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Soldering and Brazing

Principles and Practice:
Jobs 10-J50J51

Soldering and Brazing Copper Tubing Chapter Objectives

This chapter deals mainly with the soldering and brazing
of copper tubing. Table 10-6, on page 276, provides a Job After completing this chapter, you will be able to:
Outline for this chapter. It is recommended that the stu- 10-1 Define and perform soldering.
dents complete the jobs in the order shown. 10-2 Define and perform brazing.
Copper was one of the first metals used. People made
10-3 Demonstrate ability to troubleshoot soldered and
tools for handicraft and agriculture, weapons for hunting
brazed joints.
and war, and decorative and household articles from cop-
per. Pieces of copper pipe, buried for centuries, have been
found in excellent condition. This is a testimonial to cop-
pers durability and resistance to corrosion.
Today, copper in the form of pipes and tubing is used
in the installation of plumbing and heating, Fig.10-1. It is
light, strong, and corrosion resistant, and is available in
hard and soft tempers. Tubing comes in a wide variety of
diameters and wall thicknesses, with clean, efficient fit-
tings to serve every purpose. Joints are made simply and
effectively by soldering and brazing.
Copper tubing and pipe are widely used in shipbuilding,
oil refineries, chemical plants, and, in general, by those
industries in which corrosion and scaling are problems.
Applications include saltwater lines, oil lines, refrigera-
tion systems, vacuum lines, chemical lines, air lines, and
low pressure steam lines.

fillet joints exactly at the points where it is to be used.
Capillary action is not a factor in the distribution of the
brazing filler metal during braze welding. For additional
information on braze welding, see Chapter 9.
Soldering must meet all of the three following criteria:
The parts must be joined without melting the base
The filler metal must have a liquidus temperature
below 840F.
The filler metal must wet the base metal surface and be
drawn into or held in the joint by capillary action.

Fig. 10-1 Soldering a copper tube with a butane torch. Other terms describing soldering and brazing are de-
Prographics fined in the Glossary. You are urged to look up any words
you do not know.

Definitions of Soldering and Brazing

The following definitions for soldering and brazing are
adapted from those established by the American Weld- Filler Metals
ing Society as stated in their Welding Handbook, Vol. 2: Selection of the proper materials is an important prelimi-
Welding Processes, 8th ed. nary step in the soldering of copper tube joints. Selection
Soldering is defined as a group of joining processes depends on the metals to be joined, the expected service,
that produce coalescence of materials by heating them to operational temperatures, and the expansion, contraction,
the soldering temperature and by using a filler metal (sol- and vibration that will be experienced during service.
der) having a liquidus not exceeding 840F and below the Under ordinary circumstances, a properly made joint
solidus of the base metals. Solder differs from brazing in will be stronger than the tube itself for stresses of short
that brazing filler metals have a liquidus above 840F. The duration. Because solder is somewhat plastic, however, it
solder is distributed between closely fitted faying surfaces may give when stress is maintained at high temperatures
of the joint by capillary action. Capillary action is the over long periods of time. The stress that causes failure
flow of a liquid when it is drawn into a small space be- under these conditions is less than what would produce a
tween closely fitted (faying) surfaces. break with short-time loads. This condition is known as
Brazing is a process that joins materials by heating creep, and the creep strength of various types of solder
them in the presence of a filler metal having a liquidus varies widely. Different elements serve different roles in
above 840F but below the solidus of the base metal. Heat the solder alloy:
may be provided by a variety of processes. The filler
metal distributes itself between the closely fitted surfaces Silver (Ag) provides mechanical strength, but has worse
of the joint by capillary action, Fig. 10-2. Brazing differs ductility than lead. In absence of lead, it improves
from braze welding in that braze welding is done by melt- resistance to fatigue from thermal cycles.
ing and depositing the filler metal directly in groove and Copper (Cu) lowers the melting point, improves
resistance to thermal cycle fatigue, and improves
wetting properties of the molten solder. It also slows
Feeding Alloy down the rate of separation in the component parts
This is where to
put most of the Fitting such as copper from the board and part leads in the
heat. Alloy Flow
liquid solder.
Bismuth (Bi) significantly lowers the melting point and
improves wetting action. In presence of sufficient lead
and tin, bismuth forms crystals of Sn16Pb32Bi52 with
melting point of only 203F, which diffuses along the
Heat Flow Gap Exaggerated
grain boundaries and may cause a joint failure at rela-
tively low temperatures. A high-power part pretinned
Fig. 10-2 Capillary action pulls and distributes the brazing alloy with an alloy of lead can therefore de-solder under
into the gap where it wets both metal surfaces. load when soldered with a bismuth-containing solder.

