Author Topic: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder  (Read 1812 times)

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mmagliaro

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Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« on: January 28, 2017, 04:56:57 PM »
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I'd like to try making a few solder joints on my 0-6-0 project with a lower-temp solder, so I can set my iron low and not worry about any other joints coming apart.  This is in a place where, even with a good flux and good speed, I don't think I can get  "in and out" before I risk other joints coming apart.

What low temp solders have you all used, and which ones do you like?

Thanks!

garethashenden

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2017, 06:04:00 PM »
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This is an area where my "training" get in the way of recommending products. I have no idea what is available in the US even though I live there.
For most soldered joints I use 188*C solder, for details where I'm worried about unsoldering things I use 145*C solder. For soldering whitemetal, I use 70*C solder. 100*C solder is also available, I've seen recommendations that this is best for attaching whitemetal to brass.
You may be able to find these somewhere in the US, otherwise I would suggest Eileen's Emporium in England. https://eileensemporium.com/index.php?option=com_hikashop&ctrl=category&task=listing&cid=1124&name=straight-wire&Itemid=189

Of those, the 70 and 100 degree solders are considered low temperature.

unittrain

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2017, 06:09:21 PM »
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I like Tix solder and flux for lower temp soldering.

mmagliaro

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2017, 08:07:24 PM »
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Thank you both, gents.  I was aware of both.

Ordering from Eileen's in the UK is no problem.  I order metal products from there all the time.  No other place I have found has the sizes and shapes of high-quality metal strip and bar that they do.  Nickel silver, brass, and phosphor bronze in every size and thickness imaginable.  The K&S stuff is fine, but doesn't come in strip sizes that are thin enough for many N Scale uses.     I used to find it impossible to locate really thin, delicate phosphor bronze flat strip to use for things like pickup wipers, but Eileen's has it in spades.  Wonderful shop.

Thank you again.

narrowminded

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2017, 10:33:32 AM »
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 I used to find it impossible to locate really thin, delicate phosphor bronze flat strip to use for things like pickup wipers, but Eileen's has it in spades.  Wonderful shop.


I bought phosphor bronze for pickups as shim stock.  Lyon Industries and available from one of their distributors on Amazon.  It comes in 6" wide 96" (8') rolls for about $20.  A lifetime supply of .005" thick prime material.  They also have steel spring material, music wire every .002", brass, copper, stainless steel, etc.

http://lyonindustries.com/
« Last Edit: January 30, 2017, 09:25:55 AM by narrowminded »
Mark G.

SkipGear

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2017, 03:21:08 PM »
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I've only used the Kester Lo-temp that Ngineering packages and resells. I use it for nano LED's but haven't used it for structural work yet.

For small details on an already soldered part, I go the route of really hot iron and work fast so the heat doesn't transfer to the rest of the parts. Clip on heatsinks also help with this. I keep scraps of steel and brass in a box of weights that I can clamp on as a heat sink to control the spread of heat.
Tony Hines

mmagliaro

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2017, 06:59:45 PM »
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I've only used the Kester Lo-temp that Ngineering packages and resells. I use it for nano LED's but haven't used it for structural work yet.

For small details on an already soldered part, I go the route of really hot iron and work fast so the heat doesn't transfer to the rest of the parts. Clip on heatsinks also help with this. I keep scraps of steel and brass in a box of weights that I can clamp on as a heat sink to control the spread of heat.

I hear ya, Tony.  And so far, that strategy has worked great.  Flux, heat sinks, wet paper towels, clean pre-tinned pieces, and just be quick to get in and out.  I may yet just go that route.

peteski

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2017, 02:44:45 AM »
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How many different solders are you looking for Max?

I use 3 and I find that sufficient for what I do.

1. Solver-bearing solder (high temp)
2. Electronic solder 60/40 (medium)
3, Tix soft solder (low)
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robert3985

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2017, 05:06:27 AM »
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Max,
As much making things out of brass as you do, and adding brass details to brass superstructures...you would do yourself a favor by investing in a quality resistance soldering station.

This is a newer version of what I purchased about 15 years ago: http://www.micromark.com/250w-120v-complete-resistance-soldering-outfit-with-tweezer-handpiece,7499.html

I also picked up several accessories and replacement parts to complete my usage needs.

The extremely fast and localization properties of both the tweezers and probe make the necessity of using different melting temperature solders a solution for a problem that no longer exists.

Here's a photo I've published before of a project I did modifying and superdetailing a Hallmark "UP Welded Caboose" into a correct, highly detailed UP CA-8 (as delivered).  Soldering the minute parts I made for it on to the much larger brass sides of the body would have been exponentially more difficult than tinning, fluxing, positioning and holding the part with tweezers or probe, stepping on my power switch, watching the solder melt and flux smoke, stepping off the power switch, holding with tweezers or probe until the joint goes flat and cools...voila!!  DONE!...and the adjacent solder joints aren't affected...all without heat sinks or wet paper towels.

Photo (1) - Hallmark "UP Welded Caboose" modified with brass & SS detail parts into a correct UP CA-8 circa 1965 using an American Beauty 250W Resistance Soldering Station:



I've used big irons, soldering guns, precision micro oxyacetylene torches (five different ruby-tipped nozzles) and electronic soldering stations all with different melting point solders, and NOTHING even comes close to my resistance soldering station.

