Author Topic: Best soldering iron???  (Read 1483 times)

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C855B

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2018, 02:35:19 PM »
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... ISO-TIP ... I don't know exactly why I abandoned it ... I have no clue where the charger might be. ...

NOW I remember why I gave up on it... the charger I had was a plug-in cord. This did not work well on my cluttered bench, 40 years later - same problem. With no easy place to set the iron down safely while the tip was still hot and the cord droop wanting to pull on the handle... you can figure out the rest. Portable (toolbox) use didn't work well, either. Lacking a cap, no job was a quick hit-and-run, I had to wait for the tip to cool before packing up. I bought a Wahl butane iron for field work which had a cap, but it has its own issues (and I do know where it is, also gathering dust).

But the "latest" version - still the old technology, NiCad, incandescent worklight and all - has a drop-in stand, so it'll be perfect for working on the layout.
...mike

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We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

peteski

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2018, 09:43:23 PM »
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@mmagliaro  While this topic is up, I seem to recall Max mentioning nickel plating his solder tips to rejuvenate them when they need replaced otherwise.  I'm not interested in this as a money saving thing for all but once you have the plating setup, if it's viable and actually works well, why not?  I'm sure you would clean and dress the tip shape to bright metal but curious how well it holds up in use, if I'm even remembering this accurately. :|

I have used soldering irons for electronic soldering for decades (both professionally and as a hobby).  Good quality tips from companies such as Weller and PACE (I have not had a chance to deal with others such as Hakko) have copper core (for good heat transfer), then they are iron plated (to extend their life), then nickel plated (for ease in tinning the tip), then the very tip is tinned. Those are long-life tips and it tales a lots of soldering (assuming you aren't using acid flux) for the tip to deteriorate.  And when the tips deteriorate, there really isn't much left to be fixable.  I would say that a tip is cheap enough not to bother with tryng to fix them. They are consumables - just get a new one.
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peteski

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2018, 09:50:17 PM »
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NOW I remember why I gave up on it... the charger I had was a plug-in cord. This did not work well on my cluttered bench, 40 years later - same problem. With no easy place to set the iron down safely while the tip was still hot and the cord droop wanting to pull on the handle... you can figure out the rest. Portable (toolbox) use didn't work well, either. Lacking a cap, no job was a quick hit-and-run, I had to wait for the tip to cool before packing up. I bought a Wahl butane iron for field work which had a cap, but it has its own issues (and I do know where it is, also gathering dust).

But the "latest" version - still the old technology, NiCad, incandescent worklight and all - has a drop-in stand, so it'll be perfect for working on the layout.

Those rechargeable (or even butane) portable soldering irons are great for quick on-the-road (during a train show) repairs, but they are terrible for serious soldering, like doing trackwork on a large layout, or delicate DCC installs.  They have very small thermal capacity (small tip), no temperature control, and you have hold down the switch while soldering.  Sort of like a smaller version of the old-school soldering gun (which I would never use for the type of soldering we do in our hobby).

I would suggest that you do yourself a favor and get a good quality pencil-type iron with temperature control.  40W unit would be good for trackwork and for DCC installs.  You will like be surprised show you got along without it.  Also make sure to get in the habit of religiously cleanign the tip (on the wet sponge in the stand), and tinning the tip so it stays nice and shiny.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 12:19:42 AM by peteski »
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peteski

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2018, 09:51:36 PM »
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And you know this how?  :trollface:

I know things . . .  :)
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Doug G.

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2018, 12:10:53 AM »
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I guess this is the current equivalent (?):

https://iso-tip.com/product/power-pro-soldering-iron-kit-boxed-7904

Kind of but I guess I should have elaborated a bit. I am referencing the model 7800 which fully recharges in one hour and has the charging stand so, no plug in charger. Just set the iron in the stand and it recharges. Years ago, the body of the iron was red and now, it's yellow. The tip heats for use in seconds.

Also, if I were to require an iron for quick repetitive connections, I would use a corded iron to avoid delay waiting for tip heating but for the typical use at home, a few seconds for the tip to heat up is no big deal. I dislike an iron at the bench or table with a cord hanging off it, ready to get snagged and pulled off said bench or table.

