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Hints, Tips and Solutions (Do NOT post requests for help here) If you have any useful general hints and tips for vintage technology repair and restoration, please share them here. PLEASE DO NOT POST REQUESTS FOR HELP HERE!

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Old 10th Apr 2021, 8:07 am   #1
Outrun_uk
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Default Cheap Desoldering Wick

Hi all,

At work we use a considerable amount of desolder wick and now the price is 10+ a reel for the type we use. I had a stock of very cheap Duratool wick but out of the packet it was next to useless, hardly taking any solder at all.

As an experiment I ordered a 100g tin of rosin and crushed and mixed it with some isopropyl alcohol and then soaked the wick in it for half an hour then let it air dry. Results are promising, not quite as good as the expensive one but Id say its about 90% there. Has made a box of useless wick useable at least!

HTH

Kev
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Old 10th Apr 2021, 8:14 am   #2
Julesomega
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

Home-made flux! Has to be commended
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Old 10th Apr 2021, 8:19 am   #3
stevehertz
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

I use strips of coax and a small bottle of flux. I just 'coil' lengths into the bottle, carefully pull out and allow to dry.
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Old 10th Apr 2021, 9:05 am   #4
60 oldjohn
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

I get mine off the internet, sometimes lucky and get a good reel, mostly unlucky. If it is not so good I have a tin of flux from, I think Poland. I drag the wick through the flux held down with a dry hot iron, then wind it back onto the spool. Makes rubbish into excellent wick to use over the next few weeks.

John.
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Old 10th Apr 2021, 9:14 am   #5
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

The wick we get from RS or Farnell (I forget which) comes on a red-orange spool supplied in a ziplock bag and it's good at first but noticeably goes 'off' after a few weeks if I am too lazy or forgetful to keep putting it back in the ziplock bag.

Just as veroboard / stripboard goes 'stale' if left lying around unwrapped in open air, it seems solder wick does as well.
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Old 10th Apr 2021, 5:12 pm   #6
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

I think that the 'flux' used on desolder-braid has likely been reworked in the last couple of decades in order to comply with the recent slew of RoHS/REACH directives etc.

Certainly I've not been able to find any off-the-shelf desolder braid that works anywhere near as well as I remember the "Bib" branded stuff did in the 1970s.
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Old 10th Apr 2021, 8:02 pm   #7
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

I remember many years ago that the RS branded stuff on Red dispensers was no good apart from making earth straps, as it seemed they hadn't actually put any flux in that either.

Although it wasn't vacuum sealed in metal cans (but you can't re vacuum seal the tin, once you've opened it to take one of the 5 spools out), that some of the Chemtronix 'Soder Wicker' stuff is supplied in.
- Although this still seems to work well. many years later after being opened and left out.

I did have a 30m Loctite (=Multicore) reel of quite fine stuff at work that lasted me (and still worked) for many years . So should be better value per metre, than small 1.5m etc. ones. But looking in Farnell it's around 100!
(Although there are Edsyn branded 30m ones for a more reasonable approx. 30)

I often use a flux-pen (They sell two types for either leaded or lead-free solder) / bottle or appropriate flux (the clear stuff is a bit nicer than the old brown Rosin stuff) anyway, when desolderig things, - So will be some of that left on pads when cleaning the solder off these with the desolder braid I mainly use it for.
I wouldn't normally use it on joints that didn't have fresh solder or flux on them.

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Old 10th Apr 2021, 9:15 pm   #8
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

Re flux pens, I have been using a Kester 951 pen, but recently noted that, according the the fine print on the pen, it has a shelf life of 1 year @25'C. Mine is dated 2017 .

Re Veroboard/stripboard, I had not heard that they are coated with anything; I always clean them well with very fine steel wool and IPA before use, and that seems to work out ok.

As I don't use de-soldering braid very often, I find myself trying and failing to use stuff that is "old". Some effective homebrew concoction would be useful.

B
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Old 10th Apr 2021, 9:19 pm   #9
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

Quote:
Re Veroboard/stripboard, I had not heard that they are coated with anything
Indeed they are not, but the copper tends to oxidise a bit of left exposed to limitless amounts of air. If you keep new stripboard wrapped up until you need it that doesn't happen.

The same thing tends to happen to solder wick if you don't keep it in a sealed container. Unlike Veroboard, it's a bit harder to clean up just before you use it.
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Old 10th Apr 2021, 11:29 pm   #10
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bazz4CQJ View Post
Re flux pens, I have been using a Kester 951 pen, but recently noted that, according the the fine print on the pen, it has a shelf life of 1 year @25'C. Mine is dated 2017 .

Re Veroboard/stripboard, I had not heard that they are coated with anything; I always clean them well with very fine steel wool and IPA before use, and that seems to work out ok.

As I don't use de-soldering braid very often, I find myself trying and failing to use stuff that is "old". Some effective homebrew concoction would be useful.

B

Although with veroboard you can get tin-plated (and generally on green coloured board that looks more like fibreglass although does still snap to size) types, that doesn't tend to suffer from oxidation and go discoloured.

All chemicals have a shelf life - even bleach (and relatively short)
I think manufacturers are rather pessimistic on the shelf-life (maybe to get you to keep buying new ones). And it seems that in order for companies to comply with CoSHH safety regulations, they shouldn't use ones out of date, having to dispose of it via specialist collections at high cost.

It does seem that the better desoldering-braid does retain it's flux (and the copper remains shiny), even when you don't keep it sealed-up, for many years as I've rarely had to buy it.
I have seen some older tin-plated type, but never found that it worked very well (although may have been very old)
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Old 11th Apr 2021, 12:40 am   #11
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
Indeed they are not, but the copper tends to oxidise a bit of left exposed to limitless amounts of air. If you keep new stripboard wrapped up until you need it that doesn't happen.
As long as you don't put in a polythene bag, which often have a thin layer of silicone applied to surfaces during manufacture.

Use-by dates tend to be required by critical customers like the military, who will want them on paints and adhesives and pretty much anything. I'm still using Araldite that was turfed out ~25 years ago as being past its use-by date, and it may well be that it has degraded, but remains adequate for my mundane domestic uses. But clearly, some stuff does really degrade quite fast.

So with "very tired" de-soldering wick, can it be "recovered"; maybe wipe with acetone and then smear flux paste over a short length for immediate use? Which flux paste would be a worthwhile candidate?

B
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Old 11th Apr 2021, 1:22 pm   #12
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

An old tip I gained years ago was to strip out the coax sheath from mini coax ,dip it into flux and use that as de soldering braid.
On vero board, I've found that flux of any sort on the tracks tends to turn green after a while. I've found that cleaning with Meths applied with an old small paint brush taped to form a sash brush washes off the flux .
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Old 18th Apr 2021, 6:14 am   #13
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

I ran out of wick so used stripped & twisted copper cable with a bit of plumbers flux rubbed in, works fine. As I have two boxes full of offcuts of cable it should last me till i pop my paraboots.

Andy.
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Old 18th Apr 2021, 7:21 am   #14
barrymagrec
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Default Re: Cheap Desoldering Wick

I would never use plumbers flux or any other acid based flux anywhere near electronics, it`s virtually impossible to completely clean off and you will get green corrosion for ever afterwards.
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