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Soldering Aluminum to Steel



 
 
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  #1  
Old April 1st 12, 02:40 AM posted to rec.crafts.metalworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,527
Default Soldering Aluminum to Steel

This is kind of a product review, kind of a "how to", and kind of a "how
not to".

But mostly, it's a request for the RCM brain trust to review what I've
done and figured out, and to straighten me up if I'm going in the wrong
direction.

Quite a while ago I got a Harris "Al-Solder 500" kit from the local
welding shop. This has some 85-15 tin/zinc solder, some Harris "Stay-
Clean" flux, and a rather alarmingly long MSDS (short story: don't breath
the white smoke).

I got this for the purposes of soldering aluminum ferrules onto steel
music wire, the purpose of the ferrule being to provide a good bonding
surface to a carbon-fiber arrow shaft. With that, I can make pushrods
for control line airplanes that are more rigid and lighter than ones made
all of music wire.

So, partially from inertia, and partially because of the warnings on the
MSDS, I've been making the ferrules from brass because I can solder them
with plumbers solder relatively free from worry.

Today, I went and made some ferrules out of aluminum, and gave the
soldering a whirl.

The first one I tried was completely unsuccessful. The directions
implied that the soldering could be done with a torch at the same time
they mentioned that the flux became inactive at barely above solder
melting temperature. I tried it, with a torch, and things failed
miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I've got a couple of pushrod ends
sitting on my bench right now with brass ferrules.

After I got the replacement ferrules soldered, and as I was cleaning up
the mess, I decided that since the soldering iron was hot anyway, and
since the solder is supposed to work at 450F, I'd try it on the stuff.
So I slapped some flux on the ferrule, put the iron to it, and melted on
some solder. It worked! Rather like magic -- I didn't have to scrape on
anything or do anything special other than not snort the smoke (and it is
evil-looking: there's something about dense, pure-white smoke that puts
me off).

Then once I had a ferrule with solder on it, I took some music wire,
sanded it, and stuck it into the hole with the iron on it. This didn't
make a good bond -- a light whack with a center punch and a piece of fir
1x2 and the music wire came right out. Crud.

But I saw that the bond to the music wire was pretty crappy, so I
slathered flux on the wire, put things together, and tried again. This
time I (probably unnecessarily) made sure to pull the wire out of the
ferrule a bit, to make sure I had solder on it, then pushed it back in.

This second time was much stronger: I did manage to whack the wire out of
the ferrule, but I had to give it a pretty good thump: I'm sure that the
impact I gave it was way more than I'd see in normal use, and if it
happened in a crash there'd be a lot more damage than one cruddy little
solder joint.

So (goodness this is taking me a long time to say), it looks like the
proper technique with this stuff is to treat it like regular solder and
flux, with the possible exception of being very careful about the fumes,
and (also possibly) with the exception that I shouldn't expect the solder
to wick into joints with the enthusiasm that tin/lead solder does.

Does that sound about right?

--
My liberal friends think I'm a conservative kook.
My conservative friends think I'm a liberal kook.
Why am I not happy that they have found common ground?

Tim Wescott, Communications, Control, Circuits & Software
http://www.wescottdesign.com
Ads
  #2  
Old April 1st 12, 02:42 AM posted to rec.crafts.metalworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,527
Default Soldering Aluminum to Steel

On Sat, 31 Mar 2012 20:40:02 -0500, Tim Wescott wrote:

This is kind of a product review, kind of a "how to", and kind of a "how
not to".

But mostly, it's a request for the RCM brain trust to review what I've
done and figured out, and to straighten me up if I'm going in the wrong
direction.

Quite a while ago I got a Harris "Al-Solder 500" kit from the local
welding shop. This has some 85-15 tin/zinc solder, some Harris "Stay-
Clean" flux, and a rather alarmingly long MSDS (short story: don't
breath the white smoke).

