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Does anyone have any experience using a dial foot welder/solder machine?

I know Mark has a video on this subject, but I was wondering if anyone uses one regularly and can provide some advice and hints/tips based on their experience. For someone at my level and not Marks.

Currently I have been using a hand milling tool (see picture below) to cut a small round recess in the back of a dial and then glue on replacement feet. However I have the following issues:

- The dial foot mill has a small point to center the cutting blade in the right position on the back of the dial, but this can cause dimples on the dial face. I have tried removing the point, but this causes the blade to wander and is useless.

- I have tried 2 part epoxy, and superglue to affix the dial feet, but the feet pop off with minimal force. I have also tried scoring the surfaces to increase the bond surface area with each type of adhesive, with little/no improvement.

This is the reason I am looking at a welding machine, my main concerns are:

- Can the heat scorch/damage the paint or finish on the dial face?

- how difficult is it to prepare the new feet prior and during the soldering process?

- any recommendations on soldering compounds/flux/????

- what are good settings for the machine

Any links to machines etc and any hints/tips/cautions  greatly appreciated.

 

 

My current tool:

IMG_20230925_132454.thumb.jpg.6cd733f0c4486d643bc6c93b71e7c223.jpg

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you should build a just Google dial foot soldering machine as that's what they're called. They were very popular when quartz watches came out as people were swapping quartz watches for mechanical watches. Yes that was a thing that was popular for a while. I've seen it done but it was so long ago that I'm not going remember much other than the general concept.

then a lot of the stuff on line is all based on a book in the way found that the second link. First link even references the book.

http://www.dirkfassbender.de/dial-feet-soldering-machine.html

you can find the book here

https://american-watchmakers-clockmakers-institute.myshopify.com/products/quartz-watch-retrofitting-by-wes-door

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Waggy said:

Does anyone have any experience using a dial foot welder/solder machine?

I know Mark has a video on this subject, but I was wondering if anyone uses one regularly and can provide some advice and hints/tips based on their experience. For someone at my level and not Marks.

Currently I have been using a hand milling tool (see picture below) to cut a small round recess in the back of a dial and then glue on replacement feet. However I have the following issues:

- The dial foot mill has a small point to center the cutting blade in the right position on the back of the dial, but this can cause dimples on the dial face. I have tried removing the point, but this causes the blade to wander and is useless.

- I have tried 2 part epoxy, and superglue to affix the dial feet, but the feet pop off with minimal force. I have also tried scoring the surfaces to increase the bond surface area with each type of adhesive, with little/no improvement.

This is the reason I am looking at a welding machine, my main concerns are:

- Can the heat scorch/damage the paint or finish on the dial face?

- how difficult is it to prepare the new feet prior and during the soldering process?

- any recommendations on soldering compounds/flux/????

- what are good settings for the machine

Any links to machines etc and any hints/tips/cautions  greatly appreciated.

 

 

My current tool:

IMG_20230925_132454.thumb.jpg.6cd733f0c4486d643bc6c93b71e7c223.jpg

Eyup waggy I have one of these made by the big B company,  i haven’t tried it yet. Some crazy fool has one up for 500 notes.  I have seen them for as little as 40 .

Screenshot_20230925-121956_eBay.jpg

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Hi. I built my own no problem. If you check out this site there is a load of data.   Mine was built on the principals by Wesley R Door and Dirk Fassbender.   It works and no problem with the dial either. Not a fan of glueing the feet on .  There is a lot of info on Google as well for all types, mine is on there it’s a black box driven from a battery charger.

 

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Hi that’s a good tooland when connected up will give years of service.  That one I think is the one devised by Wes Door. Pretty simple to use and does a good job.  Your rig as shown uses a torch to get the heat down the leg to melt the solder. The one by Wes Door uses an arc at contact point to melt the solder.  Best use either chip or paste and only apply the heat/ arc long enough to melt the solder.  No bit extra for luck.

Also what helps is a damp disc on the table. And practise on some old dials first

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1 hour ago, Waggy said:

Any recommendations for solder paste/chips?

I'm a mechanical engineer and all those boxes of sparks are very scary!

Is there a youtube (or similar) step-by-step out there to walk me through to assembly?

