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It's Not That Hard !!!
Many times when working, repairing, or modifying firearms, the need to join or rejoin pieces of steel arises. Many times, the pieces will be hardened or tempered, so welding is out of the question. Sometimes the pieces are tiny, and welding would destroy them. Or, maybe you don't have a welding set-up, or like me, are to lazy to drag it out.
Silver bearing solder is the answer for all of these occasions. Silver bearing solder, or silver solder is just what it's name implies, solder with some silver in it. The silver makes the soldered joint stronger, raises the melting temperature of the solder, and raises the price of the solder.
The best selection of these solders for gunsmithing work is Brownells. They offer it in wire form as well as paste and strip. They also offer solders with different amounts of silver. The most versatile offering has 4%silver, melts at 475 Deg. F., has a strength of 28,000 PSI and costs $2.85 an ounce. Another offering contains 5% silver, melts at 650 Deg. F., has a strength of 38,000 PSI and costs $3.52 an ounce. Brownells also stocks a wide selection of fluxes.
Enco (tool company) sells a "Stay-Brite kit for $6.43, their P/N 505-4805. The Stay-Brite Specifications.
Silver Solder is also available at Radio Shack.
I have been using a "kit" that is stocked at a local welding outlet:
This kit contains 4 feet of wire type solder (thatís a LOT) and a small bottle of flux. I'm not sure of the Silver content. The manufacturer says strength is 15,000 PSI. I think the kit costs about $10.
Anyway, with a melting temperature of about 500 degrees, these solders can be used with nothing more that a Propane Torch, and if the torch is used carefully, won't change the heat treatment of the metals being joined.
The secret of any soldering job is CLEAN, CLEAN and CLEAN. After preparing the parts, carefully clean with brake or carb cleaner, or alcohol, or acetone. With an abrasive wheel, remove any bluing or parking.
Many times it will be helpful to tie the pieces together:
using copper or iron wire. The copper can be old telephone house wire (with the insulation removed) and iron tie wire can be had at Lowes or Home depot. There are two reasons for tying, first to keep the parts located properly, and second, the flux sometimes boils and dislodges light pieces.
In any event, follow the instructions on the flux and/or solder packaging and everything will work fine!!!
In order to see the strength of a Silver Soldered butt joint, see this.
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