It's all about soldering

Posted by XiKeiyaZI, Apr 23, 2012
Articles: Electrical & Wiring -

  1. XiKeiyaZI

    XiKeiyaZI Supporting Member

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    In many cases when working on the wiring of these dinosaur vehicles we know and love we will stumble across bad or failed wiring. Trust me, if you've owned a DSM for more than a few days you know that there are always bound to be issues - especially electrical. What does this mean? Well, it could mean that you've found the reason you're blowing fuses, switches aren't working, or found the source of your frustration and you're about to blow a fuse yourself and beat the bajebuhs out of your poor car.


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    "Damn cargo light won't turn on! ARRGH!"

    Now, what I've taken the time to do here is stressful, time consuming, and requires a bit of rocket science. Although it is such a tedious thing to do and tends to push me into those sweat inducing Mission Impossible moments of "Don't cut the blue wire!" I felt that the community could benefit from one of these nerve racking incidents - in photo.



    -The Basic Tools-
    • The Wiring/Misc - Whatever it is you're looking to repair, you're going to need it.

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    • A Soldering Iron - Preferably something with various heat ranges.

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    • Solder - There are various types of solder out there. Make sure you pick the correct type for your application.

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    • Flux - While this isn't required it does help the soldering process as it tends to attract solder into the gaps it normally wouldn't fill. This is also good stuff for de-soldering.

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    • Wire Strippers - Not something cheap you pick up off the corner. Get a good pair and reduce your regret/frustration a few days down the road.


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    You knew this was coming.

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    Note : As there have been a few questions, I will touch on them before we get to the meat of this article.


    &#8226; Tinning - While I only practice this when soldering for extended amounts of time for things heavier than your basic gauge wiring it is a good thing to know about and take up as it can and will help your solder look better and hold stronger. Tinning improves conductivity and makes soldering easier, as well as quicker, which is a good thing.
    Some electronic components are sensitive to heat, and the quicker you can solder them, the less likely they are to be heat damaged. Some people Tin the wires themselves, however, I Tin the tip of the soldering iron itself. Simply allow your soldering iron to heat up and then take your solder wire and lightly drag it around the tip of the iron. The solder will melt and remain melted, however, it will coat the tip of the iron.

    &#8226; Soldering - People make a mistake of putting their iron on the wire and then touching the iron itself with the solder to create the joint on the wire. This is incorrect as you can quickly heat the entire wire up and ruin the integrity of the sheathing/insulation on the wire. As instructed below, you touch whatever you are soldering with the solder and use the iron to heat the solder up. So - Wire + Solder + Iron to Solder = A good solder practice.

    I have done this for an accumulative for 12 years and can say that after such a nice long and enjoyable experience of soldering everything from PCB boards, removing resistors, and things as sensitive as industrial Machining equipment - I have yet to have a joint fail due to a poor soldering job.


    -=Down to Business=-


    1 : We begin with the wiring. For some reason I decided to solder a green wire with a blue wire. We're already getting dangerous here.

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    2 : Strip the wire ends free, leaving enough to create a mechanical bond which we'll cover below. Once you've done this, dip both ends in the flux. The Flux is gelatinous so it's not going to run/spill.

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    3 : Take both wires and twist them together lightly to make a mechanical bond. This increases the strength of the joint. Some people practice just holding the wires against one another and soldering them, counting on the solder to keep them secure. I vote against this 100% of the time. If you can make a mechanical bond, make it.

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    4 : Get the wire secured and mounted in a position where you are not fumbling with it. I had a spare ECU back-plate that I used for this - it's convenient. Hold the solder to the wire and then touch it with the tip of your iron. Let the iron touch the wire as it will cause the wire to warm up as well as the Flux. The Flux will expand into a liquid state, pulling the Solder into the wiring. If you add too much solder (glob) you can use your soldering iron to move the soldering around and smooth it out. Be sure to not leave the iron on the wire for too long as it can heat up the insulation and degrade it's integrity.

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    5 : The solder will quickly cool enough to solidify. You will be left with a nice solid bond. Be sure that you coat the joint 360* around for maximum strength.



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    This one turned out a little on the uglier side, but still very strong.




    6 : Make sure to shrink wrap the connection to keep it safe. You can then utilize the joint for whatever you need - be it that you were reconnecting a broken wire on a plug or extending an existing line to give you more length.



    7 : Test your connection - You can do this by rolling it over in your fingers, lightly tugging on it, or checking for any sort of faulty soldering in the joint.


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    Yup, I soldered the two wires I just soldered together to the ECU, clamped a pair of Vice Grips on the bottom, and held it out. She's sturdy.


    And that's really all there is to it. Just be sure to do this with good, clean wire, protect it with shrink wrap, and don't get in a rush. When you get in a rush you make more mistakes.


    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2014
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