Soldering tips. - RC Groups
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Jul 25, 2012, 11:30 PM
Thermite + ice = Big boom.
boaterguy's Avatar

Soldering tips.

I've destroyed my few soldering tips (stock weller and hobbico) and have a few q's.

1. Is it my fault? I've heard tips will just get destroyed all on their own but I feel like they should last longer than they did (1 year on the weller and less than 1 month on the hobbico). What's proper soldering protocol to keep your tips good and healthy?

2. Where should I get new tips? I have tried every hardware store around here and both LHS's, aswell as the source (radio shack after being bought out by cellphone crazed stupid maniacs that don't know what a resistor is). I'm okay with ordering online, especially if the place also sells FG or CF and resin as I need some new stuff.
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Jul 26, 2012, 12:34 AM
Reduce the drama...
rick.benjamin's Avatar
1. What destroys tips is scratching, excessive heat, corrosive flux, corrosive environment.
Wait till iron can melt solder before trying to clean and tin tip.
Clean hot tip with a damp sponge.
Before turning off iron, clean and tin tip.
Don't strike iron, tip to remove solder or dross.

Jul 26, 2012, 02:30 AM
If not using your iron for a few minutes, turn it off. That continuous heating really takes a toll on tips.
Jul 26, 2012, 04:42 PM
York Electronics
Gary Warner's Avatar
Is the Weller in question temperature controlled and if so, at what temperature? I've been working with Weller soldering irons every work day since 1978. I only know what I've experienced; other people may have other experiences.

I have experience with Weller WTCP and WES51 - both temperature controlled. Temps over 750F will shorted the life of my tips. At temps over 800F a tip will be hard if not impossible to re-tin if left heated, dry and unused in just a day or so. At 600-700F they will last until physical damage, like damaging the plating with prying or scratching it. Past that, my tips usually last at least one year, and that's running an average of 4 hours a day, 5 days a week.

So far as care of the tips, I never have to clean the tips with water or a wet sponge/pad... ever. To "clean" the tips, I simply flood the tip with fresh rosin core solder a couple of times a day, letting the excess fall off or gently tapping the iron to knock off the excess solder. The rosin residue comes off the end of the tip doing this too. Rosin may still collect at the upper-end of the tip. but not out on the end of the tip where I do my soldering.

On the water issue, I was at a training seminar and Weller had a representative there and he shared that even though Weller provides a sponge, getting a hot tip wet causes a "shock cooling" that can weaken the plating over the copper core of the tips. Once the core has any exposure to air, even microscopic cracks, the tip will corrode under the plating and the plating will soon start to fail and fall off. New tip time. He said that the sponge is intended to be used only on a cool iron. yet admitted that most people is it on hot irons. I guess that means more tip sales for them.

I can think of only one thing that instantly kills my tips in a way that is not recoverable... that's burning plastic with it. Nothing I've found will fix a tip that's been burning plastic... at least a Weller tip. This is a sacrifice I sometimes make in a pinch in the field away from my shop. Making $$, I usually accept the $4.95 cost of ruining a tip in a pinch.

Hope this helps. I'm well aware that everyone who's used a soldering iron successfully has opinions about the best way to use them. I'm just another one of them.
Jul 26, 2012, 05:05 PM
Thermite + ice = Big boom.
boaterguy's Avatar
Well there's my problem, I've already filed down to the copper multiple times after ruining the plating. I also use the sponge when hot, it is not temperature controlled at all.
I'm fine with buying a 5$ tip every year, just not every other time i have to solder.
I want to design a tip with multiple radiused cuts for various bullet connectors to transfer heat better.
Jul 27, 2012, 02:41 AM
Oxford Panic
AndyOne's Avatar
The best investment I ever made was my Weller iron. Before that I was always having irons burn out or tips rot. I use my Weller WSP80 with a PU81 temp control station and although I abuse my iron far more than Gary and I use it for professional and hobby work, the tips seem to last for ever. I use a wet sponge and a chemical tip cleaner and I sometimes run it up to max temperature I also occasionally melt plastic but one dip in the chemical cleaner and it's back to new again.

Jul 27, 2012, 12:41 PM
York Electronics
Gary Warner's Avatar
Originally Posted by AndyOne
<snip> I also occasionally melt plastic but one dip in the chemical cleaner and it's back to new again.
Great "tip" to save a plastic burning "tip". Can I ask what the chemical is? I've tried everything I could think of... short of urine.
Jul 27, 2012, 01:04 PM
Dave the Rave
dmccormick001's Avatar
Originally Posted by Gary Warner
Great "tip" to save a plastic burning "tip". Can I ask what the chemical is? I've tried everything I could think of... short of urine.
That don't work neither....
Jul 27, 2012, 05:40 PM
Oxford Panic
AndyOne's Avatar
Here's what I use...

Jul 29, 2012, 04:55 AM
Proud to eat Kraut ;-)
Julez's Avatar
For cleaning, use this:

I placed the ball in a very small and flat can I bolted to the soldering iron stand.

There is no better way to clean tips.
Jul 29, 2012, 07:08 AM
Master Of My Universe
scotsoft's Avatar
I bought a pack of 4 scourers from the 1 and jammed one under my soldering iron holder. It works really well and is very cheap
Jul 29, 2012, 06:46 PM
Registered User
The Best tip cleaner and restorer is Hakko FS-100 chemical paste. Jay
Jul 30, 2012, 04:08 AM
Oxford Panic
AndyOne's Avatar
I've tried them all and chemical ones work the best if you use them correctly. Just a quick dip doesn't get off the really baked on crud. The tip sometimes needs a really good long soak to re-tin it properly. I think this is where people go wrong with chemical tip cleaners, I know I did when I first tried them.

Jul 31, 2012, 09:42 AM
York Electronics
Gary Warner's Avatar
Originally Posted by AndyOne
Aug 04, 2012, 03:47 AM
aka ECAA3D
m0dest's Avatar
I build and build and build.....everyday the iron is on for long periods of time.

The best thing to do is mentioned above, Soft scouring pad, damp sponge, clean and tin that tip after every 5th solder. I have been using the same 2 fine conical tips since last summer....did I mention my iron is on about 8 hrs a day and in constant use. You just have to clean it constantly. That heat is oxidizing your tip, you'll notice after a few minutes your tip is black or brownish, just keep it clean and shiny.

Secondly: I use Hakko brand Irons and tips only...the Japanese just know how to work metal...the tips last and their irons are the best for the money IMHO.

Third: This is just for quality welds....get a good lead based solder with an "eutectic" blend(63/37). The common crapshack brand (60/40)is not quality solder and if disturbed in the "patsy" state before it is solidified will not have the greatest connection. Too many horror stories about bad solder connections. This is I believe the pun intended!!

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