Soldering Station Replacements

essdee
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Soldering Station Replacements

Postby essdee » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:55 pm

[Continued from this earlier thread ("Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem"), split at the author's request]

Andy...you don't know how close, just how close..... (But would I then need to use lead-free weights on the fishing line?). But there is that MR railmotor to pick up and finish at last, over summer, for Scalefourum.

Thanks Will,

!! Yes, it now seems blindingly obvious...I can now see, as the iron warms up from cold, that it - and the tip cleaner, do briefly behave as expected, but very soon the over-heat wrecks everything. I had assumed that the flashing red indicator indicated a true temperature and all was working; despite a vague awareness that excess heat and strange phenomena were occurring around me...clearly my retirement has been somewhat overdue...? Is it the lead, or the meths.....

Sadly, the Antex 660TC (like its user) is now obsolete, see Antex and Eileen's websites. Squires show it still in their online catalogue, but a phone query this morning revealed that it is no longer available.

However, before I order up the replacement Antex 660A soldering station, I note that this has a settable temperature range of 200-450C, whereas the obsolete 660TC claimed 75-425C. I am less concerned about the slightly increased upper temperature available, than seriously concerned about the loss of the 75-200C range, when tackling whitemetal kits or adding castings to brass/nickel silver, where the 100C solder is valuable. A change of technique will be needed, if the coolest bit temperature is going to be 200C.

Has anyone made the transition from Antex 660TC to Antex 600 - how did they find it? I see Eileen's market a separate low-temperature solder station, presumably for such an eventuality?

Finally, Will - what exactly did you replace with your own set-up; and from which supplier? Was it a dead element in the iron itself, or the thermocouple device? If the latter, was it in the iron or in the control station? I am wondering if I can repair the 660TC if spares are available.

I will sold(i)er on for the weekend with the uber-tip heat and much care - fortunately brass and NS work - to give chance for any further feedback this weekend. Thanks again for the tip.

Cheers,

Steve
Last edited by John McAleely on Sat Apr 29, 2017 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fix links to earlier thread

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David B
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby David B » Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:03 pm

Antex have not done the railway modelling community any favours by raising the lower temperature to 200oC, which is the highest I would ever use with white metal.

You might consider alternatives. Ersa do a range, this one from Rapid is 80W and has 150oC as the lowest setting and is a lot cheaper than Antex. Google 'Ersa soldering stations'.

Hobby Holidays sell an 80W Xytronic with a temperature range of 150 to 480oC. I saw someone using one at Missenden in March and they were very happy with it.

essdee
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby essdee » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:01 pm

Thanks for the pointers, David,

I am certainly very wary about 200C and WM! I do note that Eileen's now stock a low-temperature soldering station for such, clearly to complement the revised Antex 660A - see their August 2015 newsletter on here, et seq. But, two soldering stations to replace one? Not in my world.


I have a range of Antex bits for different applications, so am reluctant to change to another maker just yet.

There is also a compact temperature controlled soldering iron from Eileen's, the Antex TCS 50, which gives the same 200-450C range, in a more compact form and for a little over half the price of the 660A. Has anyone here had experience of this?

Much to think over.....

Cheers,

Steve

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Tim V
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Tim V » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:07 pm

The TCS50 is my weapon, but my soldering isn't in your league Steve.
Tim V
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essdee
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby essdee » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:17 pm

Thanks Tim, useful to know...


...and your soldering is probably at least as neat in first instance as mine is; but you should see the piles of garriflex 'swarf' and fibreglass 'stogies' accrued her over a decade plus!

I aim for the Tiffany/Brandreth neatness level, once I get re-equipped and have time on my hands to practise!

Thanks anyway,

Steve

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Will L
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Will L » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:25 pm

The link below is for the right soldering iron hand set and it seems they still do spares for the old work station http://www.antex.co.uk/soldering/solder ... ions/tc50/

The still do the spare elements too here
http://www.antex.co.uk/soldering/spares ... -elements/

I suppose one would like to be sure it is the element in the hand set that is the problem, and not the solserstation itself. Should be able to prove that if somebody else'so handset works OK. Or you could try ringing up Antex and ask their advice.

The temprature sensor is in the element

essdee
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby essdee » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:44 pm

Thanks Will, appreciated, will get onto it...

Philip Hall
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Philip Hall » Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:27 pm

Steve,

I would contact Antex direct to see if your unit can be repaired rather than replaced. I had a problem a while ago, returned iron and unit, but it turned out to be the iron. They checked the unit and sold me a new iron. I have always found them very helpful.

Philip

Lindsay G
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Lindsay G » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:23 pm

I've got a handful of different soldering items, and did have an Antex TCS 50 which I kept for heftier things, always just used it on max heat, but it upped and died.....well within 9 years. Heat is controlled via a small black screwdriver-slot rotary switch but you have no idea what heat you've turned it to. I can't say I misuse soldering irons but I've gone through a few Antex irons of varying sizes after just a few years usage. Maybe just bad luck with me, or Antex aren't robust items. I gave up on Black and Decker tools many years ago as they only seemed to have a limited lifespan, unlike Bosch or other similar brands.

