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resident, old fart
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bluebee, you may want to add to your outstanding one-stop ABS thread!

After getting my module issues all sorted out, my realtor has a 2000 528 iaT that has the "three lights of death" being ABS,DSC, Brake lights on. I have eliminated the sensors with diode test and he has given me permission to attempt surgery before just ordering him a new module for $480 plus coding. I have the module all dremel-led open neatly and discovered what I thought would be dielectric grease is more likely a snot-like (sorry) condensation preventive "goo" all over the surface-mounted components. It is soft and could be likely wiped away or the area to be re-soldered could be cleared mostly of the clear goo and the connections remelted (I imagine the heat of the solder pencil which I can control down to the degree will sizzle the remaining goo away). I would guess by messing with the stuff a little that rubbing alcohol would likely even make it go away. It looks very mild, but always better to ask and then others see the answer as well. I planned to just move the goo away from the solder points that need renewing and then hoped the heat from the pencil will melt the remaining away...re-do connections and then pull some excess back over the contacts. I believe it is not dielectric grease to dissipate heat, but rather a moisture preventer that keeps any moisture that could form inside the case from getting on the board, causing corrosion or a path of reduced resistance between points that are already very close. I also think a plain, white or clear dielectric grease could be put there after the repair as well instead of Bosch technician snot! I will advise how the repair works. I think the patient has a chance for complete recovery as his issue resets itself every night when the wagon cools and then re-lights the codes after about 10 minutes of driving. Very symptomatic of very common heat-affected solder joints.

Bill
 

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Seek to understand,^Value
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Hi Bill,
It will be great to see the "operation" on the ABS patient!

With luck, goo-be-gone and solder joints resoldered.

Bear in mind, that most forum posts intimate the problem is cracked solder joints (which you can fix); but ATE definitely told me they also replace poor-quality components. I don't know what the problem is ... there have been some autopsies which reveal more solder cracks than component failures.

It will be very interesting to see what you find out.

I wish I had the courage to open mine up but I just didn't have the confidence that you have to split it open and take a peek. I am curious though ... very curious what's inside that is breaking. The rebuilders (ATE at least) apparently don't mind working on already-opened ABS control modules (although in one case it was posted they wouldn't work on it not because it was opened but because it was destroyed too much by the previous technician).

This will be very interesting to see the pure insides of the ABS module with all those cute little components tucked neatly together.

Let's keep an eye on this and a cross-reference link so others can benefit at the click of a mouse!

- cn90 ABS Module Repair Info for E39 (from Volvo forum)
- E39 ABS Module Repair (with high resolution pics at http://conventory.dk/bmw/bmw.zip)
- Volvo ABS Control Unit Repair
- VW ABS Repair (contains the GIF below)

Animated GIF of a solder joint repair ...
1. Remove the gel-like substance.
2. Tin the contact plate.
3. Solder copper wire.
4. Tin the silver conducturs at the place of the maximum distance from the board.
5. Solder copper wires between two silver conductors.
6. Cut the remaining part of the wire.
(from http://passat-b5.ru/remont/abs/abs11.gif)
 

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Seek to understand,^Value
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There is a dearth of pictures of the INSIDES of the ABS control module unfortunately ... so this is only the best I could find on the net (some of which are mine but not the ones showing the guts as I was too timid to open it up myself) ...
 

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resident, old fart
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I wish that I could "take back" some of my posts regarding my experiences with ATE personally. They rebuilt my module and 4 months later when I had problems I had to return it again under warranty. They said it was received in perfect working order. I sent it to BBA who said it failed two of three tests and they returned it at no charge, paid shipping both ways, and did NOT try to sell me another module. They opened it and said it was such a mess that they refused to even attempt to "reverse engineer" it. ATE said that BBA was just seizing a chance to bash them, but they never wrote anything public, refunded 100% of my money as they said it was: a) bad and b) not able to even be considered for a core.

