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Old 07-13-2009, 06:35 PM   #76
trscott OP
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Problem with big wires

The problem you are having is not having a large enough iron for the large wires you're working on.

Copper is an extremely good conductor of both electricity and of heat. Your iron is putting 45 watts in, and the copper wire is taking a large fraction of those watts away from the joint you are trying to solder. The result is that you can never reach the melting point of the solder. If it could reach that 950 degrees, your solder would melt.

As you have found, given enough time, you might get the joint hot enough, but you are going to have trouble with the insulation melting and things like that before you get hot enough to solder it.

Heat is like water, it flows to the lowest level it can find. Your copper wires are sitting at room temperature, so when you connect your iron, a lot of heat is going to begin flowing down those wires trying to find the lowest level. Imagine filling a bucket with a squirt gun, but the bucket has a 1" hole in it. On the other hand if you have a 5/8" garden hose filling a bucket with a 1/4" hole in the side, you can probably overflow that bucket. Temperature is like the level in the bucket, watts is like the rate of flow of water in the hose or the squirt gun.

One way to think about this is that your iron is less than half the power consumed by a 100 watt lightbulb. If you concentrate that much power in a small junction of small wires, you may reach that 950 degrees, but the heat being robbed by the fat wire is fighting you.

For an unregulated plug-in-the-wall-iron, you might need 100 watts or so (although I do not routinely use unregulated irons). Maybe you can borrow a larger iron locally?

In a pinch there are some age old solutions that might work for you. Remember that "soldering irons" were originally not electric. They were literally large irons with big wooden handles that would be placed in a blacksmith's furnace to get hot and then used until they cooled. If you can find a big chunk of steel or iron say 1/2" cross section, grind it to a chisel point on one end, and heat it in a charcoal fire, or maybe with a torch... I think you might be surprised how well that could work. Especially if you have some extra solder flux to put on the wires. I've not tried it myself, but I know it was done that way in the past. It should work.

In any case, the idea is to have a lot more watts of heat energy readily available in the iron than the wires can absorb and dissipate. That way the watts turn into peak temperature at the joint to get your solder to melt.

The 950 degree rating of your iron is fine, but sort of misleading. That is its peak temperature until you begin cooling it with soldering work. The Watts are the real measure of work being done.

I hope that helps.

Cheers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ridin gaijin
Thank you very much for an educational thread!

I'm trying to solder some 10 gauge, braided (as best I can) according to the pictured instructions. I have a new 45 watt iron that claims 950 degrees at the tip. I wait a few minutes for it to heat up, prime it and apply to the bottom of the connection; the wire shortly becomes too hot to hold, but never draws the solder down. I've tried with a fine point and a chisel point to no effect. What am I doing wrong?



Thank you & sorry if this is obvious,

rg
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:45 AM   #77
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An older thread but fantastic info-THANKS!!

A couple of questions- Can we talk about what type of solder to use? How about the diameter of the solder? If I want to solder 14 to 16ga wire, what diameter solder would be best? Yeah, I'm a electrical idiot!!

Thanks!!

Pete
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:40 AM   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vnp514 View Post
An older thread but fantastic info-THANKS!!

A couple of questions- Can we talk about what type of solder to use? How about the diameter of the solder? If I want to solder 14 to 16ga wire, what diameter solder would be best? Yeah, I'm a electrical idiot!!

Thanks!!

Pete
I always use rosin core solder. I also use a very small diameter, I like how quickly it melts. I use it for everything from 20 ga down to 10ga. I don't really solder outside of that range.


Had a friend tell me that he hated soldering wires, that his never worked, come to find out he was using solid solder for copper piping.
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Old 08-27-2013, 09:20 AM   #79
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This is awesome!

P.S Butt and most crimp connectors suck! Solder!
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:07 AM   #80
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+1 on soldering connections, + 1 also double shrink wrap. Anything that vibrates benefits from this procedure. Not difficult to do. If soldering not possible posi-tap connectors are the best alternative
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:19 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by Scrubs View Post

I find 3M Scotchlocks very good for semi-permanant jobs:

http://www.3m.com/product/informatio...ors-Tools.html
If you saw what those things do to the wire being tapped, you would not use them for anything. The only good use for them is cat toys.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:27 AM   #82
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If you saw what those things do to the wire being tapped, you would not use them for anything. The only good use for them is cat toys.
Way better to use positaps.

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Old 08-28-2013, 02:48 PM   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rapid_Roy View Post
This is awesome!

P.S Butt and most crimp connectors suck! Solder!
That's true for the red yellow blue insulated crap you get at Harbor Freight and various other places. Same goes for the simple plier type crimpers.

