Author Topic: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location  (Read 1154 times)

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Zox

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Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« on: February 07, 2013, 10:16:25 PM »
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I need to be able to solder a track joint. It's in a display layout with acrylic side panels, and there's no way to remove the panels. Reaching the joint basically involves having the acrylic up to my armpits as I reach down into the display.

I can get to the joint with my soldering pencil, but unfortunately the person who built the layout weathered the rail with enamel paint, and the solder just won't stick. I need to be able to clean the paint off the side of the rail to get a good connection.

I've tried using riffle files, but I can't get the leverage/angle I need to remove the paint--it's tenacious stuff. My next plan is to use some sort of wire or abrasive bit in a motor tool.

Does anyone have recommendations on which sort of bit to use, or another method that I should try instead before resorting to power tools?
Rob M., a.k.a. Zox
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peteski

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2013, 10:31:57 PM »
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Is there rail jointer on that joint (to keep the track aligned)?  If yes, can't you just solder some electric feeders somewhere else (where the track is more accessible)?
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DKS

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2013, 10:35:38 PM »
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My recommendation is a scratch brush tool:

http://www.micromark.com/scratch-brush,8058.html
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peteski

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2013, 10:39:26 PM »
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From Zox's description I think he could use a right-angle version of that scratch brush.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

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DKS

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2013, 10:45:00 PM »
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Even a slight angle should work. BTDT.
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Hornwrecker

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2013, 10:47:31 PM »
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If you have to use a rotary tool, I've found that Cratex wheels work well in removing things from brass easily (four different grit sizes available).  I've even used them to remove epoxy when someone tried to fix their horn themselves.  It cost them about four times more than if they would have brought it to me first before attempting a DIY.  I like it when that happens.

http://www.cratex.com/rubsmwhl.htm

Also, I have a few dental tools, that make excellent scrapers for something like this.  Asked my dentist if he had any broken tools, and he gave me a bunch of them.  A couple of them are rather flat and have a sharpened edge that works great for removing something like paint from the side of rails.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 10:51:17 PM by Hornwrecker »
Bob

Zox

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2013, 10:49:48 PM »
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Is there rail jointer on that joint (to keep the track aligned)?  If yes, can't you just solder some electric feeders somewhere else (where the track is more accessible)?

Unfortunately, there is no more-accessible location:



(The section of track with the intermittently-working power is to the left of the picture.)

MARRS built the layout originally; then Army engineers built the box. Maintainability was apparently not one of their concerns; it looks like you should be able to remove the panels, but they're held by screws through every single picket in the picket-fence base.

Putting in additional feeders--and fishing them out of the base of the box--would be at least as difficult as getting to the track. And I'd still have to clean the rails to solder the new feeders.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 11:02:48 PM by Zox »
Rob M., a.k.a. Zox
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DKS

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2013, 11:06:12 PM »
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How about hitting the paint with some solvents to try and soften/strip it?

Also, a step stool might improve your ability to maneuver inside the box, even if only a little.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 11:08:04 PM by David K. Smith »
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peteski

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2013, 11:49:09 PM »
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I realize that I'm not actually looking at the layout myself but those acrylic panels look like they could be removable.  The metal corner angles are attached by screws. Maybe the bottom of those panels is also fastened by screws?

Otherwise, I wouldn't want to be in your predicament.  :facepalm:

As an alternative, try soldering from the inside of the rail. If you use just enough solder, there will be no cleanup. If you use a bit too much, just clean the excess with a cut-off disk (Or another griding bit) in a Dremel tool.
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DKS

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2013, 12:25:44 AM »
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The metal corner angles are attached by screws. Maybe the bottom of those panels is also fastened by screws?

...they're held by screws through every single picket in the picket-fence base.
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nkalanaga

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2013, 01:51:54 AM »
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It wouldn't be "elegant", but could you drill a hole just outside the rail, then file the rail with a knife-edge file until the head and base have a groove down to the web?  That would give a bare-metal line from top to bottom, where you could solder the end of the feeder, then cut the top off and file it smooth with the rail head.  Very little lump, and no problem getting the paint out of the joint. 
N Kalanaga
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LV LOU

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2013, 02:41:41 AM »
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It wouldn't be "elegant", but could you drill a hole just outside the rail, then file the rail with a knife-edge file until the head and base have a groove down to the web?  That would give a bare-metal line from top to bottom, where you could solder the end of the feeder, then cut the top off and file it smooth with the rail head.  Very little lump, and no problem getting the paint out of the joint.
Maybe a little modification to this idea..Why not just use a Dremel,and "V" out the top of the rail joint,fill it with solder,and file it flat?

peteski

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2013, 03:18:35 AM »
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Quote
...they're held by screws through every single picket in the picket-fence base.

I know, but I don't give up that easily.  :trollface:  Screws can be removed, and it seems that removing a dozen screws (assuming that only single acrylic panel needs to be removed) is IMO still easier than becoming a contortionist. Maybe I'm just getting old...  :|
--- Peteski de Snarkski

-"Look at me, I'm satirical!!!"
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SebastianLee

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2013, 11:09:32 AM »
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pallet jacks and blocks until you can just walk under  :trollface:

Zox

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Re: Cleaning rail sides in a restricted location
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2013, 04:27:03 PM »
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Thanks for the suggestions; I'll probably end up trying more than one of them. Probably not the pallet jacks, though. :)

(Although at one point--before the information panel on the end was added--we did stand the whole thing up on its end to work on it. It took six of us to lift the doggone thing.)
Rob M., a.k.a. Zox
z o x @ v e r i z o n . n e t
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It is said a Shaolin chef can wok through walls...