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Soldering rail joints

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Soldering rail joints
Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, January 24, 2020 7:05 PM

I am still relatively new to DCC but not HO Scale railroading.   I read some of the forums.    I have a question on soldering of rail joints.   

Can you save on soldering every single rail to the bus by soldering the rail joints or is soldering the rail joints not necessary if you have every rail connected to the bus?   Trying not to over do it with the soldering.

Also on the switch machines.   Are the tortoise switch machines wired to a seperate DC power supply unit and have their own bus?   I kind of guessed yes already and bought the wire and seperate power supplies for those.   Since I will be using toggle switches for these.

I also have  4 Bachman #6 crossovers (instead of 2 X crossovers) which are DCC controlled......those have to be routed via track power due to the DCC control right?   Or is there another way with the DCC controlled turnouts?    Not really sure with these.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, January 27, 2020 12:14 PM

CMStPnP
Can you save on soldering every single rail to the bus by soldering the rail joints or is soldering the rail joints not necessary if you have every rail connected to the bus?

Correct.  Some people solder every rail joint, some do not.

Are the tortoise switch machines wired to a seperate DC power supply unit and have their own bus? 

  

Separate power supply. Life might be a little easier if you chose different colors for you DC bus vs the DCC bus.

I also have  4 Bachman #6 crossovers

I am not familiar with these.  I did see that they have a free wire attached to the frogs.  WiringforDCC.com says these do not work with Frog juicers.  That is all he has to say about Bachmann turnounts, so I do not know if they are power routing.

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by Onewolf on Monday, January 27, 2020 2:17 PM

I solder all joints except joints with turnouts in order to make it less painful in the event a turnout needs to be removed/replaced. 

I try to have track feeders every other piece of flex track.

I have a separate DCC power bus and DCC booster just for my turnout control modules (NCE Switch-it and Switch8).  Having a separate DCC power bus for turnout control allows turnouts to be controlled even if there is a short on the track and the track power bus is turned off by the DCC Specialties Power PSX breakers.

 

Modeling an HO gauge freelance version of the Union Pacific Oregon Short Line and the Utah Railway around 1957 in a world where Pirates from the Great Salt Lake founded Ogden, UT.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 10:45 AM

Onewolf
I have a separate DCC power bus and DCC booster just for my turnout control modules (NCE Switch-it and Switch8).  Having a separate DCC power bus for turnout control allows turnouts to be controlled even if there is a short on the track and the track power bus is turned off by the DCC Specialties Power PSX breakers.

I forgot to mention I have NCE DCC as well.   I need to look this stuff up as I was not aware they had boosters or supplies for switches.    I already bought DC power supplies........which I guess I can use for lighting now.    Let me do a search on NCE products and read up on this stuff.

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Posted by betamax on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 5:51 AM

You didn't mention if you're using sectional or flex track.

For HO the recommendation is a feeder every 3 to 6 feet. Don't rely on the rail joiners to provide a reliable electrical connection, so soldering rail joints isn't a bad idea. Every so often leave one unsoldered for expansion/contraction issues.

https://dccwiki.com/Wire_Sizes_and_Spacing has guidance on this and other issues related to wiring.

As to crossings: See https://dccwiki.com/Wiring_Crossings for ideas. If you have an ohmmeter you can ohm out the crossing to see how it is wired. That will show any conflicts that might cause problems, such as a direct short or gaps at the frog that can be bridged momentarily by a metal wheel.

Many DCC boosters use "rate of change" to detect a short, so they react very quickly to the smallest spikes caused by wheels bridging rails of different phase. So the crossing may need to be isolated and fed independently to make things work smoothly.

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Posted by gregc on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 10:21 AM

doesn't it make sense to leave some rail joiners unsoldered to allow for expansion (both rail and wood)?

if you want a feed for every 3' of track, doesn't it make sense to solder every other rail joiner (if using 3' flex track) and solder the feeder to the rail joiner

doesn't it make sense to solder the rail joiners of shorter pieces of track to avoid an excessive number of feeders?

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 10:42 AM

 That's pretty much exactly how my previous layout was built. I soldered togehter two pieces of flex, used regular joiners to the next pair which were soldered, etc. Basically every other joint soldered. 

 If you live somewhere without wild humidity swings (which isn't us in the northeast) or have a tightly controlled environment for the layout, you can get away with soldering it all. But I'm still not prepared to take that chance - I still vividly remember the massive problem at the club I used to belong to, mostly self(as in the club) inflicted, but a very extreme example of what happens with a massic change and no provisions allowed for the track to float. There was no AC in the old place (they have it now where they are), so working in the summer, often times the door was left open (and the back door) so there was some air flow. Along with all the humidity. Heat in the pace were gas fired heaters suspended fromt he ceiling. COuldn't help but blow right at certain portions of the layout. You can see it coming - track laid on benchwork built during the humid summer, along comes winter, air is naturally dry, plus the warm air blowing on it, massic shrinkage in the wood. ANd massive kinking of all the tracks in the area - which was not only a double track main, but a multi-track loads in/empties out arrangement at the end of a peninsula with a power plant and a coal mine.