I therefore see no reason to believe BBA took advantage of the situation. ATE said it was good. BBA said it was bad. A new module from EAC immediately cured the problem once it was coded. You tell me who was telling it like it was? I was told I would get my money back from ATE immediately but after two weeks I called Don, the owner, and he wanted my module back a third time and then changed the story to "they do not process refunds for 30 days so that they (ATE) can get their money back for the original Ebay auction that I purchased the ATE service from". I see no way that Ebay should lose their listing fee for ATE's failure to find the problem with my module, do you? This is when I began to doubt ATE at their word. The first time they received my module I had not tested my sensors *ASSuming* the module was bad. They said it was bad when they received it, but were able to repair it 100% good as new. I re-installed it and the errors were still there. That is when I tested the speed sensors. The RF was bad in the diode test. I replaced it and the problem was gone for 4 months. Then, the problem came again and so module went back and this is when they said it was fine. Remember, their warranty work was at stake now.

Obviously it was bad or the new module I had to buy would not have cured the problem. It has been a year now or more. Recall that BBA said it was bad also. YMMV with ATE. At least mine was glued back together very neatly by ATE and not marked with a reman sticker. Don said he worked on my module "himself". I also had to intervene with another forum member who had not gotten his refund after 4 mos. from ATE. I called Don and the guy got his money. Their customer support sucks regardless of their ability to fix modules. I think they may be able to repair a percentage successfully, but some they pass as repaired are still bad and others have had same results with ATE. Have never seen with BBA. Have heard of a module that Module Masters said was not repairable though that BBA was able to fix. For my money, I'd go with BBA and if you catch an Ebay auction right they are no more expensive than ATE.
 

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Seek to understand,^Value
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I only went with ATE because they were $150 in toto, including shipping.

Based on your information above, we probably should recommend to newbies:
- BBA
- MM
- ATE

In that order ...

Do you agree?
 

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resident, old fart
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Absolutely agree. Also, the goo may be there to prevent tampering. Now that I have gone through an attempted repair, I can say this... I found a broken wire. The wires are made of a material that is difficult to get solder to stick to. You must remove the goo to get to good copper and wire to renew any solder joints. When you mechanically (for the lack of a better term) or physically try tomove the "goo" even with a q-tip and de-natured alcohol it tears the microscopic gold wires that are as thin as a frog's hair. Nearly invisible except under a large magnifying glass which I used. If I were to attempt another module repair, I would find a substance that can chemically "dissolve" the goo first from the entire board and then carefully renew just the larger silver wires circled in several pictures. Any attempt to remove the goo with heat or by pushing it aside will likely tear one of the gold wires. The module is made purposely hard to work on unless you have played with a few first to learn the game. Those that simply melted a few outside wires were very lucky if they got it to work.
 

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I do not have problem with my E39 ABS yet (not yet...:)).

But I have used www.bba-reman.com. Great people with all the Bosch fancy diagnostic tools.
I replaced my 98 Volvo V70 ABS Module (after a long unsuccessful repair!).
$120 with core (ship old ABS Module to them).
Three years later so far so good.
Plus BBA gives you a L.T. warranty as long as you still own the car.
Peace of mind is worth $120!
 

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resident, old fart
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes, I am aware of BBA et al, but was trying to salvage one before going another way. FYI...if you try to move the "goo" with anything mechanical (your finger tip, a fine screw driver or fine pick, you can easily tear the ultra-fine wires in the newer BMW modules. I have seen the pictures of the Volvo module you posted, and the newer BMW modules are NOTHING like that. The silver wires in say a 2000 and up module are small, but large enough to solder. They have a zillion gold wires that are smaller than a human hair yet sit proud of the board. If you try and move or coax the goo out of your way to refresh some of the larger solder joints, you will risk breaking the tiny gold wires. I have a soldering station with an infinitely variable digital temperature selector from 200 degrees F to 899 degrees F and a very fine pencil tip. I used a magnifying glass and the goo will not sizzle away or melt. I believe it must be chemically removed w/o disturbing ANY wires before attempting anything except a crude repair at best. If you can safely remove the goo, the wires circled in most of the depicted pictures CAN be repaired. You must just be damn careful when even pushing that gooey substance around. There is absolutely NO REASON why bosch used such fine wiring except to confound anyone attempting to repair for the first time at BMW engineer's insistance. It is a small circuit board in a large case and the goo is not needed except again...to prevent repair. My passport radar detector is far more complex in the same size package using almost all surface mount technology and there is just no reason to use soft, gold, frog-hair-sized wires to go point-to-point. Another bravo for our German parts salesmen.
 

