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Soldering Track

Max asks:

“I’ve chosen to go N scale and am finding the small size good but challenging in some ways. What are the downsides if I don’t solder or wire each rail section?”

Please post your comments under this question if you can assist Max.

6 Responses to Soldering Track

  • David Stokes says:

    It is recommended that each piece of track has its own droppers to connect to the controller (if DC) through your control panel. It is not an absolute, especially on a small, simple track plan, but a good idea as things grow.
    Unless your layout space is climate controlled I would not solder lengths of track together. In an uncontrolled environment temperature fluctuations play havoc with soldered track..

    • Cord Cameron says:

      I hadn’t considered climate effects on soldering track! My layout is almost ready for track-laying… but it is in a closed porch that is not insulated very much, meaning cold winters (I’m in So. Cal., USA so it’s never THAT cold, but the summers are stifling hot.)
      It is on 3 connected modules, so each module is only 2’ x 4’ with very short connector tracks between modules. I will also have portable heaters & a/c units while working on or operating the layout. Will there be that much expansion/contraction to worry about? I’ll be using rail joiners (unsoldered) and only solder the power wires periodically to the track. I’m thinking that the rail joiners will handle changes while electrically everything should remain intact. Will this work okay?
      Cord C, San Marcos, CA, USA

  • Fred says:

    Pick up a wiring book for model railroads because there is a lot of additional information you need to know. Also if possible join an n scale club because there is a wealth of information you can obtain from club members some good information and some that ….. you can decide. Some of the best techniques and advice was so bad it was good! Also look into joining the NMRA. There is also wiring info on line. Some good and some not so.

  • geoff says:

    The downside is that you lose power on that section at some point in the future as the track flexes with temperature changes and the rail connectors become loose. But a rule of thumb for DCC is a power connection every six feet of track. DC is less prone to power drop problems than DCC (not sure why). And how often you install a power dropper depends tom some extent on how easy it would be and how prepared you are to install them later.

  • Joe Graffi says:

    David and Geoff both make good observations. I run a 12′ x 8′ HO DC layout and, for the above reasons, do not solder any rail sections together.
    I have feeders about every 6′ (every-other section of flex track) and have no issues.
    I have not individually powered the turnouts directly. Their power comes from the block they are connected to.

  • David says:

    You are probably concerned that you will melt the sleepers (rail ties) I suggest that you solder a wire to the underside of each fish plate (rail joiner) before assembling the track. If you are using set track with rail joiners attached, and concerned about the heat going along the rail and melting the sleepers, then grip the rail by the fishplate with a vice grip. this will act as a heat sink.

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