Solder power tap to train track

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Here's how I solder a tap to a model train track. This method is called tack soldering or sweat soldering. Using this method minimizes heating time of work. It also maximizes strength for a small area joint, and allows two-hand soldering.


dirty rail old rail





To show how well this works, this is a section of very old very dirty rail.

Look how black the rail is with tarnish. This makes soldering very difficult.










clean the rail up





Using a sharp small scraper, I scrape rail side clean and shiny.








organic flux





If you do a lot of soldering, buy some good non-corrosive solder flux. People who solder a lot buy it by the gallon!



Fluxing the solder point is a good idea, although with a good multi-core rosin solder like WRAP 3 style solder there is usually enough flux.





heating the rail





I use wet sponges to prevent tie melting while soldering. This is the most effective method I have used. We used it in manufacturing, back when the USA made things.


Put a big dot of solder on a clean tip and heat the rail quickly. As soon as the solder flows, apply more fresh solder to work.











make a dot on rail






Make a solder dot on rail. This should be a good sized dot.












Properly prepared rail










This is what a properly prepared rail will look like.










tin lead well with abundent solder





Tin the lead well with fresh solder.












Properly prepared lead. Clean, shiny, and enough solder.






Properly tinned lead ready to form.










Bend lead to shape to fit end flat







Form the tinned lead in a hook. This will let you place a flat area against the rail dot.






















Tack without adding solder






Tack solder by sweating the lead to the dot on rail.














Finished tack soldered joint










This is a finished tack soldered joint. Notice nothing melted, not the wire insulation or the rail spikes.








Tug soldered lead to be sure it is strong mechanically.




Pull on lead to make sure it is mechanically bonded. You should be able to pull pretty hard without pulling lead loose.




















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