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temp for wire to track when soldering

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temp for wire to track when soldering
Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 2:28 PM

Was toying with idea of getting a new soldering rig with temp. control (these have gotten real cheap). I have no idea of what temp to use for these basic conections?

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Posted by Deane Johnson on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 3:00 PM

I use one with temp control for that very purpose.  I don't know that I do it the best way, but I prefer a very hot iron so I can get on and off in a hurry before the heat spreads.  Mine goes up to something like 972 degrees at the hottest and that's what I use.  I also use the lowest melt point solder I can find.

We all have our own procedures for connecting to the track, but here's what works for me.  I drill a tiny hole next to the rail where I want the piece of bare wire to drop through the benchwork.  Clean the spot where you want to fasten the wire to the rail so the solder will easily adhere.  I cut a piece of bare wire about 6 inches long, make a tiny hook to clip on to the bottom flange of the rail.  Tin the hook with solder, then insert the wire into the hole and work the hook over the rail flange.  Touch it with the soldering iron to solder it to the rail.

Sometimes it works very fast, sometimes I don't get it soldered the first time, one just has to develop a feel for the process.  I frequently hold the wire in place during soldering by reaching under the layout with one hand.  The wire doesn't get hot as the benchwork acts as a heat sink.

When the bare wire is solidly soldered to the rail, I mount a small barrier terminal strip and fasten the feeder wire to the terminals.  At that point, I have a good solid, no nonsense place to connect any sort of feeder want to use.  That wire, would, of course, be color coded to keep the two poles or phases correct.  The wire up though the bench is bare. 

I'm probably a little old school on using terminals strips instead of the more recent clip connectors, etc., but I want some old fashioned solidarity in my connections that I can see, feel, touch and measure if necessary.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 3:04 PM

I keep my soldering iron at 650° to 700°.  Quick in and out works best at 650° for circuit boards.  Longer at 700° for larger heat absorbing objects.
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by BATMAN on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 4:08 PM

I bought a bundle of five used pieces of flex track at a train show for a $1.00 and did a bunch of practice soldering feeders. I had soldering lessons from two family members both technicians. Hot iron in and out fast, of course, using flux.

My father-in-law bought me a soldering station, I set it at 700 degrees and tin the wire, I touch the wire to the rail and then the hot iron and presto. With practice on the old track I get in and out without melting any ties.

My double crossover, no melted ties here.Cowboy

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 4:10 PM

 I need to borrow a high temp probe or my friend's Flir to see what temp my station actually gets to. Mine has no readoout, just a dial that goes from 1-10. I usually set it between 6-7 to solder electronics and decoders, maybe betwene 7-8 when soldering wire to rail, or soldering rail (initially I got it to build Fast Tracks turnouts). WHat actual temp is that? I have no idea, but it's plenty hot to melt solder and not melt electronic components or the insulation off the wire. 

 If there will be a long down time makign physical connections before I need to sodler again, I will turn it down to 1. This is part of what keeps the tips clean and in good condition for a long time with a soldering station. Also 1 seems to be good at shrinking heat shrink without melting it into a gooey mess. Fancier soldering stations often have sensors in the handpiece and/or stand that automatically dial down the temp when you rest the handpiece. But you don't get ones like that for $50 or less.

 And mine's only 40 watts, yet handles track no problem. The real key is the always clean tip, which transfers the heat to the point of contact quickly, heating the joint area before the heat flows to melt the ties. Only place I need something with more power is soldering #12 and #14 bus wire. 40 watts doesn't cut it. 60 probably wouldn't either. I use a 150 watt soldering gun for that work.

                                       --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 7:51 PM

One problem with using high temps (800 degrees and >) for soldering is that it accelerates the breakdown of the tip plating.  Once the plating starts to degrade, you can't transfer the heat well and you run the risk of a cold (dull) solder joint.

Like Mel, I keep the temp of my 50W soldering iron between 650-700 degrees F.  The key is to pre-tin both the wire and the cleaned track surface first.  Also, use a broad or chisel tip insert in your soldering iron.  The larger surface area will aid in transfering the heat more quickly so that the two surfaces melt and fuse together to create a bright and strong solder joint.

Tom

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 8:00 PM

I recently purchased this good quality Weller soldering station just for the purpose of soldering feeders to trackage I have only used it a few times, but I agree that 650 degrees sure seems to work well. This one was about $200.00 and seems to be worth every penney of that.

.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 10:13 PM

You must have paid full MSRP, Kevin.  I picked up that exact same model off eBay (brand new) for $125 a few years back.  It is a terrific soldering station.

But ditch the sponge and purchase a brass wool tip cleaner.  It will last a lot longer than the sponge and won't degrade over time.  No water needed, either.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 7:30 AM

 That's why I like my $50 Xytronic. Had it at least 11 years now, built my last layout, built some Fast Tracks turnouts before I gave up, and built many electronic circuits, as well as installed lots of decoders. Still on the original tip. And it came with the brass/copper wool tip cleaner instead of a sponge.

 For about $200 that would get me the Xytronic system that has a soldering iron, hot air gun, and desoldering tool all in one....

 They get short shrift on electronic sites, too. No one ever mentions them. They typically seem to be half the price of most of the recommended brands, and only a couple of dollars more expensive than the super cheap Chinese ones which when the internals are examined, it's easy to see why they are so cheap. But mine seems to be quite well built, and most importantly, tips and repair parts are available. Should the heating element burn out, I can still get a replacement, even though my model isn't even made any more. That sort of thing is usually reserved for the higher end.

 The only thing I've seen that MIGHT be worth extra are the much higher end models where the heater IS the tip, a direct heat soldering iron. This makes repalcement tips more expensive, but they also heat up and cool down faster, and when hot, have a greater heat retention for the same wattage. It's the difference between taking the iron to a big square of copper clad board and having the tip solder itseld to the copper (the large copper sucks the heat away faster than the element can heat it back up) or it just spreading molten solder all over as the heating element keeps up with the copper drawing the heat away. Though such things are more for production use than hobbyist, if I have to wait an extra second it's no big deal. If I was soldering all day long, and had to wait an extra second every 5 minutes, that adds up in lost productivity. So I doubt I will ever buy one of those.

                                               --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 10:18 AM

You can get some nice machines now for as little as $12, same as the $50 ones. Lets face it $12 is not a big risk and I have bought many items direct from China, you just have to wait longer for product, sometimes a lot longer.

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