Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

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Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby myles » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:28 am

I have been doing a bit of experimenting and have come to the conlusion that copper phosphorous brazing rods are great for parts of the still that are not going to get really hot. Condensers etc as they dont need flux and are easy to use.

Am wondering about the pot builds though. I currently use mostly 56% Silver solder (Cadmium free) with a melting range of 620 - 650 degrees centigrade. I use some 49% Silver solder with a higher temp range for 2 stage solder operations.

There is no doubt that these give good strong joints on both copper and stainless steel, but for all copper builds are they over the top? I would not like to use soft solder on a boiler, but is there a lower temperature option than the 600 degree Silver solders?

I am currently building a tapered lyne arm from a 2" 1.2mm wall thickness, copper tube and am having real trouble getting the 3' length up to soldering temperature. For the silver solder that I am using, the joint has to be at the red hot stage to melt the solder.

I am currently improvising a forge to heat the entire length of pipe, to the point where my MAP torch can provide enough extra heat to get the joint up to temperature.

I have been thinking of using 0.9mm copper sheet to build a double boiler variation of a Pint style pot, and that will pose the same problem.

For those of you that have already done an all copper build, what sort of solder do you use? Are you using hard solder or are you using something in between, with a lower melting point, but higher than tin based soft solder? Or are you in fact using soft solder? Please coment.
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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby Husker » Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:35 pm

I am not sure of your concern about tin based soft solder. Most all copper stills are going to be riveted for strength and then 'tinned up' for sealing. As long as you do not boil dry, it should not come close to reaching temps that will cause solder to flow. I do not believe the temp will go much above the boiling point of your water/ethanol mix that is boiling at the moment. I would think 5% or 10% silver solder would work just fine, and be pretty easy to flow with direct MAPP heat.

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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby squidd » Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:57 pm

Myles,

Have to agree with Husker.

However, if you still want the BTU's, oxy-acetylene is probably an easier (for me anyway) course of action than a forge.

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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby Husker » Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:11 pm

I bought an oxy acc a couple years ago, and I would NOT want to do any large copper sweating with anything less than that. It has such a nice LITTLE flame, i.e. very accurately ONLY heats what you want it to, and does so without carbonizing a LARGE section of your copper. When working with 2", I think it works so much better.

People use MAPP all the time to do 2", but I find the little flame of the oxy torch works so much cleaner.

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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby HookLine » Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:53 pm

I use 2% silver braze rods (coz they are cheap), and as long as you have enough heat to do it they work fine.
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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby myles » Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:13 am

Thanks for that everyone. I suspect I have fallen foul of some clever advertising ploy from the people selling the high percentage silver solder. Sure its good stuff, but it looks like its really not needed in this application.
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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby heynonny » Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:02 am

I have an ox/acet torch but I purchased a propane regulator and use my acet 'rosebud' (used for heating large areas) with my still propane tank and the ox bottle. One can heat a large area quickly. I use 'Hobart' 'Blockade' hard solder (used in air conditioning soldering) Its good at filling gaps if one is a mite sloppy, , , hey
  
 
 
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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby Husker » Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:28 am

How much cheaper in the long run, is using propane vs acet? I know a propane bottle (20lb), is about $15 to fill, and the ACC is much more. Just wondering how fast you draw down that propane?

I might look into that type setup. acet IS an overkill. Fun, but certainly much more heat than you 'really' need to properly work copper.

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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby Rebel_Yell » Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:07 pm

You'll like the propane for dealing with copper pipe...

http://www.cousesteel.com/AndysPlace/PropaneAcetylene.html
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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby HookLine » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:42 pm

Thanks for that link, Rebel. Good info.
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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby Husker » Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:30 am

I agree, good info link.

However, I think I will stick with O2/Ace for the actual braze/soldering. There is one huge missing part of propane/O2. That is the CO2 shield you get with acetylene. From this reading, that is lacking in the propane/O2. However, I think heating for annealing, and some other purposes I have, it would work great, and be much cheaper. Sounds like it actually has much more actual thermal power, just a little less temp, and little more O2 use, and lack of the CO2 barrier.

But certainly useful, if all I need is a fitting and new torch tips. Cutting with propane also sounds very interesting, as cutting will suck a bottle of acetylene dry in no time at all.

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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby heynonny » Tue Mar 10, 2009 7:37 am

VERY interesting link, Rebel, thanks.
Another thing about acet for heating. Those acet tanks are full of it looks like cotten stuffing from an old sofa because the bottles are (not completely)fulled with liquid acetone which when the acetelyne is introduced under pressure, the acet is absorbed by the liquid acetone. This is a MUCH more stable way of storage as gaseous acetelyne is rather unstable. I dont reccomend this , but if one lays a bottle of acet on its side and uses it welding /cutting one sees tiny whiteish specks in the flame (depending on size of bottle/amount of gas being consumed) This is the liquid acetone coming out with the acetelyne. Doing a lot of cutting really requires a large size bottle as one needs a greater (internal)volume to supply adequite gas for cutting/heating. When I bought my propane regulator I also bought my acetelyne rosebud tip (It was cheaper than, and, they had one on the shelf)
Also I think most of us (correct me if I'm wrong) use propane for heat, so theres that tank, and believe me, propane is WAY cheaper than acetelyne. -hey-
  
 
 
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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby Dnderhead » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:20 am

You can use propane/ox with your acetylene torch, all you need is bottle and regulator. you need to use bigger tips but it is good for heating,brazing
and soldering
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Re: Solder for an all Copper Pot Still

Postby Ugly » Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:10 pm

When the price of plasma cutters came down, I pretty much stopped using the torches for cutting. Still, oxy propane gives excellent easy to control flame for both cutting and brazing or welding and the stationary set is propane powered. My little portable set are still oxy/acet though and I find they heat things up faster and work way better in extreme cold than the propane does.

If I braze anything (that needs to be food grade) large together I use a hard argentium silver brazing wire. It never tarnishes and matches stainless really well for those times when you're mating copper to stainless. It uses germanium as the alloy agent (instead of copper).

I Still have about a 100 ' of hard stirling wire in 12 gauge left as well but with the copper base in it, it looks crappy as soon as you use it. I'm getting picky, if I put all that time into something, I want it to look pretty...
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