One of the questions many model railway beginners face when moving up from basic sets is how to securely connect the power wires to the tracks of their railway. Here are the three most common, tried an tested, techniques.
Once you progress from the starter railway sets with their track connectors and add more track and circuits and start thinking about permanently fixing your track to a baseboard you’ll realise you need a way to robustly attach the track wires.
These are the three most common track wire soldering techniques, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. See the full article here.
#1 Wires soldered to the sides of track
This is quite common and has the advantage that it can be done after the track is laid, however, it does produce rather unsightly blobs of solder. If you want to go this route, remember to solder the wires on the outside surfaces, otherwise, the solder will obstruct the wheel flanges.
#2 Wires soldered to the underside of the fish plates
This can be practically invisible and is easiest if using flexitrack so that the fishplates are not welded to the tracks. When one piece of track is in position and the next is ready to be placed, drill small holes in the baseboard where the fishplates will be, then gripping a metal fishplate in pliers, solder a wire to it. Feed the wire through the hole and push onto the track. [ There’s an easy way of doing this, see soldering fish plates – MRE].
#3 Wires soldered to the underside of the track
Potentially more reliable than soldering to fishplates, but has the hazard that the heat will damage the sleepers and webbing. [ See this track soldering tip which explains this technique in more detail – ModelRailwayEngineer]
Let me know which you prefer. Add a comment below or tweet me @modelrailwayeng If you’re looking for the tools to do this, see 17 Essential Tools For Your Model Railway Tool Box and my comprehensive guide to soldering.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.