Trying to get my first SG outfit (Lionel Outfit #40) ready for the Christmas tree.

I have three sections of "power track" -  two straight, one curved, with what appears to be an early "lok-on", but permanently crimped to the rails, tack-soldered, and with binding posts and knurled thumb-nuts, like on the early Transformers.

I can see where the original solder joints are broken, and some rust on the tabs, so I decided to disassemble the curved section, clean the contact areas, tin, reassemble, and re-solder.

I carefully used my bench wire wheel (1725 rpm) to remove any rust, then tried to tin the contact areas with rosin-core 50/50 solder, and a big, old wooden-handled 75 watt iron.

When the tin-plate surface got hot enough to melt the solder, it just balled-up, rather than "running" and bonding to the rail / tabs.

After repeated attempts, and a lot of solder winding up on the bench, I placed a drop or two of Ruby Fluid tinning liquid (zinc chloride solution) on the spots, and tried again.

It sizzled, then the solder began to "run" and "take".

On the next couple spots on the rails, I tried some 600 grit on the areas before tinning, but I still had to use the Ruby Fluid to get the solder to adhere.

The rail surfaces were not rusty, just really dark gray. (Tin Pest?)

The contact tabs on the Lok-on were rusty, what I call "mouse rust" (rodent urine) or "battery rust" (leaky dry cells).  The Lok-on tabs actually tinned more easily than the rails.

Finally, all is tinned, and tonight I will re-assemble the section, crimp, and re-solder the lok-on.

So, finally the question:  once tin-plate goes dull / dark, does it become difficult to solder, due to chemical changes in the tin coating ?

Any suggestions for successful soldering?  (Besides "just buy new track !" )

A good flux that won't cause problems down the road ?

This is a labor of love right now...

Thanks !

Fran McM

( I've always found trying to solder to steel to be dodgy at best... )

 

Original Post

The Ruby fluid that you used sounds great, I tried to find out more about it on the net. I found where it was said to be an acid flux, but not corrosive. Can this be? Gunrunner, can you weigh in on this, sounds to good to be true.

Ray

Zinc Chloride is a fairly strong acid, and if you don't THOROUGHLY clean that joint of all the residue, it will very quickly rust.  It's really not stuff you want to use around electrical connections. 

From the product page.

Rubyfluid has been giving superior results for plumbers and workers in brass, copper, tin, steel and stained glass since 1907.

Note they don't mention doing electrical work with it, and that's for a good reason.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

Zinc Chloride is a fairly strong acid, and if you don't THOROUGHLY clean that joint of all the residue, it will very quickly rust.  It's really not stuff you want to use around electrical connections. 

From the product page.

Rubyfluid has been giving superior results for plumbers and workers in brass, copper, tin, steel and stained glass since 1907.

Note they don't mention doing electrical work with it, and that's for a good reason.

John,

Thanks for the tip.   So by "thoroughly cleaning the joint afterwards",   how would I do this ?

I was thinking of boiling   / or soaking in baking-soda water for 5-10 minutes, then rinsing in clear water, and quickly drying in the oven.

The pieces in question are two tubular rail and the contact tabs from a solder-on lok-on.  No soft-parts (fibre) attached.

I definitely don't want something coming back to haunt me.

Attached are some quick pics of the patient.


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Photos (2)

You can hit them with a little baking soda and a toothbrush and then thoroughly rinse.  The brushing is just to make sure to remove any residue that remains.  I usually just break out my heat gun to dry things, but the oven works as well.

I typically just use rosin flux for soldering, no risk of corrosion after the fact.  I clean it with 99% Isopropyl Alcohol.

Nation Wide Lines posted:

It sounds like you are not heating the track enough to make the solder bond well enough to the track.  I would try a bottle torch to heat the track and connector at the same time.  

That is what I am doing to repair early track that is soldered to the ties.

Thanks Nation Wide - I'll consider giving that a go.

Last night I was using a 60 W electric iron, with a 5/8" tip...

Attachments

Photos (2)

I clean off a spot on the track with the Dremel and use my Weller 100/140W gun, it has no problem at all soldering to any type of track I've tried, tubular, Fastrack, Atlas, Gargraves, etc.  The key is the surface prep before you ever touch the soldering iron.

