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  • metal chassis building advise

    Advise, tips for soldering aluminum & stainless steel tube chassis building! have never used these materials.
    Brass chassis have done some.
    l want to build Drag racing chassisís for 1966 area FED dragsters in 1/16 & 1/25 scale! Also Door-slammers & Funny cars, Altered's.
    So any advise would be greatly appreciated

  • #2
    Soldering aluminum takes some skill and work. It's not normally done with fine detail work either. Some Class 7 (really...fast cars) cars have aluminum frames, but of the guys that I know that used them, went back to spring steel after the hassle using aluminum.

    You Tube is your friend if you want to learn it..!

    Personally, I'd just stick to spring steel. The frame can be very light, take a beating and come back for more, and be fairly easy to build.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike-; 06-16-2019, 10:40 PM.

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    • #3
      The aluminum Class 7 chassis are plated (usually nickel) so ordinary soldering & brazing materials work when constructing them. Soldering raw aluminum requires a special solder & flux. It's available to the refrigeration industry, but I don't know how readily it's available to the common man. Stainless is somewhat easier to work with. I've soldered stainless steel using a 50W iron & Harris Industries Stay Brite silver solder & Stay Clean acid flux. Be sure to clean your solder joints with something like fine sandpaper or steel wool to remove the oxidation, which appears rapidly with SS.

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      • #4
        There's a very good thread on soldering here, I'm sure you'll find some useful info.

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        • #5
          The soldering thread WCR mentioned above is the first sticky thread in the Vintage & Scratchbuilding forum.

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          • #6
            There's aluminum and then there's aluminum...

            If you want to study up on the different alloys, go to the McMaster-Carr website and look at the "About Aluminum" page. There are grades of aluminum with a minimum yield strength* of 5,000 psi (34.5 Megapascals) up to 73,000 psi (503 Megapascals). For reference low-carbon steel has a minimum yield strength of 54,000 psi (372 Megapascals).

            Same deal with stainless steel. "About Stainless Steel" shows grades with minimum yield strengths from 25,000 psi (172 Megapascals) to 145,000 psi (1,186 Megapascals).

            The more exotic alloys may be hard to find. McMaster, Grainger and MSC Direct are the first places to check. There are other online sources that specialize in metal sheets, tubes, angles and shapes. A few will sell you material in small quantities at reasonable prices.

            Stay-Brite silver solder and Stay-Clean acid flux work great on stainless steel. Supposedly they'll work on aluminum as well, but I've never tried it.

            Ed Bianchi

            *Yield strength measures how much tension a metal alloy can withstand before it becomes permanently deformed.

            Ed Bianchi

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            • #7
              Brings me back to my R&D days measuring yield and modulus of rupture using Tinnious-Olson and Instrom test equipment.
              Last edited by gmcullan; 06-20-2019, 04:47 AM.

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              • #8
                Thanks Guys, iíll probably try Stainless 1st, itís readily available in a few diameters & 12Ē lengths! Which l purchased a l o n g time ago, l know it would be less
                of a hassle to just get PE chassis parts & build from there, iím just trying to build recreate my 23T full bodied dragster, 48 Anglia altered chassis were built back in the Ď60ís to start with in 1/25 scale iím not to concerned with the performance aspect, right now! That will come later, when iíve resolved any issues that come up!
                l have a good chassis jig, but will need some accessories to go with the jig, i do have the solder, not sure if has a use by date? will need to get the flux.
                One other thing i just thought of is.... has anyone bent Stainless tubing? i have a couple of benders, i fear they will be not be right for .80 tube iím going to use?
                So any advise in that aspect would be very helpful as well!
                Thanks again ToyTruk

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                • #9
                  I've not seen solder with a 'use-by' shelf life. I carry bits of both 60/40 & silver solder in my slot car box. Both were acquired in the early 70's. Never have had a problem using either. I have a small bottle of Cobra acid flux even older.That could have degraded, but I've not tried it to see. I have no experience bending SS tubing. Are you using .80 dia. tubing or is it .080?

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                  • #10
                    i too have some 6/40 Kester solder from the '70's. except for a little external oxidation, it performs well. when I solder steel, I use strong Oatey plumbing flux (Lucky Bob's bottle/brush works as well). otherwise, some old Nocorrode paste or strongly activated liquid rosin flux for CU/brass.
                    speedy

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                    • #11
                      The only problem that you might encounter with old solder is that it can have oxidation on the surface, so you might get too much slag when you use it. Most of the time if you use the right flux you would not have a problem.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bill from NH View Post
                        I've not seen solder with a 'use-by' shelf life. I carry bits of both 60/40 & silver solder in my slot car box. Both were acquired in the early 70's. Never have had a problem using either. I have a small bottle of Cobra acid flux even older.That could have degraded, but I've not tried it to see. I have no experience bending SS tubing. Are you using .80 dia. tubing or is it .080?
                        Hi Bill, You got me on that 1 trembling finger disease re it should be .080 tubing!
                        the reason for use by date is itís been awhile since i used the solder over 5 yrs, so i will do some testing, if itís still ok?
                        it was brand new when last used, so not much was used! if i have doubts iíll buy new stuff!

                        The FEDís iím going to build are dragsters that raced in 1966 Australian Drag Fest tour, Earl Poage, Tony Nancy, Bob Mayer, Ron Colson, Bob Kieth & George Schreiber, they raced 2 Ozzie dragsters, Ash Marshall & Eddie Thomas They where all blown cars, 3 Hemiís, 2 Big Block Chevyís & a Olds power cars, the Ozzie cars both Hemiís.
                        Iíve just moved into a new home a getting my work shop set up and still searching for info on each car, i do have 2 cars mostly researched,
                        i did attend 2 races back then, as i was in a Hot Rod Club & helped out at out track, i did have lots of photoís of the cars, but
                        they where destroyed as well as my dragster, hot rodís & altered i owned as well as rod runs car shows unfortunately!
                        Life sometimes throws us some road blocks at times!
                        So Thanks for your advise which is greatly appreciated! i will post photoís of cars as i get em done! Toy Truk

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                        • #13
                          ! Toy Truk, I don't know whether you're on Facebook, but they have a group page on "Chassis Building, Q&A's". I just found it this morning, so I don't know how useful it is, but 90% of what i saw was on drag racing chassis.

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                          • #14
                            Hi Thanks Bill, i think i've seen it but will check it out ! at my age you forget a lot of things! ha.
                            I'm not new to building chassisís itís just not used stainless & aluminum tube for those materials, as yet ! but it many years since i last made any!
                            They main aim is to recreate the cars as they where built back in the day! performance is secondary!
                            I will build performance cars, possibly with piano wire & pe parts? After thinking about the scale i think 1/25 will be it, as parts are more readily available
                            from what i see!
                            So again thanks for all the advise! Toy Truk

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                            • #15
                              As noted above, the only issue with old solder might be surface corrosion. That said, I've used old solder with surface corrosion, no issues.

                              Old flux should work fine too. I have a decades-old can of Kester acid paste flux that still has lots of miles left in it.

                              As for bending 0.080 stainless tubing, if you are using an actual tubing bender you shouldn't have any problems.

                              FYI, piano wire (a.k.a -- music wire) has incredibly high tensile strength, yet can be easily bent. Published tensile strength ranges from 380,000 to 425,000 PSI (2,620 to 2,930 MPa). There is darn little else in this world can take those kind of loads without deforming or breaking.

                              You can buy piano wire as-drawn or with a bright finish. The bright finish looks spiffy and should be easier to solder.

                              And yes, please show us your creations!

                              Ed Bianchi

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