If you've never soldered before
then at some point in your career as a DIY "shadetree"
motorcycle mechanic career you may decide that you need to
solder some wires together. Here's how I do it.
It's actually not the "right" way to solder (more on that
later) but it does work.
What you'll need:
1-Soldering Iron: I prefer one that's at least 20
Watts. The one I use these days is a Weller TB100 that's a
30 Watt model. Cheapo ones from Harbor Freight will
burn out in a week so it's worth the $25 to get a decent
2-Solder: I use 0.032" solder from Radio Shack
because the skinny stuff heats up and melts quickly. Solder
used to be made of lead but given how nasty lead is to the
human body, ask the Romans, solder is now lead-free.
Flux helps solder flow onto and cling to metal. Radio
Shack 64-022 for example.
Shrink Tubing: To insulate and protect the
soldered connection. This can be found in varying diameters
at Radio Shack, Fry's Electronics, McMaster-Carr and a
zillion other places.
How To Solder:
Plug in your soldering iron and place it in the safety
cradle that came with it. Soldering irons take a minute or
two to heat up to their operating temperature.
Strip the ends of the two wires that you wish to solder
together. 3/4 to 1" is usually good for typical motorcycle
Put some 1" sections of heat shrink tubing on each wire. I
always double heat shrink my solders. Be sure to push it
back from where you intend to solder. Otherwise the heat
conducted by the wire when soldering will shrink it
Apply flux to the ends of the wires. I usually rub it into
the wires with my thumb and forefinger to make sure the
wires get adequately saturated with it.
Twist the two wires together.
Solder the two wires together. OK, the "right" way to
solder is to heat up the splice of the wires twisted
together and then apply solder.
However, what I've found is
effective and efficient is to make a little ball of solder
on the tip of the soldering iron and then apply that to the
twisted wires. I refer to my technique as "solder bombing"
and it's how I do all of my soldering these days.
Hold the soldering iron on the
twisted wires until the wires fully "absorb" the solder.
This usually takes only a second or two. A decent soldering
job will look something like this:
Slide the first piece of heat shrink tubing over the
soldered wires and shrink it with a heat gun or Bic lighter.
Then the second piece of heat shrink tubing. Finished:
By the way, always use stranded,
not solid, wire for motorcycle wiring as it is more
resilient to the vibrations that occur on motor vehicles.
© 2013 Drake Smith - Please do
not use or reproduce this elsewhere. Feel free to link
to it though.