Soldering - a guilty confession.

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andruec
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Soldering - a guilty confession.

#1

Post by andruec »

Hi, I'm Andrue. I like soldering.

:)

Like most newbies I approached soldering with fear and trepidation. My practicing did little to fix that but I eventually got up the courage to solder the minimum number of drop wires that I needed for my layout at the time. Five. They all seemed to work so I put the iron away and hoped never to use it again.

But last week as the final pieces of my layout were put in place I realised that with two sets of four sidings, each fed by a turnout from the mainline loop I was going to have to do more. A lot more. Sixteen drop wires and for some I'd be leaning out about as far as you can while still able to see the joint and pointing the iron back toward me.

Gulp.

But..I did what I do when programming. Just worked out the steps needed and plodded through them. The result (as with programming) was a damn good job. I had only intended doing a couple of droppers then knocking off to get over the experience. Instead I did all eight for one set of sidings. By the time I was half way through I was actually enjoying it.

I think that after I've done the other set of sidings I might just go around my layout soldering every bit of track I can find. I think there must be something wrong with me :)

For the record this is the technique I use (pretty bog standard I imagine)
* Clean the track with glass paper.
* Tin the iron, tin the rail.
* Tin the iron, tin the wire.
* Press wire to rail with iron.
* When solder starts to flow blow on the wire then withdraw the iron.

I think two things have helped the most. First is cleaning the rail so that it can be tinned. The second is leaving the wire out of its hole until it's been soldered in place. I think that having the wire constricted makes it harder to control.

Next step is to use terminals to aggregate the feeds (the sidings are on an elevated section) before running a single, thicker, dropper through the baseboard.
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Brian
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Re: Soldering - a guilty confession.

#2

Post by Brian »

Have you read through this topic? viewtopic.php?f=24&t=110
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andruec
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Re: Soldering - a guilty confession.

#3

Post by andruec »

Useful advice, for sure. Only thing I think I could improve is the iron I use. It's powerful enough and has a good small tip (essential for N scale) but it doesn't have a very long power lead. The stand is also a bit naff, it barely manages to hold the iron without falling over and the slightest pull on the power cable can topple it.
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Re: Soldering - a guilty confession.

#4

Post by Tricky Dicky »

andruec wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:34 pm Hi, I'm Andrue. I like soldering.

:)

Like most newbies I approached soldering with fear and trepidation. My practicing did little to fix that but I eventually got up the courage to solder the minimum number of drop wires that I needed for my layout at the time. Five. They all seemed to work so I put the iron away and hoped never to use it again.

But last week as the final pieces of my layout were put in place I realised that with two sets of four sidings, each fed by a turnout from the mainline loop I was going to have to do more. A lot more. Sixteen drop wires and for some I'd be leaning out about as far as you can while still able to see the joint and pointing the iron back toward me.

Gulp.

But..I did what I do when programming. Just worked out the steps needed and plodded through them. The result (as with programming) was a damn good job. I had only intended doing a couple of droppers then knocking off to get over the experience. Instead I did all eight for one set of sidings. By the time I was half way through I was actually enjoying it.

I think that after I've done the other set of sidings I might just go around my layout soldering every bit of track I can find. I think there must be something wrong with me :)

For the record this is the technique I use (pretty bog standard I imagine)
* Clean the track with glass paper.
* Tin the iron, tin the rail.
* Tin the iron, tin the wire.
* Press wire to rail with iron.
* When solder starts to flow blow on the wire then withdraw the iron.

I think two things have helped the most. First is cleaning the rail so that it can be tinned. The second is leaving the wire out of its hole until it's been soldered in place. I think that having the wire constricted makes it harder to control.

Next step is to use terminals to aggregate the feeds (the sidings are on an elevated section) before running a single, thicker, dropper through the baseboard.
Another convert to soldering, proving it is not a black art but an easily acquired skill if you just think about what you are doing. Well done Andrue!

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darkscot
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Re: Soldering - a guilty confession.

#5

Post by darkscot »

andruec wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:47 pm ... but it doesn't have a very long power lead. The stand is also a bit naff, it barely manages to hold the iron without falling over and the slightest pull on the power cable can topple it.
I am sure there are many others who feel your pain. I have two soldering irons, a geriatric Antex and a flashy, but cheap, Chinese made soldering station. The latter I use for more delicate work, but it can easily solder dropper wires to tracks. It has a nice long cable from the station to the iron but a VERY short mains cable, which I keep meaning to lengthen.

The Antex cable is a reasonable length, but the stand is an accident waiting to happen. It has two holes in the base so the answer is to screw/bolt it to flat square piece of wood. That stops it tipping over and you can clamp it to worktops if need be.
Many times the wrong train took me to the right place.
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yelrow
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Re: Soldering - a guilty confession.

#6

Post by yelrow »

i have an antex. I removed the flexi holder from a Lidl iron, and screwed it to a 4 inch piece of joist. Perfect now, will not tip. I use lead solder only. Shy away from lead free stuff.
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Re: Soldering - a guilty confession.

#7

Post by Puddles »

I always dip the hot iron just gently into the flux tin before making the soldered joint as it cleans the iron. With a hot clean tip and a little bit of flux on the end of the lead solder a tinned track and wire with flux the joint will be a good one. Always wipe the joint with a damp cloth when it is set to remove any flux residue.

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Forfarian
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Re: Soldering - a guilty confession.

#8

Post by Forfarian »

andruec wrote: Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:34 pm Hi, I'm Andrue. I like soldering.

:)

Like most newbies I approached soldering with fear and trepidation. My practicing did little to fix that but I eventually got up the courage to solder the minimum number of drop wires that I needed for my layout at the time. Five. They all seemed to work so I put the iron away and hoped never to use it again.

But last week as the final pieces of my layout were put in place I realised that with two sets of four sidings, each fed by a turnout from the mainline loop I was going to have to do more. A lot more. Sixteen drop wires and for some I'd be leaning out about as far as you can while still able to see the joint and pointing the iron back toward me.

Gulp.

But..I did what I do when programming. Just worked out the steps needed and plodded through them. The result (as with programming) was a damn good job. I had only intended doing a couple of droppers then knocking off to get over the experience. Instead I did all eight for one set of sidings. By the time I was half way through I was actually enjoying it.

I think that after I've done the other set of sidings I might just go around my layout soldering every bit of track I can find. I think there must be something wrong with me :)

For the record this is the technique I use (pretty bog standard I imagine)
* Clean the track with glass paper.
* Tin the iron, tin the rail.
* Tin the iron, tin the wire.
* Press wire to rail with iron.
* When solder starts to flow blow on the wire then withdraw the iron.

I think two things have helped the most. First is cleaning the rail so that it can be tinned. The second is leaving the wire out of its hole until it's been soldered in place. I think that having the wire constricted makes it harder to control.

Next step is to use terminals to aggregate the feeds (the sidings are on an elevated section) before running a single, thicker, dropper through the baseboard.
Well done that man :D
It's easy when you know how, the only way to solder well is to practice. Eventually you will be able to "read" the solder and make top quality joints.
Keep up the good work.
Forfarian aka Tim
Of course I talk to myself, I sometimes need expert advice!
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