Soldering and Brazing Principles and Practice: Jobs 10-J50J51 Chapter 10251
Table 10-1 Tin/Lead Solder

Composition Specification

Solder Tin Lead Antimony Solidus (F) Liquidus (F) ASTM B3286
4060 40 60 360 460 Sn40a
6040 60 40 360 375 Sn60
5050 50 50 360 420 Sn50
955 95 5 452 464 Sb5

Note: These types of solder make up the largest portion of solders used. They are used on copper, most copper alloys, lead, high nickel alloys, and steel.
Caution: Lead-bearing solders are not to be used in potable water systems.

Tin (Sn) is commonly used because it is the cheapest

material and has appropriate surface activity to form Table 10-2 Melting Ranges of Solders
intermetallic bonds with a wide range of surfacesthe Containing Other Metals
alternative element for this use would be indium, which
is rarer and more expensive. Melting Melting
Indium (In) lowers the melting point and improves duc- Solder Alloy Point (C) Point (F)
tility. In presence of lead it forms a ternary compound 5Sn-95Pb 307 585
(three different elements) that undergoes phase change 0.5Sn-92.5Pb-2.5Ag 280 536
at 237F. Sn/5Sb 243 469
Zinc (Zn) lowers the melting point and is low-cost. How- 100Sn 232 450
ever it is highly susceptible to corrosion and oxidation 99.3Sn-0.7Cu 227 440
in air; therefore, zinc-containing alloys are unsuitable
96.5Sn-3.5Ag 221 430
for some purposes, e.g., wave soldering, and zinc-
52In-48Sn 118 244
containing solder pastes have shorter shelf life than
zinc-free. Sn/3.0Ag/0.5Cu 219 426
Antimony (Sb) is added to increase strength without Sn/3.8Ag/1.0Cu 217 423
affecting wetting action. Sn/3.5Ag/1.0Cu/3Bi 213 415

Tables 10-1 and 10-2 list the composition, and their 50In-50Pb 209 402
specifications. The pasty range is the difference be- 45Sn-55Pb 204 400
tween the melting and solid temperatures. Solder is 55Sn-45Pb 193 379
semisolid in the pasty range and is referred to as the 60Sn-40Pb 186 368
working range. 63Sn-37Pb 183 361

Tin-Lead SoldersTin-lead and tin-lead-other alloy 62Sn-36Pb-2Ag 179 354

solders are the most widely used solders, and they 97In-3Ag 143 289
are suitable for joining most metals. A good grade of Sn/57Bi 139 282
5050 tin-lead solder is generally used for all service Note: Notice the amounts of tin, silver, copper, indium, and bismuth.
at room temperatures and for low pressure steam (up to Source: From Welding Handbook, 9/e
15 p.s.i.), as well as for moderate pressures with tem-
peratures up to 250F. This solder is classified as 50A.
It is molten at 420F and solid at 360F. The pasty range The 4060 solder has a much wider pasty range of 100.
of 60 will produce a much wetter, flatter bead than The wider range allows for more dressing of the solder as
6040. The 6040 solder has a working range of 17. in pipe or tube work.
This solder is used for electronic or copper foil work. The When the tin content is increased, the flow of the
liquid temperature and narrow pasty range make it easy solder and its wetting characteristics are increased.
to form and maintain consistent high, rounded, beaded Because the pasty range is wide, however, care must
seams on copper. It is able to maintain a smooth finish be taken to keep the joint from being moved when it is
bead due to its low melting point and is easily reworked. cooling.

