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Author Topic: Soldering advice  (Read 3398 times)

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Online Bealman

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2018, 11:33:19 PM »
G'day from Australia, Ricky, and welcome to the NGF!  :thumbsup:

Seems a bit strange to me that this so called expert at Arundel was telling you not to use flux.
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Offline Lazy-Ferret

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2018, 11:46:58 PM »
Just to add to @jthjth excellent reply, when you do get your iron working, get into the habit of only wiping the bit as you take it out of the holder and are about to start to solder, then when you finish soldering the joint, put the iron back into the holder without wiping. This does two things, it helps to stop the flux attacking the iron bit while in the holder, as there is a larger amount of solder still there, and secondly, the act of wiping on the cool sponge as you take it out, cools the bit a small amount, which means that the iron starts re-heating as you start to solder, reducing the temperature allowing the flux just a little bit more time to clean the bit as you start your solder joint.

Never use anything abrasive on a modern soldering iron bit, especially is it is a temperature controlled one, as it will ruin it. What I was taught to do, was to take a sheet of kitchen roll/paper towel, fan fold it up until it is a strip about 1" wide, then fold it length ways a couple of times, until it is very thick, but you can still fold it in half one more time. Put this down on the bench like a pillow, and holding the soldering iron just above it, melt a load of solder onto the bit, using the paper to keep it on the end, then fold the paper round the bit, and rotate the iron a few times, to rub the bit clean in the molten solder. Don't hold it for too long, as it will get hot and burn your fingers. If it is bad, you might have to do this a couple of times.
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Offline Mr Sprue

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2018, 07:50:23 AM »
Good old Google will provide you some videos if your still uncertain!  ;)

Offline Ricky B

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2018, 03:32:25 PM »
G'day from Australia, Ricky, and welcome to the NGF!  :thumbsup:

Seems a bit strange to me that this so called expert at Arundel was telling you not to use flux.
Hello there Bealman! Thanks for the warm welcome. The chap at Arundel was apparently an ex telecomms man to whom soldering as part of his job, had been second nature. He demonstrated the iron and solder in the shop but he was one of the significant minority who say 'don't bother with flux' and I believe sold me a solder that contained flux.

In the practice sessions I've had attaching wire to spare bits of track, I don't seem to have had too much trouble tinning the iron tip but yesterday, when I sat down to make some proper progress, I couldn't get any solder to linger on the iron. I'm going to order some of the solder recommended by JTHJTH and give it a try.

Online Malc

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2018, 04:29:53 PM »
I must admit, the only time I have used flux in the last 40 years of working as an electronics engineer is when I am soldering 15mm water pipe. As long as you clean the work pieces and in the case of track, give it a rub with a file to abrade the surface, Cored solder works fine.
The years have been good to me, it was the weekends that did the damage.

Offline Ricky B

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2018, 04:42:44 PM »
Thanks for your angle on it Malc- as I've researched it it does feel like trying to forge on without flux has put me in a tiny minority so good to here your experiences. It'll be a few days before I can do another test but when I do, no doubt I'll be reporting back on here..

Offline Yet_Another

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2018, 11:25:42 PM »
Just to chuck in my 2d: turn it off if you're not going to use it for a little while. Leaving it hot and unused does cause the tip to oxidise (which I then found difficult, but not impossible, to tin).
Tony

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Offline Platy767

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2018, 01:45:13 PM »
jthjth has given you the good advice - use a 60/40 Tin / Lead Rosin cored solder for connecting wires to wires, droppers to track and wires to point motors and other electrical connections. Don't waste your time with Lead Free solders.

When you have it properly tinned and have it working well, I suggest you smother the tip in rosin cored solder before you turn your iron off at the end of a session. I mean, wipe clean, then smother in solder before you turn it off. Let it cool with a covering of solder. When you next power up, let it heat up, wipe clean, touch the tip with solder wire to tin the tip, then tin your wire or track connection, then hold the joint together and apply the iron. Soldering is easy if you have cleanliness and heat transfer.

Mark

Offline Ricky B

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2018, 11:49:20 PM »
Hi again all,
An update on my soldering efforts- partly to get a few more guiding pointers to help me further along the road, partly as others might find help in my experiences.

Following JTHJTH's advice,  I sent away for some tin/lead solder with 'rosin core'. The one I bought (via eBay) was actually 63/37 and Chinese made. I now believe I had previously been using "lead free" and maybe rosin free?

In order to try to get my iron tinned I tried a gentle rub-up of the cold tip with a fibre glass pen. I bet some of you have spotted two mistakes already!..

However, with the cleaner tip the solder began to tin the tip rather than sliding off. More like it!

I also found that my iron (40w) had maybe not been hot enough previously.

So tinning iron seemed to be fine, tinning of wires also began to seem fine and Aafter much trial and error, I'd attached sets of droppers to seven lengths of n gauge code 55 Peco flexitrack. But I still:

Had trouble getting to tin the underside of the track.
Had problems with melting sleepers so long was it taking to get the joint to 'fuse'.
Though I achieved some soldered joints, the quality of the solder I question- all joints are matt not glossy and as the solder cools it becomes pasty and lumpen rather than flowing through the joint like model soldering does.

