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How do I connect wires to the metal prongs beneath a Caboose throw?

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How do I connect wires to the metal prongs beneath a Caboose throw?
Posted by crossthedog on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 10:21 PM

Hi all,

I've installed a couple of Caboose Industries turnout throws. You know the three metal rods that protrude from the throw down below the layout so that the middle one can be wired to the frog and the two outside ones can be wired to the rails? Well how do you connect wires to those things? They're tiny and they're really close together -- like an eighth of an inch or less -- and they're not grippy at all. Do you just solder a bare wire to each one and make sure they're not shorting across one to another?

Thanks in advance.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by PC101 on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 10:30 PM

 How much do you know about Soldering electronic parts?

'A' Solder the wires to the metal posts. USE A HEAT SINK. (A METAL CLAMP TO ABSORBE THE HEAT ON THE POST BETWEEN THE SOLDER JOINT AND THE PLASTIC GROUND THROW PARTS). What do the instructions say to do?

FIRST: Slide a piece of heat shrink tube down the wire or up from the other end, make the solder joint (per the above sentence 'A') then slide the heat shrink tube up and over the solder joint and the metal post. Heat the heat shrink tube and that is it, no shorting between the three metal posts.

 

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Posted by crossthedog on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 10:58 PM

Thanks PC101. I haven't used heat shrink tubing before and hadn't thought of that. It must come in some pretty narrow sizes to fit between these rods. I forgot that there are microscopic instructions on the reverse of the cardboard backing.

EDIT: I see you've edited your reply to ask me how much I know about soldering electronic parts. Nothing at all. I'm brand new to electrical work and wiring. 

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by PC101 on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 11:49 PM

crossthedog

Thanks PC101. I haven't used heat shrink tubing before and hadn't thought of that. It must come in some pretty narrow sizes to fit between these rods. I forgot that there are microscopic instructions on the reverse of the cardboard backing.

EDIT: I see you've edited your reply to ask me how much I know about soldering electronic parts. Nothing at all. I'm brand new to electrical work and wiring. 

-Matt

 

Wear safety glasses when soldering and cutting wire.

1-Do not use acid core solder on electronics.

2-Keep the tip of the soldering tool clean. Wipe the hot tip on a wet sponge often.

3-I feel it is better to ''tin'' the wire end and the metal post then put them together and touch the hot tip to the ''tinned'' joint.

4-Do not let the just soldered parts/joint move till the solder is harden. (I have those ''helping hands" tool with the two clips on adjustable arms and a heavy base to hold parts). A good joint that did not move will be shiny and smooth, a bad joint will be milky looking, dull in color.

Hopefully others here will have more good ideas for you on soldering electronic parts together. I'd think there would be a book on ''Soldering for the Model Railroader".   

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, September 23, 2021 12:34 AM

Hi Matt,

What kind of soldering iron do you have? For soldering to the Caboose Industries copper rods you will need a pencil tip soldering iron like this:

http://www.xytronic-usa.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=253

I have an earlier model of this iron and it has been one of the best investments that I have ever made. The performance is light years ahead of every other pencil tip iron that I have ever owned including brand names like Weller. I thought I was reasonably good at soldering but when I got the XYtronic unit I realized that I had been a total hack!

You are in a hobby that will require the use of a soldering iron periodically. You have two choses: save a few buck and be frustrated, or invest in a quality tool that will make soldering easy!

Beware of clones with similar names!!!!

PC101's suggestion to 'tin' the wire and the copper rod before attempting to solder the wire on is excellent!

It helps to have good solder too. This is what I use for all my electronics:

https://www.ngineering.com/soldering.htm

Scroll down to the Kester solder. A little goes a long way.

I also put a tiny bit of flux on the surfaces just to guarantee an easy joint. See the same page linked above.

My 2 Cents

Dave

 

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by tstage on Thursday, September 23, 2021 2:56 AM

Matt,

The 220S ground throws work quite well.  I tinned both the ground throw pins and the wires that attached to them before soldering them to one another.  I didn't use heat shrink but found that the ground throws did not flex inward towards one another to cause a short.  If you do add heat shrink you really only need it on the middle pin.