252Chapter 10Soldering and Brazing Principles and Practice: Jobs 10-J50J51

Tin-Antimony-Lead Solders Antimony is added for higher Forms of Solders The solder in general use for solder-
strength. The gain in higher tensile strength and creep ing copper tubing is commercially available in solid wire
strength is offset, however, because these solders are more form. The wire comes in diameters of 0.010 to 0.30 inch
difficult to work with than tin-lead solders. They have poorer on spools weighing 1, 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 pounds. Flux
flow and capillarity characteristics. The tin-antimony-lead may be incorporated with the solder in single or multiple
solders may be used for joints in operating temperatures hollows or in external parallel grooves.
around 300F. They are not recommended for aluminum, Other forms available for special applications include
zinc-coated steels, or other alloys having a zinc base. pig, slabs, cakes, bars, paste, tape, ingots, creams, ribbon,
preforms, powder, foil, and sheet. An unlimited range
Tin-Antimony Solders If higher strengths than those pro- of sizes and shapes may be preformed to meet special
vided by tin-lead solders and tin-lead-antimony solders requirements.
are required, a 955 tin-antimony solder should be used
for temperatures up to 250F. It has a melting point of Fluxes
464F and is completely solid at 452F. Its very narrow
A soldering flux is a liquid, solid, or gaseous material
pasty range (12F) makes it difficult to use in the vertical
that, when heated, improves the wetting of metals with
position. The absence of lead, a toxic substance, makes it
solder. The flux does not clean the base metal. If the base
highly desirable for food handling equipment.
metal has been cleaned, however, the flux removes the
Tin-Zinc SoldersThese solders are used for joining tarnish films and oxides from both the metal and solder.
aluminum. Their melting point ranges from 390 to 708F, When applied to a properly cleaned surface, flux performs
and they are solid at 390F. As the zinc content increases, the following functions:
the melting temperature increases. The type containing Protects the surface from oxidation during heating
91 percent tin and 9 percent zinc both melts and solidifies Permits easy displacement by the filler metal so that it
at 390F. It wets aluminum readily, flows easily, and pos- flows into the joint
sesses a high resistance to corrosion with aluminum. Floats out the remaining oxides ahead of the molten
Cadmium-Silver SoldersImproper use of solders con- solder
taining cadmium may cause health hazards. Therefore, Increases the wetting action of the molten solder by
care should be taken in their application, particularly with lowering its surface tension
respect to fume inhalation. The most common solder in Fluxes are classified based on their ability to remove
this classification is 95 percent cadmium and 5 percent metal tarnishes (activity). Fluxes may be classified into
silver. It has a melting temperature of 740F and is solid at three groups: inorganic fluxes (most activehighly cor-
640F. When it is used for butt joints in copper tube, the rosive), organic fluxes (moderately activeintermediate),
joint has a tensile strength of 2,600 p.s.i. at temperatures and rosin fluxes (least activenoncorrosive), Table10-3.
up to 425F. The type of flux to use depends on the metal being
soldered, the oxidation rate of the metal, and the resis-
Cadmium-Zinc SoldersThe cadmium-zinc solders are
tance of the oxide to removal. Such metals as aluminum,
used to join aluminum with joints of wide clearance and
stainless and high alloy steels, and aluminum bronzes
provide a strong, corrosive-resistant joint. They have a
form a hard oxide film when exposed to air. They require
melting range of 509 to 750F and solidify at 509F. The
a highly active and corrosive flux. A milder flux can be
solder containing 90 percent zinc has a wide pasty range
used with copper because of its slow rate of oxidation and
of 241F.
Zinc-Aluminum Solders The 95 percent zinc, 5 percent
aluminum solder is in common use. It is a high tempera-
ture solder that melts at 720F. Because of the high zinc
content, it also has high resistance to corrosion. SH OP TA L K

Paste SoldersThese solders are composed of finely Skills Needed

granulated solder, generally 5050 lead-tin, which is in The welding student who wants to work in a
suspension in a paste flux. The flux paste makes cleaning manufacturing environment should demonstrate math
and reading skills. The ability to work with others, good
the copper unnecessary. Care must be taken in making a eyehand coordination, and manual dexterity are also
vertical joint, because the solder and flux have a tendency required.
to run down the tube.

