Wire base­board joints

Chris Leigh shows you how to solder plugs and sock­ets be­tween base­board sec­tions for a durable, sim­ple connection solution.

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

How to make a durable, sim­ple connection be­tween base­boards.

While get­ting my Cor­nish har­bour lay­out, ‘Pol­wyd­de­lan’, match-fit for the Wy­crail ex­hi­bi­tion in High Wy­combe, prac­tis­ing tak­ing it apart and re­assem­bling it to make sure that ev­ery­thing works as it should and that I had all the nec­es­sary com­po­nents, I was re­minded of an­other un­fin­ished task. The elec­tri­cal wiring was all done above the base­board, us­ing self-ad­he­sive cop­per tape. How­ever, at the base­board joint I had con­ducted wires down out of sight un­der the base­board, mak­ing the elec­tri­cal connection by sim­ply twist­ing two wires to­gether. While this had been fine for home use, it wasn’t durable enough to rely on for ex­hi­bi­tion use, nor did it look tidy and pro­fes­sional, so it needed to be sorted out. I had some suit­able Expo plugs and sock­ets left over from my pre­vi­ous project, the Railway Chil­dren ‘O’ gauge lay­out, and this is how I put them to good use…

The plugs and sock­ets are from the Expo Drills and Tools range and they come in two sep­a­rate packs. Make sure you buy the cor­rect size plugs for the sock­ets.

Here, the red socket is dis­man­tled to show the com­po­nents. The threaded sec­tion with the red col­lar is mounted in a hole in the panel, with the thin metal tag be­tween it and the nut.

I chose red and black plugs and sock­ets to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the pos­i­tive (red) and neg­a­tive (green) wires. I ex­posed about a ¼in of wire from the ends of each wire.

One end of each wire was then in­serted fully into each plas­tic plug sleeve and the screw tight­ened un­til it gripped the wire. Don’t over­tighten, but make sure the wire is held firmly.

Fix­ing the sock­ets in place is fid­dly. First, the other bare end of the pos­i­tive wire was passed through the small hole in the metal tag. The next job is to fix it se­curely in place.

A spot of flux, some or­di­nary elec­tri­cal solder and a hot sol­der­ing iron were then ap­plied for a mo­ment and the wire se­curely sol­dered to the tag. Re­peat for the neg­a­tive (green) wire.

I needed a small panel on which to mount the sock­ets so I cut a square of ⅛in ply­wood. When drilling thin ply, al­ways back it with a piece of scrap wood to pre­vent it split­ting.

Pass the threaded socket through the ply, add the tag and then the nut and tighten the nut. The fin­ished unit can then be po­si­tioned where it is ac­ces­si­ble. Ideally, it should be easy to get at.

I fixed the panel with the two sock­ets in place with some wood glue and held it with a G-clamp while the glue set. It now pro­vides a sturdy but easy to dis­man­tle elec­tri­cal connection.

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