On the other hand a rather cheepo temperature controlled "Precision Gold" soldering station from Maplins has continued to give good service after many years, apart from the soldering bolt itself which has a weak point and has broken a couple of times - no replacement item now available from Maplins but they are available on Ebay.

Lindsay

allanferguson
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby allanferguson » Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:35 pm

I now have two Maplin soldering stations which have served me well for many years (and only cost about £40 each). I have four soldering bolts to fit them, which saves me having to change tips. And I always clean the tips on a brass "Brillopad" cleaner whenever I go to make a joint. I have a tendency to forget about them and leave them on all night, so I fitted a wee neon light on top to warn me. I do take Steve's point about the minimum temperature, tho'. It's awfully easy to melt wee whitemetal castings if you're careless

Allan F

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Tim V
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Tim V » Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:04 pm

I solder whitemetal the old fashioned (!) way, I use an ancient Antex 25w, through a light dimmer with a 60w bulb in parallel to make the dimmer work.
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Terry Bendall
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Terry Bendall » Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:55 am

Tim V wrote: I use an ancient Antex 25w, through a light dimmer with a 60w bulb in parallel to make the dimmer work.


I do something similar, but without the bulb and it seems to work. I have also found that with a bit of care, and providing the parts are not too small, white metal can be soldered with the same 25 watt iron and no dimmer.

Terry Bendall

Enigma
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Enigma » Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:21 pm

I've had an RS Components temp controlled iron for many years, model 603-340. Temperature range is 'Ambient - 450' so basically 0 to 450. It uses Antex style bits and has a replaceable element. I also use the lead free tip cleaner and it is still a very long way from being fully used even though it is several years old. I find a quick dip/rub followed by a wipe on a damp sponge is more than adequate to clean off crud. During use I use the damp sponge and the 'brass wool' type cleaner and only much more rarely find the need to use the tip cleaner.

Regarding flux, I have used Powerflo for many years for general use having had it initially recommended by Jim of the original Eileen's. I will use a Carr's flux (I have Red and Green) for some brass and white metal work but Powerflo is the main one. At York this year I was chatting to Derek Mundy and noticed he was using Powerflo for all work, including white metal. However, he was diluting it to almost a milk consistency and it still worked very well. My tub of Powerflo is now quite long in the tooth and it was almost finished - and looked like Marmite! It was then suggested that I add water and stir well - which I did. The white(ish) colour returned and - much more beneficial - the tub is now about 2/3 full and could, I reckon, be thinned even more. It also still works very well and is easy to clean off.

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steve howe
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby steve howe » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:23 am

I have Antex 18w, 25w and 40w and have found that 'non-branded' bits do not take solder as well as the genuine versions.

How do you find out what the tip temperature is in correlation to the wattage of the iron?

Steve

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David B
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby David B » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:45 am

I contacted Antex about their change of line and not having the soldering stations going down below 200oC. They replied as follows;

We have had a few enquires like yours & decided to make something to suit.
690D 230V(BP/EP)temp 30-200 deg. C ANTEX (U8865F0L) This machine has a digital display & operates from 30 deg.C - 200 deg.C. Unfortunately it does not operate higher than 200 deg.C

This is priced at £239.64 + p&p & v.a.t.

We also offer a repair service which your fellow modellers might be interested in if they require repairs to their soldering stations. The soldering irons for these systems are also still available (from our website) www.antex.co.uk/soldering/soldering-stations/tc50/ part number TL2EJ70.


It is something though it would be much more convenient to have the single unit. The price is also a bit high but I have found in the past Antex is usually cheaper from elsewhere. When I bought my 660TC, it was cheapest from Squires. Odd that it is not cheaper or competitive from the horse's mouth.

essdee
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby essdee » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:43 pm

David,

Thank you for chasing this up; my 'to do' list has it a bit to far down, at present, as I endeavour to complete my last commission - a LRM MR 2F chassis build, before the end of the month. The original target was Scalefour North - some of you saw the basic rolling chassis there - but Easter family commitments and the soldering station 'collapse' have impinged heavily.

I too had noticed a remarkable range of prices for Antex, notably the current 660A station, though I am reluctant to get one from a bulk/budget supplier rather than Eileen's, which appears to retail mid-range.
As to the Antex low-temperature item; I am resistant on the exorbitant cost and the whole faff of having two bulky items where I had one before - thanks, but no thanks, Antex. I would like to hear from anyone who has Eileen's low-temperature station - made by whom??

Repair? Hmmm - but thanks Philip and David both. Until I am sure where the fault lies, I am limping on with the ancient and heavily used 660TC - using the short 'window' when it is at an appropriate temperature, before switching off for cool down (me and it both) - this period allowing a second 'window of opportunity'. My patience has been sore tested recently.... I hope to have the chance to test my newer TC50 iron on another Antex 660TC station on Friday, to confirm whether the fault is with the thermocouple in the iron, or within the station's circuitry - once I know, I can approach Antex..

