problem soldering lighting kit in Walther's car

ModelRailroadForums.com is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


PatOC

Newbie w/too many hobbies
Hi everyone - I'm hoping someone can help me with a soldering problem I'm having. I'm attempting to add a Miniatronics lighting kit to a Walther's Super Chief dining car. The light is easy enough to apply to the roof of the car with the double-backed adhesive provided. But I'm having trouble trying to solder the wires to the metals prongs at the top of the car. If you're familiar with Walther's cars, these are where the Walther's lighting kits snap in and make contact. When I try to heat the prongs and apply solder, if the solder melts at all, it doesn't adhere. It slides right off the prong. I'm able to add solder to the ends of the wires, just not attach it to the prongs. Has anyone successfully done what I'm trying to do? Or know what I'm doing wrong? I'm using a 40 W, 120 volt iron and 40/tin 60/lead solder, if that matters. This is my first attempt at soldering after reading up on it, so it's possible I'm doing something completely wrong. Any help would be much appreciated as I've spent a lot of time detailing the interior and this is the last step before it's done.

Thanks for any help!
-Pat O'Connor
 

rhoward

S.L.O.&W. Trainman
Pat, my guess would be that the "prongs" may be made out of an alloy that will not take solder or are coated with a metal that won't take solder. Sounds like they are spring metal and made for holding the Walthers kit in place and providing current that way, rather like a battery holder. Doesn't sound like you are doing anything wrong BTW. You might have to find and cut the wires going to the prongs and solder them to the wires from the kit. Hopefully someone else will chime in here and help you.......
 

rockislandfan

New Member
Hi everyone - I'm hoping someone can help me with a soldering problem I'm having. I'm attempting to add a Miniatronics lighting kit to a Walther's Super Chief dining car. The light is easy enough to apply to the roof of the car with the double-backed adhesive provided. But I'm having trouble trying to solder the wires to the metals prongs at the top of the car. If you're familiar with Walther's cars, these are where the Walther's lighting kits snap in and make contact. When I try to heat the prongs and apply solder, if the solder melts at all, it doesn't adhere. It slides right off the prong. I'm able to add solder to the ends of the wires, just not attach it to the prongs. Has anyone successfully done what I'm trying to do? Or know what I'm doing wrong? I'm using a 40 W, 120 volt iron and 40/tin 60/lead solder, if that matters. This is my first attempt at soldering after reading up on it, so it's possible I'm doing something completely wrong. Any help would be much appreciated as I've spent a lot of time detailing the interior and this is the last step before it's done.

Thanks for any help!
-Pat O'Connor

I have a Walthers 85' coach and I just "SNAPED" in the lighting kit, don't know why you have to solder?

Here is mine. Walthers has more for different cars. The Walthers light kit is a lot better than the Miniatronics in this case. Possibly Miniatronics is cheaper in price ( ? ) but soldering could ruin the car. Walthers has light kits for either DC or DCC.

Passcarlight.png
 
Last edited by a moderator:

PatOC

Newbie w/too many hobbies
Hi Rock Island and Ray - thanks for your replies. I'm using the Miniatronics lighting kit instead of the Walthers (the one you show Rock) because I like the look of it much better. It looks much more realistic and lights the interior much better in my opinion.

Ray - I think you are right. The metal prongs just don't seem to want to take the solder. I was hoping to just attach the wires to them but it looks like I'll probably have to find another way to install it. The kit does include pickup shoes and instructions for installing them, but I'm not quite talented enough to take on that task yet!

Thanks again,
-Pat
 

ThoroughBreed

Dcc~detail~diesel freak
Heres a little help for this:
Try scratching the prongs to make them rough and not have a glossy surface, you will find that the solder will then adhere better.
Anyone whoes ever converted Athearn Blue box locos to dcc will agree that in order for the solder to stick, you have to scrape the copper contacts on the motor and the steel contact on the headlight to make the solder work.
Also try rosin flux to help with the solder.
Hopefully this helps.
 

el3637

Member
Those prongs are some kind of stainless steel - they just won't take solder. What I did with any of mine that needed to be wired directly, I took the single strand fine copper wire from a bulb, stripped the insulation off, and wound it around the Walthers prong as tight as I could. Then I hit it with a soldering iron and tinned it. You can then solder your wire directly to that tinned blob. It should have plenty of friction grip on the stainless prong even if it's not a solder bond. I found it is a lot better than laying a solder iron on it until the prong melts right out of the plastic... and still won't take the solder!

Andy
 

UP2CSX

Fleeing from Al
Any chance the prong will take a small size automotive crimp disconnect connector? If so, it might be the best option to just strip the wire and crimp it in the connector and then put the connector on the prong. Even if you have to use some electrical tape to hold it tightly, I can't imagine that would give you any worse connection than trying to solder to an unsolderable metal.
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
I wish something could be figured out. I have never had reliable contact with all of my Walthers' lighting kits, only a few. I have bent, wound wire for larger contact surface, and unsuccessfully tried the solder. Even tried to drill holes in the contacts for screws...ha...that didn't go well.
 