Hiya waggy, the liitle gadget i posted shouldn't produce sparks it uses a flame heat source. Transfers heat from various sized brass stumps down a length of copper ( eventually cut off to form the dial feet ) to the low heat melt solder paste . Solder paste containing bismuth has a melting point around 140° C . I cant say how strong this will be, i haven't tried it yet.  Would you believe i still have an untouched syringe of it in my fridge ( it can go off pretty quick, even unopened ) if you are interested i can post some photos of the device and parts and i think there is an instruction leaflet with it. I was actually going to make a low voltage electrode one with WW's help but this thing popped up on Ebay at a very silly reasonable price even just to resell it as some nutters on Ebay have them up at nearly 500 GBPs. For 50 quid it wasn't worth me getting parts together and my head around making one i was very busy at the time. Still haven't tried it yet 🤦‍♂️, but its Bergeon so it must be amazingly amazing. I liked the idea of a real heat source i could see, fire and me get on better than electric and me, like a house on fire in fact , ba-dam  tishhhh.

Edited by Neverenoughwatches
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Hi Waggy. The tool basically comprises of a transformer (mains) stepped down to 12v .   The 12v is the business end.  one clipped to the dial the other to the electrode and when they come together we get an arc. Not rocket science. I should trawl the site as I put the making on it.  I am away from my main machine where all the details are for two weeks.  Have a look ar Google they list plenty of commercial ones at silly prices and some DIY versions. Mine uses as its power source a car battery charger so no e lectrics involved and it has over current protection so no big bangs either.

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I was looking around at some stuff and came across these hot air soldering doodads. They go up to 450°C which is much more than needed for the 140°C paste. Thoughts?

Screenshot_20230926-125359.thumb.png.eed8615ec6a01a473e476d8b3afb81bc.png

Also looking at the post soldering dressing/deburring, only thing I can see out there is the Bergeon deburring tool for crazy money (big surprise). Anyone have any alternatives at real world prices?

Screenshot_20230926-125803.thumb.png.860a8b1726fa5422b5f1eb81d5c84e65.png

1 hour ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

the liitle gadget i posted shouldn't produce sparks it uses a flame heat source.

Like this idea, I have an old broken dial foot mill, thinking I could adapt it to run a copper wire of the correct diameter through the top, instead of the mill and then heat the wire to melt the solder?IMG_20230925_132454.thumb.jpg.6cd733f0c4486d643bc6c93b71e7c223.jpg

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11 minutes ago, nickelsilver said:

The reason the dial foot soldering machines work the way they do is it creates heat right at the joint, and for just a brief moment. Other methods of heating the parts to flow the solder will inevitably create too much residual heat, almost guaranteeing damage to the front of the dial.

Point taken - will look again at the electrical options 🙂

 

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55 minutes ago, Waggy said:

I was looking around at some stuff and came across these hot air soldering doodads. They go up to 450°C which is much more than needed for the 140°C paste. Thoughts?

Screenshot_20230926-125359.thumb.png.eed8615ec6a01a473e476d8b3afb81bc.png

Also looking at the post soldering dressing/deburring, only thing I can see out there is the Bergeon deburring tool for crazy money (big surprise). Anyone have any alternatives at real world prices?

Screenshot_20230926-125803.thumb.png.860a8b1726fa5422b5f1eb81d5c84e65.png

Like this idea, I have an old broken dial foot mill, thinking I could adapt it to run a copper wire of the correct diameter through the top, instead of the mill and then heat the wire to melt the solder?IMG_20230925_132454.thumb.jpg.6cd733f0c4486d643bc6c93b71e7c223.jpg

I should give mine an honest test and post the results .

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Exactly it’s not an arc welder, if one was to give it name it would be resistive soldering or I have seen it called cold soldering by the model enthusiasts.        Either way a s  Nicklesilver explained the heat is at the contact point and only for a fraction of a second to melt the solder . No damage to the dial..   Best to practise on old dials to be able to gauge the time to get a good joint with no damage. I have used mine many times and no problems.

 

Soldering has come a long way from blowlamps and irons, the hot air machines are very good but they still use heat transfer through the medium to the joint not AT the joint.

Worth trying if you have one though if not you will never know.

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1 hour ago, Waggy said:

I was looking around at some stuff and came across these hot air soldering doodads. They go up to 450°C which is much more than needed for the 140°C paste. Thoughts?

