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Using Braid for a Power Tap

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  • Using Braid for a Power Tap

    Has anyone ever used braid soldered to the rails as a power tap? I am looking at making some power tap tracks (Tyco/Mattel) and thought soldering braid alongside the rail would be a good way to go. It can carry a large amount of current, is very flexible, solders easily and can have a fairly large surface area to interface with the track rail.

    I have seen other methods of making taps, and many other threads, but just want to explore this as a possibility.

    I would drill a hole next to the rail and solder the braid to the rail. I am looking for power taps which can be seen from above; my current taps are soldered on the underside of the track and I always wonder if they are still attached. The braid would only be a few inches in length with some type of male or female plug on the end to be attached to the track wiring. The braid would be slipped inside some type of rubber tubing so it does not come in contact with other metal or power lines.

    For the braid, I could either use the 1/8" or 1/4" braid used for 1/32 tracks, or maybe even use desoldering braid (which comes in 5 foot rolls and is amazingly cheap). I just don't know how much current the desoldering braid can carry. I actually use desoldering braid to replace the braid on Micro Scalextric cars.

    Another possible way to use desoldering braid is to loop it over the rail. Feed the braid through two holes, one on each side of the rail, and maybe a spot of solder to hold it in place. The rail would need to be filed down slightly so the braid sits recessed. A third way would be to wedge the braid between two pieces of track; this doesn't require any soldering and the pressure of the two adjacent rails pinches the braid so it doesn't move.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks...Joe
    Last edited by Grandcheapskate; 09-06-2017, 09:00 PM.

  • #2
    Hi Joe - you'd like some thoughts:-
    Braid is sometimes used for connections under braided tracks in the larger scales. That works well if it's done properly.
    Unless braid is firmly fixed it needs insulating to prevent short circuits.
    Insulated wire is generally use for power taps, that works well.
    Insulating sleeving that fits over the braid should be available from electrician's suppliers, exactly what's commonly available will be different in different countries. For example in the UK various sizes of green/yellow sleeving are used in mains wiring, it's cheap and readily available from any electrician's suppliers.

    The tinned copper braid used for tracks is cheap per foot when you buy the sort of quantity needed to braid a track. Desoldering braid is relatively expensive but the availability in small quantities is a plus point (and of course it's just what you want for desoldering.)

    In summary, braid or insulated wire could be for taps. What are the pros and cons? Both are available with similar resistance / current carrying ability. Both are very easy to solder. Some insulated wire isn't very flexible, the stuff with more strands is plenty flexible enough but costs a little more. Insulated wire is readily available in different colours, which can be handy to stop getting the connections mixed up. With braid you have to buy and fit insulating sleeving.
    The cost of braid compared with insulated wire depends on where you buy it from.

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