Soldering and Brazing Principles and Practice: Jobs 10-J50J51 Chapter 10253
Table 10-3 Metal Solderability Chart and Flux Selector Guide

Organic Inorganic Special

Rosin Fluxes
Fluxes Fluxes Flux
Non- Mildly (Water (Water and/or
Metals Solderability activated Activated Activated Soluble) Soluble) Solder
Platinum, gold, copper, Easy to solder Suitable Suitable Suitable Suitable Not recommended
silver, cadmium plate, for electrical
tin (hot dipped), tin soldering
plate, solder plate
Lead, nickel plate, brass, Less easy to Not suitable Not suitable Not suitable Suitable Suitable
bronze, rhodium, solder
beryllium copper
Galvanized iron, tin- Difficult to Not suitable Not suitable Not suitable Suitable Suitable
nickel, nickel-iron, solder
low carbon steel
Chromium, nickel- Very difficult Not suitable Not suitable Not suitable Not suitable Suitable
chromium, nickel- to solder
copper, stainless steel
Aluminum, Most difficult Not suitable Not suitable Not suitable Not suitable Suitable
aluminum-bronze to solder
Beryllium, titanium Not solderable

Source: American Welding Society, Welding Handbook, vol. 2, 8th ed., p. 435, Table 13.13

the ease of removal of the oxide. Good soldering practice Paste Fluxes Many types of paste flux, ranging from non-
requires the selection of the mildest flux that will perform corrosive to corrosive, are available. A paste flux can be lo-
satisfactorily in a specific application. calized at the joint and will not spread to other parts of the
work where it would be harmful. The body of the flux is
Highly Corrosive FluxesThe highly corrosive fluxes
composed of petroleum jelly, tallow, lanolin and glycerin,
consist of such inorganic acids and salts as zinc chloride,
or other moisture-retaining substances.
ammonium chloride, sodium chloride, potassium chloride,
hydrochloric acid, and hydrofluoric acid. They are avail-
able as liquids, pastes, and dry salts. Corrosive fluxes are Joint Design
recommended for those metals requiring a rapid and Although our emphasis in this chapter concerns the solder-
highly active fluxing action. These fluxes leave a chemi- ing of pipe joints, it is well to consider briefly other joints
cally active residue after soldering and will cause severe that are soldered in industry. Figure 10-3 presents typical
corrosion at the joint if not removed. soldered joint designs, and should be studied carefully. Gen-
erally, the joint design depends on the service requirements
Intermediate Fluxes Intermediate fluxes are weaker than
of the assembly. Other factors include the heating method,
the inorganic salt types. They consist mainly of such mild
assembly requirements before soldering, the number of
organic acids and bases as citric acid, lactic acid, and
items to be soldered, and the method of applying the sol-
benzoic acid. They are very active at soldering tempera-
der. If the service conditions are severe, the design should
tures, but this activity is short-lived, since they are also
be such that the strength of the joint is equal to or greater
highly volatile at soldering temperatures. These fluxes are
than the load-carrying capacity of the weakest member of
useful for quick soldering operations. The residue does not
the assembly. The joint must be accessible, because the sol-
remain active after the joint has been soldered, and it can
der is normally face-fed into the joint. For high production
be removed readily with materials requiring a mild flux.
parts, solder in the form of wire, shims, strip, preformed,
Noncorrosive Fluxes The electrical industry is a large user powder, a precoat, or solder flux-paste may be preplaced.
of a noncorrosive flux composed of water and white resin Clearance between the parts being joined should be
dissolved in an organic solvent such as abietic acid or ben- such that the solder can be drawn into the space between
zoic acid. The residue from these fluxes does not cause cor- them by capillary action, but not so large that the solder
rosion. Noncorrosive fluxes are effective on copper, brass, cannot fill the gap. Capillary attraction cannot function
bronze, nickel, and silver. well if the clearance is greater than 0.010 inch. A clearance

254Chapter 10Soldering and Brazing Principles and Practice: Jobs 10-J50J51


(1) Single Edge (2) Double Edge (3) Wired Edge (4) Flat Band (5) Curb Angle
16 GA. & Lighter. 20 GA. & Lighter. 20 GA. & Lighter. Reinforcement Reinforcement
10 GA. & Lighter. 10 GA. & Lighter.


