Can't do simple freaking soldering on brass pipe

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I'm a total newbie at this stuff, but it shouldn't be this freaking hard. All I'm trying to do is a simple repair on a 1" brass pipe. I've cut away a section of the old pipe and I've got the new section ready along with two 1" coupler fittings. I've never done any soldering, but I've got a book that explains it and it didn't look that hard. I even talked to people who made it sound like a really simple thing.
Well, my first attempt went really, really poorly. I couldn't get a solid bead of solder around the joint. It was a total mess. So, I cut that away, cut another section of new pipe, bought some more couplings and tried again. I'm still having a similar problem. I can't get the solder to go onto the pipe. It's really pissing me off!
This should be simple. I sanded the fittings and applied soldering paste, put the fittings together, heated them to the point where the paste is bubbling, and then tried to apply the solder. Both sets of instructions I've read said to stop applying heat at that point and the solder should just go on easily. Well, I tried that and it isn't working. Someone else said I should keep applying heat to the solder. I tried that and it isn't working. It seems like no matter how much I heat the joint or the solder, it won't stick to the pipe. It's like the solder just breaks off into little chunks and falls right off.
Any ideas what I'm doing wrong? This is seriously pissing me off and I'm about to do some serious damage to my plumbing on purpose. This is freaking simple stuff, yet I can't do it and I'm ready to put my fist through a wall, which is a bad idea. I'd like to get this done without breaking any bones.
Any thoughts?
Thanks, John
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on 7/22/2007 7:02 PM snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com said the following:

Open a sink faucet above the pipe you are trying to solder. It sounds ike you have water in the pipe which is drawing away the heat. Get a pail to put under the pipe you are trying to solder to catch the water after you open the faucet.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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This is a vertical pipe outside my house that feeds my sprinkler system. I'm working on a section that has no water in it at all right now. I appreciate the tip, though.
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wrote:

Most likely cause is you are not getting the joint hot enough. Apply the heat for a longer time. Then chill out (pun intended). Losing patience is not the best way to accomplish this task.
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When I did this yesterday I thought my problem was that I was getting it too hot and was drying out the soldering paste. I heated the joint for a really long time yesterday and the results were awful. Then I re- read my instructions and they said to heat it for 4-5 seconds. I thought maybe I was drying out the flux and that made it difficult for the solder to go where it needed to go. I thought it was pretty dang hot when I tried it again earlier. I don't know how it's possible that the solder wouldn't stick. It's just blowing my mind. I've never even watched someone do this, though. I bet i'd spot my mistakes immediately if I could watch someone who knew what he was doing.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Video of copper pipe soldering http://www.askthebuilder.com/How_to_Solder_Copper_Pipe_Video.shtml
Copper to brass soldering video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1HubIlo01w

--
Dave
www.davebbq.com
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I just watched those videos (thanks, by the way!) and I still don't see what I'm doing wrong. The only thing I can think is maybe I didn't have the fittings quite shiny enough, but I thought they were. Or maybe I'm using too much flux? Is that possible?
I guess the problem I have now is that I have an unfinished soldering job. Is it possible to pick up where I left off or do I have to cut that section out and start over with a new coupling?
Thanks!
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go here:
http://www.terrylove.com/forums/index.php
look for topic on sweat joints
Sweating 1" isn't the place to be learning but no matter where you go, there you are.
--
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The fitting when headed will change colors. I usually wait till its a shade of black, then it will kind of turn a light color again. Then apply the solder... IT takes way more then 10 seconds to get the heat applied all the way around the fitting.
Scott<-

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wrote:

It think it doesn't help that I'm using propane. From what I've heard today, propane isn't as hot as acetylene or MAPP. Maybe I'll try again and let it get even hotter. I'm going to end up going through a whole bottle of propane on two couplings! This is ridiculous... I know I'm not a handy man, but this can't be that hard! Those videos made it look so easy.
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That's why plumbers get paid so much - it isn't easy. I have heard a lot of people speak ill of propane, I don't necessarily believe that. I think MAPP just makes it go quicker.
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Also, don't apply the heat to the actual joint, apply it to both sides of the joint, keep moving the torch from one spot to the other and for 1" pipe be sure to cover all around the joint, that is a large joint and it will soak up a lot of heat.
Rather than try to do a complete joint, why don't you tin the brass pipe. The brass metal seems to be the problem, so work on this by itself by heating and applying solder to the brass pipe by itself so you can see what is happening and without the joint there will be less metal to drain the heat away. When you get it coated in solder take a cloth and wipe the excess melted solder off the pipe so you can slip the coupling on over it, it will go much smoother if you do this.

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That's an interesting approach. I might give that a try. As someone else pointed out, though, this is almost certainly copper pipe and fittings. I don't know why I kept saying brass earlier. This is just a one-inch water line to a sprinkler system. I think that would be an odd use for brass, wouldn't it? The fact that I don't know with 100% certainty probably shows that I shouldn't be attempting this. However, that's one of the reasons my ex-wife left me. :) I know I'm not much of handyman, but I'm trying to learn.
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One-inch copper pipe is a pretty big piece of metal to heat up with a handheld propane torch. Copper conducts heat quite well, so you're actually heating a substantial length of pipe, not just a few inches around the joint. You may want to try a "swirl torch", which is hotter than a normal torch when burning just propane, and sometimes they will also burn MAPP which is even hotter.
Also, I'd suggest getting some half-inch copper pipe scraps and couplings and try soldering them first. That's easier, and you'll get an idea of what "hot enough" is, and how melted solder flows when it's working properly, how fast the copper heats up, and so on.
What you're trying to do is sort of like cutting down a tree that's two feet in diameter with an axe, when you've never cut anything with an axe before. Start smaller, develop some skill and confidence first before tackling a bigger job.
    Dave
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Incorrect. Apply heat to the fitting only. Not to the joint, not to the pipe. Just to the fitting. The pipe will get plenty hot enough anyway.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Get a scrap piece of copper pipe and a few cheap fittings and do some practice joints.
- Make sure the copper is clean - Make sure you coat the joint in flux - Start with the bottom joint... Heat goes up and it will make the upper joint go faster. Also, you have less chance of using too much solder when the solder has to flow upwards. - The flux is there to clean the metal and has NOTHING to do with the solder itself. It doesn't matter how much the flux bubbles. You want the METAL hot enough to melt solder QUICKLY. - Heat the joint, all the way around. You want the pipe AND fitting hot enough to melt the solder WITHOUT any help from the torch. - When you think it's hot enough, take the flame away and put the solder against the seam of the joint, the solder should liquify quickly and suck into the joint.
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wrote:

Makes no difference when soldering. Heated *fluids* rise; in a solid, heat is conducted in all directions equally.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Sun, 22 Jul 2007 23:37:59 -0000, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

I had the same experience. I bought a bag of copper fittings and pipe and 3 kinds of flux and 2 kinds of solder and then experimented.
The white paste flux worked for me, but the clear liquid flux didn't. The cheaper solder worked better than the expensive high silver solder.
The mapp gas worked much better than propane and was twice as quick at heating the joint before the flux was cooked off.
I found that cherry red was too hot but a dull glow was just right.
I also was able to braze with the mapp gas, but that was cherry red.
practice practice practice.
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A dull glow is still *much* hotter than necessary.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

Maybe valvejob thinks the op is trying to weld the pipes together?
Cherry red is far beyond what you need
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