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Seek to understand,^Value
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Absolutely agree.
Unless someone pipes in otherwise, we'll go with the order of (1) BBA, (2) MM, and (3) ATE for now. It sure helps as I know you guys' recommendations helped me greatly. You were right from the start ... it just took me nearly a year to believe you. :)

the goo may be there to prevent tampering.
I'm surprised what is represented as goo in the animated Bosch ABS animated GIF (from a VW Passat) doesn't look like anything. Is the "goo" you speak of the same as the goo they're talking about? If it's there, I don't even see it in ANY of the pictures I posted (do you?).

I found a broken wire.
So far, only ATE has told me that other components are involved. I wonder if they were telling me the truth. ... Hmmm ...

the microscopic gold wires are as thin as a frog's hair.
This is a great warning for the next attempted repair!

I would find a substance that can chemically "dissolve" the goo first from the entire board and then carefully renew just the larger silver wires circled in several pictures.
This is what we need all of us to strive to resolve!

But ... I don't "see" the gel anywhere. Where is this gel???

 

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resident, old fart
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes, I see the gel in the picture and yes...what I refer to as goo is the same thing they refer to as "gel". I would describe a "gel-like" substance to most people to be something on the order of clear, hair gel. It is fairly thin in consistency, possibly runny, etc. I call this stuff "goo" as it is more like the substance that magazines and other items sometimes use to attach another substance not permanently, but so that a user can take something loose later. A gummy, clear, sticky goop that is in the picture, but because it is clear does not reflect well in the picture. Some looks to have been remove possibly by the gold contacts, but is clearly there at the opposite ends of the wires circled with the arrow in the picture. If you look closely at the light reflection in the picture, you can see "something" reflecting light and that would be the gel. It MUST be moved aside somehow to get the solder to flow to the wires and the contact patch where they connect. Solder will not flow through this gel. It is too bad this picture does not show the back side of the board where the hair-like wires are attached. I will try to take some pictures possibly this weekend. There are NO components on this board that ATE can/has replaced. I don't care what they say. With this Bosch module you can't replace anything. On a picture CN90 showed of an older Volvo module, component swapping may well be possible. It is my belief that BMW has gone to great length to make these modules nearly (note I said nearly) impossible for a lay person to work on. After some experimentation, I believe if you found a way to get rid of the goop w/o a mechanical means, you might have about a 25% chance of restoring the module by ONLY re-soldering the larger, silver wires which are still minute and if you heat one end, they are so short you will melt the solder at the other end. You must be light and fast and use the minimum heat setting to just barely melt the solder. In my opinion you have nothing to lose to try, but be prepared in most all cases to buy a new one or send off and take your chances. Sending to BBA will maximize that chance of repair IMO.
 

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Seek to understand,^Value
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you can see "something" reflecting light and that would be the gel.
Ah, in the other pictures, it shows more clearly (see below).

You must ... barely melt the solder. In my opinion you have nothing to lose to try ...
Hopefully when someone sees this cross link when their ABS module goes out, they can try this and let us know the result.

As you noted, for now we'll assume they'll be 25% successful and the rebuilder (BBA, MM, or ATE, in that order) might be the other 50% successful so that gives about a 75% success rate, where your minimum cost is zero and your maximum cost is about $200 USD.

Looking forward to the pics of the undersides!


