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Solid Soldering

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  • Build: Natasha
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J. Sinclair/CONCEPIA LLC J. Sinclair/CONCEPIA LLC Much much tidier than before.

There is something quite beautiful about a perfectly soldered joint. I think it is the semi-magical flow of solder into the strands of wire when it reaches that critical temperature (60/40 Tin/lead (Sn/Pb) the most commonly used solder for electrical work melts at 370 °F or 188 °C). Or perhaps it's just the process of stripping away the old wire; the aging and yellowing plastic connectors; the excess wire no longer needed due to efficient rerouting of cables... then replacing them with nicely made connections, double wrapped in heat shrink tubing. Either way, I spent a solid three hours on Natasha's wiring loom last night and am quite pleased with the results so far.

If you Google 'soldering' or visit YouTube, you will come to realize there are many ways to solder wire. I can't say my method is the best, but I am happy with the level of detail that goes into each joint, and am sure nothing will go wrong with these joints for a loooonnggg time.

Here are my steps:

1. Cut wire to desired length;

2. Trim 3/8" of the insulation off both ends;

3. Slide a 1/2" piece of heat shrink tubing over one wire;

4. Slide a 1" - 1 1/4" piece of heat shrink tubing over the other wire;

5. Press the two wires together so that the strands of wire 'interlock' with each other;

6. Take a single strand of higher gauge wire and wrap this around the ends to keep the strands tight together;

7. Apply heat to one side of the joint with freshly tinned soldering iron;

8. When hot enough press 60/40 solder to other side of joint;

9. Melt a sufficient amount of solder to completely cover wires;

10. Allow to cool, then slide smallest heat shrink tubing over joint and shrink;

11. Slide largest heat shrink tubing over smaller and shrink;

12. Admire your work!

Note: When working in really tight spaces or with short lengths of wire pay close attention to the heat shrink tubing while soldering: they can start to shrink early if you heat the wires for too long.

So what did I actually do today? Tested the gear indicator wiring and identified the neutral gear wire; spliced in the new speedo/tachometer wiring loom; figured out power to speedo/tachometer; looped gas tank signal to spare power line (0 Ohms means Full) so that it always shows a full tank and stops flashing empty; tested and installed the new turn signal relay (this required the connections to be flipped around); made a new cable to run a different route from the positive terminal of battery to starter solenoid; eliminated plastic connections on alternator and regulator/rectifier wiring, and shortened and rerouted those lines; rewrapped some of those wires with new insulation tape.

Current hours on build: 126.0 

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The Four Fifty

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Friday Harbor, WA 98250

United States

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