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Resistance Soldering

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  • Member since
    September 2012
  • 79 posts
Resistance Soldering
Posted by B. Bryce on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 6:27 AM

I am very good at conventional soldering and now even "micro-soldering" for led lights and verrrrrry thin small wire.  I solder track feeders using 22 gauge solid wire, all in HO scale.

I've been seeing where people are using resistance soldering to attach feeder wires to track.  I have a two level layout under construction and have over 300 feeders left to solder and don't know much about resistance soldering.  Checked on Micromark, and they have a lot of different units ranging from $140 - $500.  Can anyone tell me what they are using and how well it works.

PED
  • Member since
    April 2016
  • 571 posts
Posted by PED on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 9:10 AM

I have their low cost unit #85522 and I used it on my last layout to solder feeders to track as well as peco rail joints. Worked great for that. My biggest issue was syncronazation of my actions. I had a foot switch and since I was not used to using my feet in sync with my hands, I frequently kept unit on too long and overheated the spot I was working on. I practiced on scrap pieces first and got the hang of it but I still had some errors on my layout track.

One issue with these type units is the placement of the connection. Prefered that the unit wire connection be close to where yo are working since the heat will be generated anywhere you have resistance even if it is not where you wanted it.  I had one situation where I left the unit connected to one spot on my rail while I tried to solder on an adjacent track. That caused the electricity to flow through a nearby turnout and it melted the ties at the turnout points.

I think this unit is fine if all you are going to do is solder track stuff but if you were planning on doing some of the more eleborate kits that are soldered together, I think you would appreciate the better control you get with the higher end units. If I was starting to solder track again on a new layout, I think I would look at some of the accessories that allow you to use your hands to control soldering time since I had difficulties with the foot control.

Paul D

N scale Washita and Santa Fe Railroad
Southern Oklahoma circa late 70's

  • Member since
    September 2012
  • 79 posts
Posted by B. Bryce on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 10:08 AM

PED
I have their low cost unit #85522 and I used it on my last layout to solder feeders to track as well as peco rail joints. Worked great for that. My biggest issue was syncronazation of my actions. I had a foot switch and since I was not used to using my feet in sync with my hands, I frequently kept unit on too long and overheated the spot I was working on. I practiced on scrap pieces first and got the hang of it but I still had some errors on my layout track.

One issue with these type units is the placement of the connection. Prefered that the unit wire connection be close to where yo are working since the heat will be generated anywhere you have resistance even if it is not where you wanted it.  I had one situation where I left the unit connected to one spot on my rail while I tried to solder on an adjacent track. That caused the electricity to flow through a nearby turnout and it melted the ties at the turnout points.

I think this unit is fine if all you are going to do is solder track stuff but if you were planning on doing some of the more eleborate kits that are soldered together, I think you would appreciate the better control you get with the higher end units. If I was starting to solder track again on a new layout, I think I would look at some of the accessories that allow you to use your hands to control soldering time since I had difficulties with the foot control.

How long are the soldering leads and more important to me, how long is the foot pedal cord?  I have a double deck layout and a short foot pedal chord will be extremely inconvienent.

What accessory were you talking about for hand control instead of foot control?

 

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 29 posts
Posted by Mike-Ike Man on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 10:20 AM

Use either the soldering pliers or tweezers That are available for the resistance solder units. The Hold th,e wire to the rails while localizing the heat. It makes a quick and easy connection. 

  • Member since
    May 2004
  • 7,362 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 10:55 AM

When I solder a wire to a rail with my resistance rig, I usually use the single carbon probe, rather than the two "squeezer" styles.  And I clip to other lead to the rail.  

I hold the wire in place with the probe end, hit the switch, and add solder. 

Oh.  I also solder to the bottom of the rail, not the side.  So it doesn't show.

I'd recommend practicing a bit.  Especially for learning what setting to use.  Too much and you've got a LOT of heat too quickly.  Too little, and it only warms up enough to melt the ties.  You want to be in and out in a second or three.

