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I hate Soldering. Anything make it easier?

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By Av8

3 years ago


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  • Latest reply 3 years ago by bluevegas

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#1 3 years ago

Im shopping and rebuilding the pop bumpers on my Monster Bash. Im trying to solder the wires to the lights. I enjoy restoring pins but this is the one job that sucks on pinball restoration.

I have burns on my fingers. Trying to solder 3 wires together is a pain. Anything make this easier?

Heres my pinballife order. Thanks Terry.

2012-05-22_16.20.11.jpg2012-05-22_16.20.11.jpg


#2 3 years ago

I hate soldering too.. especially under a raised playfield. It's a pain in the ass.

I make sure I place down a towel over anything that could get splashed with solder.

I also try to use alligator clips to hold wires in place when soldering. I hate it when I heat up a joint to reattach a wire and another wire held onto that joint breaks loose. The clips help. Also remember that the wire should have a good mechanical bond to the lug or whatever youre soldering to before you try to get a good chemical bond via the solder.

Soldering is my least favorite pin related thing.


#3 3 years ago
Blackbeard said:

also try to use alligator clips to hold wires in place when soldering.

Thanks for that tip.... That should help


#4 3 years ago

Get a hemostat at a local hobby shop. Also make sure your tip is tinned or you won't get good heat transfer. I hated it too but after time it wasnt be a big deal at all.


#5 3 years ago

When soldering multiple wires to one point, twist them together first. When soldering new wire endings and/or parts, tin them a little solder first, it will make the join a lot easier.


#6 3 years ago

What makes it easier? Practice, practice, practice.

Watch other people who are better than me at soldering, especially on pinball machines (that's most pinheads).

Good technique and tools make a huge difference.

Clean surfaces, some liquid flux, a good iron and solder, a bright work light (I use a LED headlamp), alligator clips and old hemostats to hold wires and parts, put down shop towel under the job area to contain splashes, wear eye protection, especially when de-soldering wires/parts.

One splash of hot solder just to the side of one's eyeball is enough.

RussMyers


#7 3 years ago
Blackbeard said:

I also try to use alligator clips to hold wires in place when soldering.

+1 Soldering is one of those tasks that invariably requires at least three hands. I use surgical clamps mostly as they tend to have a smaller clamp head (nothing worse then soldering a clip in place), more tension and can move them out of the way easier. I'm psyching myself up for a pf swap soon - mainly not looking forward to the soldering.


#8 3 years ago
RussMyers said:

One splash of hot solder just to the side of one's eyeball is enough.

Thank god I wear glasses already lol. That would SUCK!

*edit* funny, seeing a bunch of people say they hate doing soldering. I enjoy it, actually find it kind of cathartic. When everything else is going wrong, if I find something to solder on, generally I'm on the path to a functional repair. I like that. Like everyone else though, soldering with the playfield up is not my favorite activity. It does help a lot to make hooks with your wire and make sure they're secured to the lugs/whatnot prior to trying to solder it. If you don't have a clamp or something, some insulated needlenose pliers work well to hold the wire so you don't burn your hand as well.


Ignored user post
#10 3 years ago
Av8 said:

I have burns on my fingers. Trying to solder 3 wires together is a pain. Anything make this easier?

Are you using flux liquid (or paste) on the joint before soldering? This can help.


#11 3 years ago
Av8 said:

I'm shopping and rebuilding the pop bumpers on my Monster Bash. I'm trying to solder the wires to the lights. I enjoy restoring pins but this is the one job that sucks on pinball restoration.

I was surprised by how time consuming it is to rebuild pop bumpers. Gavin Miller rebuilt the ones on my TOTAN. Here is a guy who can do it in his sleep, and it still took him quite a long time.


#12 3 years ago

+1 on the alligator clips. When you try to solder a wire to a joint the entire length of the wire has to heat before it is hot enough for the solder to stick. The problem is that it can cause damage to whatever is on the other end of that wire (light socket for example). Use an alligator clip at the base of what you want to solder so that it redirects the heat and won’t cause any damage.


#13 3 years ago

I've never been burned in the face by solder, the few times on hands and once on a leg was more than enough for me.

