resistance soldering


Steven Low
 

I saw on Wiring for DCC site information about resistance soldering.  Two different systems were mentioned--one from American Beauty sold by Micro-Mark.  Micro Mark also has their own system which is much cheaper.  I need to do a lot of N scale feeder wires.  Will this system work well or do I need to take the plunge on the more expensive system?

--
Steven C. Low, Executive Director
Flint Jewish Federation,
810 767-5922
810 406-9634 (cell)


wirefordcc
 

Hi Steven,

I looked at the Microlux system you are interested in.  It is a lot cheaper than the American Beauty system.  (Interesting name, but this company has been around for several decades).

The first thing I noticed that it is only 63 watts.  That might be enough for N-scale.  If you have a piece of N-scale track that you can send to me, I'll dial my system down to 63 watts and try it.

Resistance soldering of track is best done with the soldering tweezers.  Then I noticed that the tweezers that Microlux sells is only for the system's low power setting - whatever that is.  That makes me nervous.

Maybe another one of this forum's readers have experience with this system.  I'm not too worried about it's quality.  I'm mainly worried that it will get hot enough for you.  If you were asking about HO or bigger, the Microlux system definitely doesn't have enough power.

You can buy the American Beauty tweezers, but by the time you buy their tweezers and the Microlux system, you could have bought the American Beauty system.

Micro Mark often has great sales during the summer saving you about 25%.  I plan to write a column on resistance soldering for Model Railroader that I plan to come out before the summer so that people can take advantage of the annual sale.

If you have seen my website, then you know I recommend the liquid (gel) flux from H&N Electronics.  Great stuff for resistance soldering.

You can try solder with silver in it, but it melts at a higher temp than solder with lead in it.  You might risk melting your ties.  Of course, lead is a serious health hazard, so:
- keep away from children.
- don't touch your face and wash your hands after handling it
- I don't know if there is lead in the fumes, but avoid breathing the fumes.  That goes without saying for anything that doesn't smell like a freshly baked chocolate-chip cookie!

While buying flux from H&N, get yourself a package of the 0.031" (about 1mm) solder for your track.

Allan Gartner
Wiring for DCC


Glenn
 

IMHO The cost of a resistance soldering system is waaay over kill for wiring unless you have other uses.

A simple 40 watt iron or a 100w soldering gun is sufficient for wiring. A 25w will work for electronics work. A 100w iron is used for soldering details on brass engines, this is where a resistance unit excels.

Glenn


Jim Zarnick
 

I have an American Beauty 100 watt and set it to around 70 watts to solder feeders on my HO layout.  A quick hit of a flux pen, then squeeze the rail and the wire, and it’s done before you know it.   I suspect I have more than 500 feeders.  Simple and time saver, no melted ties.  No regrets. 

 

From: w4dccqa@groups.io [mailto:w4dccqa@groups.io] On Behalf Of wirefordcc
Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2020 12:57 PM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] resistance soldering

 

Hi Steven,

I looked at the Microlux system you are interested in.  It is a lot cheaper than the American Beauty system.  (Interesting name, but this company has been around for several decades).

The first thing I noticed that it is only 63 watts.  That might be enough for N-scale.  If you have a piece of N-scale track that you can send to me, I'll dial my system down to 63 watts and try it.

Resistance soldering of track is best done with the soldering tweezers.  Then I noticed that the tweezers that Microlux sells is only for the system's low power setting - whatever that is.  That makes me nervous.

Maybe another one of this forum's readers have experience with this system.  I'm not too worried about it's quality.  I'm mainly worried that it will get hot enough for you.  If you were asking about HO or bigger, the Microlux system definitely doesn't have enough power.

You can buy the American Beauty tweezers, but by the time you buy their tweezers and the Microlux system, you could have bought the American Beauty system.

Micro Mark often has great sales during the summer saving you about 25%.  I plan to write a column on resistance soldering for Model Railroader that I plan to come out before the summer so that people can take advantage of the annual sale.

If you have seen my website, then you know I recommend the liquid (gel) flux from H&N Electronics.  Great stuff for resistance soldering.

You can try solder with silver in it, but it melts at a higher temp than solder with lead in it.  You might risk melting your ties.  Of course, lead is a serious health hazard, so:
- keep away from children.
- don't touch your face and wash your hands after handling it
- I don't know if there is lead in the fumes, but avoid breathing the fumes.  That goes without saying for anything that doesn't smell like a freshly baked chocolate-chip cookie!

While buying flux from H&N, get yourself a package of the 0.031" (about 1mm) solder for your track.

Allan Gartner
Wiring for DCC


Jim Betz
 

Steven,
  The whole idea of using resistance soldering the feeders is to get
the contact point (area) between the feeder and the rail hot 
-quickly- so that the solder melts before the heat travels thru
the rails and melts the ties.  One of the key parts of getting a
quick joint (a second or two) is keeping the feeder  to rail web
joint solidly in contact with each other.

