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Pot ground soldering secret

fphh
December 24th, 2007, 10:24 PM
Hi,

Color me frustrated. I'm trying to rewire my Tele and I can't get the ground wires/solder to stick to the bottom of the pot. Will someone let loose with the secret? Do I need to scuff up the bottom?

fphh

aznrambo481
December 24th, 2007, 10:35 PM
For me... it worked when I turned my soldering iron up hotter, and heaved up the pot a good amount before laying the solder on. The way I see it, the large metal back of the pot acts as a sink and cools the solder before it can spread out (please correct me if I am completely wrong). But more heat should work, I think.

boneyguy
December 24th, 2007, 10:35 PM
Hi,

Color me frustrated. I'm trying to rewire my Tele and I can't get the ground wires/solder to stick to the bottom of the pot. Will someone let loose with the secret? Do I need to scuff up the bottom?

fphh

Yup. Just scuff it up with some sandpaper or something. You just need to get past that surface coating stuff.

boneyguy
December 24th, 2007, 10:37 PM
For me... it worked when I turned my soldering iron up hotter, and heaved up the pot a good amount before laying the solder on. The way I see it, the large metal back of the pot acts as a sink and cools the solder before it can spread out (please correct me if I am completely wrong). But more heat should work, I think.

Too much heat can fry the inner workings. Much better to scuff the back of the pot for soldering.

GDStone
December 24th, 2007, 10:42 PM
I used a pair of military grade pots on my tele and no matter what I tried ( did not scuff them), the solder did not stick.

Will the sandpaper scuffing work on any pot?

boneyguy
December 24th, 2007, 10:49 PM
I used a pair of military grade pots on my tele and no matter what I tried ( did not scuff them), the solder did not stick.

Will the sandpaper scuffing work on any pot?

I don't know for sure. I've never used 'military grade' pots before but it's always worked on 'musician grade' pots.

It would seem unlikely to me that a pot design would use a metal that would not take solder. But then again I'm no expert.

charlie chitlin
December 24th, 2007, 11:06 PM
I wouldn't be surprised if pots are made of steel (which will not take solder) and plated with zinc or cadmium, or something (which will).
If this is the case, it would be easy to sand through the soft plating.
I suppose they could be tin, which takes solder.
I've never scuffed them and had no problem.
You need a nice hot 40 watt gun to heat a pot.
I, actually, do everything with a 40 watt gun, but it takes practice to control the high heat.
The only other drawback is waiting for it to heat up when you pull the trigger; but if you use it for several joints, it stays pretty hot, so heat-up time is short.

dtube
December 24th, 2007, 11:09 PM
The problem is not how hot the iron is; rather its in the surface area of the point of transfer. If you have a chisel tip for your iron, put that on and try again. If you only have a pencil tip, get a blob of solder on the tip and try to lay the side of the tip horizontally across the back of the pot as opposed to touching it vertically with the tip. Also, make sure you are keeping your tip clean by frequently wiping it off in a wet sponge and re-tinning. A fouled tip will have pores and fissures on it that will make heat transfer more difficult (less usuable surface area).
-Darren.

Gibson
December 24th, 2007, 11:15 PM
...and ensure you "tin" the contact surface on the pot before actually attempting to attach anything with solder...

aznrambo481
December 24th, 2007, 11:17 PM
Too much heat can fry the inner workings. Much better to scuff the back of the pot for soldering.

hmm... never hurt a pot doing it, but maybe I've been lucky? I will try scuffing it up next time.

BottyGuy
December 25th, 2007, 12:40 AM
Here is how to solder to pots or other large heat sinks:

1) scuff the surface with sandpaper to eliminate any near surface treatment and increase the local surface area with small grooves.

2) add flux to the surface; I like the Kester 951 No Clean Flux-Pen™, one pen will last you a long time if you keep the top on, and it is much cleaner than other fluxes. Flux will further clean the surface and allow the solder to flow easier.

