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Discussion Starter #1
I am presently working on a door track for school ( I am a teacher) and I've tried both the solderless approach using the tabs and trying to solder to the bottom of the rail using a wet rag however both came off when I went to connect I guess I moved them around to much. I 've done some research on the site and I'm curious," What is the best way to Solder a Custom Terminal Track?" I want the contact to be strong because I plan on moving the track and even making different layouts without having to redo a terminal everytime.. This is my second door track the first I used the custom terminals of Greg Brauns his wire seemed to be very flexible and I was wondering if that was part of the trick and if that type of wire is available at Home Deopt, if so what type is it?
 

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I can offer these tips from my own experiance and what I've been able to read. There are a couple different ways to get this done.

Check out this site for one method:

http://www.supervipersystems.com/VargoSpeedway/HO_Tech/Power_Taps/power_taps.html

You can also solder wires to the underside of a real terminal track. You'll probably want to cut off the side box as well as seperating the common ground. Each lane should have it's own ground connection.

On my track, I soldered my wires to the underside of the rail on a regular straight. I used solid wire, but when I do it again, I would use flexible stranded wire. After soldering, I hot glued the wires to the underside of the track for a few inches to hopefully prevent me from pulling on the connection. The wires are about a foot in length and I put a male (or female) connector on the end. I can then plug the wires from the power pack and controller into these terminal track wires. My wires pass through to the underside of the table. If you choose to run them out the side, you'll need to create an opening on the side.

I may also try this next time. Take an old useless piece of track and remove the rail. Then on the underside of my terminal track, grind away some of the plastic to expose more rail. I would then solder a small piece of the rail from the old piece to the rail of the terminal track at a right angle. This then gives me more surface area to connect my wires by either soldering or even a male/female arrangement using the small piece of rail I soldered as the male end.

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, I see one of the things I did wrong was I drilled my holes in the table directly under where the taps were to go and they broke during installation. Can I substitute the flexible stranded wire for the solid core wire they mention. Also, I wired my track with 14 gauge wire, is t okay to the 18 gauge at the power taps?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The other way you mention, adding a piece of metal to the rail sounds similar to the way mentioned on the howorld website. I attempted in the past with Tyco and it worked okay but with the Tomy and the funny shaped ends I felt it would be extremely tedious and more of an exact science.
 

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With a tad bit of work you can convert stock terminal tracks to easy taps that accept a blue crimp female spade connector...

Got some pics in my photos...

I'm electrician so I prefer mechanical connections...:thumbsup:

I have #10 mains,#14 wire runs, and #18 taps...works fine with super stocks..
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, I tried that and it worked until I moved the track then the metal connections came off.
 

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It's all in the prep work :)

I've always prefered soldered connections myself. Follow a few simple steps and it goes pretty well.

First, if you look at the bottom of a Tomy straight, you'll see reinforcing ribs the run perpendicular to the track. I drill a hole in these for each wire to feed it through towards the soldering point. This removes all strain on the connection point.



Next, at your soldering point you want to expose some extra rail material. Two steps will get you plenty. First, cut away about 1/4" more of the rail channel. (I use x-actos, straight and flat blades)



For the second step, you gotta look real close....where the rails protrude through the bottom of the track there is a little "step". Cut this away as well. A cross section explains it better:



There's you're rail prep. For the main event, I always use 14 AWG stranded for taps, and a 45W soldering "pencil" with a flat tip. You need a good amount of heat quickly. Pre-bend and generously tin your wires...you want enough solder on them to do the job without having to add any while working. A bonus of those "feed holes" mentioned in the first step is that your wires are not flopping all over while you try to work. When you're ready to hit it, you should be looking at something like this:



I do this with the track face down on a soaking wet paper towel. I don't use special solder but stay away from real high silver content as it seems to need more heat to flow. I put a few drops of liquid flux on the whole joint and hit it for just enough time to get the solder flowing. Don't twist your wires prior to tinning, btw, if they are straight they will sort of wrap themselves around the edge of the rail a little, giving a stronger connection. After all four rails are done, I use epoxy or hot-glue to cover all my work back to those strain-relief holes.

After you do a few, it gets pretty easy. Good luck. :)
 

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Helps your solder stick if you scar/scratch/nick the rails with an exacto blade before tinning.If you do use solid core wire,polish it with a wire wheel in your dremel and also scar/scratch/nick it before tinning.Rosen core solder and rosin core paste flux,do not use acid core based solders or fluxes.
 

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I've always had better luck using liquid flux Rick, my theory is that this is because it is starting to work before you actually hit the work, reducing time needed to get it all flowing. Plus you get a uniform coating, no questions about it.

I forgot to add that right before I take tip to wire, I push down on the track to bring a bead of water up through the crack along the rail...helps keep the area directly around the work cool.

:thumbsup:
 

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A needle tip applicator bottle (like a micro oiler) works extremely well for applying liquid flux. I prefer liquid rosin flux for all soldering applications. Paste has the same active ingredients but makes more of a mess. Don't forget to clean all the metal surfaces beforehand with 90% isopropyl alcohol, before applying the flux. After the soldered joint has cooled, clean the joint with isopropyl alcohol to remove any residual flux. Rosin flux is non reactive but it's still a good idea to clean up after you are done. It looks better and allows you to get a look at the quality and integrity of the joint.

Another tool that works very well for prepping the metal surfaces beforehand is a fiberglass scratch brush. These come in two sizes, a micro size (2 mm) that can reach into very small openings and a larger size that works well on larger surfaces. The micro size scratch is also an awesome comm polisher for cars that have exposed comms (Wizzard, Slottech, Tyco, LL-M, Mega G, etc.) and the larger size works well for cleaning pickup shoes (it is the basis for the BSRT shoe cleaning pen).
 

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LOL,I meant to just say rosin core flux Gene,must'a been thinking about something else (toothpaste maybe:drunk:),paste or liquid both styles of flux work very well.:thumbsup:
Rick
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the advice, I went with soldering the wires to the rails, cutting away the supports and then epoxying in the wires. The only problem is the tracks tend to raise up off the surface making a hill. I was considering pulling the wire gently from underneath then taping them down using staples to support the tape. Once I accomplish the tasking of having them lay flat, I was going to tack the rest of the track down using silicone instead of screws or nails just in case I wanted to pull it up at a later date. Any suggestions?
 
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