Track soldering doesn’t have to be difficult. Watch this tip-packed video for trouble-free track soldering.
The key here is to solder the fish plate rather than the track but then it’s becomes a challenge of how to hold the fish plate and wires while you solder.
The alligator clips of soldering hands can crush or squeeze the wire or fishplate, the technique here is an easy solution that won’t ruin the wire or fishplate.
The tips here are obvious but like all obvious tips, there’s only obvious once you know them. It works on all track gauges too.
- Solder to the track connector (fish plate) instead the actual track,
- Holding the connector in a block,
- Securing the wiring down while soldering.
If you need to bend the wire near the fish plate, it also makes sense to bend it while it’s in the block rather than trying the hold the connector and then bend the feeder.
Note for DCC users:
Although this technique is much easier it’s not fool proof you won’t always get perfect electrical connection between the rail joiners and track — so if you’re looking for perfect results, especially for DCC layouts, soldering direct to the track rails is still the better solution. Read this rail track soldering tip if this is what you have in mind and see my in-depth guide to soldering for even more tips.
I particularly like the suggestion of securing the wiring while soldering; the wires have a tendency to move around — even with helping hands — and prevent a good bond being made.
So simples, why doesn’t everyone do it this way?
The only thing I’d add is to ensure you use a good soldering iron with a fine tip and the right solder mix. Both are covered in my guide to model railway track soldering.
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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.