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Thread: Soldering track feeder wires

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    Default Soldering track feeder wires

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep the feeder wire snug to the rail during the soldering process? I am using 22 gauge sold copper wire and soldering to the outside of the rail. I drill a 3/32" hole snug to the rail and bend about 3/16" of the wire at 90 degrees. I want to avoid any cold solders caused by wire movement before the solder cools.

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    I like to use a pair of self-closing forceps (tweezers) to hold the wire against the rail while soldering. Once cooled, any excess wire can be nipped off and disguised with weathering.


    GDR

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    The easiest way is to solder the feeders to the tracks before laying them down. But it they are already layed down, what you have describe so far is the way to go.

    Feed the wire through the hole, bend the 3/16" tip 45 degrees so you have room to solder, solder, then bend another 45 degrees for a total of 90. Pull excess wire back down.

    The key to a good solder joint, besides cleaniness, is to keep the parts motionless until the solder cools. I don't use any tweezers, etc. I just use my hands but keep it far away enough from the joint to avoid getting burned but still have control of the wire. With a properly hot iron, you don't need to keep the tip on there for long so you won't burn your hands.

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    If the wire is snug in the hole its easy. Pull it up too far and give it too much of an additional bend to the side, towards the rail. Spring action will hold it against the rail when you push it back down into the hole to soldering position.

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    I agree with @NtheBasement. The key is that the bend is inside the hole in the subroadbed. It will hold the wire against the rail for soldering. After you solder the joint, give the wire a tug to make sure it's solid.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    One way I have seen done is to "flatten out" the end of the feeder wire, bend it at 90 degrees and pull it down onto the bottom plate of the rail. I don't know how effective that method is as I haven't tried it.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat457 View Post
    One way I have seen done is to "flatten out" the end of the feeder wire, bend it at 90 degrees and pull it down onto the bottom plate of the rail. I don't know how effective that method is as I haven't tried it.
    That is what I do, and I've been very happy with it.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    Tim,

    Do you have an easy way to flatten out the wire?
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat457 View Post
    Tim,

    Do you have an easy way to flatten out the wire?
    Tony, I have a pair of needle nose pliers that have a flat surface (no gap) near the pivot point. I just stick a wire in there and squeeze. I noticed not all needle nose pliers have that section but on one of mine it does.

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    I have a very small bench vise (jaws about 3-4 inches wide), with an "anvil" spot on it about 1" square. I put my 22 AWG feeder wire, stripped, on the "anvil" and bang it a few times with hammer, which makes if flat. Use small needle nose pliers to put a 90 degree bend in the flat spot, near the round part. I then clip it to size with a small diagonal cutter. Feed the wire through the subroadbed, with the "holding bend" described above. Snug the flattened lip down on the rail base (in my case, ME Code 55). Solder.

    Any iron or steel thing of sufficient thickness would work for the "anvil", but it needs to be clamped to something reasonably solid so it won't bounce around when pounded. You don't need to pound on it very hard.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    Thanks gents, I might try this method myself with my new layout
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Tony, something like this. Although I don't have the exact model but I think you get the idea from the picture.

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Stanley-...-096/203901935

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    king, thanks mate and I do have two or three various sized needle point pliers. I'll have to look at them and see if any have a "flat" end to them.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Two words; "Resistance Soldering"
    https://resistancesoldering.com/

    I'm surprised no one even mentioned it. Especially if you ha a lot of feeders on larger layouts and more so if you are using N Scale. What I have and used (I bought it used off ebay) is from American Beauty (the gold standard for RS units);
    https://americanbeautytools.com/Resi...ms/99/features

    But there are less expensive options (but this may not have the current needed for track soldering, especially in larger scales);
    https://www.micromark.com/Resistance-Soldering-Unit

    AB is now marketing a "Super Chief" version for $400 (list),
    https://americanbeautytools.com/Hobby-Soldering/200

    I found one on ebay for a killer price ($175);
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Super-Chief...gAAOSw5v9d2~UN

    The beauty (no pun intended) is you don't need a 'third hand', no tweezers to hold the bare wire in place, no fancy bends etc. The handheld unit is the tweezers and with the use of the foot pedal you apply power only for 2 or 3 seconds, release the pedal, keep holding the hand unit until the solder cools and let go. There is far less chance of melting the plastic ties (again, especially in N Scale which I was concerned about).

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    Then there is the DYI option (thou this looks as it would be overkill current wise);
    https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=89289

    Then there is this DYI project in .pdf form;
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...03lUwClW946nmH

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