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Soldering station.

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bees28/08/2016 17:56:34
110 forum posts

Hi, Can anyone recommend a decent soldering station with temperature controlled iron and accessories which i can use for small jobs but can be used for soldering piano wire such as cabine struts and undercarriage. Thank you

Martin Whybrow28/08/2016 19:40:17
884 forum posts
33 photos

You're probably asking a bit too much of 1 soldering station to be honest; you really need 100W or more to solder piano wire of the gauge you need for undercarriages.

I've just bought a new soldering station for ridiculously little money, it's a Katsu 312087, often listed as a 936 type; it's a cheap Chinese jobby, but they're remarkably good and spares are cheap; just change the mains plug if you buy one though!

For undercarriages, etc., I have an Antex 100W iron bought from Amazon; it heats up very quickly and has plenty of thermal mass for the really big soldering jobs. I used to use an old Solon iron, but the bits don't last very long and they're nigh on impossible to find now.

bees28/08/2016 20:04:44
110 forum posts

Thank you for your advice. At the moment i have a 75w iron but i think i have ruined the tip by constant cleaning with sandpaper as i find i cannot seem to tin the iron due to the solder not sticking to the tip and also the tip constantly being blacked at lot. Never been able to do constant soldering reasonably well hence the idea of a decent soldering kit. Regarding soldering piano wire , i have seen a 100w iron in Marlins, would this be good enough . thank you.

Denis Watkins28/08/2016 20:51:31
3984 forum posts
72 photos

File and polish the blackened tip Bs, whilst it is cold

Pre flux the polished tip, with solder at the ready, and switch the iron on, to re tin it

G194028/08/2016 21:26:03
3523 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by Martin Whybrow on 28/08/2016 19:40:17:

I used to use an old Solon iron, but the bits don't last very long and they're nigh on impossible to find now.

I'm still using the 125 watt Henley Solon iron I had as a teenager back in the 1950s and there's still plenty of copper left It was powerful enough to resolder the petrol tank of my vintage Scott motorcycle and is more than adequate for soldering undercarriages.

I would certainly agree that it's asking far too much to expect one iron to be suitable for all jobs and I have a temperature controlled iron I bought on eBay to replace my old Weller which I use for smaller, more intricate soldering.


Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator29/08/2016 10:45:16
15748 forum posts
1460 photos

I agree I don't think you will get one station that will cover that range of jobs. I have a Antex temp controlled station for the smaller jobs- they don't seem to make the model I have anymore - but its something like this. For undercarts, cabanes,power distribution boards on large multi-rotors etc. etc. I use a 120W "no-name" iron I bought in Maplins about 20 years ago! Still going strong!


bees29/08/2016 11:40:21
110 forum posts

I have seen a 100w iron in Maplins, would this be hotter enough. Thank you

G194029/08/2016 12:02:49
3523 forum posts
1 photos

It's not so much the power rating (though that is important) as its mass. The physical size gives a soldering iron a lot of thermal capacity so it doesn't cool quickly when you heat up a big piece of metal to soldering temperature. Remember the joint should be hot enough to melt the solder away from the iron itself - you don't apply the solder to the iron (except to tin it) but to the joint. So if that Maplin's 100 watt iron is big and heavy I'm sure it will be OK.

When I worked at GEC in the 1960s the people soldering the joints on telephone exchanges, which had to be very high quality, used irons heated in a gas flame rather than electric ones. It surprised me when I walked through that department. So all you need is a big lump of copper and a gas cooker



Edited By Geoff Sleath on 29/08/2016 12:03:52

Barrie Dav 229/08/2016 12:28:26
1012 forum posts
14 photos

If you have a plated tip aka Antex and other good quality irons, the tip should never be cleaned with abrasives (files/abrasive paper etc) as this will destroy the tip. After tinning, to clean, wipe the heated tip on some damp sponge - damp not wet. You will probably have to repeat the action several times during the soldering exercise. The black and discoloured tip will come up like new once again and cleanliness is essential.


To tin the tip from new hold the solder against the tip as it heats up and gradually the solder will melt and automatically tin the tip. I find that multicore lead alloy solder meets most of my needs..

Edited By Barrie Dav 2 on 29/08/2016 12:31:07

Peter Beeney29/08/2016 12:48:53
1581 forum posts
59 photos


Just chipping in here, and with great respect, think you may well be right about about the damaged soldering iron tip, if as I suspect it’s a conventional copper/iron plated variety then it’s perhaps not a very good idea to take a piece of sandpaper to it! The considered way to clean it is by wiping it on a piece of damp sponge from time to time and then re-tinning, but I often just use a piece of paper towel, if the tip does become very corroded then the only answer is probably a new one… I also have a pot of extra flux handy as well, I’ve used Powerflow for a lifetime and so far I’ve never had any grief from this; and sometimes this can make all the difference between a good joint and an excellent one!

I’ve used a small blowtorch for many years on jobs such as piano wire undercarriage legs, this is a relic from work, that’s way back in the dim and distant now, a Primus bottle hired from builders merchants for plumbers. Travis Perkins will still change the bottles ok; and it’s possible to obtain a variety of nozzles to fit the spout. This really does make short work of this type of heavier soldering, indeed caution sometimes needs to be exercised not to overheat, so maybe it might be worth investing in one of the butane gas torches now available, although I’ve not much idea of the prices.

