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Old 2nd Feb 2020, 12:39 pm   #1
ajgriff
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Default Leaded Solder Made in China

For a while I’d been thinking about buying in an additional stock of leaded solder. I still have a small supply of good quality Multicore (Ersin) but may not have enough to see me out. With the tightening regulations regarding the sale of leaded solder and the steadily rising price of the product I thought about trying one of the versions manufactured in China. However, when I studied some of the reviews and videos on the internet I was more than a little put off by comments like ‘appalling’, ‘unusable’ and ‘not fit purpose’. I thought then that the likely culprit for the poor reviews was an inadequate flux content which might be overcome with a little rosin dissolved in meths or IPA and applied separately. Loctite Multicore is generally specified as having 3% rosin based flux whereas most solder of Chinese origin seems to contain 2% flux (type unspecified). It’s worth bearing in mind that my potential purchase was only intended to provide a longer term back up for my existing supply of decent solder.

In any event I decided to take a chance and ordered a 500g reel of 0.7mm 60/40 solder wire, branded Jinhu, from China at less than half the current cost of the equivalent Loctite Multicore on offer at RS and Farnell. The reel arrived a few days ago and I thought it might be of interest to report on my experiences of using it thus far. In testing the solder I did not change my technique in any way and used it for basic tinning as well soldering components on various PCBs and one valve radio chassis. As is I my habit, I used a Weller TCP iron with a PT 6 tip (315 deg C) for PCB work and a PT 7 (370 deg C) for the radio chassis.

Contrary to expectation, my impression from this admittedly limited period of use is that the Jinhu is perfectly satisfactory without the need for additional flux. In fact in a blind testing I doubt if I could tell the difference between the Ersin and the much less expensive Jinhu. Surprised by this outcome I went back to a couple of the video reviews where I noticed that both reviewers used temperature controlled irons fitted with fine tips and the temperature set at around 220/230 deg C. This is really quite close to the melting point of 60/40 tin-lead alloy (about 180 deg C) especially considering that the tests involved placing blobs of solder directly on to temperature conductive copper clad board. Certainly at these temperatures some of the leaded solders sourced from China didn’t flow well and solidified with a dull grey sheen. Personally I wouldn’t consider trying to solder at such low temperatures. Even long since obsolete Weller PT 5 tips were rated at 260 deg C and were rarely seen even when they were in production. Of course once videos like these are available on the internet a certain reputation starts to spread especially if the message reinforces preconceived expectations.

In conclusion, if asked whether or not I could recommend using Jinhu 60/40 leaded solder for hobby purposes I’d have to say yes based on my experience so far. Jinhu leaded and other Chinese brands are currently still widely available from a variety of suppliers in the UK at competitive prices although this situation may not last for too much longer.

Comments welcome as always.

Alan
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Old 2nd Feb 2020, 1:28 pm   #2
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Some people just don't understand the effects of soldering iron temperature.

Use too low a temperature and it takes ages to bring the joint up to a temperature where flux will activate and solder will wet and flow. Counter-intuitively this long soak gets components up to higher temperatures than if you used a hotter iron and made a quicker joint.

Incidentally, the same effect can be seen with TIG welding. Dial up a bit too low a current and your progress has to be slow. Wind up a bit more current and you move along with more speed. Look back at your welds and you'll see from the colouration, that the heat affected zone is narrower where you used the higher current. Distortion is less, too. You were putting heat in faster, but your higher speed spread it over a greater length of joint. Allow for time-constants of heating and heat dispersion and you have a net win.

David
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Old 2nd Feb 2020, 1:34 pm   #3
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

A very comprehensive review, thanks Alan. I think alot of stuff from China comes in for unfair criticism.

As you say trying to solder anything at 220/230°C is going to work well.
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Old 2nd Feb 2020, 1:38 pm   #4
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

The trouble with a lot of YouTube reviews is that the people making them desperately want to appear smart and clever. Underneath the bluster they are either technology snobs of the 'you get what you pay for' type, or inexperienced people with a very superficial understanding of their subject. There are lots of exceptions to this rule but you need to develop a feeling for the tone of the piece. It's a bit like learning to identify good and bad Wikipedia articles.

I agree that temps below 300 degrees are too low for most soldering.
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Old 2nd Feb 2020, 7:23 pm   #5
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Just to illustrate my comments in the opening post I've attached a couple of photos. The first is just seven solder blobs applied to copper strip board. Some are Jinhu and the rest are Ersin. I used two different but identical tips, tinned with the appropriate solder, at a temperature of 315 deg C. Can anyone tell them apart?

The second photo shows the two reels. Interestingly the decades old Ersin Multicore seems to orignate from Malaysia. I hadn't really noticed that before.

Alan

PS Sorry about the rather embarrassing solder bridge!
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Old 2nd Feb 2020, 8:40 pm   #6
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

I certainly can't tell the difference. I've ordered a small reel of •8 to try for myself.
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Old 2nd Feb 2020, 8:51 pm   #7
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Not checked recently but Malaysia used to produce a good chunk of the world's tin.

Lawrence.
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Old 2nd Feb 2020, 9:50 pm   #8
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Apparently Malaysia produced about a third of the world's tin until the 1980s when the price of tin fell through the floor. Just shows how long I've had that reel of solder.

Alan
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Old 3rd Feb 2020, 12:43 am   #9
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Chinese solder is perfect!! I have been using it for years without problems. I have noted the comments on iron temperature though, and I wind my Hakko 936 ESD up to full heat to solder.

