Gold Soldering Troubles

Hi All, First of all let me express my appreciation to all the people
on this list who so openly share their knowledge and experience. I am
(so far) self-taught but have reached the point where I need some
tips and pointers to continue learning and to minimize (hopefully)
costly mistakes.

Most of our work is in silver but requests for gold items are
increasing. I have done a fair amount of soldering with silver,
copper, brass and feel very comfortable with it. The few gold items I
have soldered have been difficult. I was soldering a pair of cuff
links and some tie tacks the other day and had a lot of difficulty
getting the solder to flow. The cuff link backs were gold filled,
using Smith Little Torch (oxy/acet) and Rio gold paste solder. I
started with a #3 tip and med. high flame. It seemed like I could
just get everything almost to solder temp. but no flow, no
connection. I was concerned about holding the heat on for too long
and burning out the flux and I was also reluctant to crank up the gas
or oxy much more with that size tip. I have had occaisions where the
gas flow over powered the #3 tip and it blew out at a critical
point…clean up and start over. So after a couple of aborted
attempts, I went up to a #4 tip and med. low flame. It got everything
very hot, very fast, solder flowed beautifully but I had to bring the
gold piece up to a very bright orange-red color before the solder
flowed. The cuff links came out fine but I had a melt-down on one of
the three tie tacks. My exclamation of “f—!!” could be heard
throughout South Austin, I’m sure.

Needless to say it put a black cloud over an otherwise beautiful day
and it does stress me out a bit to have to get gold pieces with
intricate designs so hot.

Should I be supplementing the paste solder with additional flux? Is
it “normal” to have to get gold this hot? Help!

Any tips, insight, emotional support, etc. would be greatly

Thanks, -Mike
Mike Dibble
Black Horse Design
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