Hope this is of some use…


bees29/08/2016 20:08:03
110 forum posts

Pretty sure i have damaged the tip. I have used sandpaper to clean the tip which brings out the copper in the tip and i can get around 3/4 bullet connectors soldered before it goes black once again and the solder just rolls of the tip. Will try and source another tip. best regards Glen

G194029/08/2016 21:29:16
3523 forum posts
1 photos

Yes, I forgot to mention that modern temperature controlled irons have copper bits that are iron plated and should never be filed to clean them as Peter Beeney writes. I always keep a bike bottle of water to keep the sponge wet for cleaning. My old Solon is just a big lump of copper which can be filed until it's worn away - not in my life time. Not sure if modern ones are the same or not.


Denis Watkins29/08/2016 21:49:54
3984 forum posts
72 photos

Let me tell you a story, with the best intentions, and the up most respect,

Once upon a time, just when we need maximum heat to make a soldered joint

We wipe the bit, on a cold wet sponge (as recommended since WW2 ),

Thus cooling the tip appreachably, and then wondering why we have a dry joint

Just use a decent paper towel to wipe the bit while soldering

The elf and safety brigade invented the wet sponge method to save "spitting" from excess solder on the tip, due to heat or just dropping away

Use a towel and wear safety goggles

Nigel R30/08/2016 18:26:28
3276 forum posts
505 photos

Works for me:

Keep the joint clean.

Never sand the tip, keep it tinned.

Wipe tip on damp sponge after each joint.

The things you are joining, they must be clean.

Flux can help with bigger joints, but clean it all off after making the joint.

I use:

120W with a big flat tip for U/C and cabane size joints.

25W for your average electrical connection.

Cheap torch for plumbing.

I like Geoff's story about the GEC telephone joints. A bit of skill goes a long way!

Daithi O Buitigh30/08/2016 19:48:56
1360 forum posts
49 photos

I remember after I was demobbed from the RAF doing a conversion course for radio and TV servicing. An ex-REME guy and myself used to heat up the irons, apply a dab of cored solder and then flick it with a finger tip. One other trainee (who had never used an iron before) saw us, tried it himself but instead of a quick flick, stuck his finger on the bit (the scream was deafening)

And I still tend to quick clean bits the same way (but never on the carpet)

Martin McIntosh30/08/2016 20:41:50
3018 forum posts
1112 photos

I have put quite a lot on this forum previously about soldering but cannot now remember the heading it came under.

I have done professional soldering most of my life in various jobs of all sizes from large to microchips.

The best advice I can give here is that if you want to solder anything from electronics to piano wire is to get a soldering station. These are very cheap from A range of tips for all jobs is available. Surprisingly maybe a 4mm tip will do for even 6g wire because the temperature will always be maintained. Single temperature irons are just a waste of time.

I have a lot more info saved in the form of an article on the subject which I wrote some time ago so it may be possible to send this to anyone who could be interested in reading it.

PM me if you are interested and I shall see what I can do.

onetenor30/08/2016 21:17:27
1901 forum posts

If you Google Bang Good and Gear best you will find temp controlled Irons and soldering stations and small blow torches ,one of whjich I use for piano wire Fine pencil flame and hot as hell Reasonable prices and often free PP


Chris Bott - Moderator02/06/2019 13:32:24
6701 forum posts
1392 photos
1 articles

My Weller TCP-1 soldering iron's element has gone. I rescued this magnatemp controlled iron and its power supply from a skip at work and fixed it over 40 years ago. I think this longevity proves it's quality. It worked well for very fine electronic work and easily coped with 12g ESC/LiPo connectors.

I can buy a new element for around £40 but realise how old the rest of it still is.

I see numerous temperature controlled soldering stations available, some around this same price. They look perfectly adequate.

Has anyone actually bought a soldering station recently, that they'd recommend? I think key will be a combination of good thermal mass and good temperature control, along with new tips remaining available into the future. Should I pay for a bit of quality or go for lowest price and be happy to replace it every now and again?

One other thing. Some have an integral smoke extractor which looks a good idea. Do these make soldering any more awkward?

(Oh, if anyone has an old Weller TCP iron stuck in a drawer, I might be interested)

Peter Christy02/06/2019 14:01:10
1635 forum posts

I bought one of these recently: WEP 939D+

Previously, I'd been using a small Antex temperature controlled iron for fine work, and a Weller solder gun for heavy duty. However, the Weller was struggling with heavy duty LiPo connectors, and I've had both for ages, so I decided to splash out.

I've only had it about 6 weeks, but it coped with XT90 connectors on a 6S 5AH LiPo very easily. Haven't needed to use it for delicate work yet.

It comes with a wide range of bits and accessories, so I'm anticipating it lasting until I'm too old and stupid to be trusted with a soldering iron any longer!




OZ e flyer02/06/2019 14:46:37
144 forum posts
27 photos

When I finished my apprenticeship many years ago, butane powered soldering irons had just come out. Being an elevator tech, some times power outlets were not always close at hand to just plug a soldering iron in to so these little gems were perfect. Lightweight, portable and heat at the flick of a piezo igniter, brilliant. They also come with a selection of tips that include a little blowtorch attachment and the heat is adjustable by turning the flame down or up as required. I have used it to solder delicate little pc boards with the little pointy bit, through to heavy gauge wire using the blowtorch. Don’t think I would ever buy anything else now.

As for the cleaning, I use a little damp sponge and it works just fine. I think frequent cleaning is the best way to maintain the tip but in particular don’t leave the iron hot doing nothing with solder/flux on it. The combination of heat with the flux definitely shortens it’s life. Also always clean your iron before you put it away. Long term exposure to flux will also eat at it.

Just my two penneth worth but I reckon if you ask 5 people you’ll get 7 different answers.

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