Doug
« Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 12:14:20 AM by Doug G. »
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C855B

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2018, 12:56:01 AM »
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... I dislike an iron at the bench or table with a cord hanging off it, ready to get snagged and pulled off said bench or table.

Exactly. This is my issue with soldering on the layout, and I don't care for the bulk/in-the-way situation with a soldering station in that setting. Even the stand I use with the little 15W Weller pencil is a PITA as its cord sticks up and I try to navigate around and under the cord with a stick of flex I've just soldered leads to. Time to go back to my roots with a cordless.

When the going gets serious I've had a high-end Metcal dual-port rework station for years. It has temp-controlled inductive cartridge elements and tips. It's overkill for most MRR work, and strictly a "clean workbench" (what's that?) type of tool. I did get a couple of tips for it intended for the layout, but found out real quickly its bulk, weight (about 10#) and fat cords were just not going to work sitting on the benchwork while I fiddled with track. Ugh.
...mike

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We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

peteski

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2018, 02:24:51 AM »
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Exactly. This is my issue with soldering on the layout, and I don't care for the bulk/in-the-way situation with a soldering station in that setting. Even the stand I use with the little 15W Weller pencil is a PITA as its cord sticks up and I try to navigate around and under the cord with a stick of flex I've just soldered leads to. Time to go back to my roots with a cordless.

When the going gets serious I've had a high-end Metcal dual-port rework station for years. It has temp-controlled inductive cartridge elements and tips. It's overkill for most MRR work, and strictly a "clean workbench" (what's that?) type of tool. I did get a couple of tips for it intended for the layout, but found out real quickly its bulk, weight (about 10#) and fat cords were just not going to work sitting on the benchwork while I fiddled with track. Ugh.

  The Metcal unit is way overkill. The professional grade wired pencil-type irons I use have fairly thin power cord with very flexible silicone insulation.    But whatever works for you . . .  :)
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jdcolombo

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2018, 11:35:51 AM »
+2
The OP started this thread by talking about "upping his game" with respect to DCC decoder installation, not soldering track.  I never use my Pace for soldering track.  This is strictly a bench tool for soldering 32-gauge wire to 1/16" pads on a decoder or cell-phone type speaker with spring leads, or soldering 34-gauge magnet wire to the almost-invisible pads on a 603 SMT LED or soldering 1/8 watt SMT resistors to a tiny piece of circuit board.

For soldering Atlas code 55 track, I have my 25-watt Weller iron.  For making turnouts using Fast Track jigs or paper templates, I have my 40-watt Weller iron (though a resistance soldering unit would be a better tool for turnout construction).

My father-in-law, a master carpenter, taught me that nothing beats having the exactly right tool for the job.  A pencil-type digital soldering station like the Pace is the right tool for small-component electrical soldering; it's NOT the right tool for track or turnout construction.  But my Weller irons aren't the right tool for soldering SMT components.  With all 3, I have the tool I need for the job at hand.

Oh, and I have a torch for soldering copper tubing (and making cream brulee . . . :))

John C.

MK

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2018, 12:50:52 PM »
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Oh, and I have a torch for soldering copper tubing (and making cream brulee . . . :))

John C.

Propane or MAPP gas?   :trollface:

Doug G.

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2018, 01:08:54 PM »
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I should add that, the Iso-Tip irons will handle larger connections too. We originally bought them, in 1979, to solder new 5 watt resistors to boards out on the line where we had testing stations to catch intermittant motors for the 8-track decks we built for Ford. It was an artifact of testing that these resistors would overheat and burn if a motor shorted or started drawing too much current.

Previous to the Iso-Tips, we would take a corded iron out there, plug it in, and wait for it to heat up before being able to replace the resistor. It was a pain. A 5 watt resistor-to-board connection is pretty big and an Iso-Tip had no problem melting that solder with a regular tip on it.

Doug
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narrowminded

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #25 on: December 31, 2018, 01:49:38 PM »
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OK, I'll admit it. :| :) 

I have one of those inexpensive soldering stations with temp controlled iron, quite an assortment of tips, a temp controlled hot air gun, and even a DC voltage supply.  It works flawlessly.  The only drawback is it reads out in degrees C and I'm old and think in degrees F.  I had to put a cheat sheet with a few temp conversions on a piece of tape stuck to the enclosure to complete the package and save focusing on math instead of soldering, making it excellent. :D  Like so many tools needed, I don't use it much but when I need it, I need it! 

