Soldering Feeder Wire to Track

TexasRailroader Oct 13, 2017

  1. TexasRailroader

    TexasRailroader TrainBoard Member

    Cannot get the solder to stick to the Nickel Silver rails. Have used flux filled solder and manually applied flux.
    The solder will not stick. I've even roughed up the side of the rails with a file.

    Looks easy in the how to videos.

    Any suggestions?
  2. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    I leave a narrow gap between two sections and wrap the wire around the joiner. Then I fill the gap with solder.

    Do it often enough and you can actually make it fairly pretty, too.

    The joiner acts as enough of a heat sump that you can get the rails hotter before you begin melting ties. That's a small difference that makes a big difference.
  3. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Do you have a big enough iron? It needs to be at least 40 watts. Actually for HO, probably 60 watts.

  4. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    HO shouldn't require more heat. Are you tanning the rails first?

    Sent from my SM-T377V using Tapatalk
  5. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Code 100 rail will dissipate heat faster than code 80. Therefore, a larger iron is required. A 40 watter may be OK but a hotter iron would be better.

    And,I hope you meant
    "tinned" and not "tanned".

  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    Why is this done? I've always soldered my feeder wires to the rail joiners, then simply slid the rail joiners into place without soldering the joiners to the rail. In 50 Years with N Scale, I've never had a problem and it would certainly work in HO too. It's foolproof. Just wanted to mention this, so as to not overcomplicate matters. Just my $0.02.
    NRRTRAINS likes this.
  7. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    The theory is that joiners can always loosen with expansion and contraction and thus, lose electrical contact and also, oxidation/corrosion can form between the joiners and rail causing the same problem. Soldering to the rail eliminates those possibilities.

    That being said, I have done it both ways, soldering to rails or joiners and have had similar results. My current layout has some of each going on and I haven't had any problems in 5 years.

    I imagine soldering to rail may be required more in very humid climates.

  8. Greg Elmassian

    Greg Elmassian TrainBoard Member

    OK Texas, what code rails, are you using rosin flux, what wattage iron.

  9. cocotrain2

    cocotrain2 TrainBoard Member

    Never once had a problem with soldering a wire to Atlas rail code 100. Just put flux on the wire and tin it' then flux on the rail side and and place the wire their and for me instant joint. Only takes a sec. Just tin the wire ' that is put some solder on the wire' then apply to the rail' Don't try to hold the wire next to the rail and then apply solder to all. The wire need the solder already on the end before soldering to the rail.
  10. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

    The secret to soldering success is an iron that can supply adequate heat, good solder with flux, and clean surfaces to solder. Another tip is to tin the wire before soldering it to the rails. A bit of solder on the iron before joining the wire and track helps to transfer heat to the working area - heat transfers much more easily through liquid solder and makes the job easier and quicker, minimizing the time it takes and the risk of melting plastic ties.

    As cocotrain2, I've never had any issue soldering wire to Atlas code 100 track.
  11. trainman-ho

    trainman-ho TrainBoard Member

    The solder will fallow the heat, and if you have a problem the usual cause is not enough heat. Dirt, and oxidation will act as an insulator. That is why cleaning the components is important. A good soldering flux, designed for the particular job is mandatory. Although some manufacturers may specify that their flux is for plumbing, or electronics, I've used the same flux for both applications. The purpose of the flux is to act as a cleaning agent, and any excess should be wiped off to help keep the solder from spreading too far.

    I purchased some wire/rail joiner combinations from one of the suppliers (I can't remember which supplier), and realized that "I could do that a lot cheeper", and started making my own. I can join the wire and joiner in any direction, and have never had a problem.

    I also find that un fluxed electronic solder is the easiest for me to use. I apply a little flux to all the components(including the iron or soldering pencil), wipe the excess off, apply a little solder to all the components, that is to say "tin" them. Make sure that all components are in good contact with each other, and apply the tip to the tinned iron, gun, pencil to the tinned portion of the wire. When I see that the solder has "flowed" to all components, I remove the soldering implement from the assembly, making sure that NONE of the components move in relation to each other until the solder has hardened.

    Three things necessary for a good solder joint are, cleanliness (the components and iron, not you), good contact, and proper heat. For track feeders, proper heat would be somewhere between the solder flowing, and the plastic ties melting.

    I suspect that you have a defective soldering device, or one that is not properly cleaned and tinned.

    By the way I solder the wire to the joiner before I slide it on the rail. I never have used the joiner that comes already installed on the rail.

    Apologies to Mike and any others that may said the same thing on the subject. I have worked as an auto mechanic most of my life, and have soldered wires as thin as a strand from a piece of 18 gauge wire all the way up to a radiator from a 1952 Studebaker. Man that was real thick brass!!

    Have a good one!!

  12. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

    Whoa, Jim! That's big stuff!:eek:

    But don't apologize for repeating what I and others have said - if it's important, it bears repeating.

    My job's work is at the diametrically opposite end of the size spectrum - tiny surface mount electronic components :confused: ...

    The type of flux could also affect long-term durability, as I've learned. Some fluxes, like OAJ and its ilk, if not cleaned thoroughly after soldering, can eat through wire and insulation and cause the connection to fail! We switched to No-Clean at work, which is not corrosive. It could be cleaned up with alcohol, but cleaning is optional and only dependent on final appearance (like a nice, clean shiny circuit board).

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