3) use a chisel tip on a good iron. Small irons and tips sometimes can't replace the heat that gets sucked away by all that metal. Here I'm going to recommend a very good bench iron with a replaceable tip. You can use others I'd suggest a 40W or hotter iron, but the best middle cost soldering iron I've found is the Hakko 936 (http://www.all-spec.com/1/viewitem/936-12/ALLSPEC/prodinfo/w3path=cat?s=GAWA&kw=Hakko+936&gclid=CMPFxLPPwpACFQQjPAodAWZwXA), $80. After 47years of living I've finally decided that you get what you pay for. While your at it get a Chisel Tip. (http://www.all-spec.com/1/viewitem/900MT3.2D/ALLSPEC/prodinfo/w3path=cat)

4) Pre-Tin your lead wires if they aren't already, you don't want to spend time getting solder into the lead wires when you finally get a pool of solder on the pot.

5) Place the iron on the spot you want to heat and hold it there a while before trying the solder. melt the solder on the pot next to the tip, don't melt it on the tip and hope for it to stick to the pot you need the pot hot enough to melt the solder in order for it to attach. Get a pool of solder going on the pot, and then stick your leads in the pool and hold them against your iron until the solder wicks into/arounds the leads.

6) Hold the lead wires down on the pot for a good long time after removing the iron, remember you just got the back of the pot hot enough to melt the solder, it will stay hot for a while.

BottyGuy
December 25th, 2007, 12:49 AM
opps, doubled entry.

boneyguy
December 25th, 2007, 03:29 PM
hmm... never hurt a pot doing it, but maybe I've been lucky? I will try scuffing it up next time.

I should elaborate that I've never had it happen to me (frying a pot from over heating) but I have been warned by others of the possibility. Maybe it takes more heat than would be typically used and maybe it's an urban myth. Does seem possible though.

6x47
December 25th, 2007, 10:10 PM
Since I started using a dab of flux on the pot I find the solder transfering from my 20 watt iron before I even get the solder close.

The flux makes for a quick soldering with little duration.

Newfie_J.
December 25th, 2007, 10:31 PM
+1 on the soldering flux. Saved me alot of aggravation when I finaly figured that one out.
I went a long time not using it because i was once told that flux will eventualy corrode the wires.
Maybe..... but if Fender used it, so can I. I guess the key is moderation.

If you look at guitar guts you can tell where flux was used by the brown spots around the solder in certain places like the back of pots.
Everyones suggestions will help. Good luck.

charlie chitlin
December 26th, 2007, 12:01 AM
+1 on the soldering flux. Saved me alot of aggravation when I finaly figured that one out.
I went a long time not using it because i was once told that flux will eventualy corrode the wires.
Maybe..... but if Fender used it, so can I. I guess the key is moderation.

If you look at guitar guts you can tell where flux was used by the brown spots around the solder in certain places like the back of pots.
Everyones suggestions will help. Good luck.

I've read this about flux, too.
My oldest solders are about 14 years old on a motorcycle, so they've been in wet weather and a damp garage, etc. with no signs of corrosion.
I wonder how long "eventually" is, and if carbon14 is involved.

fphh
December 26th, 2007, 12:02 AM
Good advice. Scuffing, flux, and heat.

Thanks, folks! I got it! Happy Holidays!

fphh

larrya
December 27th, 2007, 09:20 AM
Flux helps a lot. For me the easiest method is to first put a glob of solder on the pot, tin the wires, reheat the glob and insert the wires. Just make sure you reheat the solder enough to get a good connection.

rand z
December 27th, 2007, 09:49 AM
i take the edge of a file and scruff the back of the pot with a couple of strokes, which, unlike sandpaper, doesnt take all of the surface "whatevers" away. then a small glob of solder, tin the wires, and make the connection.

works pretty good.

rand z tropicalsoul.net

red57strat
December 27th, 2007, 10:49 AM
Tinning is real important You should never attempt to solder two items together that haven't been tinned first.

