An Engineer in Wonderland – My uncle, motorbikes, and lead-free solder
It was a wistful day in the home workshop yesterday when I got down to the last bit of solder on the only reel I have ever owned. I have always enjoyed making things, and this particular reel was given to me by my uncle years and years ago when I was a young teenager itching to try electronics. The last few centimetres went soldering a diode into the wiring loom of my motorbike, which is fitting because on motorbikes is how I remember my uncle. Now I have a dilemma.
Will the new reel be 40/60 tin/lead, or lead-free? The easy answer is 40/60, because: a, I can, this is not for commercial use b, I don’t have to learn the new skills necessary to get a neat joint out of the lead-free stuff. But what is actually going to happen is that I am going to go out and get myself a small reel of lead-free solder and try it out because: a, I don’t want lead poisoning to be the thing I give to the next generation. b, There doesn’t need to be a b. So this leaves me with the thorny question of which alloy, with what flux activity? And will I have to get a different temperature element for my ancient Weller soldering iron? If you have mastered good joints with lead-free hand soldering, what alloy and what temperature bit are you using. You can reply via the Comments field below. ‘Alice’