(6) Plain Lap (7) Strapped Butt (8) Riveted Lap (9) O-Geed Riveted (10) Plain Lock Seam
20 GA. & Lighter. Soldered Only 22 GA. Any GA. Lap. Any GA. 18 GA. & Lighter.


(11) Flushed Lock (12) Flanged (13) Keyed Lock (14) Side Locked Seam (15) Standing End Lock
Seam. 18 GA. & Lighter. Riveted. Any GA. 16 GA. & Lighter. 18 GA. & Lighter. 16 GA. & Lighter.

(16) Folded End Lock (17) Inside Lock Wood Tank Lining (18) Lock Seam
18 GA. & Lighter. 18 GA. & Lighter. 18 GA. & Lighter.

(19 A) Cast Brass Fittings (19 B) Wrought Copper Fittings (19 C) Lead Joints

Fig. 10-3 Typical solder joint designs.

range of 0.003 to 0.005 inch is recommended. A joints

tensile strength is reduced as the clearance increases be-
yond the recommended amount. Production Welder
Your duties may range from basic tasks like
Heating Methods
cutting, soldering, brazing, and welding different metal
Obviously, heat is necessary to carry out the soldering ap- components to advanced activities like MIG/MAG, and TIG
plication. The solder must melt while the surface is heated welding using aluminum or stainless steel.
to permit the molten solder to flow over the surface. Heat
may be applied in one of several ways, depending upon the
application. Methods include soldering irons, dip solder- The type of the torch to be used depends upon the size,
ing, induction heating, resistance heating, oven heating, mass, and design of the assembly. Time is also an important
spray gun heating, and flame heating. In our soldering factor. Fast soldering requires a high temperature flame and
practice, we will be concerned with flame heating. large tip size. Slower techniques require a low temperature

Soldering and Brazing Principles and Practice: Jobs 10-J50J51 Chapter 10255
flame and small tip size. Fuel gas that burns with oxygen
will also burn with air. The highest flame temperatures
are reached with acetylene; and lower temperatures, with
propane, butane, propylene, natural gas, and manufactured
gas, in the order named. Care must be taken to avoid a
sooty flame, since the carbon deposited on the base metal
prevents the solder from flowing. In general, the oxyacety-
lene welding torch, the air-acetylene torch (Fig. 10-4), or A
the propane torch is used, depending upon the amount of
heat necessary. A small handheld pressure tank with an at-
tached stem is available for small jobs.

Preparation for Soldering

This practice course will deal with the soldering of copper
tubing, since this is the type of work a journeyman welder
will probably do in industry. Other forms of soldering are
usually special applications that are not done by welders.
Joint Preparation The material covered here applies to
the preparation of copper tubing for both soldering and
In order to make the assembly, the copper tubing is cut
to various lengths and soldered to copper fittings. The end
of the tube to be soldered should be square and free from
burrs. The outer surface of the end of the tube should be
round and within 0.001 to 0.002 inch of the specified di-
ameter for a distance of 1 inch.
Fig. 10-5 (A) How to use a straightedge ring jig to saw off a pipe
Use a hacksaw with a straightedge ring jig or a square- with a square end. (B) A square-end sawing vise holds the pipe and
end sawing vise to cut ends off, Fig. 10-5. A bandsaw guides your hacksaw for a square cut.
equipped for making perfectly square cuts will also do a
good job. A pipe cutter, Fig. 10-6, may be used, but you cutting, all burrs on the outside and inside of the tubing
must be careful not to put so much pressure on the cut- should be removed. A hand file can be used for this pur-
ter that it deforms the tube, Fig.10-7. A pipe cutter also pose. If the end of the tube is out of round, a plug sizing
makes reaming necessary. Regardless of the method of can be used to round it off, Fig. 10-8.

Fig. 10-4 The air-acetylene torch and accessories used for Fig. 10-6 Bench chain vise holding copper tubing to be square
soldering and light brazing. Note the various tipsizes. cut with a pipe cutter. Location: UA Local 400 Edward R. Bohnart,
Thermadyne Industries, Inc. Photographer

256Chapter 10Soldering and Brazing Principles and Practice: Jobs 10-J50J51