Thanks to all who have responded here recently - useful to know that Tim has the 50TCS; Paul's earlier version with screwdriver adjustment lacks the finesse of the later model; I am a tad wary of both units' robustness in the continual use I would be making of them?

More anon, keep them coming - but, perhaps this thread needs splitting and given a new heading, from the point where I discovered the fault was the hardware, not teh tip cleaner? Keith, John, what do you think?

Cheers,

Steve

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Will L
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Will L » Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:06 pm

steve howe wrote:I have Antex 18w, 25w and 40w and have found that 'non-branded' bits do not take solder as well as the genuine versions.

How do you find out what the tip temperature is in correlation to the wattage of the iron?


You could try holding the hot end??

More sensibly, not at all sure you can sensibly correlate the two, as the wattage is a measure of how quickly it can add heat to the tip, not how hot the tip actually gets which depends on all sorts of other factors.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby David Thorpe » Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:24 pm

Hakko FX-888D? 70w, 50º - 450ºC, c. £135. Pretty colour too.

DT

essdee
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby essdee » Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:04 pm

Ah, that is looking very interesting! (So why on earth have Antex shot themselves in the foot over the 660 TC upgrade....?)

Much appreciated David...

S.

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Jol Wilkinson
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:23 pm

Steve,

late comment but just returned from short trip away.

I have used Antex irons and TCUs for a long time, but as they seemed to decided that they want to premium price their TCU's and replacement elements, my next unit (when the Antex TCU element I have just fitted gives out) will be an Ersa, Atten or Xytronic from Rapid Online.

https://www.rapidonline.com/digital-solder-stations.

I will look for one that has a suitable range of bits and which seems likely to continue to supply replacement elements. I have already had to scrap one Antex TCU because the correct replacement element was no longer supplied when they changed the model (even though the one for the new unit looks identical).

Jol

essdee
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby essdee » Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:58 pm

Thanks for this Jol, I am nodding in agreement with your view on Antex. The price of a replacement element/tip sensor seems pretty hefty. I have, of course, a range of bits for different applications, and no doubt these will not be interchangeable with whatever I might get next. If I find that my controller is OK and it's the iron that's stuffed, I might invest in two replacement old-version irons (which the cynic in me says will virtually guarantee the immediate failure of the obsolete controller unit...). I found that site by chance too, and was amazed at the budget prices.

Cheers,

Steve

John Palmer
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby John Palmer » Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:10 pm

There are a couple of ebay merchants offering Hakko FX-888D's for around £75.00 + tax, compared with prices in the range £115.00-£135.00. However, there seems to be quite a lot of faking of this item, so if you're thinking of getting one, be aware of the risk that you may receive one that is counterfeit. There's a Youtube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvOJL8aAUO8 which lays out differences between fake and genuine article. This was posted in September 2016, so counterfeiters may subsequently have taken further steps to conceal such differences.

Philip Hall
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby Philip Hall » Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:31 pm

Looking at Jol's link I am struck by the fact that most of the irons on the page don't go down to a very low temperature, most are 150 - 200 degrees, although there was a very expensive one that went lower. So Antex may be following an industry trend, doubtless occasioned by the use of lead free solders in electronics. I don't solder whitemetal much (I don't much care for the material) but when I do, the low temperature setting of my Antex 660TC is useful. It may well be that eventually we shall have to have another iron for such work alone.

Philip

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David Thorpe
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby David Thorpe » Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:36 am

As John rightly says, beware of Hakko fakes. If they seem particularly cheap, there's probably a reason for it. Best pay the extra and buy from a reputable dealer. (I should perhaps add that I don't have a Hakko myself but it's top of my list for when my old Aoyue eventually fails). However, Dancap Electronics (http://www.dancap.co.uk/) are the official UK distributors and they seem to be selling the Hakko at £89, though I don't know whether that includes VAT. I think I'd want to have a chat with them to make sure that the UK version has the same specs as the US one, especially that it goes as low as 50 degrees - I've read somewhere else that the UK version may only go as low as 200 degrees, so that would be worth checking out..

The Hakko seems to be highly thought of in the USA - it gets excellent reviews on Amazon.com. My only worry about it is the 2-button control interface which seems a little odd but no doubt would be got used to.

DT

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David Thorpe
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Re: Solder Tip Cleaner and Tinner problem

Postby David Thorpe » Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:12 am

I've now has a chat with a very helpfulchat at Dancap Electronics. They've been associated with Hakko for 31 years and sell the FX-888D in both blue/yellow and silver at £118.78 including VAT and carriage. He was a bit taken aback by my question as to how low the unit will go - he'd never been asked it before and couldn't imagine why anyone would want to solder at less than 200 degrees. I explained about whitemetal, we looked up the Hakko Europe website which said 50 - 450, then he looked at the manual and it said 200 - 450. The Hakko comes with five preset temperatures and he thinks that the lowest preset is probably 200, but the presets can of course be changed and he also thinks that a temperature as low as 50 could then be set.

Anyway, he's sending an email off to Japan for clarification and should get back to me tomorrow. I'll keep you advised.

DT


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