker so giving you a better joint .

As i always say soldering is an art , i have no problems as i solder all day with my job (fixing tvs) so i find it easy but most people dont get enough heat into the joint so leading to problems with wires falling off .

Also try finding 'lower melting point ' solder as the new solder now sold in most shops is lead free , it normaly has a green end cap or reel and needs more heat to melt where the old lead solder has a red cap and melts at a lower temperature .
 

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Paul Hamilton aka "Lancashire Fusilier"
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QUOTE (Doug @ 13 Mar 2008, 07:30) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I use a cutting disk on a Dremel to roughly score it where I plan to solder. It works perfectly cleaning the metal and giving the solder a key to adhere to.

Speaking of dremels and soldering, do you know if you can get an attachement for burnishing, like what you would use a fibreglass pencil for but in a dremel form of tool?
 

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Just another modeller
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QUOTE (Swingcats @ 13 Mar 2008, 06:56) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I had forgotten how hard it is to get a wire to stick to the underside of a track with solder, clean as a whistle yet would it stick? Any tips or tricks of the trade?

***Hi, I teach soldering so can give you some pragmatic advice. If you have the materials and a reasonable iron, each joint should take less than one second after preparation and they will be 100% good first time!

Cleaning is critical - but you are doing that...

Make sure the Iron is perfectly clean too and well tined. Have a damp sponge alongside the Iron and wipe it on that before each joint - the cleaner tip transfers heat better.

Tin both wire and rail. If the solder is the right stuff, it will flow and not make a blob by the way.

Use the proper solder. Throw away any lead free solder (as already pointed out is horrid stuff to solder with) or old 50:50 tin/lead if its over a year old - the flux goes off after a while.

Use a no clean or non acid flux.

Many will say it isn't necessary however it really is for ease of achieving a really good result.

A quality Flux makes a HUGE difference as the flux core is generally NO help to you as its gone by the time you put Iron to rail.

Let me explain: Its important with flux core solder to take the solder to the joint as the Iron heat "flashes off" the flux core immediately. BUT....when you are soldering wire to rail, you need one hand for the wire, one for the Iron and one for the solder - one hand too many! That means that when you pick up the solder which is on the bench not at the joint where it should be, the flux core is already gone by the time you get Iron to joint, so solder will not flow.

SO..failing growth of an extra hand, why not make it as easy as it can be?

To do that you really do need a flux you can apply to the joint area before soldering.

PM me re the flux and solder if you'd like more detail as I can't directly mention brands here...

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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Just another modeller
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QUOTE (john woodall @ 13 Mar 2008, 16:56) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Richard,

Any reason that you recomend a non acid flux?

Cheers

John

***Definately - Acid fluxes are OK for kitbuilding but need excellent cleaning or corrosion occurs later. You can wash and scrub loco kit but not a rail joint... and unless you can really clean the joint and totally neutralise the acidity, it will over not so long a time eat away at the copper in the wire and the joint will fail.

Acid flux and anything to do with electrics or electronics just don't mix.

The other reason I don't recommend acid fluxes overall now is that they are also tough on tools, soldering irons etc etc...

So, lately, I've only used non acid fluxes for everything - and have become so pleased with their potential I developed a liquid flux that is "drinking water" safe, with no bad fumes to irritate the sinuses and it works exceptionally well on whitemetal, steel, brass, Nickel silver and wiring - anything that can be soldered actually! and only needs a quick wipe to clean off (I use meths and water 50:50).

Regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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I find a common cause of both the joint not being strong enough and melted sleepers is that the soldering iron was not hot enough in the first place. As Richard said, each join should not take more than a second. If the iron is too cold, not enough heat is transfered to the metal quickly enough. THis leads to a poor join and often the iron being left on the join for too long melting any adjacent sleepers.

THis problem can be solved by a nice clean iron, clean joint surface and a proper soldering iron/station to begin with.

Rob
 

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I concur but would add used the largest iron possible.
I have several soldering stations but for droppers my favored piece is the Weller 40w station.
We've covered this subject quite well recently so a search of the archives you help:
 

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A good tip I saw on John Whitby's web site although not ideal was to solder to the underside of the fishplate at the work bench and then feed the dropper through the baseboard. This is not the ideal way but it stops you damaging track.

Shaun
 

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QUOTE (Merry Go Round @ 14 Mar 2008, 21:17) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>A good tip I saw on John Whitby's web site although not ideal was to solder to the underside of the fishplate at the work bench and then feed the dropper through the baseboard. This is not the ideal way but it stops you damaging track.

Shaun

The problem with soldering droppers to the fish plate is that, over time, dirt, paint, general gunge etc. will collect in the fish plate which, due to the expansion/contraction movement of the rail will create a resistance between the rail and the fishplate which will lead to poor electrical contact and poor running.

