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Old 10th Apr 2024, 12:27 am   #1
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Default Vintage solder reel question

I happened to go to a local(ish) village car boot sale the other week, and just at the point that I thought I was going to go home with absolutely nothing, I spotted a large reel of solder among a huge pile of tools and other bits and pieces spread out on a large sheet on the ground. I suspect that the seller perhaps thought it was a roll of old garden wire when I asked him the price and he said a couple of quid. I've weighed the reel and it weighs 2.61Kg, but seeing as it looks like an amount has been used from the reel, I suspect that the actual original weight could well be an imperial weight.

I've looked for details of this solder on the internet and not come up with anything. I've also looked in an old RS catalogue from 1979 and it could possibly be similar to a 2.5Kg reel that they sold at the time and I've shown in the last picture below. I've measured the thickness of the solder wire and it comes in at around 1.2mm, but it could be 18 SWG. It looks like large reels of solder like this aren't available as a general order these days.

There's a date of 1966 below the coat of arms shown on the reel label. It's unfortunate that the label that would have been on the other end of the reel and would have probably shown the solder data, is long gone!

I've shown the large reel against a much newer RS 500g solder reel. This smaller reel is one that I've been trying to use up, as it's a two core solder on which it states it has very low residue flux, and although it's ok for many jobs, I find that it's just not as nice to use as some of my other good five core solder and sometimes I have to add some additional flux for some difficult applications. I can't remember where that particular reel of solder came from and I certainly didn't buy it, but now that I've come by this latest reel of solder, then perhaps this two core low residue solder has a particular use and I should now save what's left of it and put it to one side for 'special' use - it's also 'savbit', so it's got a bit of added copper.

I've just been using the solder from this large, old reel of solder and it's honestly the nicest solder that I've used and is very much like some older solder that I bought years ago and still have an amount left. The bottom line is that I don't think I'll probably ever need to buy solder again, as I think that there's more than a lifetimes supply on that reel.

It would be interesting to know the data for that reel of solder and how old it is and whether the original weight would have been imperial or metric - perhaps someone's got an old catalogue showing it?
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Last edited by Techman; 10th Apr 2024 at 12:56 am. Reason: SP
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Old 10th Apr 2024, 6:12 am   #2
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

Looks like it was a 7lb reel, probably 60 / 40 tin / lead with proper old style flux.
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Old 10th Apr 2024, 7:29 am   #3
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

Nice find and you'll probably use it all. It's amazing how much is wasted when wiping the tip. I cleaned out my "wipe" tin a while back, it has about 5 ounces of solder flakes in it.

Curiosity hasn't killed this far.
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Old 10th Apr 2024, 10:02 am   #4
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

There was an interesting and comprehensive thread back in Feb 2020 created by Alan ('ajgriff') about Ersin Multicore, but the thread is 'hiding in plain sight' as the title was 'Leaded Solder Made in China'.

I think the name 'Ersin' was simply an anagram of resin.

The thread ran to 52 posts, and I think the most relevant ones to 'Ersin Muliticore' are posts 10, 15, 19, and 22 which have pictures and attachments about the history of the company and the process of manufacture. That Ersin Multicore PDF at post #22 of the thread is worth a read.

I'd always assumed that the solder, as with wires, would start out a larger diameter then would be drawn through dies to the required diameter, the most common of which has tended to be 18swg (1.219mm/0.048", 48 thou). In fact it starts out at 16mm, just over 1/2". Given that the flux melts with heat, it's intriguing as to how how they get five neat cores into the solder if it's a hot process. (And the cores are neat, if view through a microscope).

This link tells of the history of the solder during WW2:

As an aside, the 'Coat of Arms' and '1966' that Alan referred to in post #1 was the first year of the Queen's Award for Industry. The scheme was established by a royal warrant of 30 November 1965, and awards are given for outstanding achievement by UK businesses in the categories of innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promoting opportunity through social mobility.


The scheme evolved over the years and became the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, now the King’s Award for Enterprise, with broadly the same objectives, given only to companies or individuals who are outstanding in their field. Back in 1996, ‘Industry' would have tended to mean ‘manufacturing’ whereas nowadays, the remit is much broader and could encompass commerce, IT, medical or other scientific research.

The Award lasts for five years.

In 2023, the first King’s Awards for Enterprise, 148 awards were made for outstanding achievement in:

• Innovation (47)
• International trade (78)
• Sustainable development (15)
• Promoting opportunity (through social mobility) (9)

This year's awards will be announced on 21st April 2024.