Tom

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Posted by gregc on Thursday, September 23, 2021 4:50 AM

might be better off soldering short (6") lengths of wire before installing which can then be connected to longer wires with small wire nuts.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by crossthedog on Thursday, September 23, 2021 5:08 PM

Thanks guys. Good stuff.

@Dave, I had invested early on in an 80-watt Weller iron and it came with a pencil tip that I haven't used yet. So far I've been soldering mostly track joints, so I use the slanty chisely tip, which is broader. I'll use the pencil tip for this, for sure. And I do use Koester rosin-core solder, yup.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, September 23, 2021 6:04 PM

crossthedog
Well how do you connect wires to those things? They're tiny and they're really close together -- like an eighth of an inch or less

I bought a several years ago and I don't remember them being short at all.  I've moved and I'm not sure where they are. 

If you don't have steady hands, get one of those helping hands, 2 alligator clips on positionable arms. 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

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Posted by crossthedog on Thursday, September 23, 2021 6:50 PM

BigDaddy
I bought a several years ago and I don't remember them being short at all

Not short, Henry. Tiny and close together. They're plenty long but they're only a fraction of an inch distant from each other.

And yes, I need to get me one of those helping hands gizmos. Very "steampunk inventor" looking.

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by gregc on Thursday, September 23, 2021 7:31 PM

crossthedog
They're plenty long but they're only a fraction of an inch distant from each other.

the wire doesn't need to be wrapped around the contact.

tin the wire and the contact, then lay the two against one another while heating and then let them cool.  obviously lay the wire lenghtwise along the contact.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by tstage on Thursday, September 23, 2021 8:56 PM

crossthedog

I had invested early on in an 80-watt Weller iron and it came with a pencil tip that I haven't used yet. So far I've been soldering mostly track joints, so I use the slanty chisely tip, which is broader. I'll use the pencil tip for this, for sure. And I do use Koester rosin-core solder, yup.

-Matt

Matt,

It's not delicate electronics you are soldering so the chisel-tip is just fine for the 220S contacts.  I would use 700oF - if you can dial it in with your iron.  The broader tip will heat the tinned contacts and wires more quickly; leading to a better solder joint between the two.  And a little rosin paste flux will ensure it's bright & shiny.

Tom

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, September 23, 2021 9:59 PM

I'd recommend at least trying the 'eutectic' solder (roughly 63:37) if you're troubled by joints moving before they congeal.  The eutectic freezes sharply from liquid to firm solid.

I'd also invest in some good no-clean liquid flux -- it really does make good solder joints easier.

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Posted by crossthedog on Thursday, September 23, 2021 11:43 PM

gregc
tin the wire and the contact

Greg, I keep hearing about pretinning, and I think I've been doing it but I'm not sure. I guess I need to do some googling. Along with my iron I bought a Weller kit that included a coil of solder, a tin of flux and a tin of "tinning" or "soldering tin" or some such (I later bought better flux and some rosen core Koester solder). Instructions said to dip my iron in the tinning once in a while when it's hot, so I do that and it's nice and shiny for a minute, but I'm not really sure why I'm doing that.

But to pretin wires and contacts I don't use the tinning, I use solder...for example when I soldered wires to my Tortoise machine I just melted some solder on the wire and also a little on the connection. It's hard to do and I may not be doing it right, or maybe I'm supposed to put lots of tinning (instead of solder) on the iron and then transfer it to the item? I don't know, but melting a bit of solder onto stuff seems to work.

@Tom, I don't have any dial for heat, just the iron. It's hot or it's not. I don't know from 700 degrees, but at 80 watts it's hot enough that I need to clamp a roach clip next to track joints or I'll melt the nearby ties in a hurry.

@Overmod, yes, I think no-clean flux is the stuff I have. Can't remember and I'm not in my layout space right now.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by gregc on Friday, September 24, 2021 4:09 AM

crossthedog
gregc
tin the wire and the contact

Greg, I keep hearing about pretinning, and I think I've been doing it but I'm not sure. 