Jagrick posted:

Holds true as long as tinplate still present, if just steel then tinning butter will ease the process. Do this a lot when reusing old track on display restorations/refurbishments

Suggestions for Product / source ?

Thanks ! 

Fran McM

Tinning butter is an acid based product!  You need to THOROUGHLY clean up after soldering if you use this stuff!

Here's one of many maker's statements on the product, this is from Johnson's Tin-Ezy.

Tin-Ezy is usually mixed with water or Johnson's Soldering Fluid to be applied as a slurry, but is also quite effective when applied dry to heated metal. Its water soluble residues remain hygroscopic and corrosive until removed. Keep lid tightly closed when not in use to prevent hardening.

Personally, I use non corrosive flux when I do any electrical work.

It's also not needed, when I solder to tubular track, I'm sure any tinning that's on it is gone after the Dremel tool gets done.  A little rosin flux and plain 63/37 Rosin Core solder does the job just fine with no soldering issues at all.  There is no need for acid based prep for any track I've ever seen!  If you can't solder to clean steel track with any surface corrosion and rust removed, you're not using the right tools.

I would not use any acid-based flux, or acid-core solder.  In any electrical application the flow of electrons will combine with the acidic residue, and a metal- the copper in the wire) will be given up resulting in a failure.

 

Use rosin flux (usually a paste available at electronics stores or online- a Radio Shack I have has served for 20+ years) is the way to go.

 

- apply flux to the wire and to the track rail

- "tin" the wire using a rosin core (or no core) solder.

- tin the track rail.

- touch the wire to the rail as you apply the iron, voila!!  In and out quickly.

I use a "zero plastic range" solder- melts at 350 degrees,  and solidifies within one degree F.  Contains about 5% Rosin Flux, and 3% silver to maintain it's brightness.  Expensive?? Sure.  But worth it. 

 

Rotanium Conductally Solder  1/16th inch #52067

 

 

Plain 63/37 Rosin Core solder is reasonably priced and melts at 361F (183C).  63/37 solder is also an eutectic alloy and transitions from solid to liquid and liquid to solid within a degree as well.

.062" is really large solder, I use .031" for general soldering and .020" for circuit board work.

IMO, you want to avoid the lead-free solder like the plague for the kind of work we do.  I had several pounds of the stuff, and it's a major PITA to work with, not to mention it has a higher melting temperature.

This page describes it best.

ROHS vs Non-ROHS Soldering

SGMA1 posted:

The SGMA takes William 1’s suggestion one step further and uses a male quick disconnect terminal to insert into the bottom fold of the rail.  This area is rarely corroded, and the electrical connection is solid.

Kirk

www.SGMA.us5307C9E7-DDFB-48CE-A467-F7FA59256580

I'm not soldering to track any more. I had problems soldering to Gargraves too. Kirk's approach is the way to go and works with tinplate and Gargraves. If you are using FastTrack, you can bend the tabs back and use a circle connector around them. I also like the lighted lock-ons. Those are a great place to install a TVS diode and help with the 5 rail track I am assembling.

George

Tinplate Art posted:

Just curious: What does a #40 outfit consist of? Thanks in advance.  ☺

Was a Lionel cataloged outfit (train set) consisting of #38 S-motor NYC electric locomotive, ( 2 ) #35 Pullman coaches, and ( 1 ) #36 Observation car.

I believe it was cataloged from about 1914 through 1922 ?

My outift  is a "bitsa", not an original set,  painted maroon, locomotive is 1914 -1918 (Lionel Mfg. Company), coaches are 1923-24-ish (latch couplers).

Track is  tin-plate wide-ties, straights are three-tie, curves are four-tie,  running with a Type T transformer.

Nice, but not too nice to play with. 

Fran McM.

 

Fran, Zinc chloride was the best flux to use in this situation. Its water soluble and washes off easily with hot water and dish soap. Rosin fluxes are useless and paste fluxes would be harder to clean off. I would have suggested first using a dremel with a steel wire brush to remove the oxide and any rust.

A mini torch would have been faster and but a big iron is OK. 

Pete

 

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