St Erth pointwork in 2FS

Keith Armes

Member
Location
Macclesfield
Two pictures of 2FS pointwork that has just left my workbench. It's going to Steve Martin in New Zealand, where he is building a model of St Erth station in Cornwall and the junction for the St Ives branch. People who take MRJ will have seen some of his excellent scenic and building work in there.

Keith

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Thanks Rob,
Solder balls are the best for even sized joints.
Keith
Hi Keith,
Can you buy the balls ready made ?? I used to cut tiny sections of solder wire to whatever length was required and drop one onto each rail-sleeper joint before heating. Later I went onto using a resistance soldering unit with which I just used solder cream brushed on to each sleeper before the rail was laid.

Is it 1mm thick copperclad you used ?

Rob
 
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Keith Armes

Member
Location
Macclesfield
Hi Keith,
Can you buy the balls ready made ?? I used to cut tiny sections of solder wire to whatever length was required and drop one onto each rail-sleeper joint before heating. Later I went onto using a resistance soldering unit with which I just used solder cream brushed on to each sleeper before the rail was laid.

Is it 1mm thick copperclad you used ?

Rob
Hi Rob,
The solder balls I use come via e-bay from China. You can buy them from Farnell, etc. but they are much more expensive, and come with certificates of conformity, etc. The maximum size is 0.76mm dia. so are particularly useful for 2mm work. I use a range of 0.76, 0.63,0.50, 0.35, which gives approximately a 2:1 difference between each step. On 2mm pointwork, I use two of the 0.76 balls on the outside of the rail and one on the inside for each chair. They may not look much like chairs at close quarters, but I feel consistency of size is more important in 2mm. It's amazing what the eye can fill in! The crossing timbers are 2mm association standard 0.8mm thick SRBP, not glass fibre.

For what it's worth, here is a picture of the tray I made to hold the balls. The base is thick rough card, it doesn't melt like plastic and nor do the balls roll into the corner as with something shiny. A quick shake spreads them out.
Keith

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Keith Armes

Member
Location
Macclesfield
Hi Keith,

Could I ask how you apply them?

Charles
Charles,
The solder balls have no flux in them so I always use a drop of Powerflow flux applied to the job first, and then pick up the size of solder ball or balls I want on the iron and apply it to the job. I dilute the flux with a little water so that a paintbrush can be used, but not so much that it runs all over the place. Keeping the flux where you want it helps to prevent the solder running too far if what you want is a blob, as in track making.
Doing it this way is also very useful when assembling things like Walschaerts valve-gear because you know exactly how much solder you are applying.
Keith
 
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Keith Armes

Member
Location
Macclesfield
Thank you Keith
I'm going to try solder balls on my next 4-SF turnout.
Can you recommend a supplier of 0.76mm solder balls on Ebay?
I can't recommend a particular supplier. They seem to vary each time I buy, but they have all been reliable, if taking a little time to get here. They are, after all, part of the semi-conductor industry. Just the vial they come in varies.
Keith
 
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Hi Keith,
Thanks for the explanation. It is amazing that you can buy packs of solder balls - never thought to look. The point about using them for other uses is quite valid too.
Rob
 
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I dilute the flux with a little water so that a paintbrush can be used, but not so much that it runs all over the place. Keeping the flux where you want it helps to prevent the solder running too far if what you want is a blob, as in track making.
I was wondering if a hypodermic syringe might be useful for applying the flux. I now use a hypodermic syringe to apply solvent to plastic chairs on plywood sleepers and it is a much easier operation since you can put the syringe down and pick it up whenever required - no fiddling around dipping a brush in a bottle.

Jim.
 
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Keith Armes

Member
Location
Macclesfield
I was wondering if a hypodermic syringe might be useful for applying the flux. I now use a hypodermic syringe to apply solvent to plastic chairs on plywood sleepers and it is a much easier operation since you can put the syringe down and pick it up whenever required - no fiddling around dipping a brush in a bottle.

Jim.
Rob,
It's surprising how little solder you need for many jobs if you want it easily cleaned up and invisible.

Jim,
That's high technology you're talking there! Seriously though I must try it since I have some small syringes somewhere. I wonder if they are as controllable as a brush, though.
Keith
 
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I was wondering if a hypodermic syringe might be useful for applying the flux. I now use a hypodermic syringe to apply solvent to plastic chairs on plywood sleepers and it is a much easier operation since you can put the syringe down and pick it up whenever required - no fiddling around dipping a brush in a bottle.

Jim.
Hello Jim,
I seem to remember you mentioning flux and syringes in a series of postings a while back. Remind me what size needle you use for the plastic solvents. Do you have any issues with dribbles ( from the needle :) ) or do you back out the plunger to relieve the pressure in the syringe ?

