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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A request for some advice

I am returning to modelling after fifteen years away and am having problems with soldering. If it isn't officially a 'Black Art' it gives a very good impression of being one!!

I have a new 25W iron, new bits, lead-free solder and a pot of flux. I have tinned the bits as instructed and am attempting to solder dropper wires to track and wiring up points. I make sure the area to be soldered is clean, use flux and wipe the bit on a damp sponge each time.

The first few attempts work well but then the tips slowly become blackened and performance slowly drops off to the point where the solder will no longer melt. I was informed by the chap in the shop where I bought the equipment that I should 'Never!!' (repeated three times) use an abrasive on the tips.

Am I missing something?

What is the recommended way to clean a bit?
 

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I was taught how to solder more than 50 years ago and we used to have to dress the bits or replace them on a regular basis.

Now with the coated bits they last a lot longer as long as you wipe the solder off the bit on a damp sponge. Use solder with a lead content about 40% and with built in flux content, about 2%. (Just checked my current roll). For regular electrical soldering I have never needed to use a separate flux. Tin the wire and the surface you are soldering to and be sure the iron is hot enough and make the join quickly as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response. I note you use leaded solder? Does this make any difference ?

I am wiping the bit each time as recommended but slowly the iron becomes less effective (cooler) as the deposits build up until it will no longer melt the solder.

How should I clean the bits to restore the temperature if no abrasives should be used?
 

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With my current iron I've never had an issue with any deposits building up on it. Possibly because I don't use a separate flux.

I can only suggest scraping the build up off the bit when it is cold.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks again. I think I will try using some leaded solder, I seem to remember reading that lead-free has a higher melting point. Or perhaps a variable temperature soldering iron?
 

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... I note you use leaded solder? Does this make any difference ?...
The long established 60 tin/40 lead solder formulation is as superior to leadless solder for electrical work, on the same scale as grass fed beef breed fillet steak compared to a McDreadful burger. (Other Superior/Awful comparators are available.)
 

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You may find these pages of assistance, plus descriptions of some of their products [Sheet 1 - pages 10 onwards].
Advice: Soldering - The Black Art De-mystified (Part 1)
Sheets 2 & 3 are linked at the bottom of Sheet 1.

For what it's worth, I used to use a 25Watt Iron, sticky Flux and flux core Solder, for radio control planes. Not any more - the iron was too small for the thickness of the solder, so took an age to get the solder to temperature and the result was rather agricultural - they were good solid joins, but massive and simply awful to look at, I don't know how some of them flew??
All that changed when I bought a temperature controlled 60Watt Digital control Iron at a show, generically the same as the DCC Concepts 80Watt one - later added to with their Sapphire No-clean Flux, a brass wool tip cleaner, Fibreglass cleaner pens, and their Sapphire S-179 Solder. The thin solder is quicker to heat, so uses less time to give a neater join and it's often useful to apply a really small amount onto the tip to carry it to very small joints. The result is much easier soldering and far more successful results by a huge margin. Agriculture has been returned to the Farmers, where it belongs.

I hope the above helps.
Julian
P.S. The Stick Irons have the control gubbins in the Stick, Whereas the Digital / Base stations have the control in the Base, so their shorter Irons are much easier to control. Also I haven't found a Stick Iron which didn't use stiff plastic insulated wire, whereas the Digital one had much softer insulation and was far more flexible [it's perfectly possible there are soft cables for the stick Irons, perhaps I just haven't found one].
 

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I used to have problems with the tip becoming contaminated until I discovered 'brass sponge solder tip cleaners'. Basically it's a load of brass shavings and you shove the tip into it to clean it and problem solved.

David
 
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C55
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Hi Boslandew & Dwb I managed to get these from Bangood.com a few years ago Farnell and Amazon sell them as well Babs
That's a good find, Babs, I particularly like the 6 brass wool replacements.

A, maybe useful aside. We have chalk base here and 2 building estate sites around us. I very soon found that using the brass wool cleaner, began to leave, irritating, gritty bits on the... err... bits [Sorry]. The dust from the building work was lodging on the brass and sticking to the hot liquid solder from the Iron. I had to buy a new brass wool ball, as the grit ran into the solder, whilst it was liquid, then was captured when it cooled, so wouldn't wash off. Cleaning the bit reheated the solder, releasing the grit back onto the Iron... Grrr! I found an empty plastic drink bottle, the bottom 3" of which was sliced off, to a close fit over the new brass wool holder when not in use, so now back to clean bits.