I got this for the purposes of soldering aluminum ferrules onto steel
music wire, the purpose of the ferrule being to provide a good bonding
surface to a carbon-fiber arrow shaft. With that, I can make pushrods
for control line airplanes that are more rigid and lighter than ones
made all of music wire.

So, partially from inertia, and partially because of the warnings on the
MSDS, I've been making the ferrules from brass because I can solder them
with plumbers solder relatively free from worry.

Today, I went and made some ferrules out of aluminum, and gave the
soldering a whirl.

The first one I tried was completely unsuccessful. The directions
implied that the soldering could be done with a torch at the same time
they mentioned that the flux became inactive at barely above solder
melting temperature. I tried it, with a torch, and things failed
miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I've got a couple of pushrod
ends sitting on my bench right now with brass ferrules.

After I got the replacement ferrules soldered, and as I was cleaning up
the mess, I decided that since the soldering iron was hot anyway, and
since the solder is supposed to work at 450F, I'd try it on the stuff.
So I slapped some flux on the ferrule, put the iron to it, and melted on
some solder. It worked! Rather like magic -- I didn't have to scrape
on anything or do anything special other than not snort the smoke (and
it is evil-looking: there's something about dense, pure-white smoke that
puts me off).

Then once I had a ferrule with solder on it, I took some music wire,
sanded it, and stuck it into the hole with the iron on it. This didn't
make a good bond -- a light whack with a center punch and a piece of fir
1x2 and the music wire came right out. Crud.

But I saw that the bond to the music wire was pretty crappy, so I
slathered flux on the wire, put things together, and tried again. This
time I (probably unnecessarily) made sure to pull the wire out of the
ferrule a bit, to make sure I had solder on it, then pushed it back in.

This second time was much stronger: I did manage to whack the wire out
of the ferrule, but I had to give it a pretty good thump: I'm sure that
the impact I gave it was way more than I'd see in normal use, and if it
happened in a crash there'd be a lot more damage than one cruddy little
solder joint.

So (goodness this is taking me a long time to say), it looks like the
proper technique with this stuff is to treat it like regular solder and
flux, with the possible exception of being very careful about the fumes,
and (also possibly) with the exception that I shouldn't expect the
solder to wick into joints with the enthusiasm that tin/lead solder
does.

Does that sound about right?


Damn -- I forgot the actual concrete questions:

Is this tin/zinc solder known to wick as well as, or more poorly than,
tin/lead?

What's the strength of the stuff? I have to admit that I haven't done
the same "whack it with a board" test with tin/lead solder, but while the
joint strength seemed adequate it was definitely the solder that failed,
not the steel or the aluminum.

--
My liberal friends think I'm a conservative kook.
My conservative friends think I'm a liberal kook.
Why am I not happy that they have found common ground?

Tim Wescott, Communications, Control, Circuits & Software
http://www.wescottdesign.com
  #3  
Old April 1st 12, 03:20 AM posted to rec.crafts.metalworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 9,696
Default Soldering Aluminum to Steel

On Sat, 31 Mar 2012 20:40:02 -0500, Tim Wescott
wrote:

This is kind of a product review, kind of a "how to", and kind of a "how
not to".

But mostly, it's a request for the RCM brain trust to review what I've
done and figured out, and to straighten me up if I'm going in the wrong
direction.

Quite a while ago I got a Harris "Al-Solder 500" kit from the local
welding shop. This has some 85-15 tin/zinc solder, some Harris "Stay-
Clean" flux, and a rather alarmingly long MSDS (short story: don't breath
the white smoke).

I got this for the purposes of soldering aluminum ferrules onto steel
music wire, the purpose of the ferrule being to provide a good bonding
surface to a carbon-fiber arrow shaft. With that, I can make pushrods
for control line airplanes that are more rigid and lighter than ones made
all of music wire.

So, partially from inertia, and partially because of the warnings on the
MSDS, I've been making the ferrules from brass because I can solder them
with plumbers solder relatively free from worry.

