Last week I was packing up the toolbox to go exhibiting and I couldn't find one of my more useful tools - the long flyleads. For the uninitiated, these are lengths of wire with a croc clip on each end.
For such a simple tool, they are incredibly useful. Every morning at a show, I connect one end of them to the back of an old controller and hold the other on the wheels of a loco. Turn on the power and the wheels revolve for cleaning.
Beyond this, if there is an electrical problem, I can connect them on to the end of a tester to extend its wire if required. While not required that often in the toy train world, when you are working on a 14ft long VW campervan, this can be invaluable.
Sometimes they are a fix in themselves. I've sometime found there is a problem in a particular wire and rather than dismantle plugs and sockets to trace it, I'll clip a flylead in place to funnel the electric juice where I want it. That buys me time to do the job properly when it suits me and there aren't a load of punters gawping at me from the other side of the barrier.
Making a lead is easy. These were both produced using equipment wire from Rail Room Electronics. This is extra-flexible stuff intended for test leads. Normal wire is stiff and doesn't take too kindly to constant waving around - it will work but not as well as this stuff. A 4 metre hank cost me £1.65 to which I added a couple of croc clips at 50p each. These are soldered to the wire and the job is done.
Guess what I found when I put my new leads in their drawer ? Well, two more will always be handy...