Equipment and Tools

Equipment and Tools

By Roger Heid

 

So you decided you really like this hobby, and you want to get more into it and out of it. In the meantime, you found out that this hobby consists of two main components. Landscaping and scratch building, for one, takes a certain kind of talent, creativity and craftiness not given to everyone. The electrical aspects and challenges, on the other hand, are also not everyone’s forte. Craftiness and diligence, however, are requirements for both components of this hobby.

Myself, I am of the electrical/electronic breed of model railroaders. For the purpose of this dissertation, I will speak only of the electrical portion of things.

For a starter, you will need a bunch of hand tools. There is a myriad of those on the market. Based on my own experience, you will, as you progress, accumulate them as the need arises. Not much I can say about this issue. I know you will find them.

Hence brethren, there comes the electrical aspect and the associated basic equipment needed.

One item you will need is a meter. Volt meter, VOM, Multimeter are examples of their nomenclature. Ideally, you will have a Multimeter or VOM. A VOM measures Volts, Ohms and Milliamps. They are available in certain stores, hard to define. Radio Shack is an example. You may not always find what you want, depending where you’re at.

Be prepared to spend at least $50.-, for a good one. My preferred source is MCM Electronics. Check their huge web site. They will cater to most all of your needs, and NO! I don’t own stock in that company, but I have successfully dealt with them for decades, always with excellent results.

Another important piece of equipment you will need is a good temperature controlled solder station. It allows you to adjust the correct solder iron tip temperature to exactly what your specific task calls for. Don’t take this lightly. The common cheap solder iron gets too hot for the small jobs you will encounter. Instead of soldering two things together, you will nuke the whole project, possibly and likely destroying your project. Oh, no !!! Gosh darn it!

You can get these from a variety of sources. Radio Shack is an example. I have always used the Tenma brand, available from MCM Electronics. No, I still don’t own stocks in that company. A good one will set you back $90-$120. On the long run, it is well worth it.

Then comes the solder itself. It must be ‘Flux Core’ and very thin. If a job requires a lot of per inch dispensation, you can always braid the thin stuff. Solder that is too thick will not allow you to successfully perform real miniscule solder jobs.

Additionally, the exchangeable solder tips come in varying sizes. It is good to have tips in different sizes to accommodate different soldering scenarios. Believe me. Just get an array of those. You will not be sorry.

You should also get what’s called ‘Solder Wick’ or desoldering braid. It has flux in it and will assist greatly in removing existing solder when it needs to be gotten rid of. Sooner or later, you will definitely run into that situation.

If you are new to soldering you need to practice. That’s all I can say, for now. Experience makes the master.

You would also want a vice to hold things in place. In order to perform specific work on locos and rolling stock, you may get a ‘cradle’. Those are available in most Hobby Shops. Proses offers a multi-scale item.

I am sure I have not covered everything, but at least it gets you started.

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