Today, I went and made some ferrules out of aluminum, and gave the
soldering a whirl.

The first one I tried was completely unsuccessful. The directions
implied that the soldering could be done with a torch at the same time
they mentioned that the flux became inactive at barely above solder
melting temperature. I tried it, with a torch, and things failed
miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I've got a couple of pushrod ends
sitting on my bench right now with brass ferrules.

After I got the replacement ferrules soldered, and as I was cleaning up
the mess, I decided that since the soldering iron was hot anyway, and
since the solder is supposed to work at 450F, I'd try it on the stuff.
So I slapped some flux on the ferrule, put the iron to it, and melted on
some solder. It worked! Rather like magic -- I didn't have to scrape on
anything or do anything special other than not snort the smoke (and it is
evil-looking: there's something about dense, pure-white smoke that puts
me off).

Then once I had a ferrule with solder on it, I took some music wire,
sanded it, and stuck it into the hole with the iron on it. This didn't
make a good bond -- a light whack with a center punch and a piece of fir
1x2 and the music wire came right out. Crud.

But I saw that the bond to the music wire was pretty crappy, so I
slathered flux on the wire, put things together, and tried again. This
time I (probably unnecessarily) made sure to pull the wire out of the
ferrule a bit, to make sure I had solder on it, then pushed it back in.

This second time was much stronger: I did manage to whack the wire out of
the ferrule, but I had to give it a pretty good thump: I'm sure that the
impact I gave it was way more than I'd see in normal use, and if it
happened in a crash there'd be a lot more damage than one cruddy little
solder joint.

So (goodness this is taking me a long time to say), it looks like the
proper technique with this stuff is to treat it like regular solder and
flux, with the possible exception of being very careful about the fumes,
and (also possibly) with the exception that I shouldn't expect the solder
to wick into joints with the enthusiasm that tin/lead solder does.

Does that sound about right?


I'll limit my comments because I haven't used that solder, nor am I
sure what the flux is. But I have a tip that may help get a better
bond on the music wire.

Tin it with solder before putting it in the ferrule. I've soldered a
lot of steel and I never use anything but a commercial acid flux for
steel, or, when I was in school shop classes, shop-mixed zinc
chloride.

You have to clean those fluxes off after soldering but that shouldn't
be a problem on the wire. Then you'll have a nicely tinned surface to
solder to your aluminum. It should produce a much stronger joint.

--
Ed Huntress
  #4  
Old April 1st 12, 04:31 AM posted to rec.crafts.metalworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 161
Default Soldering Aluminum to Steel

On Sat, 31 Mar 2012 22:20:23 -0400, Ed Huntress wrote:

On Sat, 31 Mar 2012 20:40:02 -0500, Tim Wescott
wrote:

This is kind of a product review, kind of a "how to", and kind of a "how
not to".

But mostly, it's a request for the RCM brain trust to review what I've
done and figured out, and to straighten me up if I'm going in the wrong
direction.

Quite a while ago I got a Harris "Al-Solder 500" kit from the local
welding shop. This has some 85-15 tin/zinc solder, some Harris "Stay-
Clean" flux, and a rather alarmingly long MSDS (short story: don't
breath the white smoke).

I got this for the purposes of soldering aluminum ferrules onto steel
music wire, the purpose of the ferrule being to provide a good bonding
surface to a carbon-fiber arrow shaft. With that, I can make pushrods
for control line airplanes that are more rigid and lighter than ones
made all of music wire.

So, partially from inertia, and partially because of the warnings on the
MSDS, I've been making the ferrules from brass because I can solder them
with plumbers solder relatively free from worry.

Today, I went and made some ferrules out of aluminum, and gave the
soldering a whirl.

