What is "Resistance Soldering?" And should I invest in it?

Switchman Aug 4, 2011

  1. Switchman

    Switchman TrainBoard Member

    What is Resistance Soldering vs. regular soldering?

    It costs a bunch more for resistance soldering tools and equipment. But what's it's benefits for the price.

    I'm an absolute novice when it comes to soldering having done just a little track with a radio Shack solder iron.

    See ya
  2. woodone

    woodone TrainBoard Member

  3. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

    As woodone says, a Resistance Soldering system is really a specialist tool which is good for some things and not much use for others.
    For general use I'd recommend a 50 watt temperature controlled iron - it'll do most stuff without so much risk of over- or under-cooking things.
  4. lexon

    lexon TrainBoard Member

  5. dstjohn

    dstjohn TrainBoard Member

    I have an American Beauty resistance soldering station and I love it for soldering the rail joints and feeder wires. To answer your question, it is like an arc welder, just much smaller and not as hot. The heat is caused by the resistance in the joint rather than a heating element. I use the tweezer handle for soldering both jobs. For the rail joints I place a tweezer point on either side of the joint and hit the footpedal. A second later, add the solder. The heat is extremely localized and never melts any of the plastic ties. For the feeders, I squeeze the feeder to the rail side and hit the switch. A little solder and the joint is done. No hot soldering iron tips to touch, no melted ties.
    Would I recommend that you buy one, not really, it is expensive just for that. However it is a great tool for many types of soldering. I have used it for soldering brass parts on my R/C helis and planes too.
  6. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

    Was going to start a thread and figured one was already out there.

    Does any one have a resistance soldering set? I use various conventional Weller irons for soldering rail, engine connections, headers for Tortoise machines, etc. However, I am interested in soldering model parts,, brass, phosphor bronze, etc. Just another tool that has a unique use. I've looked at American Beauty units and Mcro Mark units less than $200. I don't mind spending the $400 plus for an American Beauty, but don't know how much I'll use.

    Any experience w/ the lesser expensive ones? Are they good for an occasional use?

    Example: I am building a C&O brick signal cabin kit that I like quite a bit. The only thing is the handrail for the exterior stair is laser cut wood. Too big. Others than that, the kit is perfect. So I want to scrub the kit handrails and use brass or bronze to get them to scale. I would just like to have the resistance soldering for that kind of application available when I need it.

    Anyone use these soldering stations?
  7. lyncher

    lyncher New Member

    I build my own N Scale turnouts and use a resistance soldering unit with a custom-built "head." I'll try to follow up this post with a more thorough description of my setup, with photos, as soon as I get some time. The unit works extremely well and I would not consider trying to build turnouts with anything else.

    The unit I have is a Luma 551 which I got on the 'bay for less than $100. I had considered building my own unit from an auto battery charger (plans easily found on the internet). I am soooooo happy I found the 551. It's terrific.

    I'd agree with the other posts above, that you should first invest in a good iron and learn to use it. I'd recommend a Hakko FX888D29BY/P - I have this unit and love it. If you find the Hakko does not do everything you need, only then consider a resistance unit. I think you'll find the adjustable-heat Hakko a BIG step up from the hardware-store Weller.

    If I were doing a handrail, I'd probably start with my Hakko - I'm pretty sure that would more than suffice.
  8. DD99

    DD99 TrainBoard Member

    Hi. What's a "a tweezer point"? The kit I received has round carbon contacts, but they are quite clunky so maybe I'm missing something, apart from my marbles that is.
  9. gnm109

    gnm109 New Member

    It sounds like there are lots of folks here who use resistance soldering units.

    Even though I have a complete selection of vintage Weller, Ungar and Radio Shack soldering tools of all wattages, I found out that resistance soldering is the absolute best for small brass work in model railroading.

    I built a unit that has a 5 amp capable transformer that puts out 10 VAC max. I started out with a Variac to control voltage and that worked well but lately I have used a light dimmer since it is more compact and works equally well. Most of my fine soldering work is done between 3 and 4 VAC output.

    There are lots of commercial units available on eBay and Amazon but they are usually quite expensive so I stick with my home-built unit that has been working nicely since the late 1980's.

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