Jump to content
chris

Bonding Track

Recommended Posts

So, lets have your tips on bonding tracks.

I'm cr*p with a soldering iron and don't like this job at all. Worst part is that it has to be done outdoor and I just can't keep my iron hot enough.

One tip I picked up recently is to solder a short length of bonding wire to the end of each rail (so four short bond wires per track length) and then once the track has been laid outside you simply solder the bonding wires together, saving you having to solder the track outside. This does mean that there are three solder joints that can fail rather than two, but if the joints are better in the first place this should reduce the risk rather than increase it.

Next time I'm laying track I'll give it a go and report back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good idea for a thread Chris and one that will be especially interesting to those just entering the outdoor scene as well as to the more seasoned outdoor modeller.

I'm also not very confortable with a soldering iron but I have got better with experience and can see that my more recent efforts are way above some of those I did in the beginning. However, I do feel there must be better ways.....

The indoor guys generally don't solder bonding wires across rail joins, preferring instead to run bus wires around or along the length of the layout with seperate feeds from that to each individual track section. Does anyone think that would be a better idea for outdoor layouts? Has anyone done just that? Does either technique hold advantages over the other when used outdoors?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mick said:

The indoor guys generally don't solder bonding wires across rail joins, preferring instead to run bus wires around or along the length of the layout with seperate feeds from that to each individual track section. Does anyone think that would be a better idea for outdoor layouts? Has anyone done just that? Does either technique hold advantages over the other when used outdoors?

This is something I'm having to give serious consideration to right now. I've been practicing on some old hornby track I have lying around and my results have got a lot better. I do have to say that my results only really improved when I purchased a tub of Rosin flux after watching a video on how to solder hand made points. I put a very small amount onto the end of each bond wire and tin it. the solder flows so much more easily you have to see it to beleive it. The same can be said with the track as well. A small amount of flux on the rail ( and I mean the smallest smear), and you can very easily tin the track. Put the wire and the track together and put the iron on top of the wire, the tinning melts, and you add a small dab of fresh solder if required. Nice neat and very quick.

As we all know solder will not stick to dirty materials and flux helps to chemically clean the material you are soldering. Better still, Rosin flux does not leave an acidic residue to cause corrosion later. A quick wipe with a damp cloth is sufficient to clean up afterwards.

Oh and yes, 60/40 lead solder is much easier to use and melts at lower temperatures that a silver based solder... :!:

Now my only problem is me eyesight. Even with me glasses on, it's still a struggle to see what I'm doing... :D

Duncan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Oh and yes, 60/40 lead solder is much easier to use and melts at lower temperatures that a silver based solder

Yes, do try and get hold of some 60/40 tin/lead solder, I find it much better and easier to use that the new lead free variety.

Get the joint hot enough, the solder should melt on the joint not the iron.

Above all make sure that the joint to be soldered is clean, a glass fibre pen is ideal for this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mick said:

The indoor guys generally don't solder bonding wires across rail joins, preferring instead to run bus wires around or along the length of the layout with seperate feeds from that to each individual track section. Does anyone think that would be a better idea for outdoor layouts? Has anyone done just that? Does either technique hold advantages over the other when used outdoors?

When I started I had a long roll of Twin and Earth mains cable in the loft so I have used that as a bus cable which runs under the tracks. I do find the cables a bit thick to work with, it's 30amp solid core, but having a continuous run of copper below the track is useful, especially towards the ends as I'm always certain that I have a good signal on the bus. I have several droppers down to the bus in the shed, but only a couple outside. I find it best to keep the number of holes in the baseboard to a minimum, so far I've only put droppers in where they were necessary, ie after a point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Attached is a picture of a track bond on my railway. I have bonded each track join where I had employed metal fishplates. Not one of my tidiest I admit :oops: but I had never used a soldering iron before taking on this project - I had just read about it and watched some film footage of people doing it. For example, I soon found out that solder wont flow anywhere without flux :!: Attached to the bonding wires are some power feeds. Ballasting has toned down the impact of these joints (I went around the layout putting sleepers into the gaps before I ballasted).

The alternative was to use a bus wire around the whole layout, with droppers to each piece of track, as suggested by somebody else I think, in this thread. As I was laying track around an already established trackbed / garden, I decided it was easier to bond the track joints, rather than run a bus wire around. If I were building a straightforward circuit around the garden at high level, I would probably consider using the bus wire concept, runnign it around the edge or underneath my trackbase. Also, with my trackplan having a number sidings / loops, I thought it would cut down on the amount of wiring I would need. On the section where I have 4 parallel running lines (ie up & down main lines and their loops), I have simply put jumper feeds across from each line to the next.

22042011150.jpg

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've yet to have a bond fail, but it is an issue with outdoor railways. One of the arguments against tunnels is "what happens if a bond fails in a tunnel?" Well here's my two suggestions.

Have just one track joint in the tunnel, if the bond stops conducting then rely on the feed from the other end of the track which is outside the tunnel.Solder two bonds per rail per joint. With two wires in place you have a back up if one fails. It won't look pretty, but its hidden in the tunnel.

Have long bonding wires that run the length of the tunnel. Rather than bonding a centimetre either side of the join, bond at the tunnel mouth which will remain accessible.