 

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resident, old fart
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My module is very similar to the one shown here, but slightly different. Not much, but this picture depicts well the issue. Look at the row of contacts at the top of the picture..see the eight wires that are easily visible just left of center? Now, to the right of those 8 visible silver wires there are approximately a dozen more contacts visible yet you can not see any wires. Well, at least I can't in your picture but there are the smallest gold wires I have ever seen. Why use gold and then down size the gauge of the wire to the size smaller than a human hair? No, it is not because gold is a great conductor of electricity although it is. I believe it is used because gold, especially pure unalloyed gold is very, very weak. A great conductor as long as you do not disturb it, but totally unnecessary and a waste when a wire is not even needed! Why not just put the contact row on the circuit board itself and use circuit board trace material? To make the unit virtually unrepairable...that's why. Even a small 1/8 watt resistor-sized wire would do just fine. Even the silver wires may be stainless steel or nickel- they are made of an alloyed steel that does not particularly like solder. The wires are almost tack-welded to the contacts. The entire module is an abortion. It is NOT a marvel of electronic ingenuity and I want to see any module where ATE has added components to replace weak ones. Total bull.
 

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Seek to understand,^Value
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Now, to the right of those 8 visible silver wires there are approximately a dozen more contacts visible yet you can not see any wires. The wires are almost tack-welded to the contacts.
This is all very interesting ... and useful.

Are you saying the main problem for others to look for to repair in their modules are for breaks in the dozen or so *****wired contacts to the right of the 8 thicker silvered wires in the photo below?

I want to see any module where ATE has added components to replace weak ones.
Well, if I had a bit more courage, I'd open up mine so we could take a look ... but I'm too scared to do it unless/until the thing breaks. :(

 

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Seek to understand,^Value
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I replaced my 98 Volvo V70 ABS Module
Hi cn90,
Your post got me thinking so I did some research on the other makes that used the Bosch 5.3 and 5.7 ABS control module (Volvo, Saab, Audi, VW, etc.)

Notice my summary in this xref post shows all have similar issues with trying to repair the thin gold wires!

I also posted all the relevant pics from http://passat-b5.ru/remont/abs/ into that thread (in this post).

Here's also a repair PDF attached ...

 

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Seek to understand,^Value
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Hi Bill,
I did a few more hours of research and found, among the pics already posted in the two threads, the following discussion of gold wires which specifically mentions Bosch ABS ....

http://www******bulletin.org/assets/file/goldbulletin/downloads/P Goodman_1_35.pdf

"Bosch have developed an ABS module which is designed to be fitted close to the engine. This avoids the need for an expensive cable so that the overall cost is lower."

 

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resident, old fart
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'll try to answer in bullet form:
* The Passat module is HUGE compared to a 1999 & up BMW module as relates to size of gold wires and use of conventional/replaceable components such as diodes, etc. ATE can not replace parts on a newer BMW module. I just want to see evidence!
* The gold wires in the Passat picture are at least 3 times the gauge of what Bosch did for BMW. WHY?
* One good reason for using the fine gold wires could be because the wires are soft and fine, they can take vibration better. They are not as brittle- more ductile, but fragile.
* I do NOT believe the problem lies with the gold wires in the purple box, but the larger and more brittle silver wires. In order to remove the goo to get to the silver wires you must be EXTREMELY careful not to disturb the nearby, ultra-fine gold wires which will break if the goo tugs at them as you try to move the goo off of the silver wires which are the culprits. This is why I say the goo would be best dissolved off in some manner to not tug or disturb these fine gold wires. You would basically dip the board probably in a mild solvent that would clean the board of the goo, but not disturb the wiring.
* The discussion of the "hybrid" circuit and "pitch" refers to how small you can make the spacing between each contact point. This is TOTALLY irrelevant in this module as space is NOT an issue. The only reason that I believe Bosch uses both the larger silver wires and the hair-like gold wires is due to current-handling capability. The current that the gold wire can handle is extremely limited so it can be smaller and present the unit as virtually irrepairable by a lay person in most cases. Using copper wiring on ALL point-to-point wiring would be cheaper, stronger, allow more vibration and heat to be absorbed without breakage and would allow the modules to be rather easily repaired. BMW does not want this. Look at how many parts they use that have built-in breakage issues..any of the plastic tubing from W/W pumps, grommets to seal W/W pumps, all plastic components must age, get brittle, and snap (radiator, headlight snaps, et al). Consider what BMW part sales would do if they used a different type plastic or even rubber. Why do you think BMW molded plastic pieces are so high priced in the first place? Radio and instrumernt cluster pixels, etc. They all had design life taken heavily into consideration. They were carefully designed to fail after generally the warranty period has expired, yet many just don't even make it that long. This is the price they pay. They just back-charge the manufacturer on these early failures anyway.

