Author Topic: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog  (Read 948 times)

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Ed Kapuscinski

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Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« on: October 12, 2021, 10:18:45 AM »
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Anyone had problems soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog?

Usually I don't have a problem coming at them from under. But on one of them I simply cannot get the solder to stick.

I've used a liberal application of flux, tried sanding a little away to get at the center, nothing seems to work. It's like a non-stick frying pan!

What's the deal?

C855B

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2021, 11:19:17 AM »
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A thought... when I'm having problems with the jumpers losing contact with rails or frog, I drill through to fresh metal with a ~#75, flux the hole, then take a bit of ~.015" brass wire, flux and tin, press into hole while heating with iron. Trim with flush cutters or put a loop in the wire for your own external contact point.

You sanded, but evidently the oxidation is quite thick on whatever mystery alloy it is. You have to get down to the meat for anything to happen.

My experience is a 10-15% failure rate with the infernal internal contact strips on Atlas C55 turnouts. So it's now SOP to check before gluing them down; it's a pretty quick fix. If I had more discipline I'd do it as a matter of product improvement with every one.

John

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2021, 02:13:59 PM »
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A thought... when I'm having problems with the jumpers losing contact with rails or frog, I drill through to fresh metal with a ~#75, flux the hole, then take a bit of ~.015" brass wire, flux and tin, press into hole while heating with iron. Trim with flush cutters or put a loop in the wire for your own external contact point.

You sanded, but evidently the oxidation is quite thick on whatever mystery alloy it is. You have to get down to the meat for anything to happen.

My experience is a 10-15% failure rate with the infernal internal contact strips on Atlas C55 turnouts. So it's now SOP to check before gluing them down; it's a pretty quick fix. If I had more discipline I'd do it as a matter of product improvement with every one.


That's what I do ..    just drill a hole and solder .. The altas C55 switches that I got 15 years ago now are starting to fail on me at the frog and the closure rails .. you can often fix them with a little work ..

mmagliaro

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2021, 06:50:30 PM »
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Another vote for drill and solder wire into the hole.  I do that not just on the frogs, but also on the point rails (which I jumper across the hinges to the fixed rails because the hinges are not to be trusted for electrical contact).

John

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2021, 07:39:03 PM »
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If those turnouts were from Lee's old WM layout -- many of those were from Jerry Britton who got rid of them because the "frogs" were spreading out or something like that .. also because they aren't NS

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2021, 10:00:08 PM »
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So I think I got it to work last night.

And after it felt pretty solid I let it cool. Then doused it in CA for strain relief.

I think I've finally exhausted my stock of Jerry's switches (although I still see flex in the pile), but I'm pretty sure these might be new old stock, so who knows.

Either way, all done for now.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2021, 10:00:50 PM »
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amato1969

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2021, 08:58:17 AM »
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Nice overview of the interlocking...   I like the long sidings, they should allow some nice prototypical ops.

  Frank

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2021, 11:58:16 AM »
+4
Nice overview of the interlocking...   I like the long sidings, they should allow some nice prototypical ops.

  Frank

That's the hope! Ironically, the siding you see here (that all the complex track work comes off of) is actually the smallest mainline siding on the layout. Everything else is about 20%-50% longer.

The complex track work you see here is all "industrial", from left to right you've got:
Poorhouse yard (where the MA&PA interchanges)
The MA&PA itself
The York freight houses/warehouses

Here's the same spot in real life.



My rendition isn't perfect, but I'm really happy with it.

Point353

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2021, 06:05:33 PM »
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... I'm really happy with it.
That's what really matters.

jeffstri

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2021, 09:57:44 PM »
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Soldering directly to the plating on the hinged closure rails and frog does not require extra flux, drilling holes, or any other special preparation of the surface. (I don’t believe drilling holes in the closure rails or frog is helpful – the base metal under the plating does not accept solder.) I use Radio Shack .015” diam silver bearing solder, a Hakko FX888D with a T18-BR02 bent tip, set to 700 degrees.

At 700 degrees it only takes a few seconds to tin the plated surface of the point rail, but that’s long enough to seriously distort the ties if you try to solder between them. The damage to the lower tie surface is mostly hidden after the turnout is installed, but distortion of the upper surface, which is not easy to see, will lift the points. 

So to attach jumpers to the point rails, I first remove two adjacent ties and tin a small area at the midpoint between the removed ties. I only remove one tie on other side of the point hinges, toward the frog, because much less heat is needed to solder the other end of the jumpers to the nickel silver rails. To replace the ties, I remove all but the two outside “spike” heads from each one, and glue them in place with AC.

Because of the greater metal mass it takes longer to tin the frogs so you can’t avoid some tie damage. Soldering at the bend of the frog wing rail on the side away from viewing hides it pretty well. Again, no extra flux, drilling, etc needed. Just a soldering tip of the right size and geometry and a high enough temperature.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2021, 07:27:07 AM by jeffstri »

peteski

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Re: Soldering to an Atlas Code 55 frog
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2021, 11:03:32 PM »
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All good points.
It appears that the base metal (Zamac?) is first copper plated, then copper is plated with the metal visible on the surface. That is why repeated track cleaning with abrasive cleaner exposes the copper.
Not sure that the surface metal is. Might be Nickel Silver.   I was wondering of one would carefully grind off the top metal and expose the copper, that would make it even easier to solder.   But yes, to get a proper solder joint (where the solder wets the soldered part) the soldered part needs to be heated enough for the wetting action to occur.  Any other solder joint is purely mechanical.
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