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Daox 08-10-20 07:17 PM

Tricks to soldering thickish wire
So, I don't work with electronics a ton, but I have soldered my fair share of things over the years. I typically use a 20W soldering iron and it seems to do darn near everything I need. However, the power wires broke on my 3d printer lately, and I replaced them with 12 gauge thin stranded wire. First off, my 20W iron wouldn't even remove those wires. It seemed like the solder was a higher temp solder than I typically use. So, I used an ancient 100W gun style soldering iron to get the wires off. I was able to reattach them with the 100W iron, but one of the wires fell off. Also, since then my 100W iron has stopped working.

So, my main question is what tricks do you guys know to get this to work well? Do I just need more heat, or is there something else I can be doing? I do use flux.

NiHaoMike 08-10-20 09:19 PM

Definitely time for a better soldering iron. Something like the TS-100 will handle 12AWG wires with ease. It uses integrated heater cartridges with better coupling than the older irons that merely have the tip in loose contact with the heater.

The very best like Metcal and JBC use induction heating, but so far they're a bit expensive for hobbyist use. Also, they're not that much better than integrated heater cartridge irons.

For really heavy duty work, a Weller soldering gun is still the best. Sadly, there's not much innovation in that field. Replacing the heavy 60Hz transformer with an inverter will make it a lot smaller and lighter, as well as allow for variable power and even closed loop control.

Daox 08-13-20 03:46 PM

Thanks Mike. I ended up borrowing a soldering gun to finish up the work. That TS-100 looks very nice though! I am going to have to put that on my wishlist.

philb 08-14-20 06:19 PM

My Weller 140/100 came with a molded carrying case and extra tips. That makes it even handier. I think I bought it it at Lowes. It will handle 10 AWG with ease. My Weller 20 and 35 watt easily gets the most use day in and out.
I try to get the old solder out with woven copper wire or a solder sucker then scrape the connection and wire if necessary before re-soldering. A pencil eraser works too. New flux and solder seems to work better on larger wire.

oil pan 4 09-04-20 07:18 PM

And there's a 10 charter limit.

kevinelliott 09-15-20 08:16 AM

Great! I am also facing soldering issue with a thin wire as well :P

oil pan 4 09-15-20 01:44 PM

For think wire any 10 watt soldering pen is fine.

Bicycle Bob 09-29-20 03:52 PM

Off-grid soldering
My dad used a gasoline blow torch for plumbing. For more delicate work, he'd heat up large lump of copper on a long handle with a pyramid tip. It had plenty of heat for large wires, and was fine for small ones too, clearance permitting.
I like using a jet butane torch where it won't burn things. As always, both parts have to be heated evenly, compensating for any difference in size, etc. Cleanliness matters a lot - watch out for clear shellac and non-metallic fibers in a bundle. Flux only helps if things are very close to clean, but I always use it.
Before Mars connectors, electricians would twist wires together, and leave them hanging down in groups so that they could all be soldered by a small bath of molten solder on a handle. If you see soldered and taped connections in old buildings, that's how they were done.
BTW, silver soldering is actually easier, because the flux is better and you can see the temperatures by the red glow. I once used it to replace the tip of a faucet stem, and saved a whole integrated porcelain sink and countertop that needed the obsolete style.

rvCharlie 10-05-20 02:47 PM

Late to the party, but thought I'd add some archival info. If you're not comfortable (read, competent :-) ) with soldering, a better option might be to look at PIDG terminals & butt splices. The cheap vinyl jacketed ones in the blister packs at the dollar store probably aren't a good idea, but good ones aren't that expensive. Nylon insulators are better than vinyl, unless you know what you're doing. You need a proper crimper to make good, gas-tight joints, but the crimper can be purchased for around $30. A proper crimper is a ratcheting device; it won't release until the crimp is completed. One crimper and three sizes of terminals cover wire sizes from 22AWG up to 10AWG.

They're designed for minimal skillset operators, working in a production environment, and be as goof-proof as possible.
The crimper and terminals are color coded. Pick the color terminal for the wire size range you're using, strip the wire, insert the terminal in the matching color slot in the crimper, and squeeze until it releases. Guaranteed quality junction.
The terminal provides built-in insulation and strain relief. (A biggie.)

I've had three different 'lives' in various electronics fields, plus numerous electronically tied hobby endeavors (including wiring an experimental aircraft). I probably have close to a dozen various soldering 'irons' around the house & shop/hangar, including Weller & Unger 'guns' & stations, a Metcal station, torches, etc. I've been soldering for a living and for hobbies for over 50 years, so I feel that I can claim some competence. But a *lot* of the point-to-point wiring work I do now is with PIDG style crimp connectors. While I still trust my soldering work more than crimps, that's largely my bias; not a real advantage. The crimps are just so much faster.

But use quality crimps, and a proper ratcheting crimper. That old set of strip&crimp pliers will not cut it for gas-tight crimps.



Robl 02-19-22 02:29 AM

There is a huge variation in the performance of soldering irons, the better ones now having temperature feedback - so they can hold the tip at a programmed temperature. I have a second hand one by ERSA, 400 new, but 50 to me :-). My tip for very thick wires, is to strip back the insulation, then tightly bind them together with thin copper wire wrapped around them, so they are mechanically stable. Then take your time, and get a good solder joint with plenty of electrical solder (with flux in).

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