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Please help! What to buy.

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I have to solder brass masts and PE for a1/200 Bismarck. I'm having a real hard time deciding which solder, flux, iron/torch to buy. 

Solder: there is silver bearing, lead free, 60/40 leaded, 50/50 leaded. Then theres rosin core or flux infused into the solder... it so confusing people have said dont get silver, the melting temp is to high others say get silver its stronger. I have no idea what to get. 

Flux: acid based, water soluable, rosin flux, paste, liquid. Again i have no clue what to get. 

Torch or iron? 

This is very fustrating I just wish some one would say here buy this and tell me exactly wat to buy. 

Would this be ok to buy?


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My recommendation would be use soft solder where you don’t need significant strength. This would mean 99% of a static display  boat fittings.  Solder paste is best for fine work. It’s more easy to control where you put it and hence less to clean off once the joint is made. Lead or lead free isn’t a big deal in my experience, I have never found much difference between either. Like Mark my preferred heat source is a small propane torch. The heat is instantaneous and you don’t need to touch the work to apply it. I use the torch for about 90% of my soldering work. I use a soldering iron only where I need to be really precise about where the heat is going, e.g. when making a series of joints in close proximity without the following joint melting the previous one. When the component to be soldered is thin (e.g. photo etched parts) a torch is likely to distort or melt it, in this case a soldering iron is better. A alternative option which is less aggressive than a torch but does not involve touching the work is a hot air soldering gun, many modellers swear by them as the soldering temperature can be adjusted facilitating the use of different melting point solders.

I just use the same paste flux that I use for plumbing. It works fine.


Edited by KeithAug
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What ever you choose, practice, practice, practice. My preference is for a small point on the iron as most model parts are "Small and Fiddly" The parts must be clean yet again another hard job as the parts are "Small and Fiddly" and thirdly you have to hold the parts together, as you want them with alligator clips or the likes so when you touch them with the soldering iron tip or flame they do not move from how you set them. 

Quenching hot parts in cold water helps bring of any flux that might still be around after the job is done 

a damp sponge helps keep the irons tip clean and a good stand to hold the hoy iron in is essential 

When you master the art it's another box you can tick in your model building career.


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I was going to suggest watching Paul Budzik's video as it is very good and accurate.  You might need heat sinks between joints as Paul describes.

Do not use a torch - the photo etch will not stand up to the heat.  I watched a guy destroy several pieces before switching to a small pencil point iron.  If you have access to a resistance soldering unit with a rheostat to turn it way down it will work also.


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Andrew mentioned keeping the tip of your soldering iron clean using a damp sponge.


Wiping your iron on a damp sponge shock cools the tip and over time this can lead to the tip cracking and failure. This is really not a problem for occasional use except that if/when the tip does eventually fail your equipment may be of such an age that replacement tips are no longer available necessitating purchase of a whole new iron. (Yep, I've got a lovely mini-scope that I can't get a tip for.)


A newer method of tip cleaning is a brass wire 'sponge' which wipes the excess solder off the iron without drawing off much heat. I've been using one now for some years and find it does as good if not better job of cleaning the tip, a quick poke into the wire does the job, no rotating the tip on the sponge, no waiting for the iron to reheat, no need to run into the kitchen to redamp the sponge and no need for periodic sponge replacement, just occasionally pull the wire out of its holder and shake out the little knobs of solder.



Edited by mgdawson
added sponge to periodic replacement
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Hi all, I have become a real fan of resistance soldering due to the control you have over it.  I have been able to do some intricate work without heat sinks by placing the probes, and the solder, in the right place,  The solder will draw towards the heat, and by using differing melting point solders, able to achieve this.  The biggest issue with PE is that if you are not carefull you can blow through it very quickly with excessive heat.

The pissdales below still need cleaning up but as you can see these are only 4.5mm and the two end pieces (triangular) and the tubes were soldered in without heatsinks.





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