The first one I tried was completely unsuccessful. The directions
implied that the soldering could be done with a torch at the same time
they mentioned that the flux became inactive at barely above solder
melting temperature. I tried it, with a torch, and things failed
miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I've got a couple of pushrod
ends sitting on my bench right now with brass ferrules.

After I got the replacement ferrules soldered, and as I was cleaning up
the mess, I decided that since the soldering iron was hot anyway, and
since the solder is supposed to work at 450F, I'd try it on the stuff.
So I slapped some flux on the ferrule, put the iron to it, and melted on
some solder. It worked! Rather like magic -- I didn't have to scrape
on anything or do anything special other than not snort the smoke (and
it is evil-looking: there's something about dense, pure-white smoke that
puts me off).

Then once I had a ferrule with solder on it, I took some music wire,
sanded it, and stuck it into the hole with the iron on it. This didn't
make a good bond -- a light whack with a center punch and a piece of fir
1x2 and the music wire came right out. Crud.

But I saw that the bond to the music wire was pretty crappy, so I
slathered flux on the wire, put things together, and tried again. This
time I (probably unnecessarily) made sure to pull the wire out of the
ferrule a bit, to make sure I had solder on it, then pushed it back in.

This second time was much stronger: I did manage to whack the wire out
of the ferrule, but I had to give it a pretty good thump: I'm sure that
the impact I gave it was way more than I'd see in normal use, and if it
happened in a crash there'd be a lot more damage than one cruddy little
solder joint.

So (goodness this is taking me a long time to say), it looks like the
proper technique with this stuff is to treat it like regular solder and
flux, with the possible exception of being very careful about the fumes,
and (also possibly) with the exception that I shouldn't expect the
solder to wick into joints with the enthusiasm that tin/lead solder
does.

Does that sound about right?


I'll limit my comments because I haven't used that solder, nor am I sure
what the flux is. But I have a tip that may help get a better bond on
the music wire.

Tin it with solder before putting it in the ferrule. I've soldered a lot
of steel and I never use anything but a commercial acid flux for steel,
or, when I was in school shop classes, shop-mixed zinc chloride.

You have to clean those fluxes off after soldering but that shouldn't be
a problem on the wire. Then you'll have a nicely tinned surface to
solder to your aluminum. It should produce a much stronger joint.


Thanks Ed. That sounds like the way to do it. I assume that you mean
that I should use the same tin/zinc solder.

I took another look at the music wire just now, and it looks like I
didn't have the thing tinned along the whole length that was in the hole
-- improving on "plenty good enough" sounds plenty good to me!

--
Tim Wescott
Control system and signal processing consulting
www.wescottdesign.com
  #5  
Old April 1st 12, 05:11 AM posted to rec.crafts.metalworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 9,696
Default Soldering Aluminum to Steel

On Sat, 31 Mar 2012 22:31:48 -0500, Tim Wescott
wrote:

On Sat, 31 Mar 2012 22:20:23 -0400, Ed Huntress wrote:

On Sat, 31 Mar 2012 20:40:02 -0500, Tim Wescott
wrote:

This is kind of a product review, kind of a "how to", and kind of a "how
not to".

But mostly, it's a request for the RCM brain trust to review what I've
done and figured out, and to straighten me up if I'm going in the wrong
direction.

Quite a while ago I got a Harris "Al-Solder 500" kit from the local
welding shop. This has some 85-15 tin/zinc solder, some Harris "Stay-
Clean" flux, and a rather alarmingly long MSDS (short story: don't
breath the white smoke).

I got this for the purposes of soldering aluminum ferrules onto steel
music wire, the purpose of the ferrule being to provide a good bonding
surface to a carbon-fiber arrow shaft. With that, I can make pushrods
for control line airplanes that are more rigid and lighter than ones
made all of music wire.

So, partially from inertia, and partially because of the warnings on the
MSDS, I've been making the ferrules from brass because I can solder them
with plumbers solder relatively free from worry.

Today, I went and made some ferrules out of aluminum, and gave the
soldering a whirl.

