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Soldering Music Wire and Stuff

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  • Soldering Music Wire and Stuff

    This is for you, Stew2! Here's how I solder music wire to itself or solder other things to music wire. I'm sure this isn't the only way to solder but this has worked for me for many years. Get your supplies: propane torch, silver solder, craft copper wire, file, lacquer thinner and clamps, vise grips, fixtures, needle nose pliers and etc. to hold parts. Oh... always consider shop safety. 'Fire in the hole' so where is the flux gonna spatter... into your eyes?... onto your fingers?... carpet? If torch falls over? You will be grabbing hot things so what happens next and etc.

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    Clean, file and, again, clean parts to be soldered together, forever, until death (or high heat) doth render them apart! A Kleenex tissue was soaked in lacquer thinner then used to wipe parts. Look at the dirt! Wrap with copper wire or clamp/ use fixture/ hold parts in position with pliers. The two examples here will show a wire wrapped joint and the other is of a tab held to the piano/ music wire with pliers while soldered.

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    I tried to get a pic of the torch flame. It doesn't need to be large. Use the outer portion of flame to gently and evenly heat parts so that when a drop of liquid flux is applied it bubbles and maybe barely sizzles. Don't apply flame to copper wire or the wire will just burn away. You may waft flame over it a bit to help with pre-heating of joint.

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  • #2
    The flame is properly located for heating the joint and the solder will be fed from the other end of joint. Just keep the flame where it is and keep the solder against the opposite end. The solder will start to melt and flow toward the flame end. When it starts flowing then move the flame away a bit. You will get a 'feel' for this process. When you get enough solder onto the joint just take the flame away and let it cool. You can drop some liquid flux on it but the acid 'steam' may not be good for your local environment! When cool remove from clamp and wash in soapy hot water to remove any residual flux. I 'taste test' the parts. Mmmmmm...metal! If they taste sour then there is more flux to be washed away. The flux will gradually cause the joint to deteriorate so really clean it well. I use a toothbrush and soap.

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    The solder should look nice and flowing and smooth in and around the joint. File the cleaned parts then wipe with lacquer thinner. They are ready to be painted. I'll show some other examples and a few 'tricks' to get other things soldered to each other or soldering things around other things that won't take solder. Gotta got to work... bummer!


    • #3

      Great tutorial! I've always enjoyed soldering. Don't know exactly why but I do. For many, it's a secret shrouded in mystery! My personal preference, whenever possible, is to use a 100W iron or even an adjustable gun. I have found that some will overuse the flame and get the metal too hot, which actually drives the solder away. Of course, when I remodeled the wife's bathroom, I used a torch for the copper tubes!

      It looks like you are using propane and not MAPP gas right?



      • #4
        Thanks, Tim! Yes... it is a propane torch with the flame adjusted really small. Maybe the flame is about 3/4" from the tip. The small flame works great and keeps the solder and flux from boiling off the parts. If the parts are overheated then they oxidize on the surface and have to be re-filed and cleaned. The copper wire is a great indicator, too. If the copper wire wrapped around the joint glows red then everything is probably too hot.

        Use wet tissue, clamps or aluminum foil as heat shields or heat sinks, too. You can solder new parts to a project and keep previously soldered parts from falling off by judicious use of these. Here is an example of a scratch built tail wheel for a 1/6 scale Piper Super Cruiser bashed from a SIG Cub kit. I even soldered the axle onto the fork while the plastic hub foam tire was in situ. The plastic hub has discoloration from the flux but it didn't melt or deform from the heat. I put an aluminum foil sheet between the hub and yoke. I laid the yoke on its side in a shallow dish of water to pull heat away ASAP. Then I put the torch on a large and 'pointed' flame to just heat the yoke where axle pokes through. When the flux started to sizzle I put the solder to it and watched it flow. It was a very quick process.

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        If you have a technique for soldering then feel free to show or describe it here!


        • #5
          Great information, Michael! I admit guilt to using too hot a flame when torch soldering. Now I have a benchmark when I have to go that route again.
          I recently bit the bullet and picked up a resistance soldering outfit. I'm sold on it as it allows me to solder with impunity in regards to surrounding solder joints or other heat sensitive items. You can pick them up from Micro Mark and they are made by "American Beauty". You've obviously learned how to do these things with a torch which I'll admit is cheaper and simpler.


          • #6
            What flavor of flux are you using?


            • #7
              Stew2, the Stay-Brite solder is a combo. It comes with a coil of solder and a bottle of flux. Sorry the pic and discussion weren't more descriptive.


              • #8
                Asher, those resistance units are nice! Thanks for mentioning it!


                • #9
                  Great thread!

                  Along the lines of this, is there a tutorial anywhere on working with metal, for the hobbyist? Something that covers the best/necessary tools, cutting, bending, shaping, filing? That sort of thing? I have to admit, metalworking isn't something I ever learned or was exposed to. I have used my band saw to cut 1/16" thick brass for a control horn. I was pretty scared the whole time due to the horrific sound of the blade cutting metal in my workshop. I kept expecting the saw blade to fail or something, but it worked.
                  Member In Good Standing - "Builds Slower Than A Dead Turtle Nailed To A Fencepost" Club