* Last and most to you question BlueBee is NO, the gold wires in a BMW module are nothing like the gold wires in your passat picture. These wires are large and stiff enough to be formed into the inverted "vee" shape you see soldered to the Passat board. In a BMW module, the gold wires are so fine that they just lay in a lazy "S" shape flat to the board virtually. They do not even have enough strength to stand up like that on their own. Any movement of the goo to get at the gold wires will almost certainly break them. Again, I will try using the wifes digital camera with her zoom lens to show how fine they are on the module I attempted to work on. One should *ONLY* attempt to repair the silver wires circled in your pictures and only by making 100% certain when you get to the last silver wire which then has a gold wire for a nextdoor neighbor that you pull only the goo at the silver wires contact patch leaving the goo at the neighbor's house undisturbed!.

Hope this clarifies some Bill
 

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ATE can not replace parts on a newer BMW module. I just want to see evidence!
After looking at all the Bosch ABS autopsy pics I can find on the Internet, I'm ever more strongly tending to agree with Bill (although ATE told me otherwise).

I'm beginning to agree ATE is most likely just replacing the thicker silver-color (aluminum?) (power wires?) and testing the unit before shipping it back to us.

The gold wires in the Passat picture are at least 3 times the gauge of what Bosch did for BMW.
OMG! The Passat Bosch 5.3 guys said those wires were difficult; I can imagine what the gold wires would be on our Bosch 5.7 BMWs then. Luckily, as Bill noted, the gold wires aren't generally the initial culprit.

In order to remove the goo to get to the silver wires you must be EXTREMELY careful not to disturb the ... gold wires
I think Bill hit upon the key problem for us to resolve which is how to remove the gooey gel without breaking the gold wires!

the goo would be best dissolved off in some manner to not tug or disturb these fine gold wires.
This summary agrees with you. But what chemical will dissolve the gel?

allow the modules to be rather easily repaired. BMW does not want this. Look at how many parts they use that have built-in breakage issues..
I don't doubt you Bill, for a second. I already have been the victim of BMW's poor choice of materials in the headlight adjusters, pixel tape, windshield molding, ABS control module, trunk loom, vapor barrier glue, seat cover paint, cd cover wood, etc., and vanos seals and radiator explosion are in my future, all due to BMWs very poor choice of materials.

the gold wires in a BMW module are ... do not even have enough strength ... Any movement of the goo to get at the gold wires will almost certainly break them.
I think Bill summarized the problem set and solution pretty well, which I'll tie to the summaries in this post to make the following repair observations:

(0) The main problem appears to be a couple silver-colored (aluminum?) power wires, which apparently break. If you fix these, without breaking anything else, you win!

Note: The problem does not appear to be poor-quality components; it's just wires.

(1) Your first (relatively easy) challenge is to open the ABS module w/o getting too much dust sticking to the gel-like goop so a knife and hammer are sometimes recommended over a Dremel tool and/or hacksaw.

(2) Your second (much harder) challenge is to remove the gooey goop covering the silver-colored wires WITHOUT disturbing the nearby gel-covered gold wires. For this, an as-yet-unknown solvent is suggested as mechanical cleaning often breaks the gold wires!

(3) Your third (relatively difficult) task is to solder a replacement wire for the broken wire; for this, most seem to use tinned copper with flux. The danger here is overheating might destroy chips and lift the *****colored contact pad.