The first one I tried was completely unsuccessful. The directions
implied that the soldering could be done with a torch at the same time
they mentioned that the flux became inactive at barely above solder
melting temperature. I tried it, with a torch, and things failed
miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I've got a couple of pushrod
ends sitting on my bench right now with brass ferrules.

After I got the replacement ferrules soldered, and as I was cleaning up
the mess, I decided that since the soldering iron was hot anyway, and
since the solder is supposed to work at 450F, I'd try it on the stuff.
So I slapped some flux on the ferrule, put the iron to it, and melted on
some solder. It worked! Rather like magic -- I didn't have to scrape
on anything or do anything special other than not snort the smoke (and
it is evil-looking: there's something about dense, pure-white smoke that
puts me off).

Then once I had a ferrule with solder on it, I took some music wire,
sanded it, and stuck it into the hole with the iron on it. This didn't
make a good bond -- a light whack with a center punch and a piece of fir
1x2 and the music wire came right out. Crud.

But I saw that the bond to the music wire was pretty crappy, so I
slathered flux on the wire, put things together, and tried again. This
time I (probably unnecessarily) made sure to pull the wire out of the
ferrule a bit, to make sure I had solder on it, then pushed it back in.

This second time was much stronger: I did manage to whack the wire out
of the ferrule, but I had to give it a pretty good thump: I'm sure that
the impact I gave it was way more than I'd see in normal use, and if it
happened in a crash there'd be a lot more damage than one cruddy little
solder joint.

So (goodness this is taking me a long time to say), it looks like the
proper technique with this stuff is to treat it like regular solder and
flux, with the possible exception of being very careful about the fumes,
and (also possibly) with the exception that I shouldn't expect the
solder to wick into joints with the enthusiasm that tin/lead solder
does.

Does that sound about right?


I'll limit my comments because I haven't used that solder, nor am I sure
what the flux is. But I have a tip that may help get a better bond on
the music wire.

Tin it with solder before putting it in the ferrule. I've soldered a lot
of steel and I never use anything but a commercial acid flux for steel,
or, when I was in school shop classes, shop-mixed zinc chloride.

You have to clean those fluxes off after soldering but that shouldn't be
a problem on the wire. Then you'll have a nicely tinned surface to
solder to your aluminum. It should produce a much stronger joint.


Thanks Ed. That sounds like the way to do it. I assume that you mean
that I should use the same tin/zinc solder.


Eh, I should have put in a caveat. I don't know that solder. I've used
some tin-zinc solder on aluminum, but not on steel.

Since yours is the 85/15, rather than 60/40, my guess is that it will
work. Maybe they'd both work. You'll have to try it. I don't think the
acid flux should be a problem with that stuff, but, again, you'll have
to try it.

BTW, if you want to make zinc chloride flux at home, get some muriatic
acid at Home Depot, take an old (or new) carbon-zinc battery apart,
clean the outer (zinc) can, cut it up with tin snips, and toss it in
(one C-cell's worth of zinc, say) with maybe two ounces of muriatic
(dilute hydrochloric) acid. Let stand for a few days. Use.


I took another look at the music wire just now, and it looks like I
didn't have the thing tinned along the whole length that was in the hole
-- improving on "plenty good enough" sounds plenty good to me!


Tinning is my secret weapon for soldering. I think that every copper
joint in my house is now pre-tinned inside and out. It was worth it. I
had leaks in the very old copper joints in my hydronic heating system
when I moved it, but I tinned and re-sweated them all 30 years ago,
and there hasn't been a leak since.

It also improved my school shop projects in junior high school. I
didn't tell the teacher that I was pre-tinning everything before
sweating the joints. My tin cups didn't leak and my candy dishes
stayed together. d8-)

--
Ed Huntress
  #6  
Old April 1st 12, 08:49 PM posted to rec.crafts.metalworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,876
Default Soldering Aluminum to Steel

In article ,
Tim Wescott wrote:

This is kind of a product review, kind of a "how to", and kind of a "how
not to".