Julian
 

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I think 25w is too low for soldering wire to track. I use a Goot temp' controlled iron. Can't remember if it's 60 or 80w, but I always solder to the under side of the rail after cleaning it with a file and then tinning the wire and rail. Works every time. My droppers go down a hole in the 4 foot so there's no sign of them outside.
Using lead free solder is a pain and it's still quite legal to use lead/tin solder domestically.
 

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I think 25w is too low for soldering wire to track...
Rail section dependent! As regards OO I would agree for code 100, but code 75 with just over half the cross section, I have no trouble with a 25W iron: less mass to heat, less conduction...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Gentlemen, many thanks for all these very useful comments. I have ordered some 60/40 solder and a brass wool cleaner and am looking at a temperature controlled iron.

As a result of my poor attempts at soldering I now have several tips that have so much black deposit on them that they no longer transfer adequate heat. I have been advised not to use abrasives on them. Is there any recommended way of getting the gunk off so that they are usable again?
 

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C55
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Gentlemen, many thanks for all these very useful comments. I have ordered some 60/40 solder and a brass wool cleaner and am looking at a temperature controlled iron.

As a result of my poor attempts at soldering I now have several tips that have so much black deposit on them that they no longer transfer adequate heat. I have been advised not to use abrasives on them. Is there any recommended way of getting the gunk off so that they are usable again?
The information you need is at the bottom of page 1 and restorative advice at the top of page 2.
Advice: Soldering - The Black Art De-mystified (Part 2)

I can only recommend that you, also, have a good read of the first link that I posted, as the information there is excellent [if followed] and will transform your experience, from stress to real pleasure.
Advice: Soldering - The Black Art De-mystified (Part 1)

Their soldering products work together extremely well, as they are produced by someone who has vast experience in modelling and electronics. His procedures are written in the order they should occur and if followed, will work - he should know.

Julian
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Julian, my apologies, somehow I completely missed the link you were kind enough to provide in your reply. I focused on the first line of your text, "25Watt iron" and missed the link. I have given myself a stern talking to and will follow it now.
 

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Absolutely no need for an apology whatsoever, my fault for blethering on. There's lots of information here, from a goodly number of folks and good advice it is, too. Missing a link amongst all that is easy, so don't go chastising yourself - anyway, I always found it difficult to decide whether to wag my finger - telling you, pointing away mode, of turn it round towards my nose, in receiving mode... :unsure: :ROFLMAO:

Julian
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you for a very generous reply. I've just read through Part 1 and multiplied my knowledge of soldering by ten already!! Much food for thought about the right kit for the task, I'm fairly convinced a temp controlled iron would be a good investment. Part 2 tomorrow. A really good article.
 

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For what it may be worth, one useful item I obtained was a MEK-PAK holder, for use with the liquid no-clean flux bottle. I had, previously used a square of 40mm sponge, with a hole cut in it, but this looked rather neater and more solid. It comes as a flat-pack, which just slots together and once in place, a few drops of thin Cyano will soak into the joints.

Drinkware Liquid Bottle Fluid Glass bottle


I still need to find an applicator brush stand which holds the hairy end downwards, as the flux is a really good solvent for the paint on the brush handle!! I may just cut a suitable notch in one of those buttresses, which stick out so temptingly, after all it doesn't need much of a slope, as liquid never knowingly flows up-hill.
[Actually, it does, but this isn't the time or place for yet another shaggy dog's tale... ]

If it helps... Slater's Plastikard - Mek-Pak Holder
or Flux - Mph01 Slaters Flux ~ Mek Holder Etc

Julian
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Julian. I wish I had spoken to you before I started. I read the Black Art Demystified, bought a good temperature controlled soldering iron, 60/40 solder and some liquid flux and, lo and behold, quick clean joints. I owe you a pint at least!! David
 

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Julian. I wish I had spoken to you before I started. I read the Black Art Demystified, bought a good temperature controlled soldering iron, 60/40 solder and some liquid flux and, lo and behold, quick clean joints. I owe you a pint at least!! David
That's kind of you, David, but all the credit must go to Richard of DCC Concepts, as he is the gentleman who wrote those pages, on the links. He and his team are an absolute Mine of information - and buckets full of patience!!

J
P.S. I used to teach and I wish some of my pupils were so willing to listen to the information I was trying to instil into their little grey cells. :ROFLMAO:
 
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