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Re: [Z_Scale] Soldering Marklin Z Scale Track

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  • zbendtrack@aol.com
    ... Thanks to one of our members up in Dallas who has more electronic measurement equipment than many laboratories, he discovered that Z scale track is about
    Message 1 of 4 , May 27, 2006
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      Docfreed:

      > I have often soldered my other gauge track (N-Gauge) because the
      > nickel-silver alloyhas a large (relative) resistance that few modelers ever even
      > mention. On a long layout it can explain why trains often slow down and speed up
      > for no reason.

      Thanks to one of our members up in Dallas who has more electronic measurement
      equipment than many laboratories, he discovered that Z scale track is about
      equivalent to 30 AWG wire. That's not very good is it? No wonder trains slow
      down on the far side of a layout. And heaven help you if you get a short
      (derailment or tool on the track) on the far side of the layout with a 30 AWG
      power distribution system. Something's going to get hot (if not smoke). You want
      the circuit breaker in the pack to pop quickly when short occur and not just
      heat up you wiring and/or track.

      Soldering track is *highly* recommended (leave an expansion joint every three
      feet or so).

      There are some standard tricks to soldering Marklin track.

      1. Nothing, not solder or paint, will stick to metal oxides (corrosion) on
      rails. Use a rotary metal scratch wheel in a Dremel tool to brighten up the
      area you plan to solder before you start (both side of the rail and the edge of
      the rail joiner). Make it shine pretty good, and no dull oxides left.

      2. Use a hot iron, never a cold one. A 30 to 50 watt iron with a flat
      bladed screwdriver tip seems to work very well (not a cone shaped tip). The flat
      surface will transfer a lot of heat in a hurry, long before you start to melt
      ties/sleepers in both directions from the joint. A cheap light dimmer would be
      helpful to adjust the temperature of the iron to just the right temperature.
      A cold iron invites poor solder flow (cold joints) and you have to keep the
      iron on the junction so long ties will melt in both directions.

      3. Apply a tiny amount of non-acid flux at the junction of the rail joiner,
      rail and rail. That's pretty important, by the way. Really, really speeds
      up the soldering operation.

      4. Plan to "solder" at the rail joiner/rail junctions, not on the side of
      the rail. The rail joiner will "wick" the molten solder down and under the
      rail, out of sight, and give you a great electrical bond.

      5. If you take longer than 1 second to complete the rail junction joint,
      something above is missing.

      6. You would be wise to solder a power feeder wire every 2 feet or so which
      would go through the table top and connect up with a "backbone" feeder of 18
      AWG wire going back to the powerpack. The "gap" should only be about 1/16 inch
      or wheels will "catch" on it.

      A very short piece of 24 AWG solid wire makes a wonderful feeder wire. Tin
      it first, bend it into an L shape with the short side of the L about 1/8 inch
      long, and just "reflow" the soldered rail junction to the feeder wire to solder
      it in place. Dont try to solder the feeder wire to the rail joiner in the
      first "solder" operation. If the rails are soldered, and the feeder wire
      pretined, the addition of the feeder wire is just a 1/4 second "reflow" of the
      solder already on the railjoiner/rails. Switch to a larger 18 AWG wire under the
      table.

      7. Take a look at the wiring plan shown in the manual at
      www.zbendtrack.org
      even if your layout is not modular.

      8. The rails themselves are great heat sinks. I've never had to use "heat
      sinks" on the rails (so long as the soldering operation is fast, fast, fast)
      If you prepare the junction as noted above and have a hot iron, you will be -in
      and -out- long before the ties melt (1 second).

      9. Warning, opinion follows:

      Take two pieces of dissimilar metal and press them together. Then drown the
      junction with oil, grime, water, and dirt and oxygen over a period of time.
      How long do you think the junction would conduct?

      That's exactly what happens with rail joiners when you pour tons of water
      base scenery on top of them. Plus oils from the train itself, over time. I
      don't put much faith in rail joiners as a long-term electrical circuits, but they
      are wonderful for mechanical rail alignment.

      Everyone has opinions, now you have mine. Do what your talents, time, tools,
      skills and common sense require.

      Hope this gives you some ideas,
      Bill K.
      Houston


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