When being burned, keep in mind that flailing will only make it worse, just like when playing pinball. The knee jerk reaction would be to jerk away, but when you have an iron in your hands you may want to rethink that decision, and quickly.

That said, I've never had a pinball related soldering injury. I was working on circuit boards 3rd shift previously and had never soldered before. Thanks to youtube for giving me that training!

The clips are a good tip, I never had those at that workplace, so it was just the magnifying lens, the board, and my bare hands.


#14 3 years ago

Oh, one other comment regarding flux...I've been using the "gel" type stuff, it's real easy to apply with a toothpick, don't need much at all. Didn't know that and put a good blob on there once, soon as I touched the joint, you know that stuff liquefies and goes up the wire braid via capillary action..

Put the solder on there, and SLURP! Solder went right up the joint, and inside the wire sheathing. Two errors I made there: 1. too much flux and 2. too much solder. Was funny at the time, but now that I think about it, I really wish I could remember where that had occured...would be bad if that wire got shifted and that long skinny blob of solder cracked down at the lug. =\


#15 3 years ago

I rebuilt the pops in my friends AFM. It didn't take long. It's a lot easier if you can take the playfield out and on a rotisserie. But in this case it was still in the cab and the machine was wedged between two others.


#16 3 years ago

Nothin as fun as getting spilt solder on your hands!! I still have a few burn marks on my left hand from my last soldering job (aka mishap).


#17 3 years ago

Practice all you can. I practiced on cheap boards and wires/capacitors from Radio shack when I started. +2 on the alligator clip comment. Good equipment also helps make it much easier. Key is don't give up it is not that difficult and once you get the hang of it you won't think it is as much of a chore.


#18 3 years ago

all about heat transfer, clean iron, flux. those and practice.

If your Iron is crap.. go get a new one - if your tip is replaceable replace it. if its black or nasty get a new one!

A good iron should be able to heat your component quickly so you can tap your solder to the component.. you dont heat solder then jab it so it sticks to things.

The flux in solder will help it flow.. but if you preflux your solder surface its a good help to know when its hot.. when flux bubbles away tap your solder.. practice.. when your good solder will just suck right into the part.. super fast and easy.

pop bumpers do stink, a good small solder gun helps you can get right in there, Frys sells good small ones under 20 bucks. also handy to pick up a 2$ desoldering gun there as well .. they are a lifesaver if you make a mess.

if you make a mess DONT BREAK IT OFF, DONT SCRAPE IT OFF. let it cool. go walk around.. soldering under stress causes bad things to happen.. a desoldering gun or bulb costs 2-5 bucks.. GO BUY ONE.. come back heat up the mess and click the desoldering tip on the mess.. mess go bye-bye!

if you solder too much jumper pins etc that sholdnt be.. add a little flux to your tip .. make sure its clean and hot.. then use a desolder gun to just suck it right off when its hot.

I personally dont like to add wire to pop bumpers (the metal ribbon) but that is also an option if your stuck.. another thing I have done is used grounding strap (like used in pinball machines) in a pinch ..if when the pop bumper was pulled you simply cant attach the ends of the wire back together, use that ground strapping and just extend it a bit.

also when you cut out the pop bumper wires... measure 2x cut once.. pre plan how you put it back together.. will your solder iron fit.. can you easily re-assemble the wires with little or no effort if you just moved a inch the other way.. can you pull staples and then get to it rather then cut it at the "pain point"

rather then fixing it like a car that needs to run to get to work.. fix it like a classic car you expect to have running in 4 years. that way you dont rush and dont make mistakes that cost more down the road. (or make someone buying your pin say.. WTF this is a hack job!)


#19 3 years ago

Put flux on the wires. Then just add solder to the tip of the iron. When the iron comes in contact with the flux on the wires, the solder will flow to the wires. This is how they do it at the Stern factory.


#20 3 years ago
Dmod said:

Put flux on the wires. Then just add solder to the tip of the iron. When the iron comes in contact with the flux on the wires, the solder will flow to the wires. This is how they do it at the Stern factory.

Seriously?


#21 3 years ago

I agree with all these good tips. Twisting and tinning wires first, hemostats, and practice.