Proper terminals crimped with the correct ratchet type crimpers are just as good as solder. The wire will break before it pulls out. Crimped connections are used on virtually all modern commercial aircraft.
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:08 PM   #84
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Forgot to add use quality wire, auto parts/ hardware wire isn't really all that good
I bought a couple spools of different size aircraft wire, use it on bikes, cars and even airplanes.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:21 PM   #85
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One other trick. After you've soldered the wires together but before you shrink the tubing, put a small dab of silicone sealer on the connection and then slip the tubing on. When the tubing shrinks down and the silicone cures, that connection is absolutely waterproof.

Eric
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:05 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by t6pilot View Post
Forgot to add use quality wire, auto parts/ hardware wire isn't really all that good
I bought a couple spools of different size aircraft wire, use it on bikes, cars and even airplanes.
Where is a place to get good quality wire online? It's really hard to gauge (pardon the pun) quality while shopping online.
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:19 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by BrShootr View Post
Nice tutorial but how about then you're connecting a wire to a center section of an existing wire in a "T" connection?
lay the double wires flat against eachother and continue as before. get the heat shrink with hot glue coating on the inside (or put a small piece of glue stick inside the heatshrink) and as the heat shrink does its thing it squeezes glue through the whole joint and seals the gap between the two wires. you end up with the same joint but with two wires coming out one end
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Old 01-14-2014, 01:20 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by trscott View Post
If you have your temperatures and soldering iron wattage correct, and solder quickly, you won't find this necessary. This is usually a problem when you are trying to solder something with just barely enough heat, so that you have to heat it a long time. A good solder joint should use enough heat that it only take a few seconds, and then when you remove the iron tip, the solder is still hot enough that it re-flows to its own heat. The "peaking" is a result of barely enough heat so that as soon as you remove the iron, the the solder instantly re-freezes, not having enough heat to stay melted while it re-flows.

Ironically, many soldering problems that seem like too much heat are actually a result of not enough heat. For instance, melting a plastic connector body or cheap thermoplastic wire insulation. If you have an iron that is too low wattage, you will have to hold the iron on the joint so long that the heat has a long time to travel and equalize throughout the parts, wasting a lot of heat getting too hot in the places where you aren't soldering. With a higher wattage iron you can heat up the solder joint much more quickly, get your solder to flow, and remove the iron, before the heat has spread to places you don't want it.

I am not a fan of soldering guns (the big black things that look like a 1950s B movie ray gun and a metal loop for a tip), because they are off until you pull the trigger, and there is no easy way to tell when they have reached optimum temperature.

The ideal iron is a temperature controlled iron with interchangeable tips of different shapes, some even have a dial and a temperature display. But these are pretty spendy. If you do enough soldering to need one of these you probably already have one. The next best is the temperature controlled type with interchangeable tips that have different shapes and use a magnetic effect to control the temperature. I use two of these, one with a large blunt hot tip in it for wires and connectors, and another with a small needle tip of lower temperature for small electronic components. The big advantage of these regulated irons is that they have a great deal of excess capacity so that as you take heat out of the tip, they switch into full power mode and replace that heat very quickly.

Perfectly acceptable also though are the low cost irons that you plug in the wall directly and they have a heater with a set wattage. At least in this case, once the iron heats up, anytime you pick it up it will already be hot. Just be sure you get a big one for wire splicing, probably 35 to 40 watts or more is pretty good, though it has been years since I've used one.

If you do very much electrical work, the imported temperature controlled irons are not that expensive and once you use one, you will never go back.

Donate the big black soldering gun to your local college film department for use as a ray gun in a Sci-Fi spoof (not that I have an opinion on the subject...). Or, if you must use one, get in the habit of counting to yourself before touching your would-be solder joint, to give the gun time to heat up fully. Let it get real hot first, and then get in and out quickly. You will see markedly better results with this technique.

Cheers!
The small butane fueled soldering irons work very well and can put out enough heat to solder quite large wires. Really useful if you don't have power in your garage.
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:40 AM   #89
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Where is a place to get good quality wire online? It's really hard to gauge (pardon the pun) quality while shopping online.
MCM electronics.

NTE wire, all colors, gauges and lengths. If you order a back ordered item, they ship it when available. Shipping in the $8 range for small orders.

http://www.mcmelectronics.com/search.aspx?C=0000001536
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:49 AM   #90
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Originally Posted by davsato View Post
lay the double wires flat against eachother and continue as before. get the heat shrink with hot glue coating on the inside (or put a small piece of glue stick inside the heatshrink) and as the heat shrink does its thing it squeezes glue through the whole joint and seals the gap between the two wires. you end up with the same joint but with two wires coming out one end

crap -- 40 years of non-professional wiring behind me and NOW this piece of advice comes to light.

thanks!
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