The right iron is important too. 30+ watts with a 1/8" chisel tip is good. I use a Weller WES51 station.

Make sure that you keep the iron's tip clean and tinned. A tip that's not clean and tinned is relatively cold.

Here's a tip- before you shut the iron off, coat the tip with a blob of solder. The tip will last a real long time that way.

I've soldered electronics for 30 years and have never used flux (besides what's in the solder). In fact, I don't even own any. It's not bad to use it though.

Scuffing the back of the pot as suggested in many of the posts above is a good idea too, however...

The easiest way that I've found to get solder to stick to pots is to use CTS pots. They don't have a coating on them (like Alpha pots and others) that solder doesn't stick too. They might even be tinned.

Jack Wells
December 27th, 2007, 11:10 AM
I think BottyGuy's instructions are excellent. I agree with everything except spending $80 on a soldering iron. You can get a perfectly suitable iron for a lot less.

BrianF
December 27th, 2007, 11:35 AM
If you are going to be doing a reasonable amount of soldering that you want done right, besides having good technique you need a good iron. The 'pencils' that you buy in Radio Shack are junk and will cause you more frustration than satisfaction. Get a Weller soldering (or similar quality) with adjustbale heat/power, and differnt size and shape tips, to do the job correctly.

Here's the one I have and can do anything from tiny solder jobs in stomp box effects boards to soldering guitar amp chassis grounds...
http://www.wassco.com/elsolstatwes.html
http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/was_1981_37829318

BrianD
December 27th, 2007, 01:24 PM
Flux is a must for proper soldering. Sure you can get solder to flow and harden without it, so it looks like a decent solder job to the untrained eye, and "works" on the no strain connections to pots etc., but it won't bond like it should. In layman's terms, think of it as using tape instead of glue. Scraping the pot's case is a good idea, flux keeps that fresh surface from oxidizing, which starts immediately, and that micro-layer of oxidation can/will prevent a good bond. After the solder joint has cooled (hardened) use a little denatured alcohol with a brush or Q-tip to remove the excess, it is corrosive over time, plus being sticky and nasty looking. Put flux where you want the solder to go! You can demonstrate how much difference flux makes to yourself; just watch how much more the flowing solder zeros-in on where the drop of flux is compared to bare wire/metal that next to it. You should wind-up with a nice shiny joint. "The bigger the blob the better the job" is the sarcastic way of saying not to glob on solder i.e. when you tin wires, you should still be able to make out where the strands are; excess solder is just prone to cracking and does nothing to make a better connection. An ex-Air Force solderer's advise :)

BottyGuy
December 27th, 2007, 02:00 PM
I think BottyGuy's instructions are excellent. I agree with everything except spending $80 on a soldering iron. You can get a perfectly suitable iron for a lot less.

I will agree with you on this, I recommended that iron because it is the best one I've had over the last 27 years. Great tips, good heat controls. Its also less expensive than the comparable Weller (~$125 for the WES51). I hear the latest Wellers are pretty good, but I had too many problems with Wellers in the 80s that I won't go back.

If your only soldering a guitar once a year go for a Weller SP23(25W) or SP40(40W) ~$20. If your thinking about something like a WP25 (25W-$35) or WP35(35W-$40) and want a stand too ($20) your better off with the Hakko 936 which includes a stand and has temperature control. The temp control is nice if you need to do some replacement of parts in a PCB amp, or other bit of electronics.

BroadMaster
December 27th, 2007, 02:37 PM
Hi,

Color me frustrated. I'm trying to rewire my Tele and I can't get the ground wires/solder to stick to the bottom of the pot. Will someone let loose with the secret? Do I need to scuff up the bottom?

fphh

You may want to order our own, MR TERRY DOWNS, soldering techniques DVD. It is a plethora of knowledge regarding soldering.:wink: :wink:

Nick88
December 28th, 2007, 06:20 PM
I'm currently wiring my telecaster and i dont know how to wire the output jack :sad:

Do i solder the ground wire to the 'inside' part of the jack, or to the 'outside' part of the jack. I've been looking at pictures of wiring and can't tell.

