To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Soldering and Working on the 2 End Loop Modules - Part 3

Eventually soldering will be required for the trackwork and electrical parts of the new layout. This Post is about the main tool used in soldering plus some general thoughts about "how" soldering or for that matter how many glues work.

When work was started on the 2 end loops I had 2 60-watt soldering irons. One of the 60-watt irons was purchased from Radio Shack eons ago. The solid copper tip had been lost. The 2 screws could no longer be tightened enough to hold the tip in place.

A second 60-watt iron was purchased. But it was nothing like the older 60-watt iron. It was too light. It was easy to "burn" the solder on the tip if left plugged in to long. I wasn't pleased.

Soldering works when there is enough "heat" to melt the solder to the parts being joined together. There's enough written material plus, I'm sure, YouTube videos explaining how to solder.

One comment about soldering guns. The tip is heated with electric current passing through the metal tip. If all the connections are not 100% correct, less than full current will pass through the tip causing it to heat up less.

Forty-eight years ago I purchased a 240-watt American Beauty soldering iron. Several brass models were assembled by me using this iron. I still have this soldering iron. The company American Beauty makes soldering irons plus other soldering products which are correctly named. They are "beauties"! My 240-watt iron is used from time to time. However, it's for heavy duty soldering.

For the soldering needed for making the track work for my modules, a 60-watt iron is sufficient. An American Beauty 60-Watt, 1/4" Heavy-Duty Soldering Iron Model 3125-60 was purchased for under $100.00 including shipping. It works great on all types of track I've worked on thus far.

Just in case you may be wondering, over the past 50+ years of model making I have used the following to solder -
10-watt irons,
15-watt irons,
60-watt irons,
100-watt soldering guns,
240-watt irons,
propane torchs,
jewel's oxy/acetylene torch,
resistance soldering, and
there's probably some I've missed.

Plus, I've used solders with different % compositions of metal.

The 60-watt soldering iron I've recommend; should be left plugged in only as long as you are actually soldering. If this turns out to be a long time keep checking the tip to see if the solder is starting to oxidize due to the heat. Oxidized solder will have a white chalky look. At this time the tip is too hot and the iron must be unplugged.

If plugging and unplugging the soldering iron is a problem for you, get an on-off electric foot pedel to place in the electric line. All the ones I've owned require the operator to keep their foot on the pedel to keep the electricity on. American Beauty sells one plus they are available through

OR, as long as you're looking at the American Beauty web site, look at their Model V36GL3 60-watt Industrial Grade Soldering Station. If you're planning on using soldering for work requiring a long time period to finish, a soldering station is what you need.

The other part of the Post is in regards to cleaning up the soldering once completed. Use files, wet/dry abrasive  papers, wire wheels, etc. In cleaning up the joint, DO NOT REMOVE ALL OF THE SOLDER!. Some solder must remain on or in the joint.

It's the solder keeping the 2 or more pieces of metal together. If you solder a piece with a post which goes into the metal, drill the hole for the post slightly larger than the diameter of the post. The same holds true for almost all glues no matter what they are. The plastic solvents used to build models are not the same as a glue.

If possible "tin" the pieces of metal to be soldered prior to soldering them together. Again, there's enough written material plus, I'm sure, YouTube videos explaining how to solder. Either read or view the material.



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