An Engineer in Wonderland – Soldering aluminium, triumph and tragedy

Apart from school, and two weeks at college on a course, I have no idea how to use a lathe.

easy-weld.jpgApart from school, and two weeks at college on a course, I have no idea how to use a lathe.

But over Christmas I found a few days to lock myself away with a small one and gradually made a pile of parts for my Mark V bike light.

I suspect the tolerances I achieved would make a toolmaker giggle, but I was proud that the bits fitted together at all.

This weekend I attempted to solder them together using special aluminium solder from Durafix.

To see what an expert can do, take a look at the videos on the site.

I have used it once before and, then, it worked really rather well.

However, that time I had a welder looking over my shoulder.

This time, on attempt one I could not get enough heat to make the EasyWeld flow.

So I borrowed a bigger blowlamp.

The welding material ran freely, all seemed to be going well, then the whole assembly began to collapsed like chocolate in front of a fire.

Oh well……

I am sure it will not take quite so long to make the parts again….


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  1. Thank you wise correspondents.
    Steve – I will indeed practice on the melted one before I try again on nice new parts.
    And the soap thing Peter – I had not thought of that for soldering.
    I have used it to judge temperature when annealing aluminium, but failed to put two and two together and think of it for soldering.
    I looked at the lathe last night, but could not face first step of the second journey of a thousand miles.

  2. Dear Alice,
    My Dad told me a trick to tell when the aluminium was hot enough to weld without it totally melting into a gloop. You rub some hand soap onto the metal near where you want to weld/solder it. Then as soon as the soap goes black, you know it is then hot enough and must immediately apply the welding material.
    You may have to find some Sunlight soap though, this advice was offered to me some 50 years ago!
    Good Luck

  3. Sorry to hear about the damaged light, but the video really does make it look easy! Maybe it would be good to buy some alumin(i)um stock and practice for a while? Possibly just practice warming the aluminium with the blowtorch and find out when it begins to go soft.
    best regards,
    Peoria, IL

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