A new soldering iron.

ntpntpntp

ntpntpntp

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24 Oct 2009
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Think I meant wattage when I wrote size.

Still have bad memories of grabbing the wrong end of a 100W iron when I was a young lad (had just got the pieces just where I wanted them and reached for the iron without looking!)
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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8 Mar 2014
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Well, size is important. If you are talking wattage, then if you are soldering large or a lot at the same time, a lower wattage will take longer to recover... but unless you are soldering rails, this is probably the least important as #72 says.

But physical mass of the metal between the heater and the tip can help keep a reserve and good temp in the process, which helps keep good joints.

Likewise the tip size is very important. Small stuff really wants a fine tip, but the thinner the very tip, the harder it is to conduct heat. On the other hand, too big of a tip may make it hard in close quarters.

Remember, you want it like a sports car, running hot and (soldering) fast... I recommend an inexpensive temperature controlled iron, it makes a world of difference.
 
Gizzy

Gizzy

Railways, Aviation, Caravanning....
26 Oct 2009
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Just brought a rather nice soldering station from Aldi.

Has a couple of small spare tips too.

Probably not good enough for track work though? I would use a gas powered soldering iron for brass rail work....
 
No72

No72

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Just brought a rather nice soldering station from Aldi.

Has a couple of small spare tips too.

Probably not good enough for track work though? I would use a gas powered soldering iron for brass rail work....
I use a micro propane flame to solder track. Clean the join, a little solder paste and indirect heat from the torch, very quick and efficient. You can buy the gas torches in quite a few places.
 
No72

No72

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I have a micro torch too, but it also has a soldering tip, lots of heat quckly.

Greg
The only problem with the tips on the propane torches is that they dont have a lot of mass which means you need to pump the flame into them to solder big jobs.
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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I've had a few with nice big chunks of copper, much larger than a usual soldering iron. It just takes some shopping, but mass does not indicate temperature, it's just "reserve", which, I agree is the ticket.

I had an old time iron- from the 20's and the heating element was in a cylinder about 2 inches across by 5 long, and the tip was copper pretty much 1/2 inch back into the center... now after the 4 days it took to heat, it would solder anything.

The picture below is probably the most famous company: "American Beauty"



Greg
 
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No72

No72

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You can still buy high wattage irons, I have a 200watt one with a 19mm dia tip. It will solder brass rail OK but a quick shot from a micro torch is a lot quicker...
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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I like the torch, but with the big copper tip. If I try to use the flame, and I am using electronics flux, the flux burns and interferes with the soldering.

If I use the "plumbing" flux, i.e. acid based, the torch works fine, but this flux usually degrades the electrical connection over time.

So I stick to electrical flux and a large soldering tip, no open flame and lots of heat quickly.

Greg
 
No72

No72

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Yes you have to aviod acid flux at all cost on electronics... When I was trained in HRHS soldering the instructor went off his brain when one student used it.... I have found that solder paste is the best way to go for both indierect flame and iron. I buy it from eBay usually the expired stuff is sufficient for my needs ( im not s0ldering for aircraft use anymore) and store it in the fridge. Its the only way to deal with surface mounted components plus its lead free. And of coures you dont need a third hand to hold the bits and the solder....
2PCS 50g Solder Paste Syringe Lead-free Low Temperature SMT 138°C Melting Point 604765902601 | eBay
 
G-force1

G-force1

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I've just been re-reading this thread as I have come to the conclusion that I should perhaps treat myself, and replace my 25w Solon s/iron, after all I think I bought it when I was about 17-18 when I knackered my Dad's iron (by leaving it on). That's over 50 years ago. :eek: They don't make 'em like they used to!!!

I have a Weller instant (almost) heat-up gun and of course a 'stick it in the gas stove' type non-electrical job, that I actually made myself a long time ago, and the Solon is still working, just getting tired.

A bit like Alan, I see lots of stuff out there for little money, and wonder if it's any good, and then stuff like Philp uses, at more moths than I wish to give flight to (I'm still a T.A. at heart, and I don't need it to last another 50 years I'm sure). My usage can only be described as light and very occasional, though it takes me forever to do the job therefore the iron is on a long time (plus me forgetting to switch it off at the end of shift). I fancy one of the fancy temp-controlled jobbies at about the same wattage as I'm replacing. Bench space (for a station, which I don't have) is also a consideration if it doesn't have a hook on the side like the Solon, as there's never enough of that in my W/Shops.

I looked on the Farnell site and am just over-faced with the choice.
 
PhilP

PhilP

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5 Jun 2013
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For occasional use, you will be more than happy with a temperature controlled jobby from the likes of Aldi / Lidl..

As I say, mine is quite often 'on' for six-hours at a time, a quite different prospect to your use, no doubt?

However, Do PLEASE remember to turn any iron off! - Perhaps arrange a 'breaker' for the whole workshop? - Or most of the work-bench(es), at least?? :think:
 
G-force1

G-force1

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For occasional use, you will be more than happy with a temperature controlled jobby from the likes of Aldi / Lidl..

As I say, mine is quite often 'on' for six-hours at a time, a quite different prospect to your use, no doubt?

However, Do PLEASE remember to turn any iron off! - Perhaps arrange a 'breaker' for the whole workshop? - Or most of the work-bench(es), at least?? :think:
I didn't see anything in Aldi this afternoon, see 'The other Supermarket' thread. As for turning things off I have written in large letters with a permanent marker, at eye-line, on the exit door of the main W/S, 'COMPRESSOR!!!' yet I can still go back in days later and suddenly be awoken by it kicking in coz the pressure just dropped. So don't hold out too much hope on that score, despite the obvious danger, I'd forget the mains trip just as easily. :blush::blush::blush:

Pleased to hear there was nothing too serious wrong.
 
JeffofSpace

JeffofSpace

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A bit of a tangent, but for outdoor work the butane powered Dremel unit is brilliant. About $40 US and fillable with a standard refillable lighter butane canister...a charge will last about 25 minutes and it has a heat control so you don’t melt the tie plastic (a guy I don’t know did this at first :)). The higher heat setting will indeed solder brass (hold it angled away from the ties obviously). The kit also comes with a few other attachments and bits. It also comes with its own metal box.
 
Bill Barnwell

Bill Barnwell

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30 Sep 2017
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In my track-power days, I bonded every rail joint with wire and soldered jumper wires across every point. I never had a problem melting sleepers. As Phil says, you need to make sure the bit of rail you want to solder is clean. I found, the heat dissipated quite quickly from the point of contact with the iron and only needed a heat sink when soldering very close to the plastic frogs of points.

Here's a close up of the jumpers on one of my points. As you can see, no evidence of melted plastic.
View attachment 238270

View attachment 238271

Link to the blog post explaining what I did - Peckforton Light Railway: How I repaired LGB pointwork


Rik
Extremely good post, thanks, Bill