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Temperature For Soldering Feeder Wires?

Brian models HO and has this question:

“I always used a large Weller soldering gun. My birthday present was a soldering station with a variable temperature iron. The question is what temperature should I be using for soldering feeder wires to HO code 83 nickel silver track?”

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7 Responses to Temperature For Soldering Feeder Wires?

  • Frank Bsays:

    Basically, the soldering iron must be at a temperature a bit higher than the solder melting point, plus a bit more if you are soldering larger things like rails that will quickly draw more heat from the iron.

    With a little experimenting, you will will soon discover what works.

    Does anyone with a controlled iron have temperature setting suggestions ?

  • phil johnsonsays:

    I use a old Radio Shack 15/30 W soldering iron. I have 2 larger guns but have found they melt plastic as fast as the solder

  • Andre du Toitsays:

    Never solder wiring directly to the rails. That’s the easiest way to damage the dainty plastic sleepers (ties). If the rails are fitted with rail connectors, take them off with small pliers that will not close up the gap into which the rail web has to slide. Then use a crocodile clip on a a third hand tool to hold the rail connector steady while soldering. This way you can apply enough heat to ensure a proper smooth soldered joint and avoid “dry” joints and lumps of solder on your work. You can also line the jaws of the crocodile clip with thin wood such as balsa so that the clip will not drain the heat from the rail connector.

    • Sheldon Clarksays:

      Most track manufacturers can supply spare rail joiners to fit their track. Please note that if you use the wired rail joiner method you will be relying on rail to joiner friction for electrical continuity just as much as if you just solder at one end of a stretch.

  • Joe Graffisays:

    I also have the old Radio Shack 15/30w iron and I use 15W setting for everything except soldering to the nickel silver rails, then I use the 30w setting.
    Using a pointed tip gets you where you need to be. I have only melted the plastic ‘ties’ once or twice.

    Weller makes a 40 watt and an 80 watt soldering station with 5 settings. If you have the 40 w, I would start at the second setting. Make sure to give it time to heat up – at least 5 min. then see if it melts the solder. If not, turn it up one notch, etc. If you have the 80 w station, start at the lowest setting.

  • Randall Styxsays:

    My understanding of soldering wire to track while it’s closely connected to the plastic ties is that the heat should be high. The idea is to get the track and solder hot quickly before the heat has time to conduct to the plastic. If you try to warm things up slowly, the heat will transfer to the plastic even before it’s hot enough to melt the solder. Hot and really quick is what you want. That also means having the wire and rail securely held together (To flux or not to flux is a debated issue – it helps the solder flow, but also causes corrosion if it’s not completely cleaned off. Rosic core solder helps flowage.) so that both rail and wire heat up at the same time and so things don’t move while the solder is cooling. You don’t have time to hold things in position with the tip of the iron or gun as it’s heating up. You need to get the iron hot first, and as much as possible, apply the iron simultaneously to both wire and track. Resistance soldering instead of using an iron or gun is an alternative, for it reduces the amount of material that’s heated, enabling quicker soldering and less heat transfer – but resistance soldering units are usually more expensive than soldering irons or guns. If you don’t have the option of resistance soldering, you might consider placing a gauge holder close to either side of the joint. MicroMark sells a soldering gauge as part of its 7 piece HO gauge track laying set. This holds the rails in gauge in case the plastic melts a bit. Another way to reduce the chance of melting the ties is to put wet cotton swabs close to both sides of the soldering point. The water absorbs heat and draws it through the track away from the plastic. If you don’t get a good solder with one quick solder, use multiple quick solders instead of one of longer duration.

  • Bob Hornsays:

    When soldering wires with my R.S. soldering station I use resin core solder and a temp setting of 650 degrees F. Don’t use a higher temperature for rails just be patient as it will take longer to heat the metal.

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