But mostly, it's a request for the RCM brain trust to review what I've
done and figured out, and to straighten me up if I'm going in the wrong
direction.

Quite a while ago I got a Harris "Al-Solder 500" kit from the local
welding shop. This has some 85-15 tin/zinc solder, some Harris "Stay-
Clean" flux, and a rather alarmingly long MSDS (short story: don't breath
the white smoke).

I got this for the purposes of soldering aluminum ferrules onto steel
music wire, the purpose of the ferrule being to provide a good bonding
surface to a carbon-fiber arrow shaft. With that, I can make pushrods
for control line airplanes that are more rigid and lighter than ones made
all of music wire.

So, partially from inertia, and partially because of the warnings on the
MSDS, I've been making the ferrules from brass because I can solder them
with plumbers solder relatively free from worry.

Today, I went and made some ferrules out of aluminum, and gave the
soldering a whirl.

The first one I tried was completely unsuccessful. The directions
implied that the soldering could be done with a torch at the same time
they mentioned that the flux became inactive at barely above solder
melting temperature. I tried it, with a torch, and things failed
miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I've got a couple of pushrod ends
sitting on my bench right now with brass ferrules.

After I got the replacement ferrules soldered, and as I was cleaning up
the mess, I decided that since the soldering iron was hot anyway, and
since the solder is supposed to work at 450F, I'd try it on the stuff.
So I slapped some flux on the ferrule, put the iron to it, and melted on
some solder. It worked! Rather like magic -- I didn't have to scrape on
anything or do anything special other than not snort the smoke (and it is
evil-looking: there's something about dense, pure-white smoke that puts
me off).

Then once I had a ferrule with solder on it, I took some music wire,
sanded it, and stuck it into the hole with the iron on it. This didn't
make a good bond -- a light whack with a center punch and a piece of fir
1x2 and the music wire came right out. Crud.

But I saw that the bond to the music wire was pretty crappy, so I
slathered flux on the wire, put things together, and tried again. This
time I (probably unnecessarily) made sure to pull the wire out of the
ferrule a bit, to make sure I had solder on it, then pushed it back in.

This second time was much stronger: I did manage to whack the wire out of
the ferrule, but I had to give it a pretty good thump: I'm sure that the
impact I gave it was way more than I'd see in normal use, and if it
happened in a crash there'd be a lot more damage than one cruddy little
solder joint.

So (goodness this is taking me a long time to say), it looks like the
proper technique with this stuff is to treat it like regular solder and
flux, with the possible exception of being very careful about the fumes,
and (also possibly) with the exception that I shouldn't expect the solder
to wick into joints with the enthusiasm that tin/lead solder does.

Does that sound about right?


My experience with soldering music wire is that you *must* abrade the
oxide layer off the surface before soldering with zinc chloride acid
flux (tinners' flux), that flux alone won't work. I use wet-dry
sandpaper wet to do the abrading.

I would follow Ed, and pre-tin the music wire before soldering the wire
to the aluminum ferrule.


Joe Gwinn
  #7  
Old April 1st 12, 09:52 PM posted to rec.crafts.metalworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 9,696
Default Soldering Aluminum to Steel

On Sun, 01 Apr 2012 15:49:26 -0400, Joseph Gwinn
wrote:

In article ,
Tim Wescott wrote:

This is kind of a product review, kind of a "how to", and kind of a "how
not to".

But mostly, it's a request for the RCM brain trust to review what I've
done and figured out, and to straighten me up if I'm going in the wrong
direction.

Quite a while ago I got a Harris "Al-Solder 500" kit from the local
welding shop. This has some 85-15 tin/zinc solder, some Harris "Stay-
Clean" flux, and a rather alarmingly long MSDS (short story: don't breath
the white smoke).

