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Soldering tips & tricks help please


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I have done quite a bit of soldering in the past but I've never been really happy with the results. The last layout I worked on I was using some RS 5-core 22swg 60/40 lead solder and Fluxite paste; both of these date from the 1980's when I used to build computers.  I have a Duratool variable temperature soldering station with various bits.

 

My main problems always seem to centre around the temperature which is either too high and melts the plastic in DB-25 multi-pin connectors or not high enough so I tend to leave iron on the work too long.  I'd like to address these issues with a little help.

 

Firs off, I think I need to purchase new solder and flux (!) and maybe a smaller 25W soldering iron with smaller bit. I expect I'll need a no-clean flux as some areas will be impossible to wash out.  I'll mainly be soldering onto small switches and to nickel silver track; not likely to need the multi-pin connectors again as I'm going DCC.

 

What would you all recommend to buy and for temperatures?

 

Thanks in advance

 

 

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I have a Weller 35W iron that I use for track work.  I use 60/40 lead solder.  You can use a non acid flux such as that available from Gaugemaster.  To be absolutely certain that things don't turn green over time (I have found this even with the allegedly non acid flux I am currently using) and for wiring I always use rosin flux.

 

The trick with soldering near plastic is to have a clean tip, clean work pieces and lots of flux.  With this you can be in and out before the plastic even knows you're there.

 

I would stress the need for a clean bit.  I have had these go black and when that happens they are pretty much useless.  Start with a new bit and tin it with a tinning compound.  I did this not too long ago and my bit has stayed clean and shiny.  I have had excellent results with a brass wool tip cleaner.

 

I also have a Weller soldering station with tip temp. feedback.

 

John

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A less powerful iron doesn't mean a cooler bit.  You've got a soldering station (48 watts?) and a selection of bits.  If none of them are small enough, see if you can get one that is - I understand that suitable tips are available on Amazon, Farnell or ebay. Set your iron to the temperature you want.  It'll be the same as the temperature as a smaller iron, but a 48w iron should retain its heat longer than a 25w one.  If you're using 60/40 lead solder, that should be fine.  I use Carrs Green label flux although I might try some of the non-acid stuff suggested by Brossard.  And as Brossard says, it's essential to ensure a clean soldering tip - I've got a sponge and a brass wool cleaner and use both!

 

DT

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Yes, I think that stand alone irons have quite high tip temps., I don't know what this is exactly but I suspect ~450C.  This can oxidize the tip if cleaning and tinning is not done.  When using my soldering station I usually set the tip temp to 350C.

 

The higher the power, the better the iron can recover tip temp after, or even during, making a joint.  Tip temp can drop dramatically after contact with cold flux, cold solder and cold workpiece.

 

When I started building brass kits, I used Carrs Green but I found the fumes to be very irritating so switched to non acid flux.  There is no difference in performance that I can see and I have built lots of kits.

 

Another point, it is a big no no to use acid flux (like Carrs) when soldering electrical connections.

 

John

Edited by brossard
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Thanks for this, but raised a couple more questions.

Is the rosin flux no-clean and what did you mean by "tinning compound" for the tip cleaning?

 

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You don't have to clean the rosin but it will leave a brown residue.  Methyl Hydrate works to clean it up.

 

Check the Amazon link for the tinning compound:

 

https://www.amazon.ca/Thermaltronics-TMT-TC-2-Tinner-0-8oz-Container/dp/B00NS4J6BY?pf_rd_r=WECC3SS9YJACG4VVA39Y&pf_rd_p=6a21a686-81e2-49d6-8c29-9b07f9b95621&pd_rd_r=92fee17b-ffe8-46e2-a14c-348792ab1b5c&pd_rd_w=ypwM4&pd_rd_wg=lG6LA&ref_=pd_gw_ci_mcx_mr_hp_d

 

John

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On 28/06/2020 at 14:57, brossard said:

To be absolutely certain that things don't turn green over time (I have found this even with the allegedly non acid flux I am currently using) and for wiring I always use rosin flux.

 

Are you using the solid rosin or a ready made paste?

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3 hours ago, 57xx said:

 

Are you using the solid rosin or a ready made paste?

 

I have a bottle of liquid rosin.  I decant a small amount into a small container.  It does dry into a paste over time but is still usable.

