As anyone who works with model railroads knows, a soldering iron is a valuable tool. You can connect wires by twisting them together or using a terminal block, but soldering them together is by far the superior method of joining wires together. Soldering provides a stronger and longer lasting connection, as well as allowing a better flow of electricity. You want strong connections as the vibrations caused by the trains can cause weak connections to come loose over time.
There are three different types of soldering you will do when working on a model railroad: rail to rail, rail to wire, and wire to wire. When soldering rail to rail, you’ll want to first clean the rail. Any small pieces of debris can interfere with the connection and cause issues. Hold your soldering iron on one side of the joint, and the solder on the other side. Solder naturally moves towards heat (one of its many useful features), so the heat of the iron will pull the solder through the joint. Remember, you need very little solder when connecting joints that small. If you solder joint is a bit messy, use sandpaper (the finer the better) to smooth the joint.
When soldering wire to rail, heat the wire and apply solder at the joint. When soldering wire to wire, I would recommend using some of our solder paste. It’s easy to use and provides superior electrical conductivity. Once you have soldered the wires together, make sure to put electrical tape over the connection to reduce the risk of electric shock (plus it looks nicer).
I want to give a special thanks to Dennis for providing me with some pictures of his model railroad. Dennis recently starting using a 7700 because he was tired of the wire on his corded soldering iron getting in his way. In his words, “The 7700 is great! It is especially useful to me when I have to get under the train layout to solder wires.” Whether you’re looking to get into building model railroads or have been doing it for years, you’ll want a reliable soldering iron. If that describes you, then be sure to check out our Model 7700. Click the link to get yours!