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Re: Soldering Tip

11/7/1998 6:01 AM
Re: Soldering Tip
Yes, I (used to) keep the sponge wet/damp.  
It's probly the tip, because it is a cheapo from Radio Shack. In addition to it developing crud. The tip has a very short life. What I mean is that the tip actually corrodes away; the tip develops a "hole". I have to replace the tip quite frequently.  
I'm about to invest in a better iron altogether.  
11/9/1998 10:33 AM

Mook- I used Shack irons for a while- the tip material is horrible. I'm now using the bottom of the line Tenma- it has an iron tip (I think) and it works much nicer than irons from the shack for equal cash. I use my iron for wire stripping too, so it can get pretty cruddy and I still only ever use water and a sponge to clean it.
11/10/1998 8:25 AM

This tip problem came up before, when everyone was describing their favorite soldering station.  
I was used to the Archer /Radio Shack iron, and made many satisfying solder joints with it for many years. Recently, let's say the past 3 years, the replacement tips have been turd quality.  
The deal with soldering iron tips is that they're made of copper for heat conduction, but iron coated. A properly made tip has a decent thickness of pure iron plated atop the copper. This keeps the solder from chemically dissolving the copper, which is what happens after the iron coating is worn, torn, peeled back, etc. If you do a lot of desoldering to reclaim old components from TV sets, etc., and use the hot tip as the pry bar to help unwind a lead from a terminal, it will scrape away the iron plating. I was doing a lot of this, and had to buy more tips. So, I'm careful not to be so aggressive with the soldering iron and use some other implement for the mechanical stuff.  
I got my new Shack replacement tips (hard to find elsewhere) and noticed that the thing was burned through after about a week of extremely light use, and this was excluding any desoldering activities. So I got some more from a different store (i was on a business trip to another state) figuring I had gotten a bad batch near home. Same shit. They've cheated badly on the required iron coating. It's obviously too thin, and who knows, it may not be high purity iron either.  
I did find some suitable replacements in a mail order catalog, but forget which. (It could have been MCM, Mouser, Parts Express, Jameco, or a few others. Most of them carried this style at one time, but have seemed to drop it in favor of some other mfr/types.) There are Weller irons , similar in size & feel to the shack one, for about $30-35 at MCM & P Exp. I've gotten used to that type now.  
So it's the iron coating you have to keep clean & healthy on the tip of your solder-melting device.
11/11/1998 2:10 PM
Greg Re: New Iron Opinions Please....
I've been using a 30 watt RS iron for about a year now and it finally burnt up on me so now I'm looking for a replacement. I'm considering the red Weller soldering station. You know the one. It runs about $45-49. Whaddaya think? I'm not a "hardcore" tech or anything and won't be soldering on a daily basis and my little projects come months apart. A good step up from the RS specials?  

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