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Silver plated copper wire

4/14/2000 7:59 AM
Silver plated copper wire
Hopefully a quick one:  
When using silver plated wire, do you have to use silver bearing solder, or will normal stuff do fine?  
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4/14/2000 8:14 PM
Don Symes

While I believe you're wasting money on the silver-plated stuff, and that may invalidate my answer in your eyes, good old tin-lead solder will do the job just fine.
4/14/2000 9:24 PM

I like the military surplus silver plated copper, stranded wire with the teflon insulation.  
At first I thought it might be too exotic, but with a little effort it can be found cheaper than ordinary copper/pvc from radio shack.  
Didn't take me long to learn to like the silver plated stuff after that.  
Ordinary 60/40 solder works just fine, in my experience the molten solder wets the silver plated copper strands even better than it does plain copper, and much better than if the copper is even slightly tarnished.  
To me the main reason to use silver solder would be to repair the old Tektronix scopes, like it says in their maintenance manual, to preserve the silver-bearing contacts on those classic ceramic standoff terminal strips.  
Hope this helps,  
4/24/2000 11:47 AM

Some of the anal-retentive audio geeks swear by the silver bearing solder, that it sounds better. I have not been able to tell the difference myself. It doesn't seem to give as good looking a joint as 6040 but seems to work well anyway. BTW, I use silver plated copper with Teflon jacket pretty much exclusively because I ran across a lot of it surplus. It does work better than PVC because the insulation behaves better under heat, but it is much harder to strip. At work, we have used 6040 solder with silver plated copper wire for more than 15 years with no problems that I am aware of.
4/24/2000 5:47 PM
Wires and component leads are silver plated to make soldering easy. Silver dissolves in liquid tin-lead solder like sugar dissolving in water. Silver plating is very easy to solder with ordinary tin-lead solder, which is why it's used. Normal stuff will do fine.  
For parts where keeping the silver in place on the part, as in SMD parts, Tektronix ceramic terminals, etc., you can use silver bearing solder. This is NOT the same as silver solder.  
Silver bearing solder usually has about 2% silver. This is enough to prevent the solder from cold-dissolving the silver plating off the things soldered with tin-lead.  
Tin-lead with a few percent silver is still what is called a soft solder in the metalworking biz. True silver solder is a so-called hard solder, and requires much higher temperatures, not the same process as tin-lead soft soldering at all. The similarity of the names is a confusion that the hifi tweakos have made worse because "soldered with silver solder" sounds fancier that "soldered with a solder that has a tiny fraction of silver to keep from leaching silver off the leads". This is in keeping with the deliberate overstatement, confusion and out-and-out lies that are rampant in audio tweako circles.
4/25/2000 12:46 PM
Stephen Conner

"This is in keeping with the deliberate overstatement, confusion and out-and-out lies that are rampant in audio tweako circles."
You sock it to 'em boy!  
Steve C.
4/26/2000 2:59 AM
Mark L.

" Silver dissolves in liquid tin-lead solder like sugar dissolving in  
Sorry to butt in like this, but this statement simply is not true. The temperature of easy flow solder(even Silver bearing solder) is just not high enough to turn anything Silver into a liquid state.  
Even a thin micron-thick veneer like a plating. Soldering irons don't get hot enough to turn Silver into liquid form. This takes a torch(or equivalent) to do.  
The reason why this Silver plated Copper solders better, is a simple one. Copper forms oxides mega fast(turns black). Copper is an inherently 'dirty' metal. These surface oxides which form under soldering conditions, act like a barrier, and the surface contamination (dirt) prevents the solder from penetrating and adhering to the surfaces.  
Silver on the other hand, and I mean pure Silver, does not perform the same. Meaning the solder goes where you want it to without any fight.  
It's a general principle in solder techniques. Joints to be soldered must be clean. Dirt(any kind) impairs the effort.  
Fwiw, I have found most Silver bearing easy flow solder to be around 4%.  
This Silver-bearing solder needs a hotter temperature to flow(compared to normal easy flow), and since there's a content of Silver to it, and Silver is the *best* conductor of heat on the Planet, this molten blob will certainly Stay hot and liquid longer than one is normally used to. Some folks move too fast, and the semi-molten blob tries to solidify while it is cooling and reforming into a solid. This result looks like a 'crumbly' solder joint, and is in fact prone to breaking from vibrations.  
Fwiw, Radio Shack sells a decent Lead-FREE high Silver content solder for a pretty low cost. Lead is pretty much a NON-conductor...  
Just sharing what I know, no offense intended.  
Mark L.

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