#22 3 years ago

I like soldering. It's a form of art.


#23 3 years ago
Tommi_Gunn said:

I like soldering.

me too, I think it's fun.

PNBLWZD said:

Twisting and tinning wires first, hemostats, and practice.

all great tips. I like to really load a bit of solder on the tips of the wires, and go at it. it seems to help.


Ignored user post
#25 3 years ago

I just read though the tips , thanks all. I'm not a huge fan of Soldering either. I guess I should buy a little flux, I always thought that since I was using Rosin Core solder that I didn't need it?


#26 3 years ago

Flux seem to transfer heat , I love flux , then I use a tooth brush and alcohol to clean that flux off after soldering ..

but I do enjoy a good solder, and a clean tip on your tool helps

TJ


#27 3 years ago
Tommi_Gunn said:

I like soldering. It's a form of art.

well, crap! I thought, since it was something technical, that I'd be able to get it down. I suck at art!


#28 3 years ago
Dawson said:

and a clean tip on your tool helps

that's what she said


#29 3 years ago
BillinIndiana said:

guess I should buy a little flux

This is good flux
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2049774
A little goes a long way. This will last a very long time.


#30 3 years ago
Frax said:

Dmod said:Put flux on the wires. Then just add solder to the tip of the iron. When the iron comes in contact with the flux on the wires, the solder will flow to the wires. This is how they do it at the Stern factory.
Seriously?

You must not have seen videos of the factory? They show the ladies dipping the wires and a quick touch of the iron. Its done so fast.


#31 3 years ago
Jeff_PHX_AZ said:

Frax said:Dmod said:Put flux on the wires. Then just add solder to the tip of the iron. When the iron comes in contact with the flux on the wires, the solder will flow to the wires. This is how they do it at the Stern factory.
Seriously?
You must not have seen videos of the factory? They show the ladies dipping the wires and a quick touch of the iron. Its done so fast.

Yeah, but frankly, I thought they were just pre-tinning the wires with the well. I'll have to track it back down and look at it more closely I guess. Clearly I wasn't really paying attention.

Just doesn't seem like a smart practice to me.


#32 3 years ago
Frax said:

Jeff_PHX_AZ said:Frax said:Dmod said:Put flux on the wires. Then just add solder to the tip of the iron. When the iron comes in contact with the flux on the wires, the solder will flow to the wires. This is how they do it at the Stern factory.
Seriously?
You must not have seen videos of the factory? They show the ladies dipping the wires and a quick touch of the iron. Its done so fast.

Yeah, but frankly, I thought they were just pre-tinning the wires with the well. I'll have to track it back down and look at it more closely I guess. Clearly I wasn't really paying attention.
Just doesn't seem like a smart practice to me.

Its a factory, they have to get it done quick, seems quite smart to me.

I like the alligator clip idea. I usually get my wife or my son to use some pliers to hold the wires to the lugs so I can solder them.


#33 3 years ago
Dawson said:

Flux seem to transfer heat , I love flux , then I use a tooth brush and alcohol to clean that flux off after soldering ..

Do you clean everything you solder or just PCB's? e.g. Wires to Coil lugs ?


#34 3 years ago
pinballlooking said:

This is good flux
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2049774
A little goes a long way. This will last a very long time.

SWEET! Cuz I just bought some of this yesterday


#35 3 years ago

My complaint with alligator clips and "helping hands" that have them is that a lot of times they maul the wire insulation. I'm being nitpicky probably, but it still bugs me.


#36 3 years ago
Frax said:

My complaint with alligator clips and "helping hands" that have them is that a lot of times they maul the wire insulation. I'm being nitpicky probably, but it still bugs me.

No you're not, and it's exactly why I stopped trying to use them after a few attempts. Soldering gets the wire really hot, that makes the insulation softer than usual. Strong alligator clip meets soft 0.5mm thick insulation - we all know how this can end. I'd rather just put up with burned fingers.


#37 3 years ago
Frax said:

My complaint with alligator clips and "helping hands" that have them is that a lot of times they maul the wire insulation. I'm being nitpicky probably, but it still bugs me.

