Tips, techniques and commentary from Master Model Railroader Tom Piccirillo
Wiring and electronics of a model railroad layout require a few basic skills and tools.
In recent years, the most-exciting model railroad innovation has been in the field of electronic control. Micro-size components allow the installation of incredibly sophisticated circuits inside small-scale locomotives. These circuits not only allow individual control of trains on the same track, but also provide realistic sounds that emanate right from the locomotive itself. The resulting realism creates a whole new dimension to model railroading.
Installation and/or maintenance of these micro-circuits still falls to the model railroader, and he finds himself having to deal with micro-size wiring and component replacement when something needs repair or replacement.
Full-size tools for house wiring are simply too bulky for use on models, and so a new set of tools has been developed by Xuron to help the modeler with his wiring tasks.
Wires need to be cut to length and stripped of insulation at the connection point. To avoid nicking the wire strands, precise control of the cutter opening is required. Only a precision tool will do the job correctly, and Xuron has just the right one for the job . . . the #501 Stripper/Cutter.
V-shaped, razor-sharp cutting edges are controlled by a thumbwheel and take the guesswork out of setting the right size for the wire being stripped.
Component placement is made easy by Xuron #450 (with smooth jaws) and #450S TweezerNose™ (with serrated jaws). The extra-fine tips of these pliers grab component leads without disturbing adjacent components and reach into tight locations.
Component leads protrude from the solder-side of the printed circuit board and usually need to be trimmed after soldering. The Xuron #410 Micro Shear® flush cutter does the job quickly and easily.
Removing electronic components from printed circuit boards requires “desoldering” component leads. This is best accomplished by soaking up melted solder with a copper braid designed specifically for this task. With the Xuron #1000-2 Desoldering Braid Dispenser, you simply dial-out the length of braid you need and place in contact with the lead to be removed. Heat with your soldering iron, and the braid will soak up the solder so you can remove the lead from the board. No more burned fingers!
Wiring and electronics for a model railroad does not have to be complicated or difficult as long as you have the correct tools and some helpful direction.