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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 03-10-2010, 08:04 PM
Joe G's Avatar
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I use the same Weller 100/140 watt soldering gun on most connections smaller than 12 ga. As stated before, you need to loosen and re-tighten the set screws for the tip often; maybe as often as every 20-30 cycles. I actually glued a small piece of vacuum hose onto my soldering gun which serves as a holster for the correct Allen wrench needed to re-tighten the tip. When it's working right, you will feel and hear it hum a little bit.. When it doesn't hum when you pull the trigger, it's time to check the tip. Other than what has already been said, the only advice I can offer is:

1. Pre-heat the tip - Don't touch the tip to the area to be soldered until it's hot enough to melt solder.

2. Tin the tip - Melt a tiny bit of solder onto the tip before touching it to the area to be soldered. The liquid solder on the tip will increase the surface contact area with whatever you are soldering which will maximize heat transfer.

3. Indirect heat - Heat the joint to be soldered from the back and apply solder to the front. This helps ensure that solder is sucked into the joint and not just laying on top of the joint (a 'cold joint' as mentioned above).

In most cases, it shouldn't take more than 10-15 seconds from cold iron to finished joint.

Hope this helps...

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  #17 (permalink)  
Old 03-11-2010, 06:48 PM
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hate to even admit this to you guys, but maybe it will help other boneheads like me. I think I been pulling the trigger too much so I was getting the lower watts. Duh
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Old 03-11-2010, 07:46 PM
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I like an iron made by Hexacon. Hands down, the best on the market for durability and quality.

AFA the tips loosening, that will happen- but there's something that you can do that will prevent a LOT of that loosening- and that is to use a silver-bearing heat transfer paste on the tip where it goes into the heating element.

You will get a much quicker heat-up as well.

Another thing that you should have on hand is a disposable damp piece of sponge to wipe the tip lightly on as you work. Just a regular O-Cello dishwashing sponge will do.

And you should get and use some sal ammoniac for keeping that tip in good condition if you do a lot of soldering or just want to keep your equipment in good shape.

Last edited by cobalt327; 03-11-2010 at 08:26 PM. Reason: Remove self absorbed drivel.
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Old 03-12-2010, 06:33 AM
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The best is to get rid of the gun and get a iron, 35-40 watts. Stays hot all through the wiring session no waisting time for it to heat up, It's hot from the get go.
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Old 03-12-2010, 07:25 AM
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yea, was wondering about the iron, at least for the bench work- may try that. thanks
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:46 AM
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Like most things it's all about the application. Under a dashboard laying on your back or whatever, a gun- as long as it's a GUN, and not a toy- will work well from the "easier to handle" standpoint.

For bench work, a good electric iron is my first choice. Match the iron's output and size to the job at hand. One of those "stations" are real good, but at the very least you need a decent iron stand to hold a hot iron.

Then there are IRONS- bodymen will know about those! Somewhere around here, I have an iron (externally heated) that weighs about 2 lbs.

Like most guys, I have three or four different small "pencil" and larger pocket-sized torches that will do copper joints and such, but they're not very good for automotive soldering, IMHO. Too likely to overheat insulation and things around where you're working, and who wants to set fire to their project (although that idea sometimes crosses my mind... ).

Buy solder in the bigger rolls. Radio Shack will kill you on those tiny packages they (and others) sell.

Good to have desoldering equipment on hand. I have (buy almost never use) a vacuum "sucker" that's supposed to pull solder out of a joint by suction. Never works.

Then there's copper braid- this 'wicks' solder out by capillary action and works great- but again- RS will overcharge for it. Better to find a source of braid besides what's advertised as desoldering braid. I have a bunch of tinned copper slot car track braid that works well on larger jobs.

Below is what's probably a representation of what 90% of the people here have.

Far left is a 'toy'- will get you by in a pinch, or good for wood burning. Next is a 30w Hexacon, then a 150w American Beauty. My 'sentimental' favorite is that ancient Wen Mod 199 Quick-Hot gun- 130w, almost instantaneous heat, and is older than I am (was my Dad's)- by a good deal. Yes, there are far "better" soldering guns, w/variable heat, better lights, etc. I like it just fine, just the same.
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 03-12-2010, 08:50 AM
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I would agree with that - but having that hot iron sitting waiting for me to lay my hand on it while laying on my back trying to wire a car's dash.......just isn't interesting and the reason I use the gun which cools off in a few seconds. I have both and never use the little iron.

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Old 03-12-2010, 10:47 AM
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I get by with a very cheap ( $4 ) iron from walmart. not the best, but the wiring I do, is uaually done on the work bench.. when I start my ratrod, I'll need a good gun
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:07 AM
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The main problem w/the small pencil-type electric irons is they lack the capacity to do anything but small gage wire. If you need to solder an 8 gage wire- you're out of luck.

What has to be avoided is a "cold joint". This is a solder joint that will appear dull and grainy on its surface. It's caused by what the name implies- insufficient heat to allow the solder to flow through the joint. A cold joint can have high resistance and will be weak to boot.

The entire joint has to come up to the melting point of the solder that's being used (different ratios and types of solder all melt at different temps). The joint should look shiny and smooth on its surface and the solder joint should be capable of withstanding a destructive test by the wire breaking before the joint- in all but the largest gage connections/terminals.
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:32 AM
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Thats why I bought the American Beauty iron, as I said 140watts 3/4 inch tip. It may take a few minute to heat buy it will do almost ant solder job I have.
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:37 AM
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The butane irons also work well, the heat up fast, are adjustable and you can put the cover back on them for safety. They are adjustable and will work well on most wire soldering jobs. Obviously there is a flame involved so some common sense in in order.
As far as solder suckers, the cheap ones don't work, the good ones work awesome. I did a lot of component level board work for many years and a good solder sucker is invaluable. The require cleaning and lubrication on a regular basis. I have a black, aluminum excelite that I have had for years and it still works very well. Solder braid works well as well once you learn to use it. After you burn your fingers a few times you will get the hang of it
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Old 03-12-2010, 01:37 PM
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Another thing that helps alot is to go to someplace like harbor freight and buy a tool called helping hands its a base and has arms on it with alligator clips at the ends they are like 4 or 5 bucks. I bought this and a strong magnet to stick on the bottom so if you have to make any connections in hard to get at locations this thing work wonders saved alot of cussing and burnt fingers hope this helps.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:48 AM
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Quick Tip

All good advice so far. Here's another trick.

Wrap a length of soldier around a pencil until you have a tight coil about 4" long then break the soldier about 6" from the coil. Withdraw the pencil and feed your 6" tail of soldier through the coil and out the other end a couple of inches. Now, you can hold the coil in one hand and feed the end of the soldier through the coil with your fingers as you soldier.

Pretty slick, huh?
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 03-13-2010, 01:02 PM
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http://www.micromark.com/TIX-SOLDERI...2-OZ,6708.html

I have done a ton of toy train electrical solder joints using this stuff. Swear by it. You can usually find it at hobby shops. Even with rosin core solder, this stuff improves the flow.
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