Could always wrap the alligator clips teeth with a little duct tape or electrical tape? Just something to keep the points from indenting the insulation, but still do the job.

Just a thought, I have never done it..


#38 3 years ago

a trick is that you put heat shrink on the alligator clips teeth, not going to fix the issue of heat related damage but will prevent the clip from messing up your wire so much.. not saying that the clips are good to use but a tip all the same.

also i would be suprised if stern was actually soldering using the hack trick of heating solder and adding to flux.. this causes cold solder and weak joints.. the proper way is to heat the part first. add solder to the part. they would likely tin them and come back and heat it up later which would have the solder on the part so it speeds up the production.


#39 3 years ago
BillinIndiana said:

Could always wrap the alligator clips teeth with a little duct tape or electrical tape?

Heat shrink top and lower jaws this works well and the wire does not slip out.


#40 3 years ago

That's a great idea with the heatshrink. Might give that one a shot if I can find any shrink lying around.


#41 3 years ago

I use a heavier duty soldering iron to solder wires to coils, multiple wires , etc. 30 to 40 watt with a bigger tip. For PCBs I use a variable output iron with different tips for different applications.

Also use the paste flux when applicable.


#42 3 years ago
gweempose said:

Av8 said:I'm shopping and rebuilding the pop bumpers on my Monster Bash. I'm trying to solder the wires to the lights. I enjoy restoring pins but this is the one job that sucks on pinball restoration.
I was surprised by how time consuming it is to rebuild pop bumpers. Gavin Miller rebuilt the ones on my TOTAN. Here is a guy who can do it in his sleep, and it still took him quite a long time.

Pops are my least favorite part of a restoration. I've had to do it on about 5 pins now and it's getting easier, but it still sucks. Not looking forward to swapping out the 5 pops on my TAF when I put in my Kruzman playfield.
One small trick for soldering wires to the flat leads coming from the pop-bumper light sockets is simply to use tape. Alligator clips or hemostats are great for most applications, but since the flat lead is usually stapled to the underside of the PF, I just find it easier to run a piece of masking tape across the wire, holding it flat against the lead so it all sticks tight to the wood. You can do it with clips before stapling down the leads, but I prefer to have everything stapled down before completing the wiring.


#43 3 years ago

I've never needed extra flux, just use good rosin core 63/37 kester solder.

I'm pretty sure those are solder pots @ the stern factory, not flux.


#44 3 years ago
Frax said:

Jeff_PHX_AZ said:Frax said:Dmod said:Put flux on the wires. Then just add solder to the tip of the iron. When the iron comes in contact with the flux on the wires, the solder will flow to the wires. This is how they do it at the Stern factory.
Seriously?
You must not have seen videos of the factory? They show the ladies dipping the wires and a quick touch of the iron. Its done so fast.

Yeah, but frankly, I thought they were just pre-tinning the wires with the well. I'll have to track it back down and look at it more closely I guess. Clearly I wasn't really paying attention.
Just doesn't seem like a smart practice to me.

Honestly, this is pretty common practice. Take a look at YouTube videos on 'drag soldering' techniques for surface mount components. Same principle. The flux cleans the connection and helps the heat transfer from the iron to the connection.


#45 3 years ago
BillinIndiana said:

Dawson said:Flux seem to transfer heat , I love flux , then I use a tooth brush and alcohol to clean that flux off after soldering ..
Do you clean everything you solder or just PCB's? e.g. Wires to Coil lugs ?

I Flux everything , the wire , the lug and the solder , even though the solder has a flux core , I say you cant have too much flux... I have set up a fan to blow the smoke away redoing all the lugs on coils before ...

I just like flux it transfer heat and makes thing flow..

t


#46 3 years ago
Blakesell said:

When being burned, keep in mind that flailing will only make it worse, just like when playing pinball. The knee jerk reaction would be to jerk away, but when you have an iron in your hands you may want to rethink that decision, and quickly.

Reminds me of when I was in the Police Academy. When we were at the firing range, sometimes a spent casing would fly into your shirt between your vest and burn you. The last thing you wanted to do was flail around with a loaded weapon. We had to raise our hand and wait for one of the range masters to take our weapon so we could get it out LOL.



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