DCC Concepts solder
For years I have been using 2
very basic solders. A 60/40 lead/tin solder that I bought by the kilo from a
stained glass shop and 70 degree solder for low melt work. I had tried many
different combinations from different manufacturers but I always ended up
coming back to what I knew.
I was a bit sceptical about
the New DCC concepts Sapphire solders so Richard sent me some samples.
The range consists of 3 leaded
solders. 145 degree, 179 degree and 100 degree for low melt work. And 2
fluxes, a standard flux and a no clean flux.
Starting with the 145 solder,
I was amazed at how well it flowed. This is a solder to be used sparingly if
you don't want it ending up in places you don't want it! The solder is flux
cored but I started tried using it with my existing fluxes with superb
results. But my existing fluxes were a strong acid flux that needed
neutralising pretty quickly afterwards. They also spattered if I used too
I tried the new solder in some
electrical work. It is by far the best I have ever used.
Next comes the 179 degree
To be honest I really can't
tell the difference between this and the 145. It flows and feels exactly the
same to use. But I do give credit to DCC concepts for producing 2 different
temperature solders. This enables step soldering (doing one assembly at a
higher temperature and soldering that to another using the lower temperature
solder). The fact that I couldn't tell the difference is a credit to DCC
concepts. It means that I don't have to get used to different solders for
different temperatures. But it does introduce a slight worry that I will get
the 2 mixed up! I have been very careful to put them back into their correct
I think I should add that they
are not the strongest solders I have used but for just about every
application I can think of, they are the best. Certainty for a railway
modeller I can't think of any general tasks that can't be done with these 2
The 100 degree solder is meant
for soldering whitemetal and doing brass/whitemetal joints. It is the only
thing in this range that I am not so keen on. I would not recommend this
solder to people who don't have a temperature controlled iron. I was finding
that 100 degrees was significantly closer to the melting temperature of the
whitemetal than the 70 degree solder I was using before. It is an excellent
solder, but if you don't have a temperature controlled iron then you can
expect a few more melted parts!
Richard points out that the
100 degree solder is still far below the melting point of whitemetal.
Although I of course agree with this, having experimented with it again
since writing the last paragraph, I still found it much more difficult when
soldering whitemetal than the standard 70 degree solder I have been used to.
The new solder does have a couple of advantages though. Firstly it does not
combine with the whitemetal in the way the traditional low temperature
Secondly, in conjunction with
the sapphire fluxes, it can solder whitemetal directly to brass without
If you have a temperature
controlled soldering iron then I would wholeheartedly recommend this solder.
But if you dont have one then I would tend to stick to the 70 degree.
In my opinion, the real gems
of this range are the fluxes. I have used several different ones over the
years. Constantly trying to get that perfect flux and I think this is as
close as I will ever get. They are both alcohol based rather than my
traditional water based fluxes but these are activated by the heat from the
iron. They massively improve the flow properties of any of the solders I
tested it with.
The standard sapphire flux is
a good balance between corrosiveness and fluxing properties.
The no clean flux is the icing
on the cake. I must admit that I did find that things benefited from a
gentle clean after a sessions soldering but this flux turned an unpleasant
job with neutralising fluids into a pleasure buy allowing me to just run the
models under the tap for a second or 2.
My only criticism of the
fluxes is that because they are alcohol based, they are also flammable. I
sometimes like to solder with a torch rather than an iron and it was a bit
of a surprise to have my own personalised firework display!
It would also be nice to have
them available in larger quantities. I have found that its better to
purchase a larger quantity and decant it into smaller pots. Then if you
knock it over you have plenty more to draw upon. The same goes with the
solder. They are fantastic but I would prefer them by the kilo with a big
sticker on them so I don't get them mixed up!
P.S. After I wrote this
article, Richard pointed out that the 179 is actually a slightly thinner
wire and now I look at them again it is noticeable.
Only the No-Clean flux is
alcohol based. And although I have not had a chance to check it, this would
mean that the Sapphire flux is non-flammable.
Richard also points out that
the No-Clean flux was conceived as a layout wiring flux and although I had
not thought about it, I think that is a perfect use for it. Its ideal for
soldering items that you physically cant wash.