Solder track or not

keithw Dec 12, 2013

  1. keithw

    keithw TrainBoard Member

    I'm building a zscale lay out in a 24 x 30 case I'm useing micro trains track with the plastic road bed should I solder the track or does the rail jointers keep good connections or put feeder wires to every section
    Thanks Keith
  2. Z_thek

    Z_thek TrainBoard Member

    I didn't try without soldering. In my books soldered rail joiners never fail and it's proven for many decades. To make sure the solder joint is solid and the process is quick -without melting the plastic-, use the nastiest, most poisonous liquid flux and very high temperature (700-750F) small chisel tip soldering gun.
  3. Loren

    Loren TrainBoard Supporter

    I agree Lajos. I don't know how nasty my flux is, but I've used silver solder with the small tip and I am able to get in, heat the area and apply solder that flows beautifully within a couple of seconds without melting the plastic ties just a scant millimeter away. The only time I melt a tie is if my hand shakes and I accidentally touch the tie with the soldering tip. Some folks recommend a heat sink, but I've mastered the soldering nicely without the sinks.

    Good soldering is partially a 'learned skill'. But it doesn't hurt to hold your lips right either :eek:)
  4. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

    Märklin has never soldered track. Kato's N-scale has never soldered track. Not many of the other sectional track. Any scale. Technically, it can make a more perfect world to have better conductivity. However, Z scale draws such low power, it really isn't a problem !!

    If you solder track, you now have a rigid rail structure. This will bite you in the ass if you have wide temperature variations !!!

    It really is not necessary, unless you live in a really bad air environment where everything shows noticeable signs of corrosion. From an Electrical Engineer.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2013
  5. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I solder on curves because I cant get a smooth curve without it. I also solder on the main, but not both rails.
  6. Z_thek

    Z_thek TrainBoard Member

    After some time nickel silver develops a layer of oxide, regardless. Imagine a couple of unsoldered oxidized joints inside of the tunnel under the beautiful mountain with hundreds of trees, amazing rock work, a scenic marvel. Now, what?
  7. emaley

    emaley TrainBoard Supporter

    Another thing to take care with is to make dead sure you have a good level fit at the rail joints before you solder them. I did a simple test loop and discovered thet my careful solder work had serious misalignments at the joints simply because I am not a soldering octopus. Several more arms would be much appreciated. And yes, flux past and a good HOT iron makes quick and nice work. The solder will flow like water. A small tip and silver solder make a really nice connection. Don't forget to clean the flux residue.
  8. ModelWarships

    ModelWarships TrainBoard Member

    I solder most joints in HO scale, but am content to just have multiple feeders in Z.
  9. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

    I really don't see a mechanical reason to solder rails, but electrically is a bit different. Poor rail connections have left me with slow spots on the layout. If you put power feeds every foot or so you'll be safe. But I do some soldering: Inside tunnels and across bridges. I also solder around the slow spots I find in initial testing. I personally like to use a fine tinned wire and solder rail-to-rail across the rail joiner. This also give the joint a bit of a prototype appearance. (Another electrical engineer's opinion).

  10. ZFRANK

    ZFRANK TrainBoard Member

    On my switching layout, I have handlaid soldered switches and track. Every piece of track has its own feeder wires. Pieces of track are not connected with rail joiners, but simply aligned and glueded on to the cork roadbed. It is time consuming work, but my layout works like this for a couple of years now.It works actually so good, that I still have not continued with the scenery...
  11. Loren

    Loren TrainBoard Supporter

    I know the gentleman of whom you speak :eek:) That is why I always crawl under the mountain and clean the track before each show. I also MU my locos so if one hits a dead spot, (shouldn't happen with clean track) the stalled one gets pushed by the other for a fraction of a second.
  12. jim29t

    jim29t TrainBoard Member

    I have built 7 Z Scale layouts and 6 modules and I do not solder rails. I have moved layouts to train shows and have two suitcase layouts. No trouble with any of my Z Scale. Careful track work is required. Jim
  13. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

    having been soldering for over 40 years the skill has changed technically with surface mounted devices on circuit boards and even the material used for traces on pcb so there is no hard a fast rules that work for all types of soldering. For soldering nickle silver rail with various types of flux and materials,
    for me I use silver solder not flux core solder and I use Flux that is suited to the material being soldered, and the type of solder being used and flux being used. My experience in the field, is that those who use the correct Materials with the correct heat are invariably techs with 5 years experience in the field.

    My experience with road bed track in n and Z if it is properly laid on a good base soldering is not necessary, using the makers plug and play wiring, which allows for both block, and power every where style of power distribution, however poorly laid track of any style or type will be problematic sooner than later, and usually where you transition from one module to another on temporary show layouts

    regards Garth
  14. keithw

    keithw TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for all the replays I went ahead and soldered the track because it will be in a case and I will be taking it to shows
  15. Svein-Martin Holt

    Svein-Martin Holt TrainBoard Member

    I always solder my tracks, using standard electronic solderwire with internal flux, using a small iron. I use it by at least 2 reasons: Using flextrack, its much more easy to have a nice curve. I solder it normally before I bend it. The other is the electricity, I have never problem with power and don't need so many feeders. I normally cut gaps in the rail when needed or use the Märklin isolation joints. Making flextrack turnouts I use a bigger iron and flux from a separate box.
  16. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

    As I'm using flextrack, no choice, I've soldered every track section to each other, unless needing an isolation gap. But anyway I've anyway such ugly reminds with the HO layout I had as a kid, with no soldering anywhere, thus driving to loose contacts and stalls almost everywhere.... I would have done the same on my current layaout, soldering everywhere, even if I've used sectional track.

    But true, on my current layout I should have planned more expansion gaps for temperature changes. One should not forget these...


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