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