Soldering Tips, Tricks and Tools – How to Make a Reliable Connection

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Often in my many RV mods and upgrades, I use solder instead of butt or crimp connections for my wiring jobs. I guess it’s a personal preference from having spent so much time as an electronics repair tech. Right or wrong, I trust a solder connection more.

Lately, I’ve been asked by a few fellow RVers to do a video demoing how I make a good solder connection. I guess some have tried and it didn’t turn out so well.

In this video, I give you a few of my tips and tricks for soldering wires and connections. There are four main things I feel go into a reliable solder connection.

1) Good Mechanical Connection First

Rather than just having the solder hold the parts together I like to have connection be mechanically sound on its own first. Then add the solder to it.

2) Clean, Clean, Clean

Make sure all the surfaces are as clean as possible. Soldering with a dirty tip, wire or connection surface is a recipe for a weak joint. Any oxidation on surfaces will cause the solder not to bond to the metals properly.

3)  Use a Hot Enough Soldering Iron

Too little heat is worse than too much heat. The idea is to apply the iron and do the job quickly without lingering. When a soldering iron with insufficient heat is used you end up having to keep the iron on the joint way too long. This leads to blobbing of the weld, cold solder joints and sometimes damage to the connector or wire.

4) Right Solder for the Job

I find the best solder for repairs or new connections is Kester brand #44 with a mix of lead and tin. I like the 1.2 MM size for most jobs. Don’t silver solder or plumbing solder, they aren’t meant for electronics. Lead-Free solder is but I don’t find it does as good as a job. It doesn’t flow as nice and is more brittle.

Solder tools and supplies:

Weller Solder Gun
Bernzomatic Torch
Kester 1.2 mm Solder
Fiberglass Cleaning Pen
Solder Wick
Heat Shrink Tubing
Channel Lock Wire Strippers

See More RVing Tips and Tricks in the Love Your RV! Archives

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