Hope that's of interest.
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Old 10th Apr 2024, 7:39 pm   #5
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

Back in the '80s. I was buying ex-rental Grundig CTVs. Those of you familiar with those (thyristor ) sets will know they were prone to dry joints.
I used to do a(n) (almost) blanket resolder job. I quickly got to know which ones to deal with. I would apply solder, then take it off with my Weller gun, and throw it off into a wide mouthed cardboard box. Next I would scrape the known very bad leads, then solder properly. I used up 500g reels quickly, so next time I ran out, I bought a 2.5Kg reel, and wound about three old 500g reels from the big one for easy use. I used the Savbit type solder, but still got through the gun's bits quickly.
But I had a good markup when I sold the sets.
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Old 10th Apr 2024, 7:48 pm   #6
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

A bargain - excellent old school solder ideal for vintage work. Obviously you should try to avoid breathing in the fumes.
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Old 11th Apr 2024, 6:52 am   #7
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

What a bargain! Multicore certainly sold 7lb reels for ‘factory use’ during the 1950s & 60s as illustrated by the attached trade fair adverts dated 1955 and 1960 respectively. However by the late 1960s weights became metric so Techman’s reel could originally have been 7lb or 3kg (18swg). I still have the remains of a 500g 20swg reel purchased circa 1970 which was manufactured at Multicore’s Malaysian factory.

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Old 11th Apr 2024, 10:07 am   #8
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

Yes, 7lb seems most likely for that reel, and a fortunate sighting indeed. I had similar luck years ago with this reel, I think it was £2 or thereabouts on a flea market stall: Malaysian production and I suspect it's still all there, the end is taped down with what may well be the original tape and I've continued to use what's left of a 500g reel of different origin that I'd already started. I was surprised to see that this one, though Multicore, is single core.

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Old 11th Apr 2024, 9:07 pm   #9
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

Here's a Multicore ad from 1943 with info about the contemporary types of reduced tin content solder that normally had to be used to comply with wartime raw material restrictions..
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Old 12th Apr 2024, 12:21 pm   #10
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

Many thanks for all the interesting input.

Yes, those that suggested that it's a 7lb reel, I think you're definitely correct.

Andy - that's great news that I'll live long enough to use it all...I'll definitely go with that one! You're certainly right about the wasted solder that continuously gets wiped off the bit.

I'd forgotten about that other thread that David posted the link to, although it was in the back of my mind that something like this had been discussed before and I remembered it once I'd read through it, as said, hiding in plain sight! One thing that I'd forgotten about that thread was that there were at least a couple of members that said that they replenished their tin/lead solder stocks from car boot sales, so it's quite strange in a way that reels of solder turn up at such events.

The full story is that I'd got to the sale just before they opened the gates for the general public at 7:30am and walked round all the stalls, and there were a lot there. I'd walked past the stall with all the tools and ravel on the ground and noticed one of those Mole grips with the special jaws for gripping sheet metal when welding. I've got various mole grips and other clamps, but don't actually have a set of those particular grips. I thought that if there were any welders there that it was likely that they already had these type of grips and probably wouldn't want to bother with a used and scorched set, so decided to keep on walking and come back to the stall later and if they were still there then buy them if they were cheap enough - I didn't spot the reel of solder at that time.

Having walked around the whole site and seen nothing else of particular interest, I came back to the stall with the 'grips' and on asking the price they were as I expected (and was hoping) just a couple of quid, so I bought them. It was then that I had a proper look at everything else he had on offer and spotted the reel of solder. Having bought the solder I bought another couple of small items for 50p each, so spent a fiver in total with the chap. He'd certainly priced his stuff to sell and it makes you wonder the story behind it all. The likely story would probably be that it was something like the contents of a deceased relatives workshop that just had to be cleared out quickly, as I think a 'clearance dealer' would be more aware of the stock he'd got - I'd asked about one or two other bits that he'd got and he didn't seem to know much about them like a genuine clearance dealer would have done, so I think I was just very lucky with that solder - it's certainly now come to a good home and will be put to good use over the next few years, just what I needed.

When I went to see a chap that I sometimes get bits and pieces from the other day (the same chap that I picked up the Nixie type frequency counter from being discussed in another concurrent thread at the moment), I was telling him about the solder as I know that he also uses solder on large reels that he's had from the year dot and that I've seen when I've been round there in the past. He showed me one of the reels that he's using at the moment and it's a 5lb reel and he says he has another one the same (which I think I've seen before). He got them years ago when the place where he worked at the time closed down for good and the whole site was to be cleared for major redevelopment and he was able to buy cheap and was even given lots of stuff by the then boss before the place was demolished and the area cleared. I took several pictures of the reel he was using - ignore the lightening patterns in the background, the reel was stood on his kitchen chopping board, as he tends to do a lot of his soldering work on his the kitchen work top.
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Old 12th Apr 2024, 9:53 pm   #11
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

Also I think that a lot of leaded solder of more recent manufacture came onto the market very cheaply when the regulations regarding lead-free solder came in and lots of SME-type outfits just wanted rid of unused stock sharpish to avoid unintended batch contamination through workers unwittingly picking up the wrong reel. I certainly picked up a few part-used reels for pin-money in various places.
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Old 22nd Apr 2024, 9:53 am   #12
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Default Re: Vintage solder reel question

I buy old USSR made solder.
You can even get great big skeans of it in some Baltic states electronics shops today.

There is nothing remotely close on the market today that works...especially that awful PRC stuff.
I remember Ersin multicore well - pretty much the same stuff/quality as USSR made.
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