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Repairing Pewter


#1

I have a small pewter hip flask that has a failed soldered
connection along the bottom. I have never soldered/welded pewter
before, although I am aware that it has a significantly low melting
point. Any tips or advice would be very welcome

John Bowling


#2

My first incarnation was a shop I bought from my boss that had
previously done mostly silverware repairs and was transitioning to
jewelry. I had a silversmith who did this very repair many times. He
was good, once I watched him remove dents from a dumb bell rattle by
hammering on the outside, go figure! I dabbled also.

Preference is to use a big heavy soldering iron and no-lead soft
solder. My guess is you don’t have one of those so you’re stuck with
a torch.

You want a very soft flame. Clean your joint obviously, cutting a
groove along the failed seam. Pewter is very touchy. Get some pewter
scrap to practice on. Pewter melts not too much higher than the
solder, your margin of error is small.


#3
I have a small pewter hip flask that has a failed soldered
connection along the bottom. I have never soldered/welded pewter
before, although I am aware that it has a significantly low
melting point. Any tips or advice would be very welcome 

Practice a lot before working on the piece. Pewter workers make it
look simple, it is not. Tix solder might be helpful, lower melting
temp than pewter but it is tough. Problem is, there is no warning
that the pewter it ready to melt, then instantly there is a hole.
Working on thin gauge is, for me, especially difficult. If it is a
valuable piece, I would recommend getting it to a pewter worker and
pay them to do it.

I have done a limited (and I do mean limited) amount of work on
pewter, and I found it pretty difficult. Silver, gold and bronze is
much easier, at least for me.

John Dach


#4

You need special pewter solder and flux; ordinary lead based solder
is no good 'cos the pewter melts before the solder. If you are
experienced with using a flame then that is the thing to use,
otherwise use a soldering iron. I’ve done it, but the first joint was
nerve racking; there is not much leeway between melting the solder
and melting the pewter.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#5

Hi John;

I have a small pewter hip flask that has a failed soldered
connection along the bottom. I have never soldered/welded pewter
before 

There are pewter solders and fluxes available, try Contenti. If
you’ve got an “TIX” solder and flux, that will work. Pewtersmiths
used to use alcohol lamps and blow pipes, which provided a gentle,
controlable flame, but a torch would work… just start out easy.
Clean the metal with a scratch brush, apply flux (ruby paste flux
isn’t designed for TIX, but it’s good for pewter. If the job scares
you off, I’ve fixed lots of that stuff, email me off forum.

David L. Huffman


#6

Pewter solder melts at 300’F you can get it in two different
versions. Here is one place but at least you will know what to look
for http://www.hagstoz.com/Pewter/pewter.htm

They generally have it in stock and that is were I get mine. Plus
you get short lengths.

As soldering it you can use a torch keep it back a little further
than with other metals or joins. Pewter is a lead based alloy
generally 85% tin, 6% copper 1.7%antimony 6% bismuth or in the
assorted ballpark. Melting temps 260’C 500’F depending on alloy

Britannia Metal which is referred to as pewter is lead free is 91%
tin, 2%copper, 7%antimony Melting 295’C 563’F

If you have a smaller electric soldering iron a cheap control for
temp adjustment is an electric speed control for motors or you can
make one from a light dimmer that is larger than the wattage of the
soldering iron. Used the type of rig for years to control waxes
melting point when I was making doll house hand dipped candles. Check
out the Harbor freight web site for the speed control so you can see
what it is if you don’t know what they are. Again as stated before
clean with a wire type brush, flux and by al means practice on some
scrap material.

If you watch closely the surface will darken sometimes as it
approaches the soft state before becoming fluid.

glen


#7

John,

Soldering pewter requires a very low melting point solder of the
type used in electronics. Special solders are available - this site
sells some though I know nothing about the company…
http://tinyurl.com/2n39z6

Commercially, a lot of pewter is or was soldered by holding the
piece in the bare hands in a gas flame and applying a liquid flux and
the solder wire - this gives you an idea of the temperatures
involved. You will need to try to clean out the joint as much as
possible before trying to solder it and I would suggest a glass
scratch brush for this. If you get it right and use only the minimum
of solder, it should flow along the joint and be virtually invisible.

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#8

I’ve soldered lots of pewter and since it and the solder you use are
so close in melting temp, it’s really welding more than soldering.
The solder will melt into the metal and act as a filler in the
joint, it generally won’t flow between the two pieces and bond them
like with silver, gold etc.

Tix is a good, easily available, low temp, strong solder, it melts
at 275 degrees, most high tin pewter at @ 475 - 500 degrees so it’s
a narrow window you’re working with.

Use a mini torch or a torch with a very small and concentrated soft
flame. Unless it’s a small or very thin piece, you’ll have a tough
time using a soldering iron because of the mass involved, it
probably won’t get the a large enough area hot enough to get the
solder to flow.

Get some scrap if you can and practice, it is touchy and collapses
into a puddle quickly.

Harry