Category Archives: Soldering and Wiring

Soldering Irons: 2 choices for small works

Honing one’s skill with soldering is gained over time and the right tools help.

The most important tool is the soldering iron, many good ones are on the market so deciding which one feels good in your hand trumps every recommendation I will hence forth make. Working with mini-club due to small scale and plastics require delicate operation so one cannot stress the importance of an iron that is comfortable, but two irons that I want to share have been newly introduced to me that are very good and both made by Weller.

The first iron is part of a kit, it is sold with a base station that includes a holder and sponge, but it also regulates the output if the iron is plugged into it. It comes with a standard flat tip, but numerous tips are available including pencil tips which I like for circuit board soldering. This kit sells without solder for $45 on Ebay with free shipping. Features solid construction and multiple heat settings: Weller SPG 40.

The second iron is battery operated, it works with 4 batteries and reaches full output in 30 seconds. Weller claims it will do hundreds of soldered joints with one set of batteries, when it stops melting solder it is time for a new change of batteries. It is a really nice iron for easy cordless operation and lightweight handling plus includes a work light. The standard tip is a pencil tip, the kit also includes a clip to hold it between solders, solder, and batteries. This is $20 at Sears Hardware. One difficulty with this iron is the rather tenacious grip of the battery holder clips, it is required to press the sides of the battery holder to slide the compartment out which is not easy. The solder also includes a plastic cap to keep the tip clean during storage, I recommend removing the batteries between uses in case the switch is turned on thereby possibly creating a fire hazard! Two settings on the power button include low and high temp, I found low temp worked perfectly for soldering fine solder and 30 gauge wire: Weller Light Duty 6-8 watts cordless battery operated iron.

Siding: flux core solder is the recommended due to its ease of use, it does not require a separate flux.

Tinning: the soldering practice briefly explained

Tinning is simply the soldering of stranded wire to make solid wire, but many railroaders are not aware of this practice and its benefits.

Why tin? Soldering the ends of stranded wire eliminates the fraying of stranded wire which can become a nuisance over time when the wires leading from the feeder track have to be stripped for the transformer posts. Also this type of wire is easier to cut to length for intricate repair work. It is not recommended for Marklin plugs because it can be brittle and break when screwed into these connections, Marklin wire makes a better connection with these plugs.

Before soldering a connection it is recommended practice to tin the ends of stranded wire to make soldering easier.

Siding: mini-club wiring of circuit boards can be a touchy exercise, tinning the ends of wires to be used and cut to just enough length will shorten the time the circuit board is subjected to soldering.