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Ed's Excellent Soldering Thread

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  • #31
    Deane, you are on the record as not having a use for soldering.

    For anybody who does see value in learning to solder, it is one of the easier fabrication skills to acquire. I'm here to help those folks.

    Ed Bianchi


    • #32
      I'm only responding to Wheelszk's assumption he is the only guy who cannot solder. He isn't.

      I'm not sure any fabrication skill is 'easy' to acquire if you just don't happen to be handy that way. Some people aren't.

      In some hobbies that would be a major drawback. In this one it isn't.

      The help you offer is extensive, and welcome.


      • #33
        The number one fail point for soldering with an iron is a simple, but somewhat inter-related, set of problems; that revolve around heat transfer, or more specifically, the lack of it. Inadequate heat wont transfer period; nor will adequate heat, if you dont have proper contact between all the players. The iron is not a magic wand that you wave and flutter somewhere near the vicinity of the intended work, with the expectation that flow will magically occur. Ya gotta stick it to the work and hold it there until the work smokes and heat waves. YOU are required to pay attention and watch, and only feed solder when the work will readily accept solder.

        The critical component of this failure loop is your set up. Beyond light electrical work, even small mechanical work must be securely clamped, key-holed, or abutted in order for heat to transfer. Without adequate mechanical support during the heating process, the iron cannot be held steady; and therefore the heat will not migrate through the intended joint.

        The second, and equally intertwined fail point, is not having the patience to do the aforementioned. Curiously it cannot be taught. It is a self-learned skill. It is not the iron or the solder's fault.

        Heat, steady, and patience. Repeat.

        You will improve.


        • #34
          OK, let's take it up a notch and reinforce the issue of adequate heat. One of my most frequently used soldering tools is a resistance soldering system that I found on eBay:

          It works by passing a current through the joint and heating it directly, rather like a spot welder. The unit that I have can generate more than a kilowatt. In use, you attach a ground clamp to the work and then touch a carbon electrode to the joint, turning the system on and off with a foot switch.

          The electrode will not stick to the solder so you can hold it in place after the power is turned off and the joint cools. It's very good for heavy work like soldering 0.050" steel to 0.0625" brass:

          and, conversely, it is also ideal for fiddly jobs like soldering suspension detail. The power is adjustable in many steps depending on tap connections (1-2, 1-3, 2-3) and a rotary switch. With the proper adjustment, the joint is heated so quickly that there is no time for the heat to travel to an adjacent completed joint and undo it.

          Attached Files


          • #35
            EM, you are making me jealous (or is it envious?) with your resistance soldering setup, and masterful work.

            What I want to emphasize is that soldering is a skill with an easy entrance ramp. You can achieve success early with basic jobs and advance, if you choose, by small steps and at your own pace.

            I learned how to do basic soldering when I was a teenager, mostly self-taught, but with an intro from my older brother who used it for his electronics hobby. Over a lifetime I have developed some more advanced skills, but nothing I'd brag about. My heat application, fixturing and solder application is better these days, but I still don't consider myself anything more than an amateur.

            If I wanted to advance further I'd probably invest in a resistance soldering rig. I've looked at them. They're a pricey investment, though EM may have gotten a great deal on one off of eBay. To date I've been able to do my soldering jobs without one.

            Admire gorgeous work like in that photo by EM, above. But don't let it intimidate you. There are a ton of useful soldering jobs you can do with a basic understanding of the techniques and inexpensive tools. All it takes is a willingness to try, and practice.

            Ed Bianchi


            • #36
              Very much on the mark. Part of the problem is that eBay has changed - much more focus on being a marketplace for new stuff - like the American Beauty soldering rigs. They are the biggest dog in the game and, levering name recognition, they command absurd prices. A resistance soldering rig is basically a large multi-tap transformer. Mine cost me about the equivalent of a nice RTR slot car. (The internet is full of DIY resistance soldering threads)

              My main purpose was to emphasize the idea that, one way or another, adequate heat is key.

              I actually had the good fortune to have a bit of "training" My father and I were very much into HO model railroading. In those days everything was in kit form and often involved the assembly of heavy casting. We had a family friend who was a dental technician and soldering was his life's work. I've never gotten to his level but he gave me a good start.



              • #37
                My soldering experience led me to brazing, a very similar technique except performed at a higher temperature, and with stronger "solders" -- metals such as brass and silver. It is typically used to join steel parts.

                A brazed joint has strength similar to a welded joint, but does not involve any melting of the parts being joined. It does take much higher temperatures -- typically in the range of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (540 degrees Celsius). Hot enough that brass melts and those steel parts will glow red or even yellow. A propane torch won't get you those temperatures. I have used MAPP gas -- propane's big brother -- for the small jobs I've done. Professionals use oxy-acetylene.

                Nobody should ever need brazing to assemble slotcars. I have used it in repairing motorcycle accessories, with great success.

                Brazing is not as widely known as soldering and welding, but it is a truly valuable technique with its own advantages and disadvantages. And you know what? I taught myself brazing too. No genius required. Some intelligence and real respect for how hot the work gets. Play safe.

                Ed Bianchi


                • #38
                  I use high temp silver solder occasionally when I need a strong joint in a small area like attaching stub axles to a dropped front axle body

                  Again, the resistance soldering rig can generate enough heat to do this


                  • #39
                    Keep them pictures coming, EM - your workmanship is an inspiration.

                    This sure is an excellent thread.


                    • #40
                      Love your stuff EM!

                      You can win a race. And then there are Concours d'Elegance. Dammit, there should also be a competition for artistry in fabrication! Take that body off! Let's see what's underneath!

                      Ed Bianchi