Thanks in advance for any help :smile:

0le FUZZY
December 28th, 2007, 06:57 PM
...I haff alwayz uzed a very hi watt gun fer pots. Even as hi as 350 watts!!

...None body else here duz but I haff never ruint a pot by sandin of file a spot onna back and puttin a big glob of solder on with hi heat and then with my Ungar jes meltin it enuff tew solder the wires tew witt.

...The jack should be soldered sew that the hot (white?) wire goes tew the tab that is hooked tew the tip makin contact with the end or tip of the plug. The ground (black?) goes tew the inside of the jack makin contact with the shank of the plug.


http://pulsarco.com/~fuzzy/wirejack.jpg




http://personalweb.sunset.net/barron/sig.gif

I'm still urglee but still luv the TELECASTER (MySpace)

(http://profile.myspace.com/291069718)
Please visit my page (http://personalweb.sunset.net/barron/)

JohnnyCrash
December 28th, 2007, 07:15 PM
I have fried several pots with overheating before I really knew how to work an iron.

Tinning the wires, scuffing the pot casing, and heating the pot just enough for things to flow is all good advice... just learn to heat only as much as you need. Larger chisel tips are better.

red57strat
December 28th, 2007, 11:44 PM
Its also less expensive than the comparable Weller (~$125 for the WES51).


You can pick up a Weller WES51 for about $90 these days. I paid $70 for mine after a rebate.

fivenote
December 29th, 2007, 11:46 AM
I just wired a tele last night and had no trouble getting a good solder connection on the back of the pots (regular Fender 250K).

I have 2 cheap Radio Shack soldering irons - a 30 watt and a 40 watt. The 30 does not get hot enough. The 40 watt worked great. I laid the tip flat to get max contact with the pot and it was ready for solder in about 5 seconds.

A great tip that improved my soldering is to use alligator clips as heat sinks to protect wires, caps, etc... Connect the clip to the lead between the end getting soldered and the body of the part you don't want to overheat. The clip takes the heat so your part doesn't. They also keep things in place while your hands are full of irons and solder.

robrohdeszudy
December 29th, 2007, 02:03 PM
I have often wondered if the people who fry pots and such are the ones trying to do it with tiny irons and holding them there forever. This provides lots of time for heat to migrate to sensitive parts. However, LOTS of heat for a SHORT time will tend to heat only the part you want heated. By the time it starts to migrate, you're done.

In that vein, I have a confession. For solding grounds to chassis and pots, I have sometimes used a butane hand torch for tinning. It tins the surface FAST and I've never ruined anything. But it's not for the faint of heart, and you'd best be careful where you point it.

(OK, flame away.)

--Rob

rshpeley
January 3rd, 2008, 06:53 PM
Just a word of caution here about some newer CTS pots I've found. These have a plastic (probably nylon) piece that's coated with grease and rides against the back of the pot to keep the shaft in place (instead of a c washer at the top of the shaft thread).

I wouldn't even recommend soldering the backs of these types of pots for two reasons... 1) you can melt the plastic and warp it, and 2) you'll end up with melted grease inside the pot. Best to use a ground lug lock washer instead.

Brendan
January 3rd, 2008, 10:05 PM
I'm terrible at soldering pots and I've mucked up a few pots in my time. Nowadays I remove the pot casing, solder on the wires with a big gun, then reassemble the pot. I guess I should order Terry's video.

Scott V
January 3rd, 2008, 10:53 PM
If you are going to be doing a reasonable amount of soldering that you want done right, besides having good technique you need a good iron. The 'pencils' that you buy in Radio Shack are junk and will cause you more frustration than satisfaction. Get a Weller soldering (or similar quality) with adjustbale heat/power, and differnt size and shape tips, to do the job correctly.

