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2237 Views 21 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Boslandew
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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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?
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?
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?
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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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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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
Many thanks for the info. I started with a low-power iron, lead-free solder and solid flux and had problems with dirty tips immediately. Following much good advice, I've upgraded to a good temp controlled iron, 60/40 solder and liquid flux.

I think my initial problem was that the iron simply wasn't getting hot enough. That led to holding the iron for too long against each surface and the flux discolouring and, I think, leading to the tips quickly becoming dirty. I haven't had any problems with my new kit but will bear your comment in mind if I do.
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