Solder like a pro

Richard Fos­ter takes (and en­joys!) a mas­ter­class in sol­der­ing with Model Rail’s Dave Low­ery.

Model Rail (UK) - - News -

Richard fos­ter takes (and en­joys!) a mas­ter­class in sol­der­ing with Model Rail's res­i­dent ex­pert Dave Low­ery.

My ‘Ged­ney’ lay­out is sup­posed to be a com­pro­mise. I want to make the scene as ac­cu­rate as pos­si­ble while mak­ing use of off-the-shelf com­po­nents, such as Code 100 track. Sig­nalling was one area where I didn’t want to com­pro­mise. Not only did the Mid­land & Great North­ern Joint Rail­way fea­ture an in­ter­est­ing col­lec­tion of mo­tive power, but its sig­nalling was just as fas­ci­nat­ing. Sig­nal boxes were ei­ther Great North­ern or Mid­land in ori­gin, while GNR som­er­sault signals rubbed shoul­ders with LNER/BR up­per quad­rant types – not to men­tion the M&GN’S con­crete posts. Model Sig­nal En­gi­neer­ing (MSE) has one of the largest ranges of sig­nalling com­po­nents and of­fered pretty much ev­ery­thing I re­quired: GNR som­er­sault signals, LNER/ER up­per quad­rants, wooden and con­crete posts. MSE is part of Wiz­ard Mod­els and you’ll find its stand at quite a few ex­hi­bi­tions up and down the coun­try through­out the year. I found all I needed at a re­cent War­ley ex­hi­bi­tion. But there was a snag. Un­like Ra­tio’s kits, MSE’S are brass and whitemetal - and I’ve never worked with ei­ther ma­te­rial be­fore. I needed to see some­one who could de­mys­tify the so-called ‘dark art’ of sol­der­ing. Who else was bet­ter qual­i­fied than Model Rail’s own mod­el­ling con­sul­tant Dave Low­ery? “We’ll have you sol­der­ing in about ten min­utes,” Dave said con­fi­dently. Re­ally? Dave started me off with a sim­ple task: join two wires to­gether. I flux both ends, ap­ply solder (a process called ‘tin­ning’) and then use the heat of the iron to sweat the two tinned ends to­gether. It’s a tech­nique I’ve used count­less times in re­cent months, with much suc­cess. Ex­cept un­der Dave’s eagle eye, the wires fell apart. So much for ten min­utes! He spot­ted the prob­lem right away. “You’re not let­ting it cool down,” he said. “The solder is still molten and then you took the iron away and they’re not held to­gether.” I’ve talked about the joy of dis­cov­er­ing flux be­fore (MR228). It made sol­der­ing drop­per wires an ab­so­lute joy. Flux, as I un­der­stood it, al­lows the solder to flow into a joint. That was partly cor­rect. “It’s not nec­es­sar­ily the solder,” Dave ex­plained, “but the heat as well.” I have a 50W An­tex sol­der­ing iron (a rec­om­men­da­tion from Ge­orge), which is per­fect for wiring work. But, ac­cord­ing to Dave, it might not be enough for kit-build­ing. “The fun­da­men­tal thing with sol­der­ing is heat. We can use this [50W iron] but it’s re­ally not go­ing to do it. You can use it to put the solder on it… but you need heat to get the solder to flow into the joint.” ROB TIBBITS/COLOUR RAIL Even whitemetal, ex­plained Dave, which has a lower melt­ing point than brass, will still “suck the heat out”. Let’s see how we get on…

Ivatt ‘4MT’ No. 43068 ar­rives at Ged­ney­with a brake van on Septem­ber 3 1963. The sig­nal be­hind has a tall, con­crete post, with a som­er­sault arm and a minia­ture wooden post, also with a som­er­sault arm. The one be­hind that has a con­crete post but has an LNER up­per quad­rant arm.

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