Soldering Advice needed

Basic electrical and electronics, such as DC/Analog control.
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Soldering Advice needed

Postby mjb1961 » Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:15 pm

Hi ,,I'm thinking of learning to solder ,at the minute I couldn't solder to save my life ,I have a solder iron which is 40 watts,would that be suitable for wire droppers on the layout ,also what solder and flux would you recommend for soldering droppers to Nickle silver track .thankyou mjb

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Re: Soldering Advice needed

Postby Bufferstop » Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:56 pm

Your 40watt soldering iron should be fine for soldering on droppers, as long as it has a small chisel or pointed tip. 60/40 lead alloy solder with a flux core is the one to use for that, you shouldn't need to pre-flux the rail or wire, just use the iron and solder to tin them both before you bring them together and apply the iron again. Don't let anyone tell you lead alloy is banned/illegal that's just lazy retailers who can't be bothered to teach the staff what the law says. For your own use it is perfectly legal apart from soldering drinking water pipes.
Back in the 60's when electronic panels all had to be soldered by hand the manufacturers would recruit from girls leaving school who were good at needlework, (nimble fingers) an afternoon's training and a day spent working alongside an experienced assembler and they were good to go, so apart from the fingers why shouldn't you be able to do it.
Attaching the wire to the underside of the rail before you lay it is the best plan, it's easier than trying to solder to the outside of the rail once it's in place.
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Re: Soldering Advice needed

Postby mjb1961 » Thu Oct 29, 2020 6:29 pm

Thankyou so much for your advice bufferstop.

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Re: Soldering Advice needed

Postby Ironduke » Thu Oct 29, 2020 8:46 pm

Bufferstop wrote:Back in the 60's when electronic panels all had to be soldered by hand the manufacturers would recruit from girls leaving school who were good at needlework,

To the extent that they even started making solder with perfumed rosin. It was horrible.

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Re: Soldering Advice needed

Postby Peterm » Thu Oct 29, 2020 11:35 pm

Without wanting to be argumentative, I'd go for something with a minimum 60 watts. With more power and the same temp' the rail won't cool the tip so much. The higher wattage means that you can make a quicker joint, which in turn means you've less danger of melting sleepers. Soldering droppers before track laying is a good idea. I've drilled a hole big enough to take the two wires in between sleepers on the mid line of the 4 foot so that the wires come from under the rail and disappear down the centre. Easily covered with ballast.

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Re: Soldering Advice needed

Postby Bigmet » Thu Oct 29, 2020 11:42 pm

Apply the iron to the surface to be tinned, and the solder to the surface not the iron. Really fast, bit on the workpiece, dab of solder on the workpiece not the bit, is what you should aim at. Clean surfaces really matter, a little wipe with fine emery on the rail surface will remove the oxide layer sufficiently to enable the solder to melt and flow freely. Copper wire is typically clean enough immediately the insulation is stripped off. Twist multicore so it doesn't unravel, and when applying the iron avoid the bit contacting any of the insulation. And wipe the bit tip on the damp sponge, the moment the solder surface dulls.

Oh, and you should have seen the speed those women could zip around what was then a discrete component PWBA making hundreds of joints, and every one good first time. They kept the bit tip clean, with regular wipes on the damp sponge and periodic retinning; and landed accurately on the joint sites to avoid contamination from a little scorched insulation or similar. (All the component leads and the board locations were ready tinned.) I knew how to solder when I encountered such an assembly operation, and it was b. humiliating to see how fast Shaz, Mand, Trace, Sness, Maz and all the rest could get the job done. (No idea about perfumed rosin; comfortable workplace chairs, pleasant changing and mess rooms, a choice in styles of tailored labcoat style overalls, were what signified in producing an attractive work environment, the good lighting and efficient air circulation taken for granted.)

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Re: Soldering Advice needed

Postby pete12345 » Mon Nov 30, 2020 8:22 pm

I tend to find that a small amount of solder on the tip of the iron helps to get things started. Maybe it's something to do with the puddle of solder conducting the heat better than the point contact of the iron. Once the initial solder has started to flow, additional solder is then added to the work piece.

Also, unleaded solder is like trying to solder with cheese. The old-fashioned lead/tin stuff is far superior (and is still available) but try not to breath in the fumes.
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Re: Soldering Advice needed

Postby Flashbang » Tue Dec 01, 2020 9:41 am

pete12345 advice is spot on. Re pre coating irons tip.

Here is my soldering advice that was taught to me as an apprentice …

Always ensure your irons tip is in first class condition and then when hot wipe it onto a damp sponge to clean off old solder even if it was just used previously, still clean it.
ONLY use lead content solder, Lead free solder will need a higher temperature to melt and many older irons can not reach that temperature needed. You can still obtain lead rosen cored solder, often in what's known as 60/40 type though if you can find any lead content solder with add 2% of silver is the "bees knees" for electrical soldering.

Having prepared the items to be soldered, ensuring they are clean and grease free etc, proceed as...
After wiping the hot iron - allowing it to heat up for at least a full 5 minutes before attempting to use it. Apply a small amount of solder to the tip - Tin it or pre coat in fresh solder. Never try to use the iron without a coating of solder as it would then take far longer to get the heat transferred into the items being soldered. Hold the irons tip into the item(s) and wait for a couple of seconds for the heat to transfer. Then feed fresh cored solder into the now hot joint and allow the solder to flow into and all around the joint. Remove iron and maintain joint together, if soldering an item that's likely to spring away use a screwdriver tip or tweezers to maintain the two in contact. After around 5 seconds the solder should be seen to solidify and then no further retention is needed.
Soldering job done :D Return iron to safety stand and if ending all work wipe the tip before turning off power.

Main things to ensure a good soldered electrical joint...
A) Iron is of correct wattage to ensure it can transfer heat quickly in the item(s) being soldered.
B) The irons tip must be in the very best condition and of a suitable size for the job being undertaken.
C) Allow iron to reach its full temperature - I recommend switching it On a full five minutes before use, this will ensure its at correct temperature.
D) Ensure all items to be soldered are spotlessly clean.
E) Use a Lead content rosen cored solder. (60/40)
F) Pre wet the tip (Lightly coat in fresh solder) before applying tip to joint.
G) Allow heat to transfer through the joint then feed solder into the hot joint with tip still in place.
H) Remove iron and hold joint steady until solder solidifies.
I) Clean irons tip on damp sponge when finished and between each soldering operation.
J) Bask in the knowledge that your soldering skills are now 100% :D

Note: At no time has additional flux been used or is normally is needed. But if the job does need added flux then only use flux sold specifically for Electrical work. Do not use flux sold for general soldering work such as plumbing etc. It contains acid that needs washing off and that's not possible on an electrical joint!

Finally the best advice is to practice, practice and practice on scrap bits of wire or spare bits of Nickle Silver rail etc.
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Re: Soldering Advice needed

Postby nigelwright7557 » Sun Dec 20, 2020 6:42 am

Heat up both parts to be soldered for a second or two.
Then apply solder to both parts at the same time.
Solder should flow around both parts easily and smoothly.

Buy a decent solder from the likes of RS Components or Farnell.
Some of the cheap Chinese doesnt work well.
Lead/tin is best and easiest to use.

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Re: Soldering Advice needed

Postby gppsoftware » Mon Dec 28, 2020 7:35 am

On the subject of soldering droppers, may I point readers to my articles here about how to do it:

Please don't do the 'old' way which melts sleepers and looks absolutely awful!

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