Did I get the right soldering iron?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by spitfire, Dec 27, 2004.

  1. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    It's a Weller 25 watt kit with 4 tips (pencil and chisel). Will this be adequate for soldering rails together?

    Also, what kind of solder and flux should I get?

    Thanks in advance!!!

    Val
  2. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    It's what I use. I use rosin paste flux and "fine" electronics solder which is refering to its size, about .060 inch. Thing you need watch on them Wellers is the tip will sieze in them and when you go to screw it out it will break off. Fred
  3. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

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    Just be sure not to get the lead-acid type of solder that they use for plumming. Nothing eats electronics faster.
  4. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

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    25 watts is good enough. I use a 100 watt gun, but I have years of soldering experience. No, I don't melt the plastic tires!

    Andy
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    Val: I bought my flux at one of the electronics stores on Matheson Blvd near Dixie. I got a big bottle of rosin.
    However, that is the first time I've had separate flux. I've used the rosin core solder, and (horrors!) some paste flux when it needed help.
  6. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

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    Val
    25watts is ok a bit small use 60/40 solder more tin ( melts at 231.95 deg.C)less lead (melts at 327.5 deg. C) rosin core or solid and apply rosin ( flux ) your self which is method i pefer.
  7. Blake

    Blake Member

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    40 watts might be better (you need to try it first). If you have an electronics store nearby (other than Radio Shnook) you can get liquid flux, 91% alcohol and 60 / 40 solder (thin). I find that the liquid flux works best, even if you are using rosin core solder. The liquid penetrates much better. Put a drop of liquid flux on the joint. Place the tip of the iron on the outside of the rail and apply the solder to the inside of the rail. The heat will draw the solder towards it leaving no lumps where the flanges contact the rail. When you are done with the solder joint, take a China bristle brush (has stiff white bristles), dip it in the 91% alcohol and scrub the solder joint. This removes the excess flux. It also makes one hell of a Martini!!! :thumb: :D
  8. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Thanks for the excellent advice everyone!! :thumb:

    Blake, I haven't opened the package yet, so I could exchange it for a 40-watter. That model only had the screwdriver looking head - is that ok for rail joining?

    The only soldering I've ever done was with silver - we used acetylene torches - so this will be kind of new to me.

    Val
  9. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

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    25 watts is a bit light, but you'll have to try it. I think your going to find that you have to hold the tip on the joint longer to get the solder to flow. And Fred is right, after you use the iron for a while, the tip will oxidize and sieze to the rest of the iron and becomes a bear to change. I am fortunate to have a couple of temperature controlled irons that we used in our electronics business when we had it. Some have a dial to change the temperature, others like some Wellers, have tips that determine the temperature. Unfortunately, these types of irons are not cheap, but they last and last. I'm still using one that we bought 30 years ago. We did have to change the tips occasionally though.

    As for solder, as others have said, a 60/40 (lead/tin) is the best all-around choice, with a rosin flux core. I think .063 diameter is common. I use .040 only because it was what we used in electronics and I still have a couple of rolls. Using liquid flux is also a necessity on some surfaces that have corrosion or oxidation. Even bare copper is hard to solder to, and the flux in the solder usually isn't enough to make the solder adhear and flow properly. Remember that the joint should be cleaned up using something like acatone to remove the flux residue after soldering. The joint not only looks better, but the flux remains sticky and will attract dirt and dust.

    There is a recent thread on the AMR technical forum dealing with solder and soldering techniques. You might want to take a look.
  10. dhutch

    dhutch Member

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    Also, it does depend on the gauge your using. I use a 25w antex for soldering to my n-gauge track and it works fine, and i've used it one 00 quote happyly, but i imagen it would just make a mess of O-gauge!

    also, it not stupid to have more than one soldering iron, i have three,
    - an 80w (which i use for makeing up RC car Batery packs)
    - the 25w which i use from most things electrical.
    - and a little 18w which is great for electronics.
    (i also have a 15w, but that never get used)

    daniel
  11. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Thanks for the info Don and Daniel. I don't want to try the soldering iron, because if it's the wrong wattage then I won't be able to return it.

    I'm still wondering which tip I would use for joining rails - the pencil tip or the chisel? The store where I bought it has a choice -- the 25 watt with 3 different tips, or higher wattage with only a chisel tip.

    Val
  12. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

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    Well, I'm glad you didn't open it yet, because I'd recommend the higher wattage, like 40 watts is a good all-around iron. As for the chisel tip, I would prefer that to a pointed tip, but it depends on the width of the tip. Remember, you ar soldering the underside of the rail flang and don't want the tip to be so wide that you get solder on the top of the rails. You can file some tips, others will be ruined if you try. The type that you cannot file down are usually called "self tinning" the type you can file have to be tinned before you can use them. I know, more information then you really want, but it might help you make a decision.

    Sorry that I can't be more specific without seeing the iron you're talking about.
  13. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

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    Val, the 25 watter will be handy for installing decoders and other electronic work. I know a lot of people cringe when they here this, but for soldering rail I always used a 100 watt gun. heats up fast, you're in and out quickly which is the key to not melting ties. And I don't use heatsinks, they drain heat away. Just be sure the tip is clean so the joint heats fast. I mean the solder will flow immediately. Wouldn't hurt to remove a tie in either direction at first. You can shave off the cast on spikes and slide them under the rail when you're done. Glue them in place. Assuming you're ballasting afterwards of course. When I work with flex track and commercial turnouts I often solder feeds at the workbench then feed the wire thru holes in the roadbed. I like to feed every piece of rail. Another thing I've done to reduce the # of feeds is solder drops to rail joiners at the bench, drill the hole in the roadbed and when the two sections of track are in the joiner, solder them together. This way you can solder every other joint and have each rail feed, yet have 1/2 the joints not soldered for possible expansion problems.
  14. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Thanks Don and Gary. :thumb: :thumb: I'm going to go and exchange the one I have for something more powerful. And if I ever get to the point where I want to do my own decoder installations (!!! it could happen!!!) well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!

    Val
  15. dhutch

    dhutch Member

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    Well, im cringing at the idea of a 25w anywhere near my decoders!!
  16. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

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    The biggest trick to soldering is getting the work hot enough to melt solder, and not getting things too hot. Clean surfaces, and flux, are a must.
    Val, the "screwdriver" or chisel tip is probably the best for track, it lets you heat both rail pieces equally, and quickly.
    Pete
  17. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Thanks Pete! Will exchange 25 Watt set for 40 Watt chisel point tomorrow.

    Val
  18. seanm

    seanm Member

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    I got a nice Weller for Christmas that is a 5W to 40W with a nice little dial on it to choose the wattage. I think it was less then $40.
  19. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

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    I'm so proud of you, Val, for gettin' yer first hot iron. Once you git the hang of that there de-vice, a whole new way of doing things will open up to you.

    Yip. ;)

    TrainClown :) Happy New Yeary by the way!
  20. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Thanks Chris!! I exchanged the iron yesterday. I now have a 40-watt Weller with chisel tip.
    :) :) :D :D

    Val