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*** that for a game of solder...


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Not wishing to go down the my tool is bigger than your tool path but my weapon of choice is a 150W ERSA i-con model.

 

Not cheap but the best soldering iron I have ever used or seen.

 

It will solder anything from a triple layer of 18thou brass to a tiny detail and the ability to set an accurate temperature allows me to solder whitemetal with 145degree solder easily and safely withe the tip temperature set at 185degrees.

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Johnster, I feel your pain.  Coming as I do from a line of precision engineers my inability to, and virtual phobia of, soldering was a deep source of embarrassment.  Giving me a soldering iron was like giving a toddler Napalm.

 

Until this past month.

Determined to kill or cure, I invested in a Weller solder gun to replace an ancient, cheap iron which seemed to go from Arctic to Thermo-Nuclear and back to frigid at random intervals, and, much to the shock of everyone who knew my aversion to liquid metal, I managed to solder, not one, not two, but four solder joints to provide electrical continuity feeds on the new layout! Four! The joints are so strong you'd think I'd used Thermit welding as well.  Suffice it to say, the soldering gun is much easier to use, and even managed to cope with lead-free, fluxed solder wire which the other iron just made into pretty little balls.  Following instruction from a very patient friend, who said that Weller soldering guns are excellent quality (I just thought they made curling tongs...) I also flux despite using a solder which apparently has a flux, but it looks like I might have cured another phobia.

If you do decide to replace the iron in the future, I can recommend the Weller gun.  It's certainly prevented me from needing skin grafts or burning down the shed.

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2 hours ago, Torper said:

 

 

 

Solder - as others have said, DO NOT get the lead free stuff.  I use ordinary flux-cored solder wire a lot, but for kits I find that a specialist solder such as Carrs 145 or 188 degree seems to run more smoothly.  Cored solder or not, I always use additional flux, usually Carrs Green Label.  And if you possibly can, don't put the solder on the iron and then take it to the work - instead, put a bit of the solder on the clean fluxed joint and apply the hot iron to it. (For cleaning the joint before soldering, the dreaded fibre glass brush comes into its own).

 

For cleanliness, brass swarf or damp sponge - I use both.  With a decent iron, a quick wipe of the tip on the sponge isn't going to lose you any heat that won't be immediately made up again.

 

DT

You have raised several important issues there.

 

If you're soldering electronic parts or wires to track/droppers to bus wires etc. Then you should exclusively used resin cored solder. That is the intended and prime purpose of this type of solder. The reason for using it, is that it won't corrode electronic gear.

 

If you're assembling kits or similar, then resin cored solder is likely to be not ideal and you need specialist fluxes and solder, exactly as you describe.

 

As for putting solder onto an iron and taking it the work - the work of the devil! This is likely to lead to dry joints, caused primarily as you know, because the resin core immediately sizzles up and therefore is no longer able to chemically clean the joint. Anyone doing this on electronic work, is asking for trouble!

 

However, taking solder to the joint is acceptable for soldering brass, nickel silver etc, if the joint has a suitable flux applied to it before the iron with solder on it is applied.

However this additional flux will need to be washed away, at the earliest opportunity.

 

As for cleaning work, absolutely immediately before soldering, solder won't take properly to oxides, that will also cause dry joints.

 

 

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Weller gun; I will investigate.  For now, I have an iron which performs well, and because it is more powerful in terms of wattage than my old one from back in the day, can quickly melt the solder and make the joint before the surrounding plastic begins to melt; I feel much more in control of the process and am already learning to be neat and tidy compared to my 'traditional' work.  The joints feel strong and make good electrical contact; I am like a man with 2 d**ks.  

 

I am expecting my tip to wear quickly, and have yet to attempt kit building in either brass or whitemetal, but my confidence is rising.  This will require learning different techniques, and the advice here will be most valuable.  I am old enough to consider myself to be, if not on the home straight at least on the curve leading to it, and it is possible that the current iron will last me out, but I clearly need to replace the solder, investigate flux and tip cleaning, and equip myself with a range of tips.

 

Tx again everyone!

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Weller guns and look alike copies: Beware. They are great for the odd electrical joint but not suitable for electronics (The tips are to big and blunt ) or for sustained operation because they have a  limited operational cycle of typically a maximum of 1minute operation and four minutes off.

 

from the Weller instruction book. The penalty for disregarding this useful advice is the smell of hot varnish, leading to smoke from the overheated transformer.

 

 

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Edited by steve W
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Share your pain, soldering is certainly a dark art.  I have found that roughing up the surface with the dremil or sand paper helps and it must be very clean.  Rail will have a tarnish on the bottom and sides that must be removed before soldering.   A significant discovery causing me problems was the 'flux in a pen' product I was using which is a great flux dispensing method.  But not written on the actual product but on the web page I found it was 'de-soldering flux' which causes the solder to form little balls to facilitate removal.  A trap for young players.

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10 hours ago, BernieL said:

Share your pain, soldering is certainly a dark art.  I have found that roughing up the surface with the dremil or sand paper helps and it must be very clean.  Rail will have a tarnish on the bottom and sides that must be removed before soldering.   A significant discovery causing me problems was the 'flux in a pen' product I was using which is a great flux dispensing method.  But not written on the actual product but on the web page I found it was 'de-soldering flux' which causes the solder to form little balls to facilitate removal.  A trap for young players.

 

I find just using liquid flux does the job, if the metal is shiny 

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Many people like to use 145degree solder when assembling kits etc. but I use 60/40 lead/tin resin cored solder for most of what I do.

 

I do use 145 degree for whitemetal and sometimes I will use 90 degree or even 70 degree, for example in building a signal. You can assemble things in order, going down the temperatures, without disturbing what you have done.

 

So if it is a brass post, I will add a bracket for a lamp, ladders, platforms etc. on with the 60/40, then a finial with 145 then the lamp with 90.

 

As a general rule, the hotter the melting point the stronger the joint and as I have never had a problem with the higher temperature stuff, that is what I use.

 

One of the most prolific loco builders around has very strong views on the matter and will not go near 145 degree solder.

 

He once said that when you have seen as many broken solder joints as he has, as a result of other people putting locos together with it, then you would think twice.

 

Then there are others who use 145 almost exclusively and say that they don't have any problems.

 

I think it just suggests that there is often more than one way to do things and trying different approaches until you find one that you are comfortable with is the best way to go.

 

Every time an "expert" in the hobby tells you that something doesn't work, or i has to be done a certain way, there are others who will say that it just isn't so!    

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3 minutes ago, t-b-g said:

Every time an "expert" in the hobby tells you that something doesn't work, or i has to be done a certain way, there are others who will say that it just isn't so!    

 

The modellers mantra.

Should be on a T shirt given to everyone entering the hobby!

 

Mike.

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Soldering irons ?

How many others here started with the old irons that had a large block of copper / brass on the end that was heated up on the gas oven ring.

My farther worked at Ericssons Beeston at the time late 50s /60 so had plenty of experience soldering.

GPO Telephone exchange work.

 

Sad not got it now, ''stock taking' we progressed to the Weller I still have now.

 

Peter

 

Ho Ebay is loaded with them !

Edited by Peter Eaton
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