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Old 09-06-2006, 08:59 PM   #1
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Default Quick lesson in soldering

Ok, can someone give me a quick lesson in soldering copper?

I've watched Rich Trethewey enough over the past thirty years that I've got a decent sense of the process, but I don't know what kind of torch I need, or what kind of solder I should use. I'm building my wort chiller, I quickly figured out that the thin pipe kinks very easily when you try to change direction (I'm building a dual-coiled chiller out of some 1/4" tubing I got dirt-cheap). Looks like I'm a LOT better off doing all the sharp changes-of-direction using elbow joints rather than bending the copper (and having it look like crap).

So, who wants to give me a quick lesson? Much thanks....

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Old 09-06-2006, 10:35 PM   #2
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I'll take a shot at it.
The type of tourch you want is a Burns'o'matic with auto ignite.
heat the joint, insert tube get the solder close to the flame and joint it should run into the joint and not out.
I know how to do it I'm just not very good at explinations. But I will say this Make absolutly sure your solder is lead free.

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Old 09-06-2006, 10:41 PM   #3
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Yes...and heat the pipe, not the solder as it will just drip on the pipe and roll off.
I heat the pipe on the bottom and touch the soilder on the top.....also, where there is a joint, hold it so that the solder will flow and stay on the thicker of the 2 pipes so it seals in better.

Also, don't use touch to light smokes, unless they are king size.

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Old 09-06-2006, 10:46 PM   #4
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PS..when bending the tube (assuming you have the soft/coil tube) ..use a bucket or something cylandrical to bend around or else you'll end up with tons of kinks.
Go slow and easy on the pipe and you'll be surprised how easy it is. Make sure the bucket/cylander size makes sense in terms of brewpot opening and height of wort in the pot.


Cheers.

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Old 09-06-2006, 10:49 PM   #5
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Thanks. I did bend around a paint can (and I had the brewpot out to check for size), made things a lot easier. It's just when you need to change abruptly that it really wanted to kink. I just want to make it look fairly nice so I'm not embarrased to post pictures!

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Old 09-07-2006, 12:41 AM   #6
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To solder copper to copper you will need to get a propane torch, auto-ignite preferred, some lead free solder, acid paste flux and a small flux brush to apply it, some sand cloth to clean the the copper tubing and a small wire brush called a fitting brush that is sized to fit inside the fittings that you are using.

Cut your tubing where you want it with a tubing cutter. Remove the burr and use the sand cloth to completely remove the oxidation on the copper tubing where it will fit into the fitting. Use the fitting brush to clean the inside of the fitting where the tubing will slip into. Now apply some of the paste flux with the small brush onto both the tubing and the inside of the fitting. Connect the pieces to be soldered together. Heat the fitting and the tubing, concentrating a little more on the fitting since this is where you want to solder to end up. As you are heating it, try briefly touching the solder to the joint until the joint is hot enough to melt the solder. It is important that the metal, not the flame of the torch melt the solder. Once the joint is hot enough, the solder will get sucked up into the joint through capillary action. After the joint is soldered, give it a quick wipe with a wet cloth and allow it to cool.

FWIW, it might be easier and cheaper to just get a tubing bender to make the tight bend that you need. Hope this helps.

John

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Old 09-07-2006, 01:01 AM   #7
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It's a skill I want to learn, anyway. It'll come in handy later on, I'm sure.

Thanks for the help, that's a real good description.

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Old 09-07-2006, 03:03 AM   #8
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If you're using refrigerant tubing, it doesn’t cut too well with a tubing cutter. Just use a dremel or fine toothed blade to cut the tubing and then dress it square. Keep your flame blue, it is hottest at the inner lighter blue tip. The solder is drawn by the heat.

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Old 09-07-2006, 04:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musthavbeer
If you're using refrigerant tubing, it doesn’t cut too well with a tubing cutter. Just use a dremel or fine toothed blade to cut the tubing and then dress it square. Keep your flame blue, it is hottest at the inner lighter blue tip. The solder is drawn by the heat.
I must take issue with that. I am an industrial refrigeration service technician by trade. In my entire career I have never used anything but an appropriately sized tubing cutter to cut any hard drawn type L, or K tubing from 1/4" to 4" OD, or any diameter soft drawn ACR tubing. You just have to make sure that there is a sharp new cutting wheel in the cutter.

John
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Old 09-07-2006, 07:09 AM   #10
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John described exactly the method I use for soldering copper, except that I prefer to use MAPP gas rather than propane. And I typically concentrate the heat only on the fitting, not on the pipe.

But, I am a self-taught DIY'er, not someone who makes a living with it. I defer to John.

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