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flyboy, I've never been concerned with what you suggest. I lay the 2-3 flex track on the floor or bench with all 4 rail ends flush and hit the joiners with solder..Then I solder it at one end of the curve (outside rail all sliding) to the fixed track and bring it around to the other end, and if too long (holding it on top of fixed rail) I'll clip it off with the Xuron nipper paying attention to the possibly staggered fixed rail's end lengths. If I cut too much off I'll straighten it out again and solder on a good enough extension, redo the fitting-in ceremony and solder it to the fixed-rails...Also, if on the main the cork will already have been installed, making the eyeballing of the job easier...:rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #22
I’m gonna try to stagger the outer rails this evening and see what happens. Only one way to find out right
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Well I guess the reason I’m going to try it is what I have going on right now isn’t working? I’m well aware that the outside rail is going to move. You don’t have to be a mechanical mastermind or rocket scientist to understand that. My issue is not with a rail moving my issue is it’s not keeping the curve through the joint. The rail joints are almost able to be measured with a protractor because they kink where they are soldered together and I’m not going to rip out roughly 20 feet of track to solder them on the floor and my bench isn’t long enough to solder that much track on. So I guess what am I out for at least trying a different method
 

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Several of us have mentioned curve templates. Do you have a set? Have you tried using them? I think you would find them amazingly helpful in solving this problem.
 

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Your description tells me right off the bat that you did not solder the 1, 2, or 3, 3' flex sections together having first made all 4 or 6 rails from each section flush end to end (not staggered), then soldered while laid out straight on floor or long bench/table.
I've done this job a few times and never had a kink show up while bending and gluing/spiking/nailing them to either the ply or the already in place curved cork..And of course with 2-4 rail joiners between them, receiving the solder (solder engaging both joiner and rail at each joint)..
Doing this correctly guarantees a smooth curve..You must be doing something wrong if you're still winding up with kinks....
 

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Discussion Starter #27
i ended up staggering the joints at roughly half the section of track (18”) and soldered them while track was straight. It worked out good in the end because I had my pickiest locomotive running and it was smooth as silk (bli 4-8-4) the only issue I have on that loop is a couple of turnouts that need to be removed and replaced with something curved. It’s too sharp for smooth running with straight turnouts in those locations. My next adventure will be those turnouts then building up a yard for switching and maybe industry then track work will be done for the most part. Pretty much all straight running
 

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This falls under - Now you tell me.

I have just laid about a hundred feet of Atlas code 100 N/S flex track without soldering a joint. Always used rail joiners and rail joiners only. Haven't had a problem but must admit, some joints on curves are not as smooth as they could be.

So, for future reference, how are you going about this? Rosen core solder applied to the outside of the track using an iron (wattage?) or gun? Flux or not? Heat transfer to N/S is quite good, how do you avoid melting tie locators? Heat syncs? Effective on all radius's? Mine are 22/20/18.
 

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Rosin core 60/40 soldered to the outside of the rail.

No heat sink is neccessary.

Radius is no factor since the rail is soldered together while straight.
 

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Rosin core 60/40 soldered to the outside of the rail.

No heat sink is neccessary.

Radius is no factor since the rail is soldered together while straight.
Thanks Michael, I should have mentioned - what is the tightest radius that you can bend soldered track to? Seems like a 35W iron would be best for this.
 

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You can use a fairly heavy iron [if that's all you have], I used a Weller 100/140 watt on mine, with a piece of ordinary household wire for an element .. both on the joiners, and the feeders
 

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Thanks Michael, I should have mentioned - what is the tightest radius that you can bend soldered track to? Seems like a 35W iron would be best for this.
If you cut any plastic struts between the ties, which you'll see on some brands when you invert them and look at the ties, you can bend flex track to a radius just under 10" if it's HO. That mangles the tracks, my opinion, but it can be done. I would advise against doing so.

I only use a 35 watt pencil by Weller. Works well. Make sure the tip is clean and well-tinned. Don't leave it against the rails or the joiner for more than a quick count of one-two-three. If you find you tend to melt ties, then yes, a heat sink on either side is advised. Metal clips, tools, wetted paper towel...
 

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Slightly off topic, but is it the norm to solder all joins rather than use joiners?
The 'best' practice, from the point of view of the short response just above, is to alternate them. Here's a schematic to show what I mean, and then I'll explain the logic:

O = sliding, non-soldered joiner, X = soldered joiner

======X=====O=====X=====O=====X==

The idea behind soldering is two-fold: it both strengthens the joint (mostly for curved tracks) and it makes electrical conductivity on either side of the joint most positive. One set of feeders/jumpers powers two ways for a total of 6' if placed at, or inside, the joiners (you hammer the bared wire flat, and insert it near the web of the rail, top of the flange). Joiners, when new, will be about 90% effective at passing current across joints. That means 10% of them will fail at the outset or soon thereafter, especially if ballasting and using glues. If you solder the joints, it's almost as good as solid contiguous rail.

Leaving every second joiner open means the rails can move a bit. Even with glued ballast, changing moisture levels in the roadbed and frame below it can cause tracks to buckle when the wood dries too much...or tear something when the wood expands seasonally. If you intend to control the humidity in the train room within about 30% range TOTAL, you could solder every joint if it made some kind of sense to do so. But in a garage, say, or an attic (Europe for example), you would want to build forgiveness, or 'play', into the track system to allow for some expansion and contraction.
 

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You can use a fairly heavy iron [if that's all you have], I used a Weller 100/140 watt on mine, with a piece of ordinary household wire for an element .. both on the joiners, and the feeders
I use a Weller 100/140 watt gun to solder rail joints, as well. I use the 140 setting. I get the joint ready, apply flux to the joint, then hold the solder in place as I hit the top of the rail with the gun. The 140 setting has the joint soldered before the ties even warm up! I do use an alligator clip on either side of the joint as a heat sink, as well. Works great for me! :thumbsup:
 

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I use a Weller 100/140 watt gun to solder rail joints, as well. I use the 140 setting. I get the joint ready, apply flux to the joint, then hold the solder in place as I hit the top of the rail with the gun. The 140 setting has the joint soldered before the ties even warm up! I do use an alligator clip on either side of the joint as a heat sink, as well. Works great for me! :thumbsup:
A question that has bugged me for years.

Everyone keeps mentioning 100/140 selective watts on their Wellers, but both of mine say 140/100. Bet yours do too.

I'm guessing the first position on the switch is 140 watts, the second 100, on my two at least, but there is nothing in the supplied booklet that supports this and I can see no difference between the two, only that the second position is the easiest to hold and use. Common sense would dictate 100 watts on the first position 140 on the second.
 

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mine is probably 40 years old, and the case has been repaired a few times ...
the sticker on the side says 100/140 .. and i know the first position is 100 watt [ it heats up slower than fully in, the second position] ... the light doesn't work most of the time ..
I still have a small drawer of tips made out of ordinary household AC wire ..

maybe the newer ones are different, dunno .. but it works :)
 
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