Wire strippers for 36 gauge n scale decoders?

Highball-HeavyMountain Sep 22, 2020

  1. Highball-HeavyMountain

    Highball-HeavyMountain TrainBoard Member

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    So I’m ready to take the plunge and start adding decoders to my engines - maybe even a keep-alive and some led headlights - why not?

    I figure I’m going to be stripping wires - lots of them. Thing is for n scale, most of the micro decoders and wiring looks to be 36 gauge. I can’t really seem to find any wire stripper over 32 gauge.

    Im getting into the hobby and want to start putting together my tool box. Can someone someone recommend me a good tool to use for my decoders?

    thanks in advance.
    Brian
     
  2. OlyPen

    OlyPen TrainBoard Member

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    If they are truly 36AWG, then your best bet is a sharp no. 11 blade, Optivisors and patience.
     
  3. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'm with Brian here, there has to be a better way.
     
  4. OlyPen

    OlyPen TrainBoard Member

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  5. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    I got the ST450, and it works good without breaking strands. Very expensive at $45, and in my opinion only worth the $15-20 range, but I could not find a cheaper solution.
     
  6. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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  7. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]

    I'm use the wire stripper above for my decoder installs and other wiring needs and have been very happy with it. It is marked as 20-32 AWG but has worked fine on the different decoder wires I've used. Both the ones that come attached to the decoders and Loksound 36 AWG I bought separately.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sumner
     
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  8. wvgca

    wvgca TrainBoard Member

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    i don't think it's 36 gauge, more likely 30 gauge wire
     
  9. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    I used to use the 20-32AWG strippers just fine for decoders too. But since I added these prewired 0402 SMD LED's to the mix, that's when I had to upgrade to the ST450. I have no idea what wire gauge these new LED's are wired with but here is a comparison to the Digitrax DZ126T wires which are supposed to be 30AWG, and the new SMD LED's that require a finer stripper:

    DZ126T:
    DTXDZ126T.jpg
    DZ126T and 0402 SMT LED's wired to AZL RS-3 light board:

    [​IMG]

    Yeah! Those big O Fatty PHAT wires are the 30AWG decoder wires, which I left for power pickup and motor current, and these tiny prewired LED's actually have 9 strands inside the wire. If you bite the bullet and get an ST450 style stripper, it will strip this fine wire, as well as decoder wire:

    1.jpg
     
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  10. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Might be, I've tried to mic it as 36 is .005" and 30 is .010". Problem with the mic is that the wire is flexible/stranded so hard to get a good reading. The Loksound is for sure 36 as it is clearly marked on the packaging. The other 30 I have has thicker insulation than the Digitrax wire.

    Regardless the stripper works on all of them fine,

    Sumner
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2020
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  11. OlyPen

    OlyPen TrainBoard Member

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    I use Kleins too. But I think I might invest in a dedicated 36AWG stripper. Who can't use another neat gadget?
     
  12. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    I just pinch the insulation off small wire with my fingernails. But I’m a hillbilly.
     
  13. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Brilliant (y)(y)(y) I just tried it on the three different wires pictured in my post above and it worked on all of them,

    Sumner
     
  14. Highball-HeavyMountain

    Highball-HeavyMountain TrainBoard Member

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    Well JimJ’s comment might just save me $45 to spend somewhere else!

    I think what I should do is first buy a decoder and parts first and then see how far I get.
     
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  15. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    Excellent news all the way around!!
     
  16. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    For the 0603 LED wires I recently bought I used an open flame. Probably only works for the 'lacquer' (magnet wire) type of insulation. The insulation seemed a bit hard for fingernails. The wire is 0.3mm diameter, with and without insulation, which puts it around 29 AWG, so not all that thin.
     
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  17. wvgca

    wvgca TrainBoard Member

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    if they are TCS decoders, they used 30 or 32 gauge wire on them ... the tech support email didn't give a further breakdown ..
     
  18. Highball-HeavyMountain

    Highball-HeavyMountain TrainBoard Member

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    I plan to use the esu loksound decoders. Their specs seem to say 36 gauge. But I’ve also seen many at 32. TCS being one of them.
     
  19. Highball-HeavyMountain

    Highball-HeavyMountain TrainBoard Member

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    Wanted to follow up with you all here as I walk my journey on getting the right tools for the job to hard-wire my decoders.

    I ended up pulling the trigger on the CK tools wire stripper. It handles up to 36awg stranded.

    I had a few pieces of 36 awg laying around after stripping out electronics in one of my locos. I’ve tried the fingernail method JimJ mentioned, and also cutting with an xacto. Well I don’t think my nails are sharp enough I could not get the insulation to break, and while the Xacto worked, it felt like at scale it was going to take me much more time than I wanted to fiddle with it for each wire connection and splice I needed to make.

    Assessing overall QoL, I pulled the trigger on a CK Tools 26-36awg stripper. I decided to spring for the ESD version since it looked cooler in black/gold and I figured some added protection for the decoders for any reason.

    Well, it strips accurate, clean and fast. Probably allows me to strip every wire on a decoder faster than I’d be able to do a single with the xacto. For any of you that are doing a lot of decoder installs or stripping small wires at volume - it might be worth a try.

    Here’s a picture of it with a wire strand I just stripped.
     

    Attached Files:

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  20. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    Buy once, cry once. There's nothing like having the right tool for the job!


    I not only have that stripper, but I wanted a stripper that I could use in the middle of a wire like for buss drops. That one has to melt the insulation as well as strip away the melted insulation, revealing the wire inside so I could add a feeder drop to a continuous heaver gauge buss wire. Hotweezers:
    2.jpg 1.jpg 3.jpg
     

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