But to pretin wires and contacts I don't use the tinning, I use solder...for example when I soldered wires to my Tortoise machine I just melted some solder on the wire and also a little on the connection. 

by "tin" i mean put some solder on the metal, what you do on your tortise machines.

while wire may be pre-tinned, you may notice that it's harder to solder a bare copper wire to a contact that already has solder.   this is because there's little or no flux.   when using rosin core solder, the rosin melts first, cleaning the wire and more easily allowing the solder to adhere to it.

while your tortoise contacts have a hole for pushing the wire thru, it is more useful to hold the wire in place while being solder (a 3rd hand) than mechanically attaching the wire such as wrapping it around the contact.

the real strength of a solder joint is where the two pieces of metal are in contact with one another and the solder allows them to bond together.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, September 24, 2021 9:08 AM

I give up on trying to post in detail when Kalmbach is screwing with the code.  PM me for details.

Tinning the tip is different from oretinning the joint.  Pretinning the joint is different from applying 'extra' solder so you don't need a gripping hand to hold the solder as you heat the assembled (and pretinned) joint. With your properly tinned tip.

Use a noncontact IR thermometer to gauge tip temperature.  Cheap Harbor Freight thermometry for a few bucks works fine for the purpose.  If you get into serious soldering with different eutectics for complex fabrication, you'll want an iron or 'soldering station' with temperature control and some kind of readout in addition to the adjustment knob or control.

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Posted by crossthedog on Saturday, September 25, 2021 10:06 AM

Just to report back. Thanks to the advice from several of you to tin/pretin the connections, I didn't have much trouble with the actual soldering. I do find that the connection rods on the Caboose Industries throws are very delicate. They're made so that in shoving them onto the plastic piece they actually bore the rest of their hole out, but it only works once. If for any reason that rod comes off -- you take it out to look at it, you bonk it against something -- it will never be tight again. I'm undecided about them. Others have said they would never have something so unprototypical-looking on their layout, and I can respect that, but I think I'm not to the point in modelling where I will be photographing my layout and needing it to fool the eye into thinking it's real life. I enjoy layouts like that, but I don't want to put that on myself yet. So I like them because I can understand the wiring very easily and I need to power my frogs. My smaller DC engines won't go through some of the turnouts, especially my big curved ones. In this regard, the throw I installed last night is basically a success.

The heat shrink tubing was not what I would call a ripping success. I used 22 gauge wire for the connections and per @Greg I only put a tube on the middle one (1/16", nice and narrow to fit between the other two rods), but the tubing didn't come with any instructions and I've never used it before. I heated it up with the soldering iron after I slipped it over the joint. It didn't shrink a lot but it gummed up my iron tip and got very goopy. I stopped. I now have to read up on how to use heat shrink tubing. But the throw works perfectly and having added the wiring to the frog and the rails, I can now enjoy my DC steam engines without having to go over and give them a finger boost through the turnout.

I like the Tortoise that I've installed, too. Like it a lot, but I don't intuitively know how to add wiring that will power the frog and automatically reverse the polarity of the closure rails when I throw the turnout. I need to stare at the DPDT for a bit unless one of you has a handy diagram.

As always, thanks all of you for your inputs.

-Matt

 

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, September 25, 2021 10:15 AM

crossthedog

The heat shrink tubing was not what I would call a ripping success. I used 22 gauge wire for the connections and per @Greg I only put a tube on the middle one (1/16", nice and narrow to fit between the other two rods), but the tubing didn't come with any instructions and I've never used it before. I heated it up with the soldering iron after I slipped it over the joint. It didn't shrink a lot but it gummed up my iron tip and got very goopy. I stopped. I now have to read up on how to use heat shrink tubing. 

Get yourself a heat gun. It is not all that expensive. It is one of my most useful hobby tools.

Rich

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Posted by gregc on Saturday, September 25, 2021 10:45 AM

crossthedog
It didn't shrink a lot but it gummed up my iron tip and got very goopy. I stopped.

doesn't sound like heat-shrink

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, September 25, 2021 11:00 AM

gregc
 
crossthedog
It didn't shrink a lot but it gummed up my iron tip and got very goopy. I stopped. 

doesn't sound like heat-shrink 

Sure it does. Anytime you hold a heated tool such as a soldering iron on the heat shrink tubing, the tubing will gum up the iron tip as the tubing "melts". That's why you want to use a heat gun held a short distance from the heat shrink tubing.

