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@Mannyrock posted:
Problem is, . . . I just can't tin!   I have watched videos of tinning, and people seem to do it with ease.   But, whenever I try, the liquid solder forms a round glob on whatever I'm trying to tin, and then just falls off! No solder is left behind.

First rule of soldering is cleanliness is next to Godliness.  If the solder isn't adhering to the object in question, there are usually only a few reasons.

  • It's not clean enough.
  • It's not hot enough.
  • The surface isn't compatible with solder.

If you have cleaned the surface properly and have sufficient heat, you should not have any issues with solder sticking.  I've lost count of the thousands of solder joints of various types I've done, but any issues with solder not sticking has always been one of those problems.

Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

Clean is good.   Keep in mind that most of the track, we use, is a tin plated, (Galvanized, may be a small amount of lead) material.   Intense cleaning, can remove the galvanize, which makes soldering more difficult, IMO.   I have two Weller soldering guns.  The antique one, will melt just about anything plastic.

Miserable connections,  I use soldering paste, available for plumbing.

Last edited by Mike CT

As a retired big truck diesel mechanic I can guarantee that heat goes up and water goes down on this planet. The previous suggestion are Good with the addition you can put an alligator clip where you  are soldering to as close as you can to help conduct the heat away from the ties. I use the bigger weller GUN and leave 1 side of  the tip dirty, this throws more heat to the side you are working with. Hold the soldering tip against the rail and apply a bit of solder to the  tip and rail at the same time. This is a heat bridge then  add a little solder to the junction of the tip when it gets liquid. Get off instantly. Then use the same procedure with a tinned wire. Hope this helps. Charlie

My preferred method for soldering feeders is to drill a small dimple in the bottom side of the rail, tin it and the wire to be attached then solder together, no flux needed at all this way and the feeders are completely hidden. I use a resistance soldering unit which makes it even more of a snap but a low wattage iron works well too.FF484AAF-C8CF-4A90-AED1-CE40983C0651

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I agree with GRC, don't use acid based flux used in plumbing, for a number of reasons. A good rosin core flux will work well and it doesn't have the drawbacks plumbing flux will (especially if working around plastics).  I haven't tried soldering to my new track (ross sectional), but I found much what others have said, that when soldering if you have issues it usually is the area being clean or the heat. The other thing is the solder matching the material. One thing that took me a lot of years to figure out was tinning the surfaces first, it makes it a lot easier when you do the join.

I have 3 feeder wires I just can't get to stick to Gargraves. I have had this before. Im using a 40 watt soldering iron.

If this is tinplate Gargraves, all you need is to make sure it's clean and more heat.  A 40W iron isn't up to soldering most track, too big a heatsink.  Obviously, if you're soldering the black center rail, you have to remove the black coating.

I soldered all my drops on over 500 feet of track using my Weller 100/140W gun and standard 63/37 Rosin core solder.

I agree with John on the Weller gun. The more heat applied quickly is what you need. 40 watts is nowhere near enough. No fear of melting ties on the Gargraves.

Not sure what you have for layout tools. I bought a Milwaukee 12v soldering gun a while back. Solders Gargraves very well and if your doing it in place on the layout.  Your not dragging a cord around. The batteries last a decent amount of time and if you opt. for the extended life one. It rests nicely on it if you need to put it down.

Last edited by Dave_C

I've never needed heatsinks on any type of track, including Atlas plastic tie track.  In truth, any clip-on heatsink on the track is not going to make a bit of difference as far as melting ties on Atlas track, the track is a far better heatsink than any clip-on will be.

We use Atlas track on our modular club modules, and I've soldered hundreds of drops on them with my Weller gun, never an issue melting the ties.  Get in quick, get out quick and there's no issue.  It's imperative that you clean the spot on the track for the solder joint, I use the Dremel with a fiber cutoff wheel at slow speed to scuff off the surface and expose a clean spot for soldering.  Plain 63/37 Rosin Core solder is all I've ever used, and my can of flux is in the drawer for work on brass locomotives, I've never needed it for track.

By all means, I tin the wire and the track.  I actually just put a small blob of solder on the track and then just set the wire on top and apply heat.  When it melts, the wire is securely soldered.

I have soldered to the bottom when I'm initially laying track, but truthfully most of the time I do the track drops after the fact.  After you ballast, any solder joints are covered sufficiently in any case.

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