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MG TD TF 1500 - Modern Solder - Absolutely Usless

A pleasant job has just turned into a nightmare. I have fitted a modern plug/socket to the wiring loom behind the dash so this can be removed easily when I eventually repaint the car. I stared soldering the terminals using some multi core solder I have had for years. I was using my Weller soldering gun and a larger, convential, copper soldering iron for the larger terminals such as those for the ammeter. Everything was going fine until I ran out of solder. The only type I could find was lead free and 30 a reel from Maplin! This stuff is absolutely useless. It doesn't wet the wire/terminals properly, flux doesn't work as it should and worst of all it appears to alloy with the copper which raises its melting point so you have to be quick or the solder solidifies and won't remelt. I bought some special heat activated flux and whist this may be OK with a blow torch and copper plumbing pipes, a small electrians' soldering iron doesn't have sufficient heat to activate it. And one last query for the metallurgists - I needed to re-tin the end of my copper soldering iron. I tried to clean it with a file but the wonder solder had alloyed with the copper it was too hard for the file to bite! I had to clean the skin off with a grinding disc. I am glad I am not young anymore.

Jan T
J Targosz

Draper do a reel, so your usual autofactors should be able to get it.
to retin the tip, maybe buff it up, then rough it & wrap solder ( fluxed ) around it cold, heat it up and wipe with a soldering sponge.

Try rosin flux-core type solder. It works much better for what you are doing. Small Dia.

Yes the removal of lead content from solder has made the job mush more difficult. The newer solders are more difficult to remelt and clean up, they are also much more brittle which can cause problems when working with water pipes.

Small dia. Rosin core solder is good for wiring and takes less heat. PJ
Paul S Jennings

Go to electronic suppliers and get Kester multicore solder, either 60/40 or better still 63/37 eutectic solder for doing anything electrical. Make sure to heat the wire and the let the wire melt the solder (a small dab of melted solder on the tip of the iron will help transfer the heat to the joint, but don't overload the solder iron tip with solder). Cheers - Dave
D W DuBois


I agree I cant get good results with Maplins solder either. Glad you have the same problem...I thought it was me losing my touch!

Doctor Bob

Perhaps a metallurgist can let us know what the composition of "environmental friendly" solder is and especially if we can melt lead into it to produced the good old stuff that actually worked!

Jan T

J Targosz

Well, at least the solder fumes aren't slowly killing us anymore. ;)
Steve Simmons

I buy lead solder at flea markets and garage sales. Take it home and put it in the basement along with crates of 100 watt incandescent light bulbs, Green Cuprinol wood Preservative, TSP, and Gunk Hydroseal.

I 2nd Kester is all I will use for electronics.
For State Side ...stay away from Radio Shack crap. ..But then their motto should tell you that.
Radio Shack've got questions, we've got batteries!

PS: Wife uses Canfield for her stained glass.
David Sheward 55 TF1500 # 7427

Crikey... You can't get TSP anymore???
Kevin McLemore

Oh, and a great alternative to the Gunk Hydroseal is "Berryman's Chem Dip"... not cheap, but it works as well as the old Hydroseal.

As for solder, I'm fortunate that my dad had several spools of old Kester and it works great. Not sure if modern Kester is the same, but hopefully so. I use rosin flux with it. I don't do that much electrical soldering so what I have will probably last me the rest of my days!
Kevin McLemore

The key is to get Lead solder (not Lead Free) and to use flux.

Lead free is used in plumbing, it has it's place but it really does not work on wiring...

Flux is an acid, which helps to resolve the issues with oils etc. Go to an electronics store, or find it on amazon and you will be happy again.