Rob
 
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That's high technology you're talking there! Seriously though I must try it since I have some small syringes somewhere. I wonder if they are as controllable as a brush, though.

All the syringes I have got off Ebay have quite a high resistance to movement so you have to really squeeze them to get a large amount of fluid out of the needle. It takes a short while to get the feel of them but once you have, you can produce quite minute amounts quite easily.

Jim.
 
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Remind me what size needle you use for the plastic solvents. Do you have any issues with dribbles ( from the needle :) ) or do you back out the plunger to relieve the pressure in the syringe ?

The syringes are quite stiff to move so you don't get dribbles when you are not squeezing them. I find them really good when gluing plastic chairs to plywood sleepers since I can pick them up, use them and put them down without having to take any care about them dribbling - much better than messing around with brushes and bottles.

I got an assortment of needles a year or so ago on Ebay and I haven't found too much difference when using various gauges of needle but I would probably go for 20 - 22 gauge - that's about 0.9mm to 0.7mm OD. I use a 10ml syringe which I find a nice size in that I only fill it to about 2.5ml, about a quarter full, which means that the plunger is not too far out of the body when squeezing it and the 2.5ml lasts for a fair amount of joints. I hold the syringe body in four fingers and squeeze with the thumb so I don't want the plunger projecting too far out of the body

Jim.
 
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The syringes are quite stiff to move so you don't get dribbles when you are not squeezing them. I find them really good when gluing plastic chairs to plywood sleepers since I can pick them up, use them and put them down without having to take any care about them dribbling - much better than messing around with brushes and bottles.

I got an assortment of needles a year or so ago on Ebay and I haven't found too much difference when using various gauges of needle but I would probably go for 20 - 22 gauge - that's about 0.9mm to 0.7mm OD. I use a 10ml syringe which I find a nice size in that I only fill it to about 2.5ml, about a quarter full, which means that the plunger is not too far out of the body when squeezing it and the 2.5ml lasts for a fair amount of joints. I hold the syringe body in four fingers and squeeze with the thumb so I don't want the plunger projecting too far out of the body

Jim.
Thanks Jim.

Rob
 
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Andrew Duncan

Member
Location
Reigate
Hello Keith
Really lovely looking track work, very impressive, and what a clever idea to use solder balls to produce the very uniform look. So I echo everyone else's admiration for your knowledge of their existence and execution with them!

Hello Jim
Only last night Rob was commenting on the use of a syringe for applying solvents, fluxes etc, and mentioned your idea, prompted by my use of one for Powerflux. When I tried it initially with a thin liquid, I found it uncontrollable, but it must be my hamfistedness. I will try it out again as I love the idea of having the stuff "on tap" and I imagine if you get it right, there's less smell as well.

Very useful thread Keith.
Thank you
Andrew
 
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Hello Keith,
I ordered some solder balls and they arrived yesterday. Glad I ordered the 0.65mm size rather than smaller ones. I will have a go with them when I get chance Thanks for putting the ideas into my head.
Rob
 
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Keith Armes

Member
Location
Macclesfield
Hello Keith,
I ordered some solder balls and they arrived yesterday. Glad I ordered the 0.65mm size rather than smaller ones. I will have a go with them when I get chance Thanks for putting the ideas into my head.
Rob
Thanks Andrew,

Rob,
That was quick off the mark!!
By the way, I've never found solder balls larger then 0.76mm. I looked on the web and found one German company mentioning 1mm, but when I looked at their on-line catalogue they didn't exist.

Below is a picture from Steve Martin taken on the first board of his St Erth.
Keith

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Only last night Rob was commenting on the use of a syringe for applying solvents, fluxes etc, and mentioned your idea, prompted by my use of one for Powerflux. When I tried it initially with a thin liquid, I found it uncontrollable, but it must be my hamfistedness. I will try it out again as I love the idea of having the stuff "on tap" and I imagine if you get it right, there's less smell as well.

Andrew,

I find that delivering small amounts really depends on the piston action of your syringe having a fair bit of friction in its action, when you just have to "lean" on the plunger to produce a small blob on the end of the needle. If the piston action in the syringe is too free, then you will probably have difficulty regulating the movement to provide small amounts. I also find that holding the body of the syringe in a fist of four fingers gives better fine control than the "normal" way of holding between first and second fingers. In fact if the syringe is cold, heat transferred from my fingers can cause enough expansion for a small amount to appear.

Another way of regulating the supply of liquid is to use a finer needle but that can limit you if you want to deliver larger mounts of liquid - like flooding a joint in styrene sheet, etc.

Jim.
 
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