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  1. #1
    Senior Member twaits will become famous soon enough

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    Installing a silver coin as a front sight

    I just had a machinist friend mill out a slot and insert an old silver coin in a cut down Walker barrel. I have never done any soldering before. What is the best way to go about silver soldering this in so it doesn't come out.
    He said he had to pound it in the slot so it's real tight but I'd like to make sure it never comes out. Do I just torch heat the area and let the solder run into the crack? How hot to I need to get it? I don't want to melt the coin

  2. #2
    Supporting Member cochise is on a distinguished road
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    Silver solder is the way to go. It must be very clean, no immaculate clean before soldering. No oil or solvents can be present. You will need flux, with the silver solder. I use brazing tips with my combination torch with a soft blue flame. Heating is difficult to determine and approach carefully. Just enough to melt the solder. Then cleaning the area with borax to remove excess flux, scraping with a brass "chisel".

    You need to practice. You can google "silver soldering" and get a more detailed explanation than my short dissertation. :-)

    The bottom line, it is not hard to do but it is a skill developed by doing many, many times, not one try. I suggest taking it to an experienced person, perhaps even a jeweler.
    Jim
    NRA Pistol Inst
    "The only reason a warrior is alive is to fight and the only reason a warrior fights is to win. -- Musashi

  3. #3
    Senior Member fitz2 is on a distinguished road

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    funny you would bring up silver sights, i installed a silver dime front sight on my .03 pocket hammer, i thought about posting a picture on your early auto thread. anyway, i'v done a lot of soldering on plumbing, the first thing that comes to mind is that if there is any oil, dirt, anything, down in the slot solder won't stick. maybe if you use contact cleaner in a spray can it might clean it enough. you must also use flux to draw the solder in and make it stick. as you said you don't heat the sight itself. also theres different kinds of solder, one for plumbing, another for electrical connections. i found the silver dime was very soft, i dought he could have pounded it very hard or it would be flat on top. i did not have to solder mine as you know it was staked. good luck.

  4. #4
    Supporting Member rhmc24 is on a distinguished road
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    As I understand your description, you already have a friction fit which may not need any further attention. It may be too tight a fit to get solder to flow into it now. With care and properly shaped tool, the barrel metal along sides of you sight could be flowed in to make a tighter fit.

    For future reference -- a similar job couple weeks ago. Gun had slot already in barrel that was dirty, cleaned it out with dentist's bobs, then fitted a piece of silver coin into the slot. Next, applied fllux into the slot with a toothpick, and same flux on the coin where it will fit into the slot and 'tinned' the coin lightly. Cut some solder into fine (really fine) pieces and put a few of them into the slot in the bbl. With other part of the barrel held securely in vise, I put the coin in the slot. It won't go all the way because of the solder chips. I put a wire around the bbl & 'new sight' to hold it in place, heat with a torch with pressure till solder melts and the sight takes its seat in place.

    Solder I used is silver-bearing low temp solder about 3% silver. Usual silver solder takes high temp getting work up to/near red heat - ruins any finish and not necessary for this kind of job. By 'tinned' I mean melt solder lightly over the surface to assure final bonding.

    Only after I had the 'sight' secured into the barrel I trimmed it to look like I wanted.

  5. #5
    Senior Member twaits will become famous soon enough

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    Thanks for all your replies. I may either take rhmc's advise and try just peening the barrel steel into the coin or take it to my gunsmith friend and watch him silver solder it to learn how it's done.
    It's in there real tight. He must have driven it home with a wooden mallet. I think it would be pretty difficult to remove at this point.
    In the meantime here's some pictures of what it looks like in case anyone has further comments:






  6. #6
    *** ColtForum MVP *** dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all dfariswheel is a name known to all

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    One thing more to be clear.
    Silver solder is really silver brazing.
    Real silver solder starts to melt up around 1100 degrees.
    That's a dull red heat and will ruin the bluing around the front of the barrel.

