Soldering Irons

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MikeH
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Soldering Irons

Postby MikeH » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:37 am

Hi all,

At the moment I am using a really old soldering iron that has a huge bit on the end which isn't so suitable for the little bit of fine works that needs doing (almost messed up my tiebar with it)

So I am looking for your opinions on what would be a good soldering iron to get, From the looks of it Antex is the best and you can get lots of different tips for it, But should I go for something that has a fixed temperature, or go for the really expensive one like this https://www.eileensemporium.com/index.p ... t&Itemid=9

Thanks

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Andy W
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Andy W » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:55 am

I'd love one of those! But £200! Ouch. For decades I've used a 25w Antex for brass/n.s, and an 18w Antex for white metal. Both have lozenge shaped tips so I can use the flat or edge part. They've covered everything I've built. My large outlay for soldering was to get an RSU from LRM. Invaluable for doing small overlays etc.
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Flymo748
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Flymo748 » Sun Sep 13, 2015 11:50 am

I'm a firm believer in a proper temperature controlled iron. My one of the last few years has been an Antex 660 TC.

Mine is the old yellow model with a roller adjustment, seen here on the right of my modelling bureau:

IMG_7780.JPG


That one is discontinued but the replacement seems very similarly featured:

https://www.eileensemporium.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=eny_fly_default.tpl&product_id=5855&category_id=125&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=9

[url]
http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/soldering ... s/2007693/[/url]

http://uk.farnell.com/antex/660a-uk/soldering-station-60w-230vac-uk/dp/2422167?MER=baynote-2422167-pr

Still not cheap, but without the digital display substantially (25%) cheaper.

If you want to move away from Antex, have a look at the current Maplin catalogue. I have one of their digital variable irons as a backup, and it seems reasonable to use. I've lent it to a friend for an extended time who appreciated it.

http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/48w-professional-2-line-lcd-display-solder-station-n34fb

A much more affordable option. I'd just recommend stocking up on a few spare bits as unlike Antex I wouldn't trust Maplin to not fundamentally change their design and discontinue supporting accessories.

HTH
Flymo
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MikeH
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby MikeH » Sun Sep 13, 2015 12:24 pm

I just found that digital one on c&l for alot cheaper than £200, http://www.finescale.org.uk/index.php?r ... t_id=11431 or I noticed these cheap ones with temperature control all built into the unit, but makes me wonder if it will work as good as the ones with the power station https://www.eileensemporium.com/index.p ... t&Itemid=9

Although I currently have no plans to have to do any white metal soldering, Who knows what the future may hold if I get on well with this P4 malarky, so having something able to do brass and that would be more useful in the long term I think

Cheers

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Tim V
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Tim V » Sun Sep 13, 2015 1:00 pm

I successfully use an Antex TCS iron, with a selection of bits.
Tim V
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Guy Rixon
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Guy Rixon » Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:07 pm

I have a Maplins soldering station, 50W with digital display and exchangeable tips bought separately. It was about £45 in a sale, IIRC. It works.

Downside is that it doesn't support temperatures low enough for whitemetal, and the absolute calibration of temperature may be a bit off. I find I need to set it a lot higher than the nominal melting-point of the solder.

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Mike Garwood
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Mike Garwood » Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:45 pm

http://www.aoyue.com/en/products/?sort_id=33

I have used these and I know of at least two other people who solder regularly with them. I used the 50 watt version. A huge selection in tips (shapes and sizes) which can be changed while the iron is in use. Unlike the expensive Antex temp station you can change the control filament in the iron. That saves a lot of frustration. And the prices are very, very competitive. Nice kit.

But, I must admit to using the Antex 660TC at present. Expensive and does the exact same job as the ones above but considerably more expensively!

Mike

Terry Bendall
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Terry Bendall » Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:25 pm

I have used a simple 25 watt Antex soldering iron for many years and have found it does the vast majority if what I want with an 18 watt for fine work although that does not include much in the way of etched brass kits. I have however used a 40 watt iron for occasional forays into 7mm scale brass kits.

With care and a bit of practice it is possible to solder white metal using a 25 watt iron but a cheap way of getting a temperature controlled iron is to use a domestic dimmer switch connected to a 13 amp socket. Not difficult for those for whom mains voltage electrics does not hold worries but if you are not surer either get someone who does know to do the job or splash out and buy a temperature controlled iron.

Terry Bendall

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David Thorpe
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby David Thorpe » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:12 pm

I've used an Aoyue 937 (http://www.pcb-soldering.co.uk/aoyue-93 ... -2327.html) for years. It's been reliable and has done what it's meant to do and spare parts, eg tips, are readily and cheaply available. When/if it fails I'll have no hesitation in getting another. Strangely, I've never got on with Antex irons.

DT

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David B
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby David B » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:30 pm

Get a temperature controlled iron. You can change temperatures for brass and white metal quickly and conveniently as well as setting a suitable temperature for the conditions. It is possible to over-heat solder and the ability to adjust the temperature to suit the bit size, solder and amount of metal means that your soldering can be much more efficient and tidier.

A large lump of (e.g. white) metal will draw heat from your iron quickly, so I would suggest you get one which is no less than 50 watts - anything much less could mean that it will not be man enough to replace the heat drawn away. 50W will give you sufficient power to do most soldering in 4mm but if you have a tendency towards 7mm or larger scales at any time, you may well need a more powerful iron.

I have the Antex station, the same as Paul's (Flymo) above. It has a 50W iron with a range of bits and does all that is asked of it.

Some people recommend Ersa irons. Whatever you get, shop around as prices vary.

Philip Hall
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Philip Hall » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:40 pm

I have used an Antex 660TC soldering station for many years and it was a very good purchase. Until recently, I have had special pure copper bits turned for it, as I have always preferred them, but of late have used the new Antex bits which are machined to a much sharper edge, which enables small quantities of solder to be deposited just where you want them.

Philip

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Will L
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Will L » Sun Sep 13, 2015 11:53 pm

Like Terry, there was a time when I did most thinks, including soldering white metal with a basic, gets as hot as it gets Antex 25W iron. I think using such a basic iron is good for you as you need to learn your craft. With a basic iron, it is useful to have a section of bits, most so you can have a big heavy one for jobs that need a lot of heat, and small delicate ones where you don't. When you know what your doing a temperature controlled iron is a nice little luxury but frankly turning down the heat just because your soldering white metal is for wuses.

Since I have been old an rather better off I have been using an Antex 660TC, though I still keep a big bit for things that need lot of heat and a small one for delicate stuff. I use the temperature control mostly to avoid over heating the solder on the iron, the 145 degree stuff particularly doesn't react well to being over heated on the iron, and if you do you spend a lot more time cleaning the iron.

When I had a element go in the soldering iron hand set for my Antex 660TC, I brought a whole new hand set. Then I decided to try to fit a new element to the old one, which I did no problem, so now I have two. So one has the big bit on it