Screenshot_20230926-125359.thumb.png.eed8615ec6a01a473e476d8b3afb81bc.png

Also looking at the post soldering dressing/deburring, only thing I can see out there is the Bergeon deburring tool for crazy money (big surprise). Anyone have any alternatives at real world prices?

Screenshot_20230926-125803.thumb.png.860a8b1726fa5422b5f1eb81d5c84e65.png

Like this idea, I have an old broken dial foot mill, thinking I could adapt it to run a copper wire of the correct diameter through the top, instead of the mill and then heat the wire to melt the solder?IMG_20230925_132454.thumb.jpg.6cd733f0c4486d643bc6c93b71e7c223.jpg

For deburring, pivot or balance screw cutters if you can find one big enough to fit 0.7mm copper wire. John had the great idea of a pin vice,  i feel sure you could  put an edge on the jaws .

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I just ordered a soldering air gun from Ali Express and some low temperature soldering paste (140°C) and will test it out on a few junker dials I have kicking around - my reasoning is that I will need the solder paste and dial feet/wire and dressing tool even if I end up making/buying an electrical dial fool welder/solder machine further down the road, and I can donate my air device to my son who loves messing with electronics and it was les than $30.

Once it arrives, I'll post some pictures of the results

I also ordered some thick steel tube (1mm ID and 6 mm OD) and will cut teeth in it for dressing the feet and removing excess solder - will also let you know how this turns out.

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7 minutes ago, Waggy said:

I also ordered some thick steel tube (1mm ID and 6 mm OD) and will cut teeth in it for dressing the feet and removing excess solder - will also let you know how this turns out.

oh this reminds me they actually make a tool for this who is how expensive it is.

image.png.414767b6f8842a51383847ec2debee34.png

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I've been having a play today with a knock up test rig using a 12v dc 30A switch mode power supply as i couldn't find a suitable transformer so thought i'd have ago with a dc power supply, i got a carbon rod from the centre of an AA battery, an helping hand that as croc clips used for holding electronic parts/wires while soldering.

I used the helping hand to hold the copper wire vertical onto the surface of the test copper plate, connected the negative of the 12v smpsu to the plate, the carbon rod to the postive 12v, the copper wire and plate were cleaned prior, flux added with a  chip of solder cut from the roll i use for electronics, 60/40 0.7mm dia, i touched the copper wire with the carbon rod it sparked and the solder flowed around the wire nicely but it would not bond to the plate, i tried some 63/37 1.2mm solder aswell with and with out flux, the solder will melt and flow around the wire, it will tin the wire and form a nice blob on the wire, i tried maybe 20 times without  soldering the wire to the copper plate.

As anyone used a dc power supply or does it have to be 12v ac supply, or it could be the solder i'm using is wrong, solder paste maybe the answer,  it's a good job i wasn't practicing on a good dial or it would be totally knackered. I'll order some solder paste and see if this makes any difference.

Edited by valleyguy
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Hi,

dials are made from brass. Copper may be a too good heat sink (depending on thickness, too).

But I also wonder if it really works as well as proud Youtubers like to claim. The heated wire is still a tiny area compared to the dial plate, and both must have the same temperature for the solder ro flow. The tiny wire is to heat the big area of the dial??

Frank

 

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I have a dial feet soldering machine that runs off a 12V lead acid battery. But I don't use it much. I still prefer flame soldering from a microtorch. 

From my experience, the wire used has to be copper. For some reason, brass wire doesn't work.

Low fusing solder paste works best for me. And LESS is MORE.

Hot air soldering doesn't work. The heat is not localized enough and spreads till it scorches the dial. For successful soldering, it must be hot and it must be quick.

Cooling with a damp sponge on the dial face is not a good idea. There are some dials which are so sensitive to water, that contact with a damp sponge would mar the surface. There are some expensive setups that have an air cooling jet directed below the spot to be soldered to reduce the risk of scorching the dial.

 

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My DIY device uses a 12 v car battery charger as the power source.    The dials are usually brass and the feet. Copper wire. I have used solder paste and solder chips cut off flattened solder wire with fluxite paste, never had one not work. A solid joint and no dislike damage.  A damp sponge as Hector mentioned will cause problems with water transfer chapter rings.  W hai I use is a bit of asbestos dampened just enough , not wet

Do a search on the box door dial foot soldering machine and scroll down the results. Jan 4 th is my post and the machine I built

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