    Often when people talk about "silver solder", they're talking about the soft solder sold that has about 3% silver content and melts around 400 degrees or so.
    This is in no way nearly as strong as silver brazing and usually won't hold a front sight.
    In this case, since you have a very tight fit, it "might" hold.
    Done with care and using a protective anti-flux around the area you can solder the sight and not ruin the bluing.
    Whether soft solder will hold is something only shooting will tell.

    So you need to be clear with your gunsmith about silver "solder" and real silver solder (braze), because even many gunsmiths are not clear on the difference.
    Your options are to use soft solder and hope it holds, or silver solder and plan on refinishing the barrel.

  7. #7
    Senior Member twaits will become famous soon enough

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    Thanks dfarris. I'm not too concerned about the blueing as I'm probably going to artificially age the whole piece once it's done. I think I may try just peening the sight in for now and see how it holds. If it flys out during firing and I lose it, I'll just put another coin in there. Duwhat was kind enough to send me several small silver coins for this project.

    I expect its going to shoot pretty low which I kind of hope it does as I'd like to file it down a bit lower.

  8. #8
    Senior Member peacemaker is on a distinguished road

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    Remember, too, that solder will flow to where the heat is. In other words, if you heat the coin the solder will flow up the coin, not into the slot. You would need to heat the barrel by the base of the coin to get the solder to flow into the slot. The coin will absorb enough heat from the barrel to form a good bond with the solder.

  9. #9
    Supporting Member Oyeboten is on a distinguished road
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    Indeed, as other are saying -

    The term 'Silver Solder' is often ambiguous or confused in common use.

    Lead Tin Solders, which can contain a little Silver are still 'Solders' in so far as they are fairly soft, and have a relatively low Melting point.

    Surfaces must ne scrupulously clean, including the portion of the Coin you wish to Solder to the relief slot of the Barrel.

    An Acid Flux is usually used when Soldering Steel, or, when Soldering Brass, Copper, Silver or whatever, to Steel.

    Any good higher Tin count Lead Solder would be fine for this, if it is done right...it would hold very well in this application.


    Brazing with Silver content Brazing Rods or any sort of Brazing Rods of whatever Alloy, will tend to require a Temperature which may be close to, equal to or exceed that of the melting point of the Coin, so, if you wished to Braze the Coin in place, using a Silver Alloy Brazing Rod, do try and elect a Rod who's Alloy is on the lower end of the heat spectrum for Brazing.

    If it was me, I would just be sure to do good prep work ( cleaning of the surfaces to be Soldered, Acid cleaning even, use an Acid Flux of a kind used for Soldering Steel ) and use Plumber's Solder of a 60/40 or high Tin sort, and never worry about the Sight falling off or getting dislodged from being bumped or anything, it'll stay put just fine.


    Good advice also there from peacemaker, about how Solder ( or Brazing for that matter, ) will wish to migrate to the Heat...so how and to where the focus of Torch Heating is done, so travels the Solder or Brazing.


    Silver Solder, you can use a little 'Bernz-o-Matic' or other little Propane or MAPP outfit like most Plumbers use for Soldering Copper Pipe Joints.

    Brazing, Silver Alloy Brazing and related, you pretty well need to have an Oxy-Acetylene outfit, or, an outfit which combines Oxygen and a flammible Gas anyway, to get enough Heat.


    You know, if you wanted, I bet you could get an 1840s Mexican Coin, on the e-bay, for like the price of a Cup of Coffee at Starbucks or so, if not less...maybe not a Silver one, but, a Copper one anyway, and run it date 'up'...would be pretty alright...

    I had in mind to do this with one of mine too!
    Last edited by Oyeboten; 05-04-2011 at 11:41 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member thirteenandy is on a distinguished road

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    I once saw a schofield that had been cut down and a silver dime put in as a front sight. It looked like it may have been done in the 1800s. It looked really cool. The barrel around the dime had been "squished" up against it.


 

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