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BRAZING BALLS TO ROD

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As mentioned in the ball drilling section, you can get the metal balls from Small Parts Inc. and they also carry other useful supplies, materials & small tools. I usually purchase my silver brazing alloy & flux at welding supply shops, but I think Small Parts might have it. It has a melt temperature of 1200 degrees and the brand name is Harris Safety-Silv 56, 1/32" wire diameter which is used with the Harris Stay-Silv White brazing flux. One ounce of 1/32" wire silver braze alloy is good for starters.Here is another supplier of the Silver Brazing Alloy Parr Cycle Design. They also have their own brand of brazing flux (similar to Harris brand). Brazing balls on the rods took me much practice and the usual problem will be, that the balls will be overheated / burnt (excessively oxidized). Another problem is, that one might use too much silver brazing alloy and it will flow all over the ball. The amount of silver brazing alloy for each ball & rod varies; it depends on the ball size, hole depth, and rod diameter....there are many combinations. What I did was, keep a log / record of the quantity of silver brazing alloy for a particular ball-rod size combination. The dry granular, oxide remover (mixed with hot water) is available at Jewelery / Lapidary Supply stores and it would be in the pickling supplies section. Here is a supplier and they also carry general brazing / soldering tools, equipment, & supplies, Alpha Supply Inc.(they have an online catalog).

I forgot to mention about other kinds of metal Balls that have been used in armatures: Aluminum & Brass. Do not use aluminum balls....you cannot easily braze (or solder it) aluminum....the material is much too soft and the socketed side plates (steel, brass, or aluminum) will Grind Away at the aluminum ball surfaces. Using aluminum balls, the ball joint tension is very jerky & stiff. I have seen all Brass armatures .....this material is much easier to drill & machine. If you use brass balls, you must use Brass Side Plates. If balls & plates are the same material there is no problem with the brass ball wear (Small Parts also have brass balls). A few possible problems with brass....side plates can bend with higher joint tension, threads can possibly strip more easily, and brass reacts badly with the wet foam latex rubber (also attacks foam); however, one can seal a brass armature with high heat aluminum spray paint, then mummy-wrap the armature with plumber's white teflon tape. All steel armatures may also be protected this way.-

Update: I am writing this addendum almost a couple of years later (2002). This tutorial demonstrates a brazing method which involves high heat with the brazing alloy/solder melting at about 1200 degrees and the metal is heated to a pale orange color .... that is HOT. This brazing method ensures a very permanent and reliable joint that will never break (if brazed correctly). There is an alternate very low melting solder (about 400+ degrees) that you might use and it works if the armature is not huge or will not be subjected to rigorous animation. This works for adhering the 302 S.S. balls to Rods. Available at McMaster-Carr, a low melting solder # 7656A4 and this paste flux # 769A81. Basically the soldering procedure is the same as this tutorial but you are using a very low melting solder ..... the solder comes in 1/8" diameter so you will have to use an exacto knife to peel off small solder shavings/bits .... you first apply the vaseline-like soldering paste flux in hole, then with tweezers, place your solder shavings inside hole. This solder does not require high heat ..... again ....it melts very, very easily and so be extra cautious and do not excessively fry or toast your ball/rod. Since solder flows so easily, it might flow onto ball surface at the rod area. Because solder is somewhat soft, with an exacto blade you can easily scrape away excess overflow solder from the ball, then insert ball in sandwich joint & work the ball to further remove the solder. With practice, you will learn to put in just the right amount of solder so that it will not overflow. You may find that the low melting solder alternative is a more relaxing or forgiving method than the high heat method. If you are not able to use or access McMaster-Carr then try Home Depot or other hardware stores and look for similar solders that says it works with stainless steel .....melting temperature is about 400 degrees or so and usually comes with a flux (paste or liquid). Again, this low temperature soldering method is only recommended for balls to rods only and for light duty stop motion applications. I would not use this solder to bond other armature parts together (e.g., metal rods to steel body blocks). Also, if you are a beginner .... you cannot braze/solder Aluminum (with exceptions) and just too difficult.

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