Thursday, February 16, 2012

Soldering Iron

Much like a dog with a car, now that I've caught one,

I don't know what to do with it

There's a disease which seems to afflict men in the fifties known as Lidl-itis. My father in law is a sufferer and I know of several others. Whenever they enter the confines a certain discount supermarket they see some tool or household device available and they leave with three. One to use, one to lend and one for "good wear." The problem that its not cheap if you didn't need it in the first place is one that doesn't seem to phase them.

However, I shouldn't grouse too much - it does mean that my father in law is always willing to lend me tools.

Also it would appear that I've become a fellow sufferer. I have no idea what I want a soldering iron for, I'm not even sure what I'd do with it, but it was on sale in the ubiqitous discount supermarket for €12 and I think I recall one being used in Donald Featherstone's Complete Book of Wargaming so I had to buy it.

I was wondering if it would work for sticking metal figures together, but I'm reluctant to start mauling precious toy soldiers without any idea if it will work or not. Any suggestions as to what I can do with it?


  1. What to use it for? Why intricate charging cavalry figure conversions like Doug Mason, Bill Gaskin, et al have done in the past of course!

    Carry On Conrad,


  2. You have to be very careful with these, yours seems a fine-tipped one so you may be all right, but there is a tendency for the figure to apparently do nothing for a few moments (while - unbeknown to you - it evenly distributes the heat about itself) then it suddenly collapses into a fast setting puddle of molten metal!!

    Try it on a spare figure or two first. If it is fine enough to work in a localised area you can solder figures together, or micro-tanks and stuff, the trick is to use the soft-solder and try to 'nip' a blob of that onto the cold join using flux to spread it before it sets. But you'll probably decide it's still easier with super-glue!

    Where it will come into it's own is soldering brass rod for scenics, old-school trees of twisted wire and be given a bit of rigidity or TV masts and the like can be produced on balsa formers, pin out the rod and spot-solder the joins or overlaps.

    Several years ago I was wandering up to town for a meal with Peter Burgner (of PB Toys) and he was telling me about this brilliant new tool he's bought and I started telling him I'd got a fantastic mini-drill with dozens of tools for a few quid...and because I say Alldee in a slightly plummy voice and he says Arl'd with an almost silent 'i' in a German accent it was only after several [cheap] tool-related anecdotes that we realised that we'd both got the which point we admitted we also frequented Lidl!

  3. Conrad,

    I have found mine to be useful repairing wiring in my cheap Ikea lamps...

  4. My Dad also has this disease, and I agree it is good, he keeps bringing round tins of Parmesan Cheese and strange pickled things that I don't want to taste. No soldering irons though?

  5. You're not alone. I bought a soldering iron a few years ago - though I think mine came from Netto - and while I have used it (mostly for Airsoft rifle repairs) I haven't exactly worn it out.

  6. In my experience, a typical soldering iron is hot enough to instantly melt the material of most white metal miniatures. The only use I can think of is in creating particularly gory casualty figures.

    I have heard of people using solder on minis, but I suspect they either use low-melt solder & irons, or otherwise know some other secret.

  7. Many years ago I had one as well, inherited from an uncle, you have to be carful with them as you can damage toy soldiers and chair arms if I remember rightly (they remain hot for quite a while - DON'T set them down however briefly on the chair you are working from !)

  8. I imagine your cheap iron won't have variable temperature settings - in whih case you'll have to be very careful. As already noted a standard iron will typically operate at a higher temperature than a white metal alloy can stand. I use a specialist low temp iron (by antex) and low melt 'wood' solder, carrs 70 usually - there's no danger of me melting the figures but i have to remember not to stir my tea with them afterwards....

  9. I tried to solder soldiers a decade back, mostly 54mm homecasts but also Scruby 40's since they were designed to have their arms soldered on.

    I never melted a figure. Or got anything to stick.


  10. " Any suggestions as to what I can do with it?"

    Very dangerous question seeing how we have, according to you in earlier post, an abusive relationship !! so be extremely careful when i'm in close proximity to you and iron, otherwise you'll find where a monkey sticks his nuts!!

    on a serious note not advisable to use it on your figures, you'll end up with a molten lump

  11. Can't offer you any wisdom, old boy. Never used one. It does sound useful for poking obstinate rules lawyers with before they get too far out of hand.

  12. Good Lord - an embarrassment of advice. Thanks chaps. I actually thought of something to do with it today, I lent it to Savage who is going to be using it to do some work on some foam hills.

    We shall see his results in the fullness of time.