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Old December 24th, 2007, 10:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Pot ground soldering secret

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

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Old December 24th, 2007, 10:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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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.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 10:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fphh View Post
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.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 10:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by aznrambo481 View Post
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.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 10:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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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?
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Old December 24th, 2007, 10:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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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.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 11:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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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.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 11:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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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.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 11:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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...and ensure you "tin" the contact surface on the pot before actually attempting to attach anything with solder...
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Old December 24th, 2007, 11:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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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.
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Old December 25th, 2007, 12:40 AM   #11 (permalink)
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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, $80. After 47years of living I've finally decided that you get what you pay for. While your at it get a Chisel Tip.

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.
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Old December 25th, 2007, 12:49 AM   #12 (permalink)
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opps, doubled entry.
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Old December 25th, 2007, 03:29 PM   #13 (permalink)
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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.
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Old December 25th, 2007, 10:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
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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.
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Old December 25th, 2007, 10:31 PM   #15 (permalink)
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+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.
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Old December 26th, 2007, 12:01 AM   #16 (permalink)
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+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.
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Old December 26th, 2007, 12:02 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Good advice. Scuffing, flux, and heat.

Thanks, folks! I got it! Happy Holidays!

fphh
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Old December 27th, 2007, 09:20 AM   #18 (permalink)
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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.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 09:49 AM   #19 (permalink)
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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.

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Old December 27th, 2007, 10:49 AM   #20 (permalink)
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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.
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