Author Topic: Soldering steel vs its composition  (Read 846 times)

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mmagliaro

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Soldering steel vs its composition
« on: August 31, 2021, 12:34:00 PM »
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I bought some ground "silver steel" precision ground rod from an eBay seller.

I found to my pleasant surprise that just by cleaning it with a bit of sandpaper and using some ordinary electronics flux,
I could solder this to a brass wheel just as easily as if I were soldering nickel, brass, or copper. 

Is that typical?  I always thought steel would be much harder to solder than that.

The steel composition is given as:

C 1.5% Si 0.25% Mn 0.30% Cr 0.65% V 0.10%

Other than the Carbon being a little high, this just looks like a typical ordinary steel alloy to me.



peteski

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2021, 01:35:14 PM »
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That is surprising. Are you sure that the solder actually wets the steel (doesn't just sit on the surface)?  THis is a rhetorical question since I know you are experienced solderer.  :)

I have no problems soldering things like music wire using acid flux (like zinc chloride).  I also soldered stainless steel handrails to brass model (Train Cat Auto Ramp) using that flux, but lowering the soldering temperature.  I was experimenting and it surprised me that lowering the temperature worked so well. And no, I don't remember the details (I should learn to document things better).
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mmagliaro

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2021, 04:42:38 PM »
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Peteski,
My first experiment was just to see if I could tin the end of a piece of the rod with solder.  I didn't even scuff it with sandpaper.  I just put a little smudge of flux on the end of the rod, and hit it with the soldering iron.  It certainly spread out and flowed like you would hope for a good bond.  But to make sure, after doing that, I chipped and pried on it with an Xacto knife to see if it would just break off from the rod.  No way.  It was on there *hard*.  I'd have to file it off to get rid of it.

So yeah, I'm sure it's really bonded.   I used 2% silver bearing solder, but I doubt that has anything to do with it.

peteski

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2021, 05:12:11 PM »
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Call me surprised (just like you).
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metalworkertom

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2021, 08:36:04 PM »
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Nope completely normal. Solders as easy as anything else. Carbon content is definitely up there But not a factor in soldering.

peteski

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2021, 09:43:39 PM »
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Nope completely normal. Solders as easy as anything else. Carbon content is definitely up there But not a factor in soldering.

What surprised me is that a mild rosin flux works on steel. I usualy use acid flux (zinc chloride).
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woodone

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2021, 10:43:28 PM »
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When I think of soldering steel, I vision a large piece of the metal. Most of the time the metal sucks up the heat to a point that the solder will not flow.
I guess if the steel is small, the solder will flow and bond.
Most flux will clean to help bond.
Would this solder two 1/2 inch square cubes together?

mmagliaro

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2021, 01:16:23 AM »
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Well, remember, we're talking a 2mm diameter rod here.  I tested it on the end of a 12" piece, so there was definitely some metal to absorb heat.  But after about 10 seconds on there, it flowed right on.  When I soldered the little 1/2" long piece into a wheel, the solder flowed immediately like water.
Oh, and the same eBay description did give temperature and Rockwell hardness specs for heat quenching this stuff if I wanted to harden it (but that won't be necessary).  I suspect that's why it has the high carbon content (so it will harden well).

mmyers

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2021, 05:46:54 PM »
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I did some lead work on cars over the years. Soldered a few brackets to panel to make repairs too. Had to tin the sheet metal first with acid core solder and a piece of steel wool. Always used acid flux. Can't say i ever tried rosin flux but yes solder will work on steel.

woodone

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2021, 02:18:32 PM »
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mmyers-
 You are showing your age, if you were using lead.

peteski

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2021, 10:47:48 AM »
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mmyers-
 You are showing your age, if you were using lead.

Are you saying that lead is  no longer used when "massaging" steel automobile bodies, like custom hot rods? How about stain glass work? Lead no more?
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Mike C

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2021, 08:28:08 PM »
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 Lead is still used in automotive repair There is a few minutes of such work in one of the Fantom Works restoration episodes .

Maletrain

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2021, 10:33:28 PM »
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I don't think California has mandated lead-free bullets yet, either.  I don't even recall ever seeing that California Prop 65 warning written on a bullet.  Of course, you would need to be quite a fantastic speed reader to avoid harm, anyway.  :trollface:

woodone

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2021, 10:04:14 AM »
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Using lead in auto body work is very rare these days. Lead in stained glass work is still using it. Bullets, I have no idea. Shot gun shells now use steel shot. Lead used in custom body work has all but disappeared. Plastic type fillers are quicker and safer too. Saves weight too. They called some of these custom hot rods lead sleds, for a reason. I do not think that one of 100 auto body people know how to work lead today.

Maletrain

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Re: Soldering steel vs its composition
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2021, 11:33:26 AM »
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Shot shells intended for use shooting waterfowl over water are usually required to use shot that does not contain lead - usually made of steel or heavier but more expensive alloys including as tungsten and bismuth.  But, other shot shells still typically contain lead shot.  Most bullets contain lead, although some high tech ones are now solid copper alloys.

Car wheel weights are now mostly zinc or steel.  And that now has people who used to use discarded wheel weights to cast other things now needing a new source.  And, most publications no longer use printer's type, which was the perfect alloy for making "lead" castings.

But, typing "lead" into an eBay search will still bring up plenty of lead, just not at prices us old guys think are worth the cost.  We still think it should be free from the local tire shop.  Or, maybe a beer a bucket.