Edited by Guest

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all, been browsing the forum for a few weeks as i had been pondering putting some OO in the garden but not actually tried to set anything up. I had left some Nickel Silver track out to weather for a year to see how it faired and decided to rig up legth of 'temporary' track in my border. :D

Anyway, it may be a bit permenent but after cleaning up the ends, i used a Weller 100W solder gun to solder the fishplate/trackjoint combo. It's not totally saturated in solder so should undo if needed. This is just 3 lengths of code75 (i know i know 100 would be more durable) on some treated CLS, sitting in my border with a simple Bachmann DCC system borrowed from the attic!

Just thought i'd mention this method in case others had tried it and found it to fail over time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First off, if it hasn't been said already somewhere else; Welcome to our forum. :)

Hmmm... three pieces. If it's flex that's nine feet. It sounds like you have a layout already. From my way of thinking it's time to expand. he he he

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the welcome traingeekboy and yeah i guess it is, but it's not even fixed or anything...just balanced on some small CLS planks. Thinking about my direct soldering method, it might be ok for maybe upto three but i still need expansion joints i guess so some will have to be free moving fishplates with bonding wire.

I just wanted to run my class37 up an down to see how it sounded outside...the verdict was...i want more! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've used your technique successfully. My preferred method now is to solder the link wires to one end of the track section before laying, and tin the other end. I find his gives a neater result. The job must still be finished after the track has been laid, but pre-tinning makes it easier. Make sure you use a powerful enough iron though; a thermostatically controlled iron is even better. A good resin-cored electrical solder is also important.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Decided to pop a post in this thread, mainly because this subject is being discussed elsewhere.

I work in a similar way to the above posting. Although I'm not adverse to bonding two lengths of flexi together indoors to save me a couple of joints outside.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see that we have two threads on the same topic: one called Track Bonding (here: http://www.oogardenrailway.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=405''>http://www.oogardenrailway.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=405'>http://www.oogardenrailway.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=405) and this one called Bonding Track. Perhaps Stationmaster Mick can combine (if not bond!) the two...

Today it was a sunny afternoon so I decided to catch up with some overdue bonding. It is much harder doing it in situ out of doors compared to in the comfort of the kitchen.

So I was grateful to whoever had suggested soldering a pair of jumpers to one end (not both!) of each length of track before laying them. This meant that I had half as many joints to make at the trackside. Even so, quality is hard to achieve. Some joints seem to come out OK, looking like this:

an1.jpg

Others just don't go as well. You can clearly see (below) the ugly gobbet of solder on the outdoor joint compared to the rather better indoor one (not to mention the melted sleeper ends). The gobbets need to be filed down or done again.

an2.jpg

Sometimes solder ends up on the railhead too, and this has to be filed off. Once the whole thing is rust-painted it doesn't look too bad.

My main conclusions are: a) to scratch the side of the rail with a screwdriver in order to show some bright metal, b) to tin the ends of the jumpers before attaching them at all, and c) always to use plenty of flux on both parts of the job.

Finally, it's worth using some kind of heatsink to protect the plastic track base or to hold the wire against the rail while soldering. I have borrowed this idea of turning a small pair of grippers or pliers into a self-grip tool by means of a rubber band:

an3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow - very tidy soldering. I fully agree, do as much as you can indoors for the best and easiest results. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea of the other thread is that that one is a "how to guide" rather than a thread. If someone suggests an improved way of working I'll edit the how to. The aim being that people won't have to wade through 5 pages of a thread to find all the best tips.

If you are struggling to solder outside, and in February, it is next to impossible, then here's a couple of tips. While inside, tin the end of the bonding wire and the bit of the rail you'll be bonding to. When outside it should be the case of pressing the two together and applying the iron.

Another way is to add bonding wires to both rail ends. When outside all you have to do is solder the two wires together, which should be a lot easier than wire to rail.

Bit late now, but I use 5 amp fuse box wire for bonds, there's a lot less wire to heat up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael Adamson once put the job of soldering into context;

1. You HAVE to get the work HOT, if it's not hot enough the solder won't flow properly.

2. Cleanliness is most important, I use a small old electrical flat bladed screwdriver to scape the side of the rail till it's silver. If you don't do that soldering will not work as the solder cannot bond with the rails that are covered in oxidisation and atmospheric dirt. Don't use brass wire brushes in mini drills to clean the rail sides as the brush will melt the tiny plastic chairs.

3. Once you've cleaned the rail sides tinning with a good blob of solder is a good idea. I also tin the copper wire that will be soldered to the rail side by coating it with flux and rubbing the soldering iron over it with a bit of solder on the iron tip. Remember to keep your iron tip clean which is easy by wiping it on a small damp piece of sponge.

4. If you use a liquid flux don't be timid with it and don't be afraid to slosh on a good amount. You can never have too much flux but you can have too little.

5. Flux seems to come in soppy little bottles and my advise is to decant the flux into an old glass jam jar with a metal screw lid. The is nothing worse than being in full flight with the soldering iron only to knock the soppy little flux bottle over. Believe me I've done it.

6. Soldering is one of those tasks that just needs PRACTICE. That's all there is to it.

Roy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm running a DCC system rated at 2 amps. Trains, when moving, pull less than 0.5 amp. With this in mind I chose to use a single wire of 5 amp fuse box wire to bond across fish plates.

With DCC you're not just working with voltage and current, there is also a high frequency data signal transmitted through the tracks. Thicker wires should help reduce signal loss, but that would only be a concern on a long cable. My bonds are about 3 cm long and they have worked well for me.

The smaller the wire, the easier to solder, but potentially easier to break.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...