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> A solvent for petroleum jelly aka Vaseline, What do you use?
Lancashire Fusil...
post 14 May 2009, 00:22
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Paul Hamilton aka "Lancashire Fusilier"
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I have been using Vaseline as an extremely effective anti-solder mask when constructing some very delicate axle / bearing type soldered brass connections. Liberal application of the Vaseline on areas where you do not want the two items to be soldered works very well.

The only problem is, that now they are soldered, I washed the completed assembly in Jif using warm water and a toothbrush to scrub away any residual flux (I understand the Jif is also alkaline and thus helps neutralise the acid effects of the flux but I am cr*p at chemistry - that's why I am a civil engineer!).

The Jif appears to have no effect on removing the residual Vaseline which is sort of expected. I was wondering should I clean the assembly with some Isopropyl alcahol instead. I understand the vaseline is a hydro carbon based product and assumed that alcohol would clean it up. Would metholated spirits do the same thing? Does the heat from the iron effect the Vaseline in some way casuing it to leave a different residue behind? It does sputter a bit from the heat I notice as if it flashes off some of the hydrocarbon.

Much is written about soldering but not as much about post soldering techniques. Proper cleaning / neutralising after soldering, washing, drying, storage in air tight containers, etc are all part of the process. I am still trying to discover the best way. At the moment I scrub with Jif at the end of every session and rinse under hot running water before allowing to air dry on paper towel and then I put the items in to zip lock sandwhich bags with a small sachet of silica gell the absorbant crystals that seem to come in many items you purchase. I keep them in a jar in my train room! I have previously soaked overnight soldered items in 50%-50% meths and water but didn't notice any long term stabilising. This was on white metal soldered joints. After a number of months I noticed that the soldered joints were still kind of white and powdery. I am not sure what the correct term is. No apparent integrity issues with the joint though. Serves me right for taking so long to build a loco I guess!
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Wayne Rite
post 14 May 2009, 01:30
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Petroleum Jelly was first discovered in the early days of American Oil Drilling when the waxy coating that formed on drilling strings was found to be benefitial on grazes and small injuries. I must admit I've never used it as a solder mask, having had some "proper' soldering mask for the last forty odd years which never seems to run out and has long lost its label. but it seems to be as good as it was when I first ' liberated' it many years ago.

As it is a petroleum product a petroleum based solvent would be favourite to remove the residue, I keep a can of Jippo Lighter Fuel on the work bench for those little jobs when cleaning motors or gears as it readily disolves the crud and leaves the material suitable for Loctiting etc leaving no residue.

One word of caution, always work in a well ventilated area, with no naked flames, it can be a bit volatile.

Regarding Whitemetal Soldering, a fine old Gentleman by the name Robbie Ormiston - Chant, or "ROBBO" who used to write for all the then Model Press back in my dim distant past, always advocated a 'Bosh' on the workbench when soldering white metal, sheet metal and etched kits. The Bosh (so named from the noise it made when hot assemblies were dunked in it) consisted of a discarded plastic food storage container (ideal use for those Tupperware boxes when the lids no longer fit) half filled with distilled water to which a teaspoon of cloudy ammonia was added, a few drops of isopropyl alcohol provided the wetting agent.

I have many soldered white metal buses, wagons and loco's which have exhibited no white powdering you described whereas the Roxey 'Howard" that I soldered assembled without the use of a bosh has the distinct marking of a reaction to the flux I used, so it will be given the Bosh treatment soon.

I have used all sorts of fluxes based on Phosphoric Acid, I even found a bottle of Eames 40 flux during my last workshop cleanout, but the best of all was a 7% solution made for me by an Industrial Chemist Friend. It was made many years ago when I first got to know him, but the 500mls he made me still has a long way to go before it used up. I have all of the Carrs Fluxes for the different grades of solders, but I either use a little Phosphoric or a paste flux for most of my model making.

Cheers
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Richard Johnson
post 14 May 2009, 02:58
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***Hi Paul

General Purpose thinners, acteone or any petroleum based thinner, or even MEK will remove Vaseline. I've used vaseline but most often I use either spirit based texta pens as a solder mask, or a drop of oil or a sliver of cigarette paper.

As to the flux reside, alcohol is fine but I also use a variant of Waynes procedure with assemblies, dunking them in a solution of BAM and water... same basic effect but moreso with theorganic fluxes you and I use.

Don't leave them in too log though - BAM is very strong chemically and whatever is in it will both leach copper from the brass and deposit it on any whitemetal - I learned this from a friend who accidentally left a tender body in it overnight and next day found a very reddish brass tender with copper plated whitemetal vents and dome :-).

Richard


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Lancashire Fusil...
post 14 May 2009, 03:24
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Paul Hamilton aka "Lancashire Fusilier"
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Thanks for the reponses. I have some MEK right at my modelling area so will give that a try first. Do you soak it in the MEK or just brush a little MEK on?

Is the BAM you mention stronger alkaline than the Jif then? When you say dunk, is that what you literally mean, dunk them in, swirl it all about with the aid of a brush and then remove? Do you rinse this all in normal running water afterwards?

Will the leaching of the copper only occur when there is a destination metal for it to migrate to or am I once again showing my ignorance of all things chemical?

I often use the permanent pen but in this case it would have been difficult to remove afterwards so I went with the Vaseline instead. Works really well but as mentioned needs a clean off later if any further soldering is intended. I guess it must add some lubrication to the bearings too.

What type of oil should I purchase as I don't have any and it would be probably handy for my signal construction too.
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Richard Johnson
post 14 May 2009, 03:38
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MEK i use with a cotton bud, but I'd be tempted to scrub in some GP thinners if its to be painted - you want to get rid of 110% of it.

permanent pen is dead easy to get off with MEK and won't affect painting like vaseline so has its advantages....

It will leach anyway as you already have 2 metals or more - solder + brass.

dunk as in icecream container as per waynes mix... brush all over for a while then rinse under warm running water thoroughly. whether its ammonia or BAM you choose, a very very thorough rinse on the final time its used before painting....you need to clean off the neutralising thoroughly.

oil - any, sewing machine is probably the thinnest common type that will also penetrate the joint easily. I use whatever "occasionally used in modelling" oil is to hand really... I only apply at the last minute so it does not have time to spread too far, and sually clean off immediately to stop it getting everywhere via my fat fingers.

Richard


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