 

Ed

PED
  • Member since
    April 2016
  • 571 posts
Posted by PED on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 10:07 PM

B Brice,

The foot pedal cord is about 4 feet long but it ties in on the side of the wall plug. Does not go to the power unit. I suspect it just acts as a power interupter at the wall plug.

The solder tips are a piece of carbon like a fat pencil led. They break real easy so be sure to buy some spares.

I used the same method as Ed noted. Hold the wire in place to the rail with the probe then add solder while hitting the foot switch. Workes fine if you are well coordinated but I had a problem with that. 

Paul D

N scale Washita and Santa Fe Railroad
Southern Oklahoma circa late 70's

  • Member since
    September 2012
  • 79 posts
Posted by B. Bryce on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 7:43 AM

The reason I needed to know how long the foot pedal cord is, because 50% of my soldering is on the upper level of my 2 level layout, and I am on a small ladder to do the soldering.  How does this work?  Would the foot pedal be on one of the steps or does it need to be on the floor?

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • From: Shenandoah Valley
  • 8,483 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 8:10 AM

B. Bryce
Would the foot pedal be on one of the steps or does it need to be on the floor?

Sounds like a recipe for falling off the ladder.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

PED
  • Member since
    April 2016
  • 571 posts
Posted by PED on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 8:46 AM

I would suggest you bypass the foot pedal approach and work toward the clamp style mentioned earlier. Not cheap but cheaper than a broken leg/hip.

Assuming you have the room, another thought is to get a short platform to stand on in lieu of a ladder. Lots of options on the low platform. Often used by painters and others in construction when they need to get some elevation and still be able to move about. 

Paul D

N scale Washita and Santa Fe Railroad
Southern Oklahoma circa late 70's

  • Member since
    September 2012
  • 79 posts
Posted by B. Bryce on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 10:11 AM

It's not really a "Ladder", more of an extremely stron 4 step "stepstool".  Barely room for that.  Strong and stable enough to stand on the top step as it has a waist high rail to lean against.  Not the monster that you see advertised on Micromark, but not from Walmart either.  Think we got them (2) at Home Depot.

I had no intention of using the foot pedal on the ladder step, just wanted to learn if that would be the condition it would be in.  Born at night, but not last night! Tongue Tied

  • Member since
    May 2004
  • 7,362 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 11:11 AM

I've got the American Beauty rig.  I like it just fine, except for that darn foot switch. It wiggles around on the floor, plus it doesn't feel "sensitive".

When I get a certain part of my body in gear, I suspect I'll try attaching it to something heavy and flat, so that it sits still on the floor (you'd be correct if you thought my gearshift was a bit rusty).  Half inch plate steel comes to mind.  

Or maybe I can tell Alexa "on" and "off" and have HER do it.  Or I could persuade a buddy to stand there with the switch and do it.  I'll just have to remember not to call him Alexa.

 

Oh, yeah.  I'd recommend getting extra carbon rods when ordering the machine.  They're pretty expendable, and it's better to replace one than limp along with an oldy.  You CAN break off the bad end and get a new one, though.

 

Ed

  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: From Golden, CO living in Puyallup (Seattle), WA
  • 745 posts
Posted by Renegade1c on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 3:43 PM

I have a homebuilt unit that my dad constructed some 30+ years ago and its still going strong. I have had to replace the probe on it once. Its a pretty simple thing to build. 

I use a 1/8" single carbon electrode (I pull them from Carbon Zinc AA batteries and boil them for 10 minutes  or so it get acid out) and a clip on lead. The probe that holds the carbon electrode is a wooden dowel which has a piece of brass tube telescoping down in size to the carbon electrode. The wooden dowel also has a momentary switch in it as well. This is the trigger to iniatiate the soldering. I don't use a foot pedal (although it is setup to use one as well) when i am working on the layout. At the bench I do have a foot pedal setup but I have to use a different probe so that doesn't have the switch in the handle. 

Since only the carbon tip has a significant amount of resistance the rest of the system doesn't heat up. The brass does get hot but its not enough to burn the wooden dowel handle. The wood absorbs the heat super well and makes even the heaviest resistance solder easy. 


Colorado Front Range Railroad: 
http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

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