  I have not tried soldering N-scale feeders and do not know if
the MicroMark unit will work for that.  I also have not tried the
MicroMark unit.  I use HoTip (from P.B.L.) and have a 200
watt unit I run at the #4 setting (out of 5) and a 'probe' that
you press against the feeder to hold it tightly against the
web of the rail.  The other lead is clamped to the rail about
2 inches away.

  BTW - resistance soldering is DC.  The popular PSX breakers
will be destroyed by any DC voltage.  So make sure you have
disconnected both leads from the breaker(s) before you start
soldering feeders.
                                                                                     - Jim


Brian Lewis
 

This is not strictly true. Normal 60/40 or thereabouts, solders have a melting temperature of 170-183 Deg C. 62S - Tin/lead/Silver solder has a melting temperature of 179-189 Deg C. You can see that even using the extremes of these ranges, the difference is tiny.

I am retired now, but once owned a company that manufactured and cold fluxes and solders, so I hope you will allow that I know a little about this subject. For personal preference, I would not even consider using straight Tin/Lead solders. US member of this elist are fortunate to have a company - Nordson EFD, which manufactures a Tin/lead/Silver Cream, which contains flux. It solder like a dream, flows beautifully and is supplied in a syringe, which makes the application of just the right amount required simple. It is designated 42NCLR-A. (I sold the company in 2011, but I understand this product is still available).

Tin/Lead/Silver solders provide the strongest bond, the best electrical conductivity and unlike Tin/Lead solders, do not leach Silver from electrical contacts.



On 17/12/2020 17:56, wirefordcc wrote:
You can try solder with silver in it, but it melts at a higher temp than solder with lead in it.  You might risk melting your ties.  
--

Regards and thanks

 

Brian Lewis


Robert J. Richter
 

I have soldered much rail to feeders under the rail, not on the side, and have not had any problems getting solder to flow quickly, I use rosin core liquid flux, pre tin wire and rail, and then just hit it quick with the iron set at 420 degrees. No need for the resistance soldering in my opinion.

 

Robert J. Richter

283 Elm Street

North Reading, MA 01864

 

From: w4dccqa@groups.io [mailto:w4dccqa@groups.io] On Behalf Of Jim Betz
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2020 10:37 AM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] resistance soldering

 

Steven,
  The whole idea of using resistance soldering the feeders is to get
the contact point (area) between the feeder and the rail hot 
-quickly- so that the solder melts before the heat travels thru
the rails and melts the ties.  One of the key parts of getting a
quick joint (a second or two) is keeping the feeder  to rail web
joint solidly in contact with each other.

  I have not tried soldering N-scale feeders and do not know if
the MicroMark unit will work for that.  I also have not tried the
MicroMark unit.  I use HoTip (from P.B.L.) and have a 200
watt unit I run at the #4 setting (out of 5) and a 'probe' that
you press against the feeder to hold it tightly against the
web of the rail.  The other lead is clamped to the rail about
2 inches away.

  BTW - resistance soldering is DC.  The popular PSX breakers
will be destroyed by any DC voltage.  So make sure you have
disconnected both leads from the breaker(s) before you start
soldering feeders.
                                                                                     - Jim


Dale Gloer
 

my 0.02 worth.  I have 300 watt PBL Hot Tip resistance unit with the tweezers which I use for soldering feeders to HO track.  I run it at full power.  Just like any other soldering method a properly prepared joint area is key to successful soldering.  I originally bought the unit for working on Brass engines and would not buy one just for track feeder work.  I have successfully soldered feeders using my Weller 47 Watt pencil iron. It has a pretty chunky tip that has a lot of Thermal mass.  I think this is the key using any soldering iron or gun.  A large thermal mass allows quick heat transfer.  This is key to getting a good joint without heating a big section of rail.

I have also used a 100 watt iron soldering feeders to LGB track without any problems.  Again it has a large thermal mass in the tip as it was designed for leaded glass work.

Dale Gloer


Stephen P. Kaplan
 

Let's consider a few different approaches that don't require a second mortgage.

1. Go to the Division 4 website - www.div4.org - click on clinics from the list over on the right side. Near the bottom of the clinics page you will see a PDF link to Bruce Bowie's Powerpoint presentation "Making and Using a Static Grass Applicator". It starts with a harbor Freight electronic fly swatter.AND it works!

2. You will find all kinds of articles on the web  - most referring back to Don Thomas's 1992 article and presentation on a low cost one. I built one from  his instructions. It is fantastic for soldering track and track feeds, and I have also soldered a little brass with it. Google "don thomas resistance solder" and you will find many references to the articles.


Steven Low
 

Thank you to all for your replies.  Much useful information here.  Let me ask another dumb question. I do try to solder the feeder to the side of the rail but have trouble securing it in contact with the rail.  You can't just use the soldering iron tip because when you pull away the wire may come along with it before the solder cools, holding it in place.  Are there some sort of clips or some technique to ensure the feeder stays in contact while the solder cools?

--
Steven C. Low, Executive Director
810 406-9634 (cell)


Tim Johnson
 

I just use a needle nose pliers with a rubber band around the handles to hold the wire in place. I bend the end of the wire being soldered so when the wire is held to the rail, the wire tip is forced against the rail. With the pliers holding the wire in place, your hands are free to hold the iron and solder.

