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Topband: Radial wire selection and installation

To: <>
Subject: Topband: Radial wire selection and installation
From: (John B. Mitchell)
Date: Sat, 7 Sep 2002 15:36:58 -0400
Don, that's cool, but honestly, I don't see any need to solder radials.  If
I did, I'd go all the way and use silver solder, like used in air
conditioning repair.

Why waste time soldering?  You don't gain anything by doing that.  Twisted
together or clamped connections, waterproofed, are just as good electrically
and have the additional advantage of being maintainable.  You can unwrap
them and check every few years, just to ensure QC.  Can't do that with a
soldered connection; if it's bad, you won't even know.   Plus all that lost

John K4IQ
----- Original Message -----
From: "Donald Chester" <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, September 07, 2002 4:43 AM
Subject: Re: Topband: Radial wire selection and installation

>From: "John B. Mitchell" <>

>One approach I learned from W3YOZ avoids soldering radials, which is time
>consuming and ineffective unless great pains are taken to completely
>waterproof each soldered connection.

It is a matter of using the correct solder.  Lead/tin in contact with the
soil will quickly disintegrate into a white powder.  I once tried it, and
had to resolder all the connections every couple of weeks.

I now use a silver alloy that is used by plumbers to solder copper water
pipes.  It comes in flat sticks about 1/8" wide and 18" long.  You need a
brazing torch because an ordinary propane torch doesn't get hot enough.  I
use a "MAPP GAS" torch, which looks and works exactly like a propane torch.

The sticks of silver solder don't need any external flux.  If the copper is
clean and free of scale and green oxide coating, it will take to the melted
solder like a sponge takes to water.  The copper has to be heated to a faint
dull red.  Just be careful; it is easy to accidentally overheat copper wire
to the melting point with a brazing torch!

I installed my present radial system 20 years ago and it is still intact.  I
don't recall the brand name of the silver alloy product, but it is available
at any welding supplier.  It is a violation of federal law to use lead alloy
solder to connect copper water pipes, since lead may leach into the drinking
water supply.  Therefore, any welding or plumbing supply shop should carry
it in stock.  Just tell them what I described and they will know what it is.


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