It can be difficult to solder to the side of the rail without damaging the plastic chairs so I have found it less damaging to solder droppers to the underside of the rail.

Regards,

Expat.
 

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QUOTE The problem with soldering droppers to the fish plate is that, over time, dirt, paint, general gunge etc. will collect in the fish plate which, due to the expansion/contraction movement of the rail will create a resistance between the rail and the fishplate which will lead to poor electrical contact and poor running.

It can be difficult to solder to the side of the rail without damaging the plastic chairs so I have found it less damaging to solder droppers to the underside of the rail.

My experience exactly


I cut the webbing under the rail, roughen it up and then solder. I've not damaged any track yet.

David
 

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I've had problems with soldering wire to track as well.

I was (and still am) new to soldering but followed all the advice and had little difficulty in actually soldering the wire to the track BUT most of my joints ended up pulling free.

I'm pretty sure it was (as mentioned above) my not heating the rail and wire sufficiently before applying the solder however I found that even after heating the same for several seconds the solder still took a few seconds to start melting.

What was I doing wrong? The soldering iron is pretty old but is 25W and the tip was cleaned after each solder and tinned?

Just wondered with the above references to 'one second' being sufficient time?
 

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QUOTE (DiesAL @ 18 Mar 2008, 05:21) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I've had problems with soldering wire to track as well.

I was (and still am) new to soldering but followed all the advice and had little difficulty in actually soldering the wire to the track BUT most of my joints ended up pulling free.

I'm pretty sure it was (as mentioned above) my not heating the rail and wire sufficiently before applying the solder however I found that even after heating the same for several seconds the solder still took a few seconds to start melting.

What was I doing wrong? The soldering iron is pretty old but is 25W and the tip was cleaned after each solder and tinned?

Just wondered with the above references to 'one second' being sufficient time?

***Hi

do NOT apply the Iron to the rail to pre-heat it - this will simply oxidise the rail and make sure the solder will not flow or stick properly.

Preparation.
Cut away a bit of web between sleepers.

Clean the underside of the rail with a needle file. (Basically file it clean!)
apply a little liquid flux.
wipe the Iron tip on the sponge then put a little solder on the tip
apply Iron to rail and the solder will flow and "tin" the rail.

Strip the wire.
Apply a little liquid flux to the stripped wire
wipe the Iron tip on the sponge then put a little solder on the tip
apply Iron to stripped wire and the solder will flow and "tin" the wire.

Attaching the dropper.

Bend the tinned wire 90 degrees about 3mm from the end
apply a little liquid flux to the tinned rail
place the wire on the rail base
wipe the soldering iron on the damp sponge and apply to the joint (it should need no more solder on it, but if it makes you feel happier add just a wee bit

Solder will flow and you can remove the Iron. hold very still and count to five. Let go - you will have a neat, permanent, strong joint.

FLUX: Either from DCCconcepts, C&L finescale (Use their orange or yellow flux only) or Bromsgrove models, who should have supplies of my Sapphire Flux.

SOLDER: do not use lead free. (Despite what people may tell you lead bearing solder is not banned for hobby use, only for production electronics use)

C&L have an excellent 179 degree solder that works much better than lead free OR standard 60:40 leaded solders.
DCCconcepts sapphire 179 flows exceptionally well as it contains a little silver to aid flow and it is available ex stock Perth AU or should be ex stock from Bromsgrove models in the UK.

the 179 degree solders are also best for soldering any electronics, inc decoder wires etc.

Regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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It sounds to me as though the rail itself may not have been thoroughly cleaned. This is essential for a good joint. Did you use a glass-fibre pen to clean the rail first ??.

It is also helpful to pre-flux the two parts to be soldered (Dropper and rail). I use one of the rosin flux pens which are obtainable from Maplins. This helps the solder to flow onto the rail better.

Expat.
 

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I would add one point - the iron needs to be HOT and I don't think 25W is good enough, 40W at least. Make sure the tip is tight - thermal cycling can loosen it over time. If all the other tips are followed the solder should take in no time with no plastic sleeper damage.
 

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QUOTE (Brossard @ 9 May 2008, 04:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I would add one point - the iron needs to be HOT and I don't think 25W is good enough, 40W at least. Make sure the tip is tight - thermal cycling can loosen it over time. If all the other tips are followed the solder should take in no time with no plastic sleeper damage.
Good advice especially the often overlooked tip being tight in the holder. These days I tend to use a temperature controlled iron, a little cumbersome under the baseboards but I do get better results.

Also, I do not use lead free solder at all, I just cannot get any decent results with it.
 
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