Tim
Timothy A Johnson, Tucson, AZ (www.sbb-bls-bahnen.com)
Member of European Train Enthusiasts (www.ete.org)

On 12/18/2020 10:46 AM, Steven Low wrote:
Are there some sort of clips or some technique to ensure the feeder stays in contact while the solder cools?

--
Steven C. Low, Executive Director
810 406-9634 (cell)


wirefordcc
 

Forceps work well to and will stay in place by themselves.

For those using resistance soldering tweezers with stainless steel tips, the tweezers will hold the wire in place.  After you take your foot off the switch, continue holding the tweezers closed until the solder joint cools - about 10 seconds.  This will not solder the tweezers to your connection.

Allan Gartner
Wiring for DCC 


Rich Randall
 

reverse spring tweezers

for some reason solder does not stick to them


Rich Randall
Gettysburg, PA

Modeling The Milwaukee Road
at Avery, ID, in O Scale

The BSME is now on facebook: 



-----Original Message-----
From: Steven Low <steven.charleslow@...>
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Sent: Fri, Dec 18, 2020 12:46 pm
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] resistance soldering

Thank you to all for your replies.  Much useful information here.  Let me ask another dumb question. I do try to solder the feeder to the side of the rail but have trouble securing it in contact with the rail.  You can't just use the soldering iron tip because when you pull away the wire may come along with it before the solder cools, holding it in place.  Are there some sort of clips or some technique to ensure the feeder stays in contact while the solder cools?

--
Steven C. Low, Executive Director
810 406-9634 (cell)


Brian Eiland
 

Stainless steel tips?   What are the best tips for the tweezers of an American Beauty unit? I thought I  recall reading something about carbon rods from a welding supply shop??
Brian


On Fri, Dec 18, 2020 at 5:03 PM wirefordcc <bigboy@...> wrote:
Forceps work well to and will stay in place by themselves.

For those using resistance soldering tweezers with stainless steel tips, the tweezers will hold the wire in place.  After you take your foot off the switch, continue holding the tweezers closed until the solder joint cools - about 10 seconds.  This will not solder the tweezers to your connection.

Allan Gartner
Wiring for DCC 


Brian Lewis
 

Have you never heard of forceps with ceramic types? Perfect for your application. Have a look on ebay - you will find hundreds of them there.

On 18/12/2020 17:46, Steven Low wrote:
 Are there some sort of clips or some technique to ensure the feeder stays in contact while the solder cools?

--

Regards and thanks

 

Brian Lewis


wirefordcc
 

You can by carbon jaws for resistance soldering.  But they are just that, jaws.  I think they might be too big soldering feeders to track.  If anyone has used the carbon tips, I'd like to hear what you think of them.

The stainless steel tips work great.  They do two things.  One, the somewhat high resistance of stainless steel is what heats up when you step on the pedal.  Two, solder doesn't stick to stainless steel.  So when you take your foot of the pedal, you can continue to hold the work until it cools.

Allan Gartner
Wiring for DCC


Robert J. Richter
 

Most use solid wire that is coming up from the hole in the layout base, this, when bent correctly, holds the wire in place while soldering

 

Robert J. Richter

283 Elm Street

North Reading, MA 01864

 

From: w4dccqa@groups.io [mailto:w4dccqa@groups.io] On Behalf Of Steven Low
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2020 12:46 PM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] resistance soldering

 

Thank you to all for your replies.  Much useful information here.  Let me ask another dumb question. I do try to solder the feeder to the side of the rail but have trouble securing it in contact with the rail.  You can't just use the soldering iron tip because when you pull away the wire may come along with it before the solder cools, holding it in place.  Are there some sort of clips or some technique to ensure the feeder stays in contact while the solder cools?


--

Steven C. Low, Executive Director

810 406-9634 (cell)

 


Dale Gloer
 

My PBL system has tungsten tips on the tweezers.  They will heat to red hot if power is applied long enough and solder does not stick to them.

Dale Gloer


Gary Chudzinski
 

Suffice it to say, elevating the surface(s) to be soldered to the correct temperature is extremely important to avoid a cold solder joint. A solder joint on rails can experience stresses from temperature and humidity change. So, it's important to do a good job by whatever means! How that is achieved depends on the skill of the beholder. I agree with Jim Betz that a person, not so experienced at soldering, might melt the ties while soldering electrical drops. IMHO, it is important to be knowledgeable of the right tools for the job and the process for reliable soldering. Fast Tracks web site has a good video on "How to Solder" with some interesting comments about heat transfer, solder flow and flux application. Also, one can download instructions for those that don't find reading a burden. I have a resistance solder tool and love it, but then I had mega drops on my large S gauge layout! For a small layout, it may not be cost effective to purchase one that just collects dust when the job is finished. A good solder iron/station is a better choice! My first solder job was at age fourteen when I received an electronic multi project kit for Christmas. I had a lot to learn about soldering, but I think I have the hang of it sixty seven years later!  ☺


Dave Emery