How do I tin thick speaker cable?

Kef and Denon

Standard Member
I have just got my AV system, but don't know what to do with the ends of my speaker cable. There is no way that I'm going to pull everything out and cut the ends of the speaker cable off every 6 months when they oxidize.

I have spent a lot of money on a soldering iron, silver solder, and a set of tips for the soldering iron, but I can't tin the cable. In the past I have tinned cable and IIRC it was very easy, but I just can't get enough heat into this thick cable :(. The cable is 12AWG. Any suggestions for tinning it? It's a 48W soldering iron and I have had it set at 450 degrees C.

Bannana plugs also aren't an option for me because I have very limited space behind my receiver. My receiver is a Denon 1910, are there any other possibilities? Actually, I could use bannana plugs on the speakers, but not the receiver end. Also if I do get bannana plugs, what should I get? Are cheap gold plated ones good, or should I get something like the Airloc ones. Can you buy the airlocs on their own? I can only see fitted airlocs for sale on the Internet. What about spade connectors, would they work with a Denon receiver?
 

Kef and Denon

Standard Member
I think I'm going to get some cheap bannana plugs. I can probably just about squeeze them in the back of the receiver. If I got airlocs it would cost me approx £100, which is crazy, but with some cheap bannanas I can do it for about £25.
 

deckingman

Novice Member
Lots of questions.

Ref soldering - you probably need a bigger iron. Silver solder needs more heat than the old fashioned tin/lead solder. Since the EU have effectively banned lead, modern solder is mostly tin (which has a higher melting point). That, couple withg the gauge of the cable means a large iron (and bit).

Most people are happy with bare cable. Cleaning every 6 months is a bit OTT.

Standard banana plugs and/or spades won't prevent oxidisation of the cable.

Silver coated cable will not Oxidise.

Airlocs are supposed to prevent Oxidisation by giving a very tight bond between the cable and the connector. In theory, this prevents the cable coming into contact with the Oxygen in the air (hence the term "airloc"). So, they have to be fitted with a special tool which exerts a great deal of pressure. That's the theory anyway.

Spades would be a good alternative but note that, even if they are gold plated, the cable can still oxidise unless an air tight joint can be made.
 

Trollslayer

Distinguished Member
The porblem is often the heat storage cpacity of the iron - the alternative for jobs like this is a soldering gun, the 4x4 of the soldering world.
The problem is they don't have temperature control so practice on a bit of spare cable first.
Also this may seem heretical but I use lead/tin solder - lead free is more prone to crystallising and if you use gold plated terminals and clamp them up there aren't any exposed surfaces.
The best option is lead/tin solder and gold plated banana plugs but as you say you don't have space for this.
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
You say -

"I have had it set at 450 degrees C."

Which in turn implies you have the ability to set the temperature, so set it higher.

The key to good soldering, is to hold the soldering tip, a wide flat tip rather than a pointed one, against the wire for a few seconds, then put the solder at the junction of the wire and the solder tip.

When the solder touches the tip, it will melt and flow into the wire taking heat with it. Keep adding solder until it has flown into the wire to the extent needed.

Also, when you solder, you need a damp natural sponge nearby. Cover the tip of the iron in solder, then wipe it on the sponge. This keeps the tip of the iron clean and more able to transfer heat.

Also, just before applying the tip to the wire, put a small drop of solder on the tip, that will help it transfer heat into the wire.

You could also, pre-heat the tip of the wire over a gas or electric cook stove. Heat it just enough to give the wire a head start, you don't want to heat it so much you start to melt the insulation.

Can we assume the Silver Solder you have, has some type of flux in it? Flux core?

If it is just solid silver wire, then you need some type of flux paste, BUT you must make sure it is electrical/electronic flux, NOT plumbing solder flux.

I don't see any reason why this shouldn't work.

Steve/bluewizard
 

roh008

Member
As Steve says if it has no flux then you won't melt silver at 450C it's around the 900C mark so I am assuming to it is a alloy of Silver you are using.

Even then this might require 700C-750C degrees to melt. I too have been looking at what option to take for my bare ended copper wires.
Unfortunately my electrical solder iron is too weak. 45W solder will not be enough.

*silver will oxidise though*
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Hmmm, I've got a couple of Ungar (and/or Radio Shack) soldering irons with roughly the same wattage elements in them, and I've yet to find anything I can't solder with them. I think I might have even done a job on some battery cables years back. But, of course, the irons struggled in the extreme on wire that heavy.

As mentioned, it is unlikely that you have pure silver solder. Far more likely you have electrical solder that has a higher silver content than common electronic solder. That will demand a higher melting point, but should, in my opinion, be in the range of a 45w soldering iron.

In fact a quick check of an electronic parts catalog indicates that solder classified as 'Silver Solder' is 4% silver. Most solder is 60/40 meaning 60% tin and 40% lead. So, to that add an additional 4% silver, and you have silver solder. Also, solder of this type, that is, used for electronic purposes, should be very thin. My common 60/40 Rosin Flux Core solder is 0.032" in diameter. Heavier electronic solder is 0.05" in diameter. Thicker diameter electrical solder takes more heat to melt.