Rich

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Posted by gregc on Saturday, September 25, 2021 11:10 AM

richhotrain
the tubing will gum up the iron tip as the tubing "melts".

none of the heat shrink i've ever used melts, it shrinks.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, September 25, 2021 11:24 AM

gregc
 
richhotrain
the tubing will gum up the iron tip as the tubing "melts". 

heat shrink doesn't melt, it shrinks. 

Have you ever placed a hot soldering iron on a piece of heat shrink tubing? I have. The tubing melts like a piece of chocolate exposed to the sun on a warm day. It will stick to the shaft of the soldering iron.

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Posted by JoeinPA on Saturday, September 25, 2021 1:28 PM

You don't touch the iron to the heat shrink you hold it close so the heat shrinks the tubing. You can also use a small heat gun (carefully). I have one from MicroMark that works really well.

Joe

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Posted by gregc on Saturday, September 25, 2021 1:36 PM

richhotrain
Have you ever placed a hot soldering iron on a piece of heat shrink tubing?

yes.

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, September 25, 2021 1:51 PM

I place the heat shrink right where the tip threads into the barrel of the iron to shrink the tubing. Sometimes I use a small heat gun if I'm heating several pieces but the heat gun isn't as "selective" as to where the heat goes. I don't use it near PC boards or plastic details for obvious reasons.

I've never had a piece of heat shrink melt. I have come across some types of "wire-loom" insulating material that might be confused as heat shrink but this is made of maybe nylon or a type of PVC. Heat shrink is made of polyolefin. Some heat shrink tubing is lined with a goopy sealant for wet locations. This is not a good choice for model RR electronics.

 Truck-wirB by Edmund, on Flickr

My former employer was tossing a 1000 foot roll of clear, 1/8" heat shrink because it was "out of date" and they couldn't use it. Cha-ching! Yes

I've never had a problem with residue melting on to the soldering iron.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, September 25, 2021 2:25 PM

We argue and debate over the silliest things on this forum.

After I first melted heat shrink tubing by placing a hot soldering iron on it, I went out and bought a heat gun which is what the OP should do.

Let's face it. A soldering iron is for soldering, whereas a heat gun is for shrinking heat shrink tubing.

Rich

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, September 25, 2021 2:58 PM

richhotrain
We argue and debate over the silliest things on this forum.

I'm just curious as to why your experience with shrink tube is different from the results some of the other members are having. I, too, bought a "crafter's" heat gun and it is ideal for shrinking the tubing, however, if I need to get in close to, say wiring on an LED for a headlight on a delicate, plastic locomotive shell, the heat gun simply throws off too much heat where it isn't wanted and the risk of melting plastic details is very high.

When I first began using a heat gun I mentioned it in a 2013 forum thread and the late Randy Rinker phoo-phooed the idea. I take his advice with great consideration and I completely agree with him that the soldering iron method is perfectly acceptable.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/744/t/215436.aspx

 

Prior to that I was using a butane fire stick! My success rate with that was about 50%!

My 2 Cents Cheers, Ed

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Posted by gregc on Saturday, September 25, 2021 3:31 PM

where did you get your heat shrink from?

i've brought stuff home from work as well as buying some at a hardware store and off ebay.

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Posted by PC101 on Saturday, September 25, 2021 6:15 PM

gregc
 
richhotrain
the tubing will gum up the iron tip as the tubing "melts".

 

none of the heat shrink i've ever used melts, it shrinks.

 

I have never melted/destroyed heat shrink tubeing by touching it with my wiped cleaned soldering pencil. Sometimes I do just hold the tip and sometimes the back at the threaded end of the tip close to the heat shrink. I have never used a heat gun to shrink tubeing in model railroading projects.

My adjustable heat gun has done wonders on drying paint and load damaging gondolas. I have also used a soldering iron/pencil to make the same load damaging effects on gondola sides. 

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Posted by tstage on Saturday, September 25, 2021 6:58 PM

I use the barrel of the soldering iron to melt heat shrink tubing.  Works great.

Yes, NEVER use a soldering iron tip for anything other than soldering.  You want the plating on the tip to always remain shiny.  Any pitted plating or any foreign material on the plating will not transfer the heat evenly between the iron and the object being soldered; resulting in a poor solder joint.

Tom

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

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