Thursday, December 15, 2016

You can't solder to Hornby track, so how do you get the electricity in?

Phil from in front of a layout he is trying to wire says:

Arghhh!!! I'm trying to solder wires to some old Hornby track and the stuff won't stick. Even with flux, the solder just smears on the surface like toothpaste on a mirror. 

Phil answers: Hornby steel track is coated with a lacquer to stop it rusting. I think this applies to both old and new rails - the coating helps keep the track clean (good) but you really need to to use one of the companies proprietary methods of attaching wires to it. Either the R602 power clip or  the more substantial section of track with screw terminals applied with some sets, are the solutions. 

That's fine except where you need lots of feeds. On nickel-silver track I'll happily solder wires to the side in a matter of seconds. Here, it wasn't working. 

After much head scratching, the chap I'm building the layout for reminded me that the local model shop had supplied him with some Peco pre-wired fishplates

Perfect! OK, the track had to be lifted and the existing fishplates replaced but the result was very neat and effective. With small holes drilled beside each one, the wires poked below the board, any obvious wire could be painted or covered with ballast. 

Maybe on finescale I'd still prefer solder, the wires don't bend much so you can't route them directly down under the board for total invisibility, but here they were the idea solution to the problem.


James Finister said...

Is it not possible to mechanically remove the lacquer with a file or a minitool?

Phil Parker said...

I had a polish with the fibreglass pencil and no joy. Trouble is, you are still left with steel rail which needs an active flux. And you can't clean this up after soldering, because the track is nailed to the mat.