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Wiring & Electronics For The Model Railroader

Xuron® Model 450 TweezerNose™ Pliers

Tom’s Corner

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.

Tom Piccirillo Author and Master Model RailroaderInstallation 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.

Xuron® Model 501 Adjustable Wire Stripper
Xuron® Model 501 Adjustable Wire Stripper
Xuron® Model 501 Adjustable Wire Stripper positioned to strip a coated wire
Xuron® Model 501 Adjustable Wire Stripper positioned to strip a coated wire
Xuron® Model 501 Adjustable Wire Stripper stripping a multi-stranded wire
Xuron® Model 501 Adjustable Wire Stripper stripping a multi-stranded wire
Xuron® Model 501 Adustable Wire Stripper cutting a multi-stranded wire
Xuron® Model 501 Adustable Wire Stripper cutting a multi-stranded wire

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.

Xuron®-Model-450-TweezeNose®-Pliers-being-used-for-component-placement-on-an-electronic-printed-circuit-board

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.

Xuron® Model 410 Micro-Shear® Flush Cutter trmming printed circuit board component lead wire

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!

Xuron® Model 1000-2 WickGun™ Desoldering Braid Dispenser removing solder from a printed circuit board

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.

Tom Piccirillo

Tom Piccirillo

Tom Piccirillo started building scale models at age 12 after discovering a copy of the April 1964 issue of Model Railroader magazine for sale at a local corner store. After receiving his degree in mechanical engineering in 1974, he pursued a management career in well-known industries, such as Burroughs Corporation and Ohaus Scale, and holds patents on electronic connectors. His most-recent tenure was president of Micro-Mark where, for 24 years, he developed and marketed ingenious tools for builders of scale models. Tom is a prolific author and has written many how-to articles for the hobby press, including Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman, The NG&SL Gazette, Fine Scale Modeler, Dollhouse Miniatures, and Great Model Railroads. In 2009, Tom earned his Master Model Railroader certification, and has been awarded the Paul Mallery Trophy for model building excellence. Currently a member of the Hobby Manufacturers Association, Tom consults for major USA and international producers of tool and hobby products, providing editorial and photographic services in addition to Marketing Analytics. He is perhaps best-known for the construction and operation of the O scale Somerset County Traction System, which he has described not only in magazines, but also on Public Television. Tom is also former-president of The New Jersey Live Steamers, where he operates his home-workshop-built 1/12th scale locomotives and cars. He is restoring an antique Mercedes-Benz automobile, and is an accomplished jazz rhythm guitarist.

Comments

  1. Thank you for the quality information . I attend the Amherst Railroad Show each year. I seen your booth in past years and will you be there in Jan 18? Also will you have tools there for sale?? The 450 and 450 S . As I traval down from Canada, it is much easier to pick them up at the show. Thanks. Robie MacDonald

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