I got this for the purposes of soldering aluminum ferrules onto steel
music wire, the purpose of the ferrule being to provide a good bonding
surface to a carbon-fiber arrow shaft. With that, I can make pushrods
for control line airplanes that are more rigid and lighter than ones made
all of music wire.

So, partially from inertia, and partially because of the warnings on the
MSDS, I've been making the ferrules from brass because I can solder them
with plumbers solder relatively free from worry.

Today, I went and made some ferrules out of aluminum, and gave the
soldering a whirl.

The first one I tried was completely unsuccessful. The directions
implied that the soldering could be done with a torch at the same time
they mentioned that the flux became inactive at barely above solder
melting temperature. I tried it, with a torch, and things failed
miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I've got a couple of pushrod ends
sitting on my bench right now with brass ferrules.

After I got the replacement ferrules soldered, and as I was cleaning up
the mess, I decided that since the soldering iron was hot anyway, and
since the solder is supposed to work at 450F, I'd try it on the stuff.
So I slapped some flux on the ferrule, put the iron to it, and melted on
some solder. It worked! Rather like magic -- I didn't have to scrape on
anything or do anything special other than not snort the smoke (and it is
evil-looking: there's something about dense, pure-white smoke that puts
me off).

Then once I had a ferrule with solder on it, I took some music wire,
sanded it, and stuck it into the hole with the iron on it. This didn't
make a good bond -- a light whack with a center punch and a piece of fir
1x2 and the music wire came right out. Crud.

But I saw that the bond to the music wire was pretty crappy, so I
slathered flux on the wire, put things together, and tried again. This
time I (probably unnecessarily) made sure to pull the wire out of the
ferrule a bit, to make sure I had solder on it, then pushed it back in.

This second time was much stronger: I did manage to whack the wire out of
the ferrule, but I had to give it a pretty good thump: I'm sure that the
impact I gave it was way more than I'd see in normal use, and if it
happened in a crash there'd be a lot more damage than one cruddy little
solder joint.

So (goodness this is taking me a long time to say), it looks like the
proper technique with this stuff is to treat it like regular solder and
flux, with the possible exception of being very careful about the fumes,
and (also possibly) with the exception that I shouldn't expect the solder
to wick into joints with the enthusiasm that tin/lead solder does.

Does that sound about right?


My experience with soldering music wire is that you *must* abrade the
oxide layer off the surface before soldering with zinc chloride acid
flux (tinners' flux), that flux alone won't work. I use wet-dry
sandpaper wet to do the abrading.

I would follow Ed, and pre-tin the music wire before soldering the wire
to the aluminum ferrule.


Joe Gwinn


I saw something interesting when I was trying to find out for Tim
whether you could use tin-zinc solder with acid flux. It was the claim
that the high-zinc (40%) tin-zinc solder is abrasive (zinc crystals)
enough that you can scratch-in the solder, mechanically fluxing it,
just by rubbing the solder on the work as you tin it.

I sometimes have used stainless brushes to mechanically flux aluminum
or steel, but I have little experience with tin-zinc solders. I'll
have to give it a try sometime.

Anyway, abrading the oxide (iron oxide, in the case of music wire;
it's straight high-carbon steel) makes good sense. Steel can be coaxed
to wet well, but sometimes it takes a little extra mechanical fluxing
to get it started. Just rubbing the tip of a soldering iron on it
often is enough.

--
Ed Huntress
  #8  
Old April 1st 12, 10:03 PM posted to rec.crafts.metalworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 161
Default Soldering Aluminum to Steel

On Sun, 01 Apr 2012 15:49:26 -0400, Joseph Gwinn wrote:

In article ,
Tim Wescott wrote:

This is kind of a product review, kind of a "how to", and kind of a
"how not to".

But mostly, it's a request for the RCM brain trust to review what I've
done and figured out, and to straighten me up if I'm going in the wrong
direction.

