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Solder - specification changes

2177 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  DS239
Spotted on the Marklin board. This could have serious implications when soldering to electronic component boards or to existing solder:-

QUOTE Hi friends,

No doubt, the new year brings a lot of new item for us model railroaders: new loks , new cars , new layouts , and new regulations from the European Commission (Sorry, no adequate smiley available for this kind of feeling).

The point is: the presently available soldering wire will disappear from market within near future. This is enforced by a new regulation of the EU, which has meanwhile been approved by the most national governments in Europe, more or less without attracting public attention.

As you know, the soldering metal in our loks, cars, and layouts is an alloy of 60 % tin and 40 % lead. As lead is a toxic substance, especially when inhaled with the soldering vapour, the EU enforced that the existing soldering metal must be distracted from market, i.e. the tin-lead-alloy will disappear from the catalogs of the electronics distributors, such as Conrad, Reichelt, Farnell, and others. This is intended as a measure of health protection for employees in electronics industry, where large quantities of soldering metal are processed. As a replacement, a different soldering alloy consisting of 98 % tin and 2 % antimony will be offered. Good thing, in principle.

However, there are some drawbacks:

1. the new soldering alloy cannot be mixed with the old one. That is, you can't repair an existing soldering connection using the new soldering metal. Before you contact a wire or an electronic component at a soldering point of an electronic board using the new alloy, you must first completely remove the old soldering metal in the vicinity of the respective soldering point. May be difficult on a lok decoder, I think. And you can't reuse electronic components that have been in contact with the old alloy.

2. The new alloy requires a higher soldering temperature. With the old alloy, optimal soldering temperatures was 280 - 330 °C. The new alloy requires 350 - 400 °C. It is not clear whether existing electronics components and electronic layout board will withstand this elevated temperature.


For the time being this all is a case for us european model railroaders, and it does not affect our overseas friends. Allthough one never knows what will happen in the more remote future.

My recommendation: don't forget to order some spare rolls of old electronics soldering wire, as long as it is still available.

Hans Martin

Happy modelling
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I've seen that cleverly set out advert too Doug.
The ban of course affects all items with lead in them and not just solder. We use lead weights to balance wheels at work and have been unable to get them for months. The newer ones are zinc which are a lot more expensive to buy. I don't know how it will affect in particular car batteries which contain a lot of lead but there are now lithium batteries available for electrical goods do maybe the same will apply there. Whatever they replace it with will probably turn out to be even more poisonous than lead, lets face it tin isn't the healthiest substance known to man.
QUOTE (Doug @ 16 Jan 2006, 23:28)So if they get rid of lead, what are fishermen going to use for sinkers?
If they want to really liven that particular sport up i'd suggest sodium or potassium or one of those other somewhat reactive elements from that column of the periodic table.
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