Soldering copper (first timer)

Need to put in a new feed for my new cooker as the old pipework is knackered and in the wrong place and I'm fed up of gas bills even though I use no gas...
I've refused to touch copper until now but decided to give it a go anyway.
I've had a practice on some pipe and end feed? fittings.
(What happened to the FAQ?)
Anyway have I got this right etc.
Clean pipe/fitting with wire wool until shiny.
Apply flux to both bits and assemble. How much flux is enough, a thin smear like cream on a burn, see below. Or more than a thin coating.
Heat joint with burner on "pretty high/noisy" setting. Am I watching for any particular change of colour in the copper etc.
Apply solder onto joint/around joint.
Keep joint still until cool.
Now apart from burning my wrist with the end of the solder reel when I dropped the piece of pipe which got hot for some reason, haha. Doh. Gonna sting in the morning... :-)
Am I looking to build up the joint edge with solder or just apply enough to run into the joint between the pieces? ie. it's the joint that matters not the outside. Checked some old soldering in the house and there's solder all over the place.
I've uploaded a couple of pictures:
http://uk.f2.pg.photos.yahoo.com/marknicesenior
As examples, seem to be able to get the solder to show through to the inside of the joint I take it that's a "good" thing without too much trouble.
I think I overheated the outsides of the two pictures as I wasn't sure if it was hot enough.
Before I do anymore practising any pointers or advice much appreciated now it's raining and my gardening is on hold.
Mark S.
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<snipped>
You've made a not bad job of the fittings shown in the pictures. :-) But don't heat as much as to cause a major change in the colour of the fittings or pipe. I'd also advise you to put everything together, including fitting it in all pipe clips, then go back over with the flame and solder.
What you're trying to achieve is a full collar of solder around the joints and you should also see the molten solder being drawn in to the space around the fitting and the pipe, called capillary action, so that the fitting and pipe are almost coming together as one piece.
Flux is a very powerful cleaner, so just a smear of flux is important all around the pipe and inside the fitting which you have clean as much or all of the oxidised copper from. As you said, you cleaned the pipe and fitting until it was shiny. Good. The flux can be applied with a clean tooth brush, or something similar, and not to much as any spillage will eventually eat its way through the copper, so after making good all the joint and letting them cool, wipe them with a damp rag to remove the excess.
Apart from this rambling, I think you've made a good enough job (although I couldn't see all around the joints) of the ones in your pictures.
Good luck with, and try to get yourself leak revealer paste from somewhere, and apply it to the joints after you've let the system settle for a few minutes. Any obvious leaks will become apparent from the smell and vomiting, but any small leaks will be shown up the revealer paste.
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Pratt ..
OP - look in the FAQs
--
raden

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wrote:

Correct.
A smear should be enough but should be a reasonable amount - i.e. don't scrimp but don't plaster it on either.

It depends on the torch and on the size of fitting. 15mm does not need that much heat, but 28mm would.

I tend to work roughly by time and experience of how long it takes for the copper to be hot enough. Too short a time and the solder won't melt and flow properly, too long and the flux has burnt off.

and make sure that it is drawn into the joint. If you use capillary fittiings then look for the ring of solder all round.

This is very important. You mustn't move it or artificially cool it.

Yep.
I wouldn't compare with other work. You shouldn't need or even be able to create a build up of solder. There should be solder drawn into the joint and at least a ring of it around the fitting where it meets the pipe.

I can't really see from the pictures whether these are good joints or not.. One of them looks like it might have been a bit cool when you applied the solder. There is a bit of excess lumpy stuff in one of the pictures

Mark, to be honest, I think that at this point your gas fitting ought to be as well.
This really isn't the application to practice early stage pipe soldering. If you don't get it right for whatever reason, the consequences can be dire, and I'm sure you know that.
If you were talking about doing some wet plumbing, then I'd say go ahead and practice, first of all with some fittings as you have been, then put something into service. I practiced first of all by putting in a garden tap using compression fittings and then making up various pipe arrays with fittings and stops and putting them under mains water pressure, outside. I had done electronics soldering since I was about 8 or 9, so had a reasonable idea about getting the heat right, the flux and what a dry joint looks like. After fairly few goes I could consistently do leak free joints.
I then progressed to putting in baths, toilets and stuff like that and then did a complete heating system, but not the gas connection. The heating system had no leaks at soldered joints.
All of this was about 25 years ago. Since then I've done another complete CH system and countless jobs in between.
Only recently did I do a boiler gas connection. However, this was armed with having done a lot of pipe soldering with water systems. More importantly, I spent a great deal of time checking what the rules are for pipe sizing and then the tests that must be done after doing gas pipe installation. It is not just a case of brushing soapy water on the joints - there are specific regulatory tests which must be done.
Given the situation, I honestly think that it would not be a smart move for you to do this job - it might be OK, but the risks are high. One problem with gas is that the pressure is relatively low and may not expose a faulty joint straight away.
I can appreciate that you are probably trying to save cost as much as you can, but one important part about DIY is making value judgments about when not to do so. I think that this is one of them and I would really suggest getting a CORGI person to do the job. By all means watch and ask questions.
Please don't take this as a put down, it looks as though you are on the right lines with soldering and with a bit of practice you'll do a consistently good job. As I say, I would start with wet plumbing first.
I like reading your posts and would like to continue doing so.........

.andy
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wrote:

As Wallop said, what you've done is by no means horrendous. The best thing really is to practice.

I think that that's a great idea. It's unlikely that you'll get a complete joint failure, so the worst thing might be a squirt of water from an incomplete ring of solder. More typically you get seepage and a drip from a joint.
As long as it doesn't matter if a certain amount of water ends up on the floor then this is a good way to practice.
For a stop tap for this lot, either use a brass stop cock or a lever ball valve. Gate valves don't really seal that well.
Also try to arrange a second valve to drain the length of pipe - this can be another stop cock or lever ball valve or a CH drain cock.
One thing you will otherwise learn is that soldering does not work where there is any hint of water.

.andy
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