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Desoldering Track and Wires

Duncan asks readers:

“Does anyone know the best way to desolder track? I want to separate several lengths of tracks, but on the first one I tried the rail heated and it came loose from a tie. Please advise. Thanks”

You are welcome to contribute your thoughts by using the COMMENTS link below.

13 Responses to Desoldering Track and Wires

  • Mike W says:

    try to heat the solder, not the rail. It has a lower melting point. Also, if you have any alligator clips, put them on the rail around the wire as a make-shift heat sink. It may, or may not, help.

    • Joe Graffi says:

      Exactly! Also, I use a 15 watt soldering iron. I let it warm up for at least 10 minutes. 15 wats id plenty of heat to melt solder.

  • The N-Scale Nerd says:

    Also, dab some flux onto the join to assist the melting of the solder.
    A “No clean flux pen” is excellent for this.

  • Ted says:

    A heat sink is the answer, use something large like vice-grips between the joiner and tie.. If you can heat the bottom of the joiner that’s best.

  • Craig W Ingham says:

    Both Mike W and N-Scale Nerd make good suggestions and the “solder sucker” is wise if you have one. My first question is what soldering device are you using? A Gun is a NO-NO for this – to much wattage. Try a low power – maybe 40 watt – pen style. Apply the suggested heat sink to the rail and use a dab of liquid flux – not acid type – and touch the joint at the wire as suggested. Should come off almost immediately.

    I suspect the ties are plastic and they are susceptible to heat applications. An alternate suggestion, assuming neatness is not an issue, is the cut the wire at the solder joint and hide what remains with scenery and maybe some grimy balck paint. Who is going to look at that close.

  • Henry van Wyk says:

    A few tips regarding desoldering track and feeders. Make sure you have a large (high wattage) soldering iron so that heat is transferred quickly to the solder. Secondly, to help act as a heat shunt wet toilet paper or paper towels can be placed on either side of solder joint. This will absorb the excess heat.

  • Tom says:

    The way I do it is to cut the track using a Dremel with a cutting disk. You can cut the through the old joiner or cut at another place if that is more suitable. If you cut at a joiner then after you have cut it is easy to desolder each half of the rail joiner. It is also possible to use a pair of side cutters or even a file to cut away each half of the rail joiner. Note if you do melt a rail tie simply remove the melted tie and replace it with a tie from an old bit of track by simply sliding it on. A little filing ofany sharp edges on the track will help

  • Frank B says:

    I’m with Craig on this – at least 30 to 40 Watt soldering iron, for the shortest time possible, so that the joint is heated quickly, so that the heat does not have time to reach the plastic ties. A solder sucker is also good. And let the rail cool down between applications of the iron to protect the ties.


    Use a 40 Watt soldering gun, add fresh solder to the old stuff. Then I use a solder sucker or solder braid to suck up the solder.

  • Barrie Colman says:

    I would use large croc clips as heatsinks, as close as possible to the joint, adding a freezer spray on the sleepers. On applying the heat I would use some de-wicking tubular mesh to suck the hot solder up. Normally available at electronic component outlets.

  • Bill R Bosserman says:

    I have the best luck for me, is to just cut the track just above the soldered area. I only loose about an inch of track . You get to start with clean track otherwise I would have to a lot of time cleaning the rest of the solder off just to get the rail joiners on.

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