Just sayin'...

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

narrowminded

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2017, 09:42:48 AM »
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I've used big irons, soldering guns, precision micro oxyacetylene torches (five different ruby-tipped nozzles) and electronic soldering stations all with different melting point solders, and NOTHING even comes close to my resistance soldering station.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

Do you have any quick advice as to heat settings you've experienced good luck with?  I know it will vary with materials and sizes being soldered.  I ask because I have recently picked up a nearly new 100 watt resistance rig with tweezers, 1/8" probe, and wire stripper.  I have not used it beyond some very small wire stripping, the primary reason for the purchase, and only playing with some soldering of some brass scraps.  It seems to have great promise with the soldering but I had nothing specific to use it for and was wondering if it would have the heat for, say .020"/ .030" joints?  It seemed very adequate on the few little scraps I played with that were probably in that .020"/ .030" range and maybe 1/4" x 1/2" or so.
Mark G.

robert3985

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2017, 09:57:57 PM »
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Do you have any quick advice as to heat settings you've experienced good luck with?  I know it will vary with materials and sizes being soldered.  I ask because I have recently picked up a nearly new 100 watt resistance rig with tweezers, 1/8" probe, and wire stripper.  I have not used it beyond some very small wire stripping, the primary reason for the purchase, and only playing with some soldering of some brass scraps.  It seems to have great promise with the soldering but I had nothing specific to use it for and was wondering if it would have the heat for, say .020"/ .030" joints?  It seemed very adequate on the few little scraps I played with that were probably in that .020"/ .030" range and maybe 1/4" x 1/2" or so.

If you're going to do much soldering of small detail parts, then the "tweezers" are an absolute necessity...along with a package of replacement tips.  Not cheap, but definitely worth it.

As for temperatures settings, for small detail parts, such as soldering .007" dia. pre-formed grabs, with tinned ends on to the surface of your model (no holes drilled), with my 250W base unit, I only need to turn the knob about 3 deg. from "on" using the clamp and sharpened probe. 

For thicker pieces I just turn it up until I only need to step on the power pedal about 3 seconds until the solder melts and properly wets the pieces.  I always turn the power up incrementally because I don't want to get things too hot too quick, which is really easy to do.

I'm using a high silver content solder (94/6 tin/silver) and its melting temp is 460 deg. F, and is .031" dia.  For brass, I use Superior Supersafe No. 30 flux (gel) and for soldering SS to brass, I use the same solder but use Superior No. 78 (gel) flux.  You can get both flux and solder here: https://www.hnflux.com/page2.html

These fluxes make a much cleaner joint, both initially and after cleanup than any other flux I've used...and I've use a LOT of different fluxes.  They also self-neutralize and I have never had any problems with model joints or trackage joints self-destructing due to excess acid content...for 30+ years.

The coreless 94/6 Tin/Silver solder is 5 times stronger than 60/40 Tin/Lead solder and is perfect IMO for making brass/NS/SS models and doing trackwork.  However, for electronics, I still use Tin/Lead solders to minimize tin whisker problems over time.

I use my old Realistic 35W soldering iron to tin things, but that's about it nowadays.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
« Last Edit: January 30, 2017, 10:00:58 PM by robert3985 »

mmagliaro

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2017, 03:22:05 AM »
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Heh... I figured somebody would get around to suggesting a resistance soldering unit.  Yes, I know that is the best answer.  I'm just not quite up to parting with the $$$ it would take to buy one just now.

But... one question.   American Beauty (and MicroMark) sell these in a lot of different wattages.
The only you linked at MM was the 250W with the tweezer handpiece, but they also sell that in a 100W version.
Do I really need the 250W unit for the little tiny soldering joints we are talking about on an N Scale model?

« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 03:25:42 AM by mmagliaro »

Cajonpassfan

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2017, 12:34:43 PM »
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Same here. The stiff price of the American Beauty has discouraged me from buying. But now I see a Micromark unit for under $170, substantially less than half the price of the AB; tempting. Is anyone here familiar with these? It doesn't have the wattage of the AB (63W vs. 100 or 250W) but I'm wondering whether that's okay for the kind of work we do in N scale?
Otto K.

mmagliaro

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2017, 12:47:01 PM »
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That lower-cost MicroMark unit doesn't have the fine tweezer or the fine probe handpiece, which to me would be essential for the soldering I want to do in N Scale.  Those handpieces alone cost $150. 

The whole thing strikes me as a big gouge.  There's not much inside a resistance soldering station except a big honkin' low-voltage, high-current capacity transformer.  Granted, finding one of those isn't easy, and they aren't cheap.  they aren't $300.
A Hammond 165Z3  which is a 3v 50A secondary, costs about $61 from Mouser.   And that's consumer pricing without quantity buying.   That would be a 150 watt secondary.

Cajonpassfan

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Re: Suggest your favorite low temperature solder
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2017, 12:56:10 PM »
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Agreed, these things seem way too pricey for what they are. Perhaps because they are such a limited-appeal, low-volume item...
Otto