NYC_George

Well-Known Member
electrical connectors

I used two of those small flat female auto type electrical connectors for my Walthers cars.

NYC_George
 

Rotorranch

MRR Refugee
I didn't see anyone mention the use of soldering flux. :rolleyes:

Rosin flux is prefered for most soldering, but some alloys require, or at least are easier to solder, using an acid flux to etch the material for tinning. Once tinned, the part should be washed in warm soapy water, if possible, to neutralize the acid.

That may do the trick.

Rotor
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Yeah, it was mentioned, but 60/40 solder should have all the rosin flux in it that you need for any and all soldering in MR. Many make the mistake of using added flux when the solder doesn't flow well when the problem is actually a dirty surface or bad heat conductivity. They end up soldering over corrosion, dirt, and whatever.

Acid core solder is not good for any electrical connections and the problem still exist of melting the plastic before the metal is hot enough to take solder. You only have less than a 1/4" tab of metal sticking out of the plastic. BTW: Baking soda is the best way to neutralize the residual acid from soldering.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Rotorranch

MRR Refugee
Rex...I just re-read the thread, and still see no mention of soldering flux. :confused:

60/40 does not necessarily mean the solder has a flux core. There is plenty of solid core solder out there.

I totally agree acid flux is not recommended for electrical soldering, but sometimes you gotta do whatever it takes.

I have found, over the last 45 years of soldering scratch-built slot car chassis from brass, steel and stainless steel, not to rely on flux cored solder. I use a liquid rosin flux for electrical and some non-electrical applications. I use a liquid acid flux for non-electrical, and in situations where I can't get certain parts tinned.

I agree that a basic, or alkaline compund like baking soda, will neutralize acid flux better than plain water, but remember the soap is also an alkaline compund. Soap and water does a good job neutralizing the acid.

I also agree that the material MUST be clean, and corrosion free. A little prep with 320 grit (or finer) sandpaper can work wonders.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Rotor
 
Last edited by a moderator:

rockislandfan

New Member
Rex...I just re-read the thread, and still see no mention of soldering flux. :confused:

60/40 does not necessarily mean the solder has a flux core. There is plenty of solid core solder out there.

I totally agree acid flux is not recommended for electrical soldering, but sometimes you gotta do whatever it takes.

I have found, over the last 45 years of soldering scratch-built slot car chassis from brass, steel and stainless steel, not to rely on flux cored solder. I use a liquid rosin flux for electrical and some non-electrical applications. I use a liquid acid flux for non-electrical, and in situations where I can't get certain parts tinned.

I agree that a basic, or alkaline compund like baking soda, will neutralize acid flux better than plain water, but remember the soap is also an alkaline compund. Soap and water does a good job neutralizing the acid.

I also agree that the material MUST be clean, and corrosion free. A little prep with 320 grit (or finer) sandpaper can work wonders.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Rotor


You did not read the thread thoroughly enough then. Please reread post #5 by ThoroughBreed six lines down.
 

el3637

Member
I have used a lot of the Walthers DCC lighting kits, but you can't use them in every situation. For one thing, Walthers has not yet made a DCC version of their lighting kit for the dome car. So when I was detailing and working on an Empire Builder dome, I had to wire up my own lights. I had tried several other methods to connect to the stainless tabs including replacing them with phosphor bronze wire, but I got the idea of wrapping a single strand of wire around the tab, and then tinning it with solder. The solder won't form a bond with the stainless, but it will easily bond to the wire, and that gives it a surround bond to the tab. Sort of like a "melt your own" spade connector.

Here's what it looks like, enlarged about 5x and with big hunks of solder because I've also soldered three wires to each:

solder.jpg


I doubt if anything is going to get these wires off of here that is likely to happen in any kind of remotely normal operation. This car has no contact problems at all; the Walthers kits do have occasional issues making good contact because it just sort of snaps in there like a battery terminal... and you know how flashlights have a habit of getting a little iffy after a while.

Andy
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Andy, I like your homemade "spade lugs" :D. If you wrap/crimp it tight, then no reason for them not to work like store bought.
 

PatOC

Newbie w/too many hobbies
thanks and two more follow-up Qs

Fellas - thanks for all the ideas and replies. Believe it or not, I am re-visiting this post 2.5 years later as I'm getting back into model railroading after a brief hiatus and am resuming detailing my Walthers Super Chief passenger cars.

Andy - thanks for the idea of using the tightly-wound copper wire and tinning it to connect my wires too. I think I can picture what I need to do. So I should:
1) wind some generic copper wire very tightly around the stainless steel contacts
2) apply my soldering iron to it melt it to provide a place for the solder to adhere
3) solder my light wires as I would normally

NYC_George - could you explain a bit more or send a pic/link of what you mean by "flat female auto type electrical connectors"?

Thanks again all!
-Pat
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Top