I reckon the Chinese solder might be dodgy and still wonder if I should invest in some flux. Admittedly I bough a cheaper version than JTHJTH said. But steps forward! Thoughts?

Online Malc

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2018, 11:57:15 PM »
To stop the sleepers melting, cut the longitudinal bits under the rail and slide the sleepers away from where you are soldering. The grey nature of the solder is called a dry joint. You need to get the iron hot enough. Rough up the underside of the rail with a fine file, flux might help you here. Place the tinned iron tip onto the rail with the wire trapped between the iron and the rail. Push the solder into the gap where the iron meets the rail until it melts. Do not move the wire once the solder has flowed into place, just lift the iron up. Ideally you need 3 hands.
The years have been good to me, it was the weekends that did the damage.

Offline Ricky B

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #25 on: October 16, 2018, 12:27:35 AM »
Thanks Malc.
I already had been cutting the the web away allowing the sleeper to slide to and fro so giving a good area to work on. Cleaned area with fibre pen first. When applying (tinned) iron, trapping (tinned) wire against rail underside I didn't hold solder to intersection of joint though relying on tinned surfaces. The solder looks shiny when tinning but rapidly fades to, well, lead colour.

Offline jthjth

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #26 on: October 16, 2018, 06:51:52 AM »
There are two possible reasons for a dull joint, the dry joint as mentioned, or your tin lead solder is actually lead free solder. An annoying feature of many lead free formulations is that you appear to produce a series of dry joints, which actually arent. A common cause of dry joints is movement of the joint as the solder solidifies. Admittedly this is hard to achieve with track droppers, but a good rule for soldered wire joints is there ought to be a good mechanical joint before solder is applied. This usually means bending the wire into a hoop, or similar, around the terminal. For your dropper problem Id suggest stripping a length of rail out of the plastic sleeper web. You can then practice your technique on the rail without worrying about melting the plastic. A small bottle of flux might be helpful. You need flux intended for electronic assembly, rather than some of the acid fluxes intended for putting brass kits together. Practice really is the key to soldering. Its a bit like learning to ride a bike. Seems impossible to start with, and once you can do it you wonder what all the fuss is about.

As an aside, Lidl are currently selling 48W digitally controlled temperature adjustable soldering irons for 17. You even get two reels of solder and some spare bits. Id have purchased one save for the fact that I already have three soldering irons.

Offline Platy767

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #27 on: October 16, 2018, 09:13:04 AM »
The iron tip you use can also contribute to success. I use an old Weller TCP 48W iron (only because that was what I learned to solder with in the early 70s) with a PTAA 7 tip. I also sometimes struggle with melting sleepers, so will be using the suggestion of moving sleepers in the future. I usually solder to the side of the rail after scrubbing with a fibreglass pencil, a wipe with iso and tinning the rail side using a tin/lead rosin cored solder. I tin the dropper and then bring the dropper wire to the rail and flow the joint. If you have a long or pointy tip, it may not have enough heat reserve to properly flow the joint.

I find I don't need to use additional flux, but using some while practicing on a rail offcut is a good idea. As jthjth says, use a flux used in electronic assembly (rosin based applied with a small paint brush or cotton bud), not the phosphoric acid based fluxes for kit building, and definitely not Bakers Fluid!

This is a link to a paste from an Australian shop, but I'm sure you can find a liquid flux or something similar in the UK.
https://www.jaycar.com.au/solder-flux-paste-56g-tub/p/NS3070

Keep at it, practice, use the right materials and you will do ok.

Mark

Offline Ricky B

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #28 on: October 17, 2018, 09:29:54 AM »
I'll report back again when I'm next able to have a session with the iron. Unfortunately I'm only able due to work commitments to get a window now and then. But thanks again jthjth, Platy767, Malc and Yet_Another for showing interest- most kind.

In summary, my iron was bought new at and recommended to me by, the Engine Shed Arundel. It's the pointy, pencil shaped tip sort.

Even though I bought a reel of tin/lead solder (supposedly!), a comment by a guy on YouTube next to a soldering video suggested he'd bought some 63/37 ratio Chinese solder and "it was rubbish etc etc".. I think I've acquired the same brand. Maybe due to my Yorkshire thriftiness I 'saved' a few quid in the brand jthjth linked to but ended up with dodgy solder. Maybe.

Yes, having decided to solder droppers to the bottom of my Peco flexible track,  I cut webbing away to slide sleepers hither and thither to make room. But in some cases, I'd obviously had iron in contact so long I'd distorted some sleepers. Not to worry, I am making progress but there are so many slight variables which, until I suddenly "pedal that bike without stabilisers", make it hard to know the actual reason for teething troubles.

At the end of the day, I did attach droppers to six or seven lengths of track- but as noted, I don't 'fancy' the look of the joints though they feel strong enough.

Offline Old Crow

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Re: Soldering advice
« Reply #29 on: November 13, 2018, 11:01:28 PM »
I had the same problem with new bits not tinning. Flux is the answer; you can buy it little tins. Sure there is supposed to be flux in the multicores but coating the whole bit in flux and then tinning it works for me. Also I never use lead-free solder, horrible stuff that doesn;t run. Lead/Tin for me.  For all joints to rails etc, I clean the area and then put on a drop of fllux and the solder flows nicely even when the rail might be dissipating some of the heat.

 

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