Repairing a Broken Tracker Bar
by Craig Smith (070211 MMDigest)

Hi,  I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned using "Tix Solder" for this job.  Tix is a very strong solder (4000+ psi) that melts at about 275 degrees F., much lower temperature than ordinary solder.

Tix iridium solder was invented in the 1940s by a fellow who was making jewelry.  He wanted to add some details to a piece of jewelry that had been soldered together without accidentally unsoldering the previously soldered assembly.  Although there were solders having various melting temperatures available for sequential assembly at the time, he didn't always know which solder had been used on a particular piece.  He found that iridium solder melted at so low a temperature that it was always safe to use.

He made the solder in a small lab in Montana with the help of family and friends.  A school girl friend of his daughter (I think) was hired part time to help with packaging and decorating some other items he sold.  Over the years, she took on various other jobs in the business.  She alone is the surviving member of the group and she actually produces the entire world's supply of Tix herself.

I had a nice chat with her a couple years ago.  It was soon clear that she was not only the office manager, but the shipping clerk, and the metallurgist and the production manager and the production department.  She does have a part time book keeper.  She got my order out very quickly.  When I called back two hours later to order a bottle of flux, she had already taken the first box to the post office and had to send a second package.

It's probably easier (for you and her) to buy Tix from someone on eBay or a clock supply house like www.merritts.com   Model builders and jewelry makers also sell it.

This stuff works wonders and is simple to use.  I don't even bother getting out the soldering iron or torch any more.  A couple years ago I needed to join the nine large pieces of a crankshaft for a barrel organ (1/2-inch brass, etc.).  I pressed the parts together in the correct shape, applied a little Tix flux, and laid them on the bench.  Then I got out the heat gun and warmed them up for a couple minutes.  Just a touch at each joint with a piece of Tix solder and the parts were bonded.  (I'll send a picture for the Archive.)

The great thing is that there is no burning or even discoloration of the part (like you get with a torch).  And, of course, there is no distortion or de-tempering.  Lastly, it is _much_ stronger than regular solder.

By the way, on the tracker bar, I would heat the whole thing up a bit with a heat gun, but not up to soldering temperature.  Then use a soldering gun to heat the joint locally and apply the solder.  Just tap the tube back into place and use the Tix to solder the old solder back together.  Good luck.

Craig Smith
near Rochester, New York, USA
11 Feb 2007 11:05:06 -0500

smithcCrank.jpg (19 kb)


12 February 2007