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Old 11-11-2012, 09:06 AM   #13
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Mar 2008
Oddometer: 154
Originally Posted by DRONE View Post
Hey XL-erate, I'm OK with my crimper--I got it from Eastern Beaver-- but I have one of the more expensive soldering guns from Radio Shack and . . . . it SUCKSS! Any links to what you consider to be a gun that will heat up the wire quickly to conserve the insulation?
I've had my stuff for years so haven't looked lately. What you want to know is an iron's actual tip temperature, plus wattage rating and heating time. If a mfgr. can't tell you that [but you may have to contact mfgr. directly] then one may assume it's not top notch stuff or it's outsourced or both. I consider 30 Watts the bare minimum, prefer higher like 40-50W, but care required not to overheat when soldering. In a quality iron the watts rating may not be as important as actual tip temperature. I prefer a small squared tip for some work, or a pointed tip for other more precise joining jobs.

You can use tie wraps as temporary fixtures when soldering to hold wires, in order to free your hands and more easily and quickly concentrate heat, flux and solder where it's needed.

Some decent irons are Antex - made in England. They have quick change tips. Their 18 Watt [actual] is equal in performance to a rated 30W, providing just under 750*F/400*C tip temperature. I'm pretty sure they make higher wattage irons as well.

Eclipse [MADE IN CHINA] has a dual wattage iron station for their irons:

Philmore is another decent name in irons & soldering tools, but probably made in China to their specs now. S4140 is 40W, temp compensating professional tool. S4240 is their temp controlled soldering station to adjust wattage as desired, S4240R is the replacement iron for that station. Philmore has every configuration & size of tip you'd need.

Other names are Weller [pro stuff preferred over hobby] or Wahl.

What we prefer for vehicle wiring are the piezo - flameless butane soldering irons requiring no power cord. Of course one must exercise care around flammables!

For example:


125W 1,000*F -

75W -

Portasol - Made in Ireland 125W 600*F tip

Whatever you're looking for, study the fine print on specs of course. Many end providers out there, these above just picked out of the hat. Be real careful with butane tools around your fuel system & vapors.

Top quality solder & flux and pre-tinned wire can make all the difference in the world in your soldered connections. Just as important is control of the wiring system.

Wire ties, shrink tube, wire wraps etc. are required in order to reinforce and prevent flexing of wires which breaks connections.

Most often the soldered connection will break as a result of wires moving and flopping around or from extreme vibrations. This work hardens individual soft copper strands making them brittle, so that the strands break right next to the rigid soldered joint.

Because copper naturally work hardens the less movement of wires the better, including while building looms, moving wire locations, adding new devices etc. Absolute minimum movement and a gentle hand plus super secure wiring really pays off.


XL-erate screwed with this post 11-11-2012 at 09:25 AM
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