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How and where to solder feeder wire on Finetracks


disturbman

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Very stupid question. I tried to solder a feeder wire on the rail joint of a piece of Finetrack but the solder don't want to adhere to the joint. So my question is, what should I do?

 

By the way, I didn't use flux since I don't have any right now. Does it make a real difference?

 

Maybe the joint is not the right place to solder a wire but I don't know where else I could try...  ???

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I don't have any Finetrack, but I think FineTrack has seperate track and ballast joiners - are the track joiners the same shape and design as Atlas/Peco rail joiners? If so you could replace those joiners you want to solder with the Atlas/Peco metal alloy joiners, which pose no problem with soldering (I don't know if this would cause a problem with the joiners not matching the color of the rails, though if you weather the rails it wouldn't be a problem).

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CaptOblivious

Flux could make a real difference. Likely they had a layer of corrosion just from being exposed to the air. Try a little liquid flux and see what happens.

 

Martijn has had success soldering to the tiny bits of rail you can see if you flip the track over, but that requires patience and a tiny needle of a soldering iron. Also a willingness to melt some pieces of track while learning the technique.

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CaptOblivious

I don't have any Finetrack, but I think FineTrack has seperate track and ballast joiners - are the track joiners the same shape and design as Atlas/Peco rail joiners? If so you could replace those joiners you want to solder with the Atlas/Peco metal alloy joiners, which pose no problem with soldering (I don't know if this would cause a problem with the joiners not matching the color of the rails, though if you weather the rails it wouldn't be a problem).

 

A pretty good thought! They are compatible. The Tomix joiners have a small bump on the bottom that fits to a detent in the plastic to hold it in place (dunno if the Atlas joiners have that too).

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Martijn has had success soldering to the tiny bits of rail you can see if you flip the track over, but that requires patience and a tiny needle of a soldering iron. Also a willingness to melt some pieces of track while learning the technique.

 

That was one of my thoughts since Kato ballast has the same feature, but the part where you melt the plastic because of how small the gap is made me discard the idea as impractical. Impressive that Martijn has a fine enough needle and a steady enough hand to do it.

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Martijn Meerts

Martijn has had success soldering to the tiny bits of rail you can see if you flip the track over, but that requires patience and a tiny needle of a soldering iron. Also a willingness to melt some pieces of track while learning the technique.

 

That was one of my thoughts since Kato ballast has the same feature, but the part where you melt the plastic because of how small the gap is made me discard the idea as impractical. Impressive that Martijn has a fine enough needle and a steady enough hand to do it.

 

Actually, I managed to solder them with a fairly standard soldering iron. I have a much better and smaller one these days, but I haven't tried soldering wires to Fine Track with that one yet.

 

 

Anyway, if the solder doesn't adhere, it generally means the surface is either corroded or just dirty, or it's not getting hot enough. What I do when I need to solder a wire to a piece of track, is to use a fairly large tip, they tend to heat up the track quicker. I also always pre-tin the wire (strip it, twist it a bit if it's loose strands rather than 1 wire, add tin, and then cut it to size.) From there I put the soldering iron to the track to heat it up, wait 3-4 seconds or so, add tin at the spot where the soldering iron touches the track. Once the tin starts to flow to the track, I add the pre-tinned wire, which will pretty much instantly flow together with the tin on the track.

 

I've stopped using flux a long time ago, I didn't think it made things much easier, especially not considering you have to clean up a spot you soldering using flux really well, otherwise it'll eat straight through the tracks. My homemade catenary suffered that problem, and I also ruined a couple of pantographs that way.

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Something  on this forum that I can discuss with some confidence at last  :grin

 

Soldering wires to rails can be made simpler by your preparation.  If you are soldering direct to the rail or on to a rail joiner always clean the area first with something like a fibre glass pen (usual warnings about stray fibres), then tin the area you are going to solder too, as well as the wire (as Martijn said).  If you don't currently have any flux you can buy flux cored solder, which is my preferred choice, as flux is very important in the soldering process.  Always try to use a propietry flux if you are using non flux cored solder.  The flux allows a much more efficient transfer of heat and allows the solder to flow more easily, allowing the user to employ a smaller iron tip, which in N gauge is a bonus.

 

Flux should, once cooled, be cleaned of with some white spirit or again with the fibre brush, it certainly should not eat through track though.  For my last layout I had a long snaking curved section so soldered 3 lengths of flexi track together to give a smooth run and had no problems with corrosion.

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I've never worked with fine track either, but I've found that using some alligator clips on the rail you're soldering on, placed on either side of where you are soldering acts as a heat sink to help from melting the plastic.  YMMV, of course  :cool:

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CaptOblivious

I've never worked with fine track either, but I've found that using some alligator clips on the rail you're soldering on, placed on either side of where you are soldering acts as a heat sink to help from melting the plastic.  YMMV, of course   :cool:

 

Very good tip!!

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if you find that soldering just aint working for you, you could try solder glue! its small particles of nickel silver suspended in a glue. makes a very conductive bond for just this sort of thing. they also sell a water down paint version where you can create your own electrical leads, like up platform supports where you dont want wires showing.

 

cheers

 

jeff

 

http://www.trainaidsa.com/shop-conductives.shtml

http://www.trainaidsa.com/support-conductives.shtml#solder5

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