Not ever having these features, suspecting they would be useful for this tiny stuff, I decided to try it and if it proved useful but quality proved suspect, I would have a first hand bit of experience to make an informed decision on my next purchase of a "better" one (also much more costly).  So far it has performed flawlessly and proven how valuable the temp control feature is as well as the variety of tips, able to change as the need suggests.  I've also gained experience in that aspect and find that, while the tip shape is important it has proven less useful to my needs than the temperature control.  I have found that a blunt tip (but small) does most of what I need where I always thought a fine pointed tip would be best.  And that follows with principles of heat transfer.  It's the temp control and sufficient wattage to assure quick recovery that makes that workable.  And it's also very quick to come up to temp and doesn't overheat the tip in between uses during a soldering session so it's easier on the tips.  I think it also will accept Hakko tips when relacement becomes necessary but haven't proven that yet.

In general, it just works and the quality of the hardware, connections, wire leads, etc is quite satisfactory which was frankly, a pleasant surprise.  I'm happy, even very happy, with it and never would have spent what was necessary to accumulate those tools individually. 

Basically what I have is this one. 8)  There are MANY vendors of the same basic unit.  https://www.ebay.com/itm/853D-3in1-DC-Power-Supply-SMD-Rework-Station-Soldering-Hot-Air-Gun-Welder-110V/381013866901?hash=item58b6323995:rk:15:pf:0
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 02:24:54 AM by narrowminded »
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Steveruger45

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2019, 08:50:45 PM »
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I use a Weller WES51 soldering Station with the analog temp control.  I prefer the analog version.   I use the finest Weller tips for fine work on decoders etc and I use good solder, Kester 44 rosin core.  0.020” or 0.015”.
Works great for me. Amazon has the soldering station for about 90 bucks.
Steve
Atascocita, Texas

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2019, 12:28:05 PM »
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The OP started this thread by talking about "upping his game" with respect to DCC decoder installation, not soldering track.  I never use my Pace for soldering track.  This is strictly a bench tool for soldering 32-gauge wire to 1/16" pads on a decoder or cell-phone type speaker with spring leads, or soldering 34-gauge magnet wire to the almost-invisible pads on a 603 SMT LED or soldering 1/8 watt SMT resistors to a tiny piece of circuit board.

For soldering Atlas code 55 track, I have my 25-watt Weller iron.  For making turnouts using Fast Track jigs or paper templates, I have my 40-watt Weller iron (though a resistance soldering unit would be a better tool for turnout construction).

My father-in-law, a master carpenter, taught me that nothing beats having the exactly right tool for the job.  A pencil-type digital soldering station like the Pace is the right tool for small-component electrical soldering; it's NOT the right tool for track or turnout construction.  But my Weller irons aren't the right tool for soldering SMT components.  With all 3, I have the tool I need for the job at hand.

Oh, and I have a torch for soldering copper tubing (and making cream brulee . . . :))

John C.

I would have to respectfully disagree that a small station is not the right tool for track, maybe not for soldering on the layout, but when bench soldering anything, I find my station to be indispensable except under the layout (or on top) but unfortunately that is all I have or will have.

I have a small TV shelf that I keep mine on, up and out of the way when doing bench soldering, but it can be portable if I want it to.  That high temp power paired with good flux is the perfect combo for me.

I could never have done this joint (in an instant I might add) while building turnout assemblies with a Weller pencil iron:

wazzou

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2019, 03:34:02 PM »
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This is what I have.  I have not tried or likely won't try any decoder installs, however it works great on everything else.


Bryan

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peteski

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2019, 03:36:29 PM »
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I would have to respectfully disagree that a small station is not the right tool for track, maybe not for soldering on the layout, but when bench soldering anything, I find my station to be indispensable except under the layout (or on top) but unfortunately that is all I have or will have.


There are degrees of smallness John.  :D  That Pace TD-100 iron John mentions is more like surgical scalpel than a small pencil-type iron. It is *REALLY* small. Designed for working with those tiny SMD components on densely populated PC Boards.
Click on the link for a good description: https://www.paceworldwide.com/products/handpieces/soldering-irons/td100-tipheater-cartridge-soldering-iron-intelliheat



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