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Electrical connections Copper tubing Ferrous metals Tips and tricks

Electrical connections
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Always use resin core solder!

Heat the soldering iron. It is hot enough when the solder wire melts readily on the tip.  Wipe the tip on a clean cloth or steel wool. If the tip is badly pitted it must be filed clean with a smooth file. Touch the iron to the join and put solder on the opposite side of the wire. As soon as the wire is hot enough the solder will melt into the wire. When two wires are joined side by side or a wire is soldered to a lug both must be tinned beforehand.

To tin place the soldering iron against the lug or wire and heat wire or lug. Apply the solder to the opposite side of the lug or wire. Do not attempt to put a bare wire in a bare lug hole and then solder the two together. This invariably results in a dry (bad) join.

A good electrical solder join is shiny. If the join is dull, insufficient heat or incorrect solder was used.

Copper tubing
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This is soldered with acid free flux (soldering paste) and solid core solder (available at your local hardware store. Put flux on the inside of the fitting to be soldered. Push the pipe in the fitting and heat the two together with a gas torch. When hot enough touch the join with the solder. Do not put flux on the pipe as the solder will adhere to any place that has flux on it. This can cause very untidy joints.

Should the pipe be attached to the water supply and there is any chance that there might be water in the pipe put a piece of dry bread about 20cm into the pipe before soldering.  This will absorb any moisture in the pipe which may form steam near your join which will blow out the solder.

Zinc, tin and other ferrous metals
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Typically gutters and drainpipes are soldered with an acid soldering paste and solid stick solder or acid core solder wire. Clean the area to be soldered with Spirits of Salts. Apply soldering paste. Put the pieces to be joined over each other with the paste between. Heat with a large electric soldering iron, a blowtorch or a soldering bolt. For a long join heat section by section allowing the solder to flow between the plates. When using a blow torch be careful not to overheat the metal.

Tips and tricks
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Click for bigger picture If you have to do a lot of soldering of very thin wires, mount two crocodile clips on a plank to hold the wires in position leaving both hands free to manipulate the iron and the solder.

Click here for bigger picture For coarser work a wire, lug or small component may be held by putting it in the jaws of a pair of pliers and winding a rubber band around the handles to keep the jaws shut.

When soldering copper pipe that could have water in it, push a piece of bread about 20 cm into the pipe to absorb the moisture which otherwise would form steam which will blow the solder out of the join. When you open the tap the bread will dissolve very quickly.

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