 So there is no way I will EVER solder ALL rail joints. Rail joiners are not to be relied upon for electrical power, unless soldered, so there need to be feeders on either side of unsoldered rail joints. No big deal.

                                 --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 kasskaboose on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 11:55 AM

betamax

You didn't mention if you're using sectional or flex track.

For HO the recommendation is a feeder every 3 to 6 feet. Don't rely on the rail joiners to provide a reliable electrical connection, so soldering rail joints isn't a bad idea. Every so often leave one unsoldered for expansion/contraction issues.

100% right.  I thought to rely on the joiners to provide electricity and have feeders far apart. Not smart.  Some will easily comment here that 3-6' apart is way too conservative.  Whatever.  I read an earlier post where someone wrote that few complain about having too many feeders! 

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 1:37 PM

 Put it this way - you can have too few feeders, but you can never have too many.

                                  --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 doctorwayne on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 7:45 PM

gregc
gregc wrote the following post 9 hours ago: doesn't it make sense to leave some rail joiners unsoldered to allow for expansion (both rail and wood)?...

That depends on the location of the layout, both geographically and within whatever structure it might be located.  My layout is in my unheated/uncooled basement in southern Ontario - usually wide outdoor temperature swings over the course of a year, and mostly variable humidity (Lake Ontario to the east, Lake Erie to the south, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay to the west and north respectively),while the basement temperature varies slightly over the course of a year.  I do run a dehumidifier in the basement year-round.

I solder all rail joints (DC operation) and use one pair of feeders for the entire layout.  Never an issue with kinked track.

gregc
....if you want a feed for every 3' of track, doesn't it make sense to solder every other rail joiner (if using 3' flex track) and solder the feeder to the rail joiner ...

Yes, if you need feeders, that's a good way to save some unnecessary work.

gregc
gregc wrote the following post 9 hours ago:....doesn't it make sense to solder the rail joiners of shorter pieces of track to avoid an excessive number of feeders?

Definitely.

Wayne

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Posted by basementdweller on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 8:29 PM

I solder all track connectors including turnouts. I have feeders about every six feet of mainline, some sidings get feeders, some don't depending upon length. I make sure the quarter test trips the DCC system immediately on all areas of the layout. 

Our club does not solder every joint. 

At the end of the day, in my opinion, you do not want to depend on an unsoldered track connector to carry current from one piece of flex to another, so either solder it or add a feeder. 

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Posted by wvg_ca on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 8:58 PM

I solder all track connections [and joiners], except turnouts [just joiners], and run feeders every six feet or so .. in six years i have had no 'kink' issues with the track [code 100] ..

your mileage -may- vary, lol

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 9:23 PM

Like doctorwayne, I am a DC guy. 

I have been soldering all my rail joints, within each electrical block, since 1968.........

I have never used more than one feeder per block, many blocks are 30, 40 or even 50 feet long.

Never any issues electrically or problems with expansion/contraction.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, January 30, 2020 12:06 PM

Onewolf

I solder all joints except joints with turnouts in order to make it less painful in the event a turnout needs to be removed/replaced. 

I try to have track feeders every other piece of flex track.

I do similar (feeder ever other piece of flex track) except I've been soldering the feeder to the joiner and leaving the joint unsoldered - on straight sections.  I like to solder most joints on curves mitigate against kinks.

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, February 1, 2020 7:22 AM

I generally only solder pieces of sectional track together in three piece sections and flex track on curves. Everything else is non soldered.

.

Feeders go to the underside of tracks in every unsoldered section.

.

-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 John-NYBW on Saturday, February 1, 2020 8:39 AM

Soldering the joints is not necessary if you solder every single rail because the rail will get its juice from the feeder wire, not the adjoining rail. I solder every other joint and solder a feeder wire to that rail joiner. That way each section of track is being fed by the feeder wire. You could solder every joint that way but to me that is like wearing a belt and suspenders. It's redundant. 

rws
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Posted by rws on Thursday, February 20, 2020 9:15 AM

Great Information.  There is so many postings all over the train web sites that make statements "this worked for me." Sites that you mentioned are based on facts rather than "this works for me" are a great resource. DCC can be very complex, and those getting started should have a great foundation based upon science rather than this is what I do on my railroad, too many variables from layout to layout for the information to be useful.  The wiki sites you mentioned are readable by mere humans and are transparent especially compared to those that come with one of the major DCC systems whose manuals read like a doctorial theisis.  Thanks for your posting.  I thought my reply would appear directly to a post to a user named "Betamax" so I want to give creditd to him for his posting which contained "

https://dccwiki.com/Wire_Sizes_and_Spacing has guidance on this and other issues related to wiring.

 

As to crossings: See https://dccwiki.com/Wiring_Crossings for ideas. If you have an ohmmeter you can ohm out the crossing to see how it is wired. That will show any conflicts that might cause problems, such as a direct short or gaps at the frog that can be bridged momentarily by a metal wheel."

Good factual information.

rws
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Posted by rws on Thursday, February 20, 2020 9:17 AM

Sorry about this.  Could not delete duplicate reply.  

 

 

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