Quite a while ago I got a Harris "Al-Solder 500" kit from the local
welding shop. This has some 85-15 tin/zinc solder, some Harris "Stay-
Clean" flux, and a rather alarmingly long MSDS (short story: don't
breath the white smoke).

I got this for the purposes of soldering aluminum ferrules onto steel
music wire, the purpose of the ferrule being to provide a good bonding
surface to a carbon-fiber arrow shaft. With that, I can make pushrods
for control line airplanes that are more rigid and lighter than ones
made all of music wire.

So, partially from inertia, and partially because of the warnings on
the MSDS, I've been making the ferrules from brass because I can solder
them with plumbers solder relatively free from worry.

Today, I went and made some ferrules out of aluminum, and gave the
soldering a whirl.

The first one I tried was completely unsuccessful. The directions
implied that the soldering could be done with a torch at the same time
they mentioned that the flux became inactive at barely above solder
melting temperature. I tried it, with a torch, and things failed
miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I've got a couple of pushrod
ends sitting on my bench right now with brass ferrules.

After I got the replacement ferrules soldered, and as I was cleaning up
the mess, I decided that since the soldering iron was hot anyway, and
since the solder is supposed to work at 450F, I'd try it on the stuff.
So I slapped some flux on the ferrule, put the iron to it, and melted
on some solder. It worked! Rather like magic -- I didn't have to
scrape on anything or do anything special other than not snort the
smoke (and it is evil-looking: there's something about dense,
pure-white smoke that puts me off).

Then once I had a ferrule with solder on it, I took some music wire,
sanded it, and stuck it into the hole with the iron on it. This didn't
make a good bond -- a light whack with a center punch and a piece of
fir 1x2 and the music wire came right out. Crud.

But I saw that the bond to the music wire was pretty crappy, so I
slathered flux on the wire, put things together, and tried again. This
time I (probably unnecessarily) made sure to pull the wire out of the
ferrule a bit, to make sure I had solder on it, then pushed it back in.

This second time was much stronger: I did manage to whack the wire out
of the ferrule, but I had to give it a pretty good thump: I'm sure that
the impact I gave it was way more than I'd see in normal use, and if it
happened in a crash there'd be a lot more damage than one cruddy little
solder joint.

So (goodness this is taking me a long time to say), it looks like the
proper technique with this stuff is to treat it like regular solder and
flux, with the possible exception of being very careful about the
fumes, and (also possibly) with the exception that I shouldn't expect
the solder to wick into joints with the enthusiasm that tin/lead solder
does.

Does that sound about right?


My experience with soldering music wire is that you *must* abrade the
oxide layer off the surface before soldering with zinc chloride acid
flux (tinners' flux), that flux alone won't work. I use wet-dry
sandpaper wet to do the abrading.

I would follow Ed, and pre-tin the music wire before soldering the wire
to the aluminum ferrule.


Yea, I left out the part about sanding the music wire -- because one
always needs to, as you mention...

--
Tim Wescott
Control system and signal processing consulting
www.wescottdesign.com
  #9  
Old April 2nd 12, 05:11 AM posted to rec.crafts.metalworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 38
Default Soldering Aluminum to Steel

On Sun, 01 Apr 2012 16:52:46 -0400, Ed Huntress wrote:

I sometimes have used stainless brushes to mechanically flux aluminum or
steel, but I have little experience with tin-zinc solders. I'll have to
give it a try sometime.

Anyway, abrading the oxide (iron oxide, in the case of music wire; it's
straight high-carbon steel) makes good sense. Steel can be coaxed to wet
well, but sometimes it takes a little extra mechanical fluxing to get it
started. Just rubbing the tip of a soldering iron on it often is enough.


Amen to that: I learned to solder wires (copper) to aluminum by putting a
drop of machine oil on the aluminum and scratching the heck out of it
under the oil layer, to expose clean Al metal. The usual tin/lead solder
wets it just dandy.
 




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