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Old 26-12-2017, 12:26 AM   #1
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Default What solder do people use?

I'm investing in a soldering iron for my wiring on my planned layout but I was wondering what solder people recommend? I see different mixes of metals, leaded, lead-free, flux core, rosin core, etc. Which would be the best solder for wiring?

I know, this is probably one of those questions with hundreds of answers but I'm curious as to what other people use.
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Old 26-12-2017, 08:12 AM   #2
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Avoid lead free solder, it's more difficult to use than leaded solder and needs a higher iron temperature to melt it. Leaded solder which has flux in it (flux cored) is the stuff to use, it has rosin flux in it. Leaded solder for electrical work is usually 60/40 (percentage of lead/tin). Some include a tiny amount of silver which is said to make it easier to use but is rather more expensive.
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Old 26-12-2017, 08:41 AM   #3
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Leaded rosin cored solder every time.

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Old 26-12-2017, 09:03 AM   #4
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I was a great believer in leaded solder for reasons already stated, however the other week I picked up some 4% silver lead free solder and was suprised how easy it was to work and seemed to have a lower melting point, it was expensive though, 6.99 against 2.99.
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Old 26-12-2017, 10:00 AM   #5
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The late C.J. Freezer gave a useful piece of advice which was "Don't believe all you need is multi core." Get a small pot of flux and put a small amount on the bare wires and connectors. This advice is particularly relevant when soldering directly to the track as it makes the job go quicker and avoids melting the sleepers.
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Old 26-12-2017, 10:50 AM   #6
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With a hot enough iron (25W minimum) the 2%+ silver lead free solder will make excellent joints. Especially if you are starting out with soldering it is worth working with lead free from day one to save having to learn it ll again when leaded solder becomes impossible to obtain. The quality and durability of a good lead free joint is worth the effort.

Don't use the cheap lead free solder that does not contain silver as it is not easy to work with and you are very unlikely to get satisfactory results.

You will need to make a choice between lead free and leaded solder as you need to thoroughly clean the lead from your iron before doing any lead free soldering because of the melting point difference.

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Old 26-12-2017, 11:01 AM   #7
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Got my advice and everything I needed from TMC. Sorry can't tell you what content my solder was but I used Gaugemaster non acidic flux (a liquid). Wires soldered easily, I cleaned the soldered area afterwards as advised and everything has been fine two years down the line. Hope I did the right thing. If anyone tells me otherwise there'll be tears after so much work!
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Old 26-12-2017, 12:14 PM   #8
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If doing sheet brass or white metal kits. I prefer to use liquid flux.
Lead runs better than than the lead free stuff, and it is lower melting point of course you want low melt for white metal.
When doing ordinary everyday wiring then I would say that resin cored is better. Long as the wire is clean and not old dirty stuff.
I may be wrong as I very often am. John
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Old 26-12-2017, 12:25 PM   #9
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With electrical soldering use as already stated 60/40 lead content solder. If you can get some with the added silver content this does aid flow. Note: The use of lead content solder is not illegal unless youre selling or manufactrering items! But as a precaution wash your hands throughly after working with lead content solder..

There is no need for added flux on most electrical work. Using most types of flux normally means the joint has to be washed to remove the acid in the flux, not really possible on an eletrical joint! If added flux has to be used then look for one that is designed for electrical work. Some such are Carrs Orange label, DCC Concepts Sapphire or for reflow work. These contain low amounts or no acid and can use alcohol as the fluid which burns away with the heat.

Main thing to ensure is the iron is of a suitable wattage for the job. To low wattage and the items will take too long to heat or not be able to reach the required temperature resulting in a poor joint. 25watt is a good all round iron. Next is to ensure the tip is in good condition. If it poor and pitted either replace the iron or just the tip if its replicable. Finally throughly clean the area of the rail to be soldered even clean new track! I use a fibre pencil but a file or anything that lightly scraps the surface clean can be used. Pre tin with solder both the rail and stripped wire end. Place wire onto rail, tin iron tip with fresh solder and hold iron onto the top of the wire allow heat to transfer through wire to soldered rail and the two solders melt and flow into one. Remove iron and hold joint still for around 5 seconds or until solders cool and solidify.
Broken? It was working when I left it!
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Old 29-12-2017, 11:27 PM   #10
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Well, the soldering iron is ordered! I've ordered a kit that comes with the stand and some solder, a wire stripper and a few lengths of wire. I'm off to the model shop in the morning to buy a single piece of track to practice soldering leads to, as I've never soldered before and I don't want to be screwing up when I'm working on my actual track. Wish me luck!,
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