As to melting temperature of thin electronic solder, the temp is not that high, but you must understand that as soon as you touch the small tip to the cold wire, it starts to draw heat away, so you need a reserve of temperature on the tip. Even when cooled by heat being drawn away, it still has to be above the melting point of the solder. And of course, the solder itself draw heat away.

Again, use a wide flat tip rather than a narrow pointed one for better heat transfer. Clean the tip on a damp sponge, add a drop of solder to the tip to help heat transfer, hold it to the wire, then put the solder between the tip and the wire. Placing the solder at this junction will allow the solder to melt on the tip and bleed into the wire taking heat with it.

Just a suggestion.

Steve/bluewizard
 

roh008

Member
so is this wrong solder:

Solder And Flux > Silver Solder
Silver Solder Strip Easy

"Silver Solder with a silver content of 67% and suitable for use on items that will be hallmarked. All Silver Solder Strip normally sold in 600mm lengths. Strip size 3mm x 0.5mm and weigh 9 grams. Melting range 705°C -723°C."

I know it's for jewlery but better quality. Higher purity.
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
so is this wrong solder:

Solder And Flux > Silver Solder
Silver Solder Strip Easy

"Silver Solder with a silver content of 67% and suitable for use on items that will be hallmarked. All Silver Solder Strip normally sold in 600mm lengths. Strip size 3mm x 0.5mm and weigh 9 grams. Melting range 705°C -723°C."

I know it's for jewlery but better quality. Higher purity.
Those are virtually bars of silver. They are not for common electronic solder purposes.

For normal soldering you want something like this -

Lead-Free Silver Solder : Solder : Maplin

Extra Easy Silver Solder Wire, 1.00mm Diameter - Cooksongold.com

SOLDER WIRE 4%SILVER-0.45MM/26SWG-FLUXED-100 GRAM ROLL. on eBay (end time 03-Feb-10 19:42:35 GMT)

WBT-0820 Silver Solder 0.8mm OD / PER METRE - Connectors -...

Steve/bluewizard
 

deckingman

Novice Member
What Steve said.

For some (anoying) reason, a lot of people are marketing lead free solder as "Silver Solder" and it's not the same thing at all. Also as others have said, "proper" Silver solder is no good for "tinning" (there is a clue there). Ideally, what you want is the good old fashioned tin/lead stuff (which you can't buy nowadays) so failing that, the lead free solder that Steve linked to (which is mostly tin and therefore ideal for "tinning") :D.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Malpin's has a nice selection of electronic grade standard lead-free solder and lead free silver solder. A small roll, in a tube, of either is only £4 or less. There are plenty of Malpin store spread around the UK, so they aren't hard to find. Plus, I suspect the staff there can be very helpful.

Unless there is something we don't know about, I don't see any reason why you should be able to easily tin the ends of the wire.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Kef and Denon

Standard Member
I've got the stuff from Maplin that you listed above. It's 95.5% tin, 4% silver and 0.5% copper. So will I need to get some flux for this?

The maximum setting for my soldering iron is 450C which is why I haven't set it higher. I have spent a while trying a few things and can't get it to work. The solder either sticks to it in lumps, it sticks to the soldering iron or it just drops off. I tried the biggest tip that I could get, although even that isn't particularly big.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
The Malpin solder, either standard or silver, contains -

A lead-free alloy solder containing a non-corrosive flux

It already has flux in it. So, if you have this, you should be ready to go.

Steve/bluewizard
 

jaypat

Novice Member
i think you not soldering it one properly. if you struggly soo much do this. half the speaker bare wire in 2 groups. thn sholder the groups one buy one. then sholder the two groups together. only problem is that you might get tooo much solder on the wires which is also not good. i solder alot but with smd compontents which are soo little. if you want more help let me knw.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
I assume you know you can't just plug a soldering iron in and start to solder, it takes a while for the tip to come up to temperature.

From what you are saying, the iron has not reach the set temperature yet. Either that or you have a defective soldering iron.

Now, I'm sure the lead free solder is more difficult. But the stated melting temperatures is not that high on either lead-free or Silver lead-free.

Perhaps, you are right, your soldering iron simply doesn't have the needed heat. Can you give us a link to the model of soldering iron you have?

Steve/bluewizard
 

phil t

Well-known Member
The key to good soldering, is to hold the soldering tip, a wide flat tip rather than a pointed one, against the wire for a few seconds, then put the solder at the junction of the wire and the solder tip.

When the solder touches the tip, it will melt and flow into the wire taking heat with it. Keep adding solder until it has flown into the wire to the extent needed.
The key to good soldering (and brazing) is to apply the heat to the job and the solder to the job, never the solder to the heat. The heat in the job will cause the solder to flow; the solder shouldn't carry the heat, else you risk dry and/or weak joints.

:)
 

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