Here's the one I have and can do anything from tiny solder jobs in stomp box effects boards to soldering guitar amp chassis grounds...
http://www.wassco.com/elsolstatwes.html
http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/was_1981_37829318

Amen, I used to have a lot of problems getting a good solder on a pot, that problem went away when I bought my Weller WES51 iron. There's probably many good irons to choose from, but it sure helps to have something that can generate the heat quickly.

monfoodoo
January 5th, 2008, 01:30 PM
Two great products to use is Silver solder and "STAY-CLEAN" liquid flux.As a maker of tattoo needle setups it is a superb soldering combo and you will get zero corrsion and no mess.

lostpick
January 5th, 2008, 01:52 PM
Scuff n' flux
scuff til ya see the base metal
then flux, not too much, dont make a mess
this allows you to QUICKLY solder
without roasting the pot...
that solder will rapidly suck itself on like a hungry leech...
I dont like subjecting electrical components
to more heat then absolutely necessary to
get the job done...

MartineckArt
January 26th, 2008, 02:14 PM
Figured I'd continue on this thread instead of starting a new one.
I have a pot that has been rewired a few times and have a pretty good blob of solder on it. Would the connection be just as good if I just connect a wire and add more solder to it or is there a way to "clean off" old solder. The solder is kinda smeared around and there isn't enough to grab the wire very well.
Thanks

6x47
January 26th, 2008, 10:02 PM
Figured I'd continue on this thread instead of starting a new one.
I have a pot that has been rewired a few times and have a pretty good blob of solder on it. Would the connection be just as good if I just connect a wire and add more solder to it or is there a way to "clean off" old solder. The solder is kinda smeared around and there isn't enough to grab the wire very well.
Thanks

Tin your wire, place the wire on the blob and apply the iron, and solder if necessary. You don't need a huge blob for a joint, less is usuallly better.

Iron should be hot before trying to do this.

bri
January 26th, 2008, 10:19 PM
I got so frustrated once I got my wife to come down my shop and hold the wires down with a small wooden stick (I believe it was a chopstick) Once the wires were secure, I was able to use electronic grade solder and a 40 watt iron and Bingo! a good connection without scruffing or anything. Allowing wives into the inner sanctums of our guitar workshops is generally NOT recommended, so be careful about this tip.
Brian

joepopp
January 27th, 2008, 11:45 AM
Hey everyone! My first post here!

When soldering getting a good hot iron. It's better to "get in and get out" with higher heat as you are not as likely to damage components.

Someone mentioned Military Spec pots (Like the PEC brand). Most all of these have stainless steel cases and you can not solder to them!

My amp building and other madness (http://www.joepopp.net)

skyboltone
January 27th, 2008, 11:09 PM
If you are going to be doing a reasonable amount of soldering that you want done right, besides having good technique you need a good iron. The 'pencils' that you buy in Radio Shack are junk and will cause you more frustration than satisfaction. Get a Weller soldering (or similar quality) with adjustbale heat/power, and differnt size and shape tips, to do the job correctly.

Here's the one I have and can do anything from tiny solder jobs in stomp box effects boards to soldering guitar amp chassis grounds...
http://www.wassco.com/elsolstatwes.html
http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/was_1981_37829318 Ebay used. About half price.

skyboltone
January 27th, 2008, 11:14 PM
Hey everyone! My first post here!

When soldering getting a good hot iron. It's better to "get in and get out" with higher heat as you are not as likely to damage components.

Someone mentioned Military Spec pots (Like the PEC brand). Most all of these have stainless steel cases and you can not solder to them!

My amp building and other madness (http://www.joepopp.net)
You can't solder clarostats either. Aluminum. They make a lug that goes between the pot and the chassis and sticks all the way around to the back of the pot. I've not bought any yet but need to on one of my amp builds.