D Engel

Jan - I suspect that you are getting solder for plumbing work. That is the only place that lead is a problem as it can leach out into the water that sits in the pipes. As I stated earlier, Kester solder solder is pretty much the standard in the electronics world. There is another brand, Ersin, which I actually prefer, but it is hard to find anymore. When you purchase solder, get a roll of 60/40(60% tin/40%lead) Kester or Ersin, multicore or rosin core solder with a wire size of 0.80mm (0.31"). Better yet, get 63/37 (called eutectic solder) solder as it is less apt get a fractured joint from moving the wires when the solder is passing through it's plastic state (looks like it has hardened, but is still soft under the surface). If you have Radio Shack over there - DON'T go to them! (I think that Dave S. has already mentioned that). If you don't have a place available to you that sells electronics components and stuff like solder, you can order the proper solder on line from Newark (, Allied ( or MCM ( Look for Kester 44 Rosin Core 60/40 or Kester 44 Rosin core 63.36 solder. Above all, DO NOT get anything that says "lead free".

"Flux is an acid, which helps to resolve the issues with oils etc."
Acid flux of any kind is a big NO-NO on anything electrical as it will continue to clean until the copper itself is gone.

"Well, at least the solder fumes aren't slowly killing us anymore. ;)"
I have been working in the electronics worked for over 50 years (including my fuel pump work), doing solder work most of that time. Bother hasn't me at all. Cheers - Dave

D W DuBois

I knew a guy who worked over a pot of fuming molten lead for 40 years and boasted that people worried too much about it. Truth is, he was 1 in 1000. The other 999 are long since dead from cancer. ;)

Not saying to worry so much about lead solder, but probably best to avoid the fumes rather than breath them.
Steve Simmons

The other component that kills the ability to solder effectively is incorrect iron temperature, too much heat causes the solder to oxidize. Correct temperature is even more critical with non lead based solders.

For electrical wiring and electronic assembly, temperature controlled irons were developed.

For large wiring soldering tasks it does not hurt to use additional resin based soldering flux in conjunction with resin cored solder, never add acid based fluxes to the equation.

G Evans

I have purchased a reel of 60/40 tin/lead, NOS solder from the autojumble at the NEC Classic Car Show and it works perfectly. I have several bobbins of the European Union Treaty, Environmental Friendly, Court of Human Rights, Just about Usless, Lead Free variety.I would love to know if this is 100% tin so I could melt and mix it with 40% lead to make the proper stuff.

Jan T
J Targosz

You may find this of interest

lead free solder may be from across a wide range of mixes, though I suspect that the bog-standard stuff is pure tin.
Ian Bowers

Hi Ian,

Seems to make sense. I have tried joining wires with lead free solder and found three problems First the solder doesn't wet the copper strands properly and wont flow into joints. Secondly the melting point is now so high that the insulation on wires melts and thirdly you can not unsolder a joint - the solder just won't remelt. From the article you suggest it appears pure metals melt at a higher temperature than mixtures (alloys) hence the higher temps need for the high tin solders. Also it says pure tin alloys with gold to produce a brittle intermetal. Is it possible that the molten tin is reacting with the copper strands and producing an unmeltable compound?

Jan T
J Targosz


Almost invariable diluting a pure metal with another metal will lower the melting temperature. So the lead tin alloy will have a lower melting point.

The article suggests the traditional solder melted up to 183degC which is 50degC lower than pure tin which melts at 231degC.

The second problem is that pure Tin is relatively brittle and so crimping or bending may cause the joint to fail. Tin will form a good bond to copper when melted, and in the presence of a flux to de-oxidize the copper surface.

It would certainly be possible to make a 60/40 Lead tin solder with domestic equipment, stir well and then pour it slowly into water (taking usual precautions to avoid splashing hot water over your self). These particles can be used to wet the soldering iron tip and all should be back to the good old days.

Ian Bowers

Read all the posts and did not see the actual answer. While having the correct solder is needed, you should also buy a new can of flux.

I also was having problems in soldering electrical wires. Jobs that were done without issues in the past. I blamed it on the solder, then on my soldering iron, etc, etc. A friend stopped by that is an old time TV repairman. He asked how old my flux was. He said flux does not stay good forever. Went out and bought a new tin and all the soldering issues went away.
Bruce Cunha

This thread was discussed between 14/09/2014 and 18/11/2014

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