Joe
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Old 3rd Feb 2020, 12:52 pm   #10
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajgriff View Post
Apparently Malaysia produced about a third of the world's tin until the 1980s when the price of tin fell through the floor. Just shows how long I've had that reel of solder
The arrival of Malaysian tin seriously upset the Cornish tin mining industry as did tin from Australia and Bolivia, I have several tin sacks from the latter, one is shown below, they're not large sacks but extremely heavy when full of high grade concentrate, when the lorry was loaded up with them they had to use the Hanomag to push the lorry up the steep hill from the tin floors at the mine.

Lawrence.
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Old 3rd Feb 2020, 1:04 pm   #11
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

As I have mentioned before - Since obtaining some liquid flux, which (either it or gel) is fairly essential for surface mount work, I have been using it at times with normal fluxed solder in ordinary work. I find in invaluable in marginal situations.
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Old 3rd Feb 2020, 1:32 pm   #12
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Great 'in depth' review Alan.
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Old 3rd Feb 2020, 4:19 pm   #13
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

I’ve been using solder with 2% silver for many years (I bought a 500g reel) as it works well with the antique solder found on old equipment. It has a lower melting point and doesn’t make blobs that won’t mix with the old stuff. Also works with that lead free solder.
I notice that CPC have many different types and sizes listed including 60/40 Multicore.

Last edited by vidjoman; 3rd Feb 2020 at 4:22 pm. Reason: Added details
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Old 3rd Feb 2020, 5:52 pm   #14
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Yes but genuine Multicore is much more expensive (as is silver solder) than the Chinese brand I've reviewed and it seems to work just as well despite having a poor reputation in some quarters. CPC is part of the same group of companies as Farnell by the way.

Alan
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Old 6th Feb 2020, 1:08 am   #15
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Prompted by my experiments with Jinhu solder I got to wondering about the origins of the now ubiquitous Multicore™. Multicore Solders Limited was a London based company and registered as such in November 1939. The company’s principle product was lead/tin alloy solder wire with three cores of rosin based non-corrosive flux. The exact formulation of the flux was named Ersin although I’m not clear as to how this name was derived. The multi-core structure of the solder wire must have involved the development of some kind of novel manufacturing process and this became the wire’s main (unique?) selling point. The first image attached is an advertisement from 1941 where the familiar Multicore logo can be seen, albeit with only three cores. In marketing material, like the example in the second image, the company made great play of the solder’s popularity in the US despite its high cost due to duties and shipping charges (some things never change). In about 1954 two more cores were incorporated in the manufacturing process as mentioned in the third image of an advertisement dating from 1955. Another thing apparent from the marketing material is that Multicore Solders Ltd moved it’s HQ, and presumably its factory, a couple of times during these early years. By the 1960s of course Multicore was a leading brand in its market sector and the company continued to expand, establishing a manufacturing facility in Malaysia as already highlighted above. The brand is now in the ownership of Loctite (US) which is itself a subsidiary of the giant German conglomerate Henkel.

Alan

Acknowledgement: The advertisements are reproduced courtesy of the Creative Commons license granted by Grace’s Guide.
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Old 6th Feb 2020, 10:16 am   #16
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio Wrangler View Post
Some people just don't understand the effects of soldering iron temperature.

Use too low a temperature and it takes ages to bring the joint up to a temperature where flux will activate and solder will wet and flow. Counter-intuitively this long soak gets components up to higher temperatures than if you used a hotter iron and mtade a quicker joint.

Incidentally, the same effect can be seen with TIG welding. Dial up a bit too low a current and your progress has to be slow. Wind up a bit more current and you move along with more speed. Look back at your welds and you'll see from the colouration, that the heat affected zone is narrower where you used the higher current. Distortion is less, too. You were putting heat in faster, but your higher speed spread it over a greater length of joint. Allow for time-constants of heating and heat dispersion and you have a net win.

David
another thing that springs to mind is resistance spot welding- when attaching electrodes to the terminals of a lithium ion battery, if you solder them on, the heat will damage the battery, instead you attach some nickel strips to them by passing a high electrical current through the strip sufficient to create localised welding of the strip to the electrode.

Despite the fact that parts of it must become hot enough to melt nickel/copper-1500/100. degrees celsius or so, the actual heat transferred into the battery is far,far less
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Old 6th Feb 2020, 1:07 pm   #17
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

I still manage to get lead tin solder at my local car boot. I picked up a NOS 0.5 kg reel of Billiton cored solder this morning for £2.

Peter
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Old 6th Feb 2020, 1:31 pm   #18
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Yes, I picked up a 250g 18 SWG 60/40 reel of Ersin Multicore at a car boot a while back for £1. It came complete with a little used but useless and poorly made iron which was duly recycled. I'm not surprised the seller gave up on soldering.

Alan
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Old 6th Feb 2020, 10:12 pm   #19
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Talking of Ersin...….An interesting factoid:

https://www.americanradiohistory.com...ch=%22ersin%22

Lawrence.
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Old 7th Feb 2020, 7:27 am   #20
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Default Re: Leaded Solder Made in China

Quote:
Originally Posted by ms660 View Post
Talking of Ersin...….An interesting factoid:

https://www.americanradiohistory.com...ch=%22ersin%22

Lawrence.
Multicore introduced a low temperature "emergency" solder tape that could be wrapped around a splice and melted with a match.
As advertised in Popular Mechanics April 1979.

Peter
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