 

John

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Posted (edited)

I may not be as fussy as others, but I find that after soldering using Carrs Green label flux a quick wash of the model under the tap using a toothbrush and possibly some cream cleaner is quite adequate.  At the end of the day, and if the model fits, I also usually immerse it in an ultrasonic bath (one of the cheap ones from Lidl) to which I've added some specialist flux removing fluid and that ensures that all is perfectly clean for painting.  Incidentally, I find that provided I keep the soldering tip clean through use of sponge and/or brass wool, there's very seldom any need for tinning compound.

 

DT

Edited by Torper
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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Torper said:

I may not be as fussy as others, but I find that after soldering using Carrs Green label flux a quick wash of the model under the tap using a toothbrush and possibly some cream cleaner is quite adequate.  At the end of the day, and if the model fits, I also usually immerse it in an ultrasonic bath (one of the cheap ones from Lidl) to which I've added some specialist flux removing fluid and that ensures that all is perfectly clean for painting.  Incidentally, I find that provided I keep the soldering tip clean through use of sponge and/or brass wool, there's very seldom any need for tinning compound.

 

DT

Bit difficult washing control panels & track under the tap ;)

So rosin it is for me

 

 

Edited by rynd2it
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Posted (edited)

I did say "model".....  Happily I've no need to solder a control panel, although I have soldered track and while it gets a rub with a fibre glass brush before soldering I haven't used anything to clean it subsequently and I've had no problem painting it.  Otherwise my soldering is largely limited to etched brass for which I find no need of rosin.

 

However, you live and learn....  If I remember I might add a small pot of the stuff to my order next time I'm shopping at Amazon and see how it works out

 

DT

Edited by Torper
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Rosin is good for electrical soldering.  Absolutely no fear of later corrosion.  For brass models non acid flux is my choice.  Clean up the solder joints with scraper and fiberglass brush.  Then a good wash with a decent cleaner (I find bathroom cleaner works) before paint.

 

I have some ancient tip cleaner/tinning compound (from when Radio Shack actually sold electronic stuff) and use it occasionally.  It does bring the shine back to the bit.  Usually frequent use of the brass wool is effective.

 

John

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Posted (edited)

For great success avoid lead free solder like covid 19, even cheap silverline flux will help solder flow much better, although some people say do it, DONT use plumbers flux. use

rosin.

 

and if soldering inside locos, make sure you line the edges of the bodyshell with aluminium foil as a slip of the hand will destroy it.

Edited by Graham Radish
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Posted (edited)

I have experimented with plumbers paste flux - water based and oil based.  I only used these fluxes on etched kits.  They do work but they also leave a residue and I no longer use them.  Just simple liquid flux.

 

John

Edited by brossard
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When I solder up multi pin connectors, I tin the end of the wire, using a cocktail stick, I put a drop of rosin flux in the hole, push the end of the wire in and a quick zap with the iron, job done.

 

 

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7 hours ago, brossard said:

I have a bottle of liquid rosin.  I decant a small amount into a small container.  It does dry into a paste over time but is still usable.

 

Ah ok, is that this sort of thing?

image.png.b3eb2496f343481b5bfa89eb9ed57ee3.png

 

I've found solid rosin, rosin paste and liquids, Hard to tell what other stuff is in something they call "rosin based" though so was thinking of getting the solid/crystals and dissolving with IPA when required.

 

image.png.c175e1df29537700af81df1a1c67a920.png

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2 hours ago, Siberian Snooper said:

When I solder up multi pin connectors, I tin the end of the wire, using a cocktail stick, I put a drop of rosin flux in the hole, push the end of the wire in and a quick zap with the iron, job done.

 

 

Interesting, I tin the hole by putting thin solder in and quickly heating, tin the wire and then heat the pin again and push in. The problem seems to be I am not using a hot enough tip and therefore holding it in contact for too long. I'll give your version a try next time, thanks

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My Amazon package just arrived and included the brass wire cleaner. It has a flux past reservoir at the bottom, how is this used, do I need to heat it and melt the past or.......?

 

 

Brass_tip_Cleaner.jpg

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54 minutes ago, Siberian Snooper said:

Stick the hot tip in and out a few times.

 

 

Far enough to melt the flux?

 

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2 hours ago, Siberian Snooper said:

Stick the hot tip in and out a few times.

 

 

 

Said the Actress to the Bishop

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11 minutes ago, 57xx said:

 

Said the Actress to the Bishop

 

Now, I was thinking that but decided to be discreet  ;)

 

John

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4 hours ago, rynd2it said:

Far enough to melt the flux?

 

 

You will know when you get to the flux as it will smoke, if you leave it to long it will burn and stick to the iron forming crud on the none tinned surfaces.

 

 

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