(4) If you've gotten this far, your fourth (relatively easy) problem is to test the unit in the car before you seal it back up. For this, it seems the Russians tape the cover 90% back on and re-install the ABS module in the car to see if all systems are go.

(5) If all is well, your fifth (fun part) problem is to hermetically seal the unit up; I think most simply use an expoxy to seal the case (they can't do much worse of a job than ATE did on mine if you've seen the pictures).

(6) Your last (really fun) part is to write it all up for everyone here to test out on the NEXT inevitable BMW Bosch 5.7 ABS unit that fails!
 

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resident, old fart
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Bluebee: Where you find these corroborating posts is incredible work! The whole Russian thread makes me feel better as they virtually echoed my *guesses*. The silver wires are steel I believe rather than aluminum. I can verify this with a magnet, but it really matters not. Aluminum melts around 1200 degrees F and I doubt they are aluminum, but possibly stainless or a dual alloy steel (high chromium generally). Point is, solder does not like it. I heartily agree that a conductive epoxy would be the cat"s azz. Denatured alcohol softened the goop quite a bit...I'm guessing acetone, mineral spirits or tri-chlor III will dissolve it. I will test this weekend and try to get a picture of how fine these BMW wires really are compared to the VW. BMW is actually quite brilliant at their choice of materials once you accept that they are out to force the after-warranty owner to buy lots of expensive parts to keep them in business. :thumbdwn:
 

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The whole Russian thread ... virtually echoed my *guesses*.
Yup. I had read your guesses first; then when I read the threads for the audi, vw, saab, bmw, etc., I too felt like you all were agreeing on almost every point.

That allowed me to write up the main steps in the previous post (by summarizing what you guys were all in agreement on).

The ... wires are steel ... solder does not like it. I heartily agree that a conductive epoxy would be the cat"s azz.
I've never heard of steel wires but whatever they are made of, universally you guys say it's hard to solder (plus heat causes damage to other things on the board).

I wonder if the Russian-recommended epoxy would work?
Mouser Electronics P/N 590-8331-14G $23.95


acetone, mineral spirits or tri-chlor III ... will test this weekend
It seems imperative we find a solvent that dissolves the goop. Please let us know the results!

 

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resident, old fart
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I would heartily endorse any non-heat method of attaching and any technique that requires melted solder. The Mouser product looks IDEAL.

For someone with a metallurgical background I just said steel to get people off aluminum. It *could* be stainless steel. It is likely a highly alloyed steel. Ni-chrome wire gets it's name as it is mostly nickel and chrome and it gets red-hot when heated, but does not melt or lose shape (like in your toaster). Steel is a lose term meaning it has some iron ore base, but it can be full of neat and pricey alloys in tiny amount necessary to do the specific job. Your stainless cutlery that never rusts in your dishwasher or left in your sink (especially a bachelor's sink...weeks) without rusting is close to 304 stainless or what used to be called 18-8 stainless to reflect chrome and nickle percentage content. Flux is a substance that I use to help make the solder flow to te joint as it reacts with the metal and takes off oxides etc. that impede solder from sticking. There are just too many downsides to using heat in this case. It easily can "bridge" across two contacts shorting them and then being difficult to remove without a solder wick or solder-sucker. Any thing that can be applied from a syringe-like applicator would be great. This topic WILL get solved! Unfortunately like any new surgery, you may lose a couple patients on the table perfecting your technique. I wholeheartedly recommend BBA. The risk/reward is just not there for most. By the time you assemble all the products necessary to do the job, why not let someone who does heart replacement a thousand times a day do the surgery(BBA)? However, for those die-hard DIY'ers, go for it forewarned and prepared and far better off for BlueBees diligence for which I note she has accepted nor expects any praise. He doggedness has made these kind of thorough, one-stop shopping assemblies of all info good and bad possible in one place. BBA rocks in my book and always will.I commit to answering what will remove the goop and a good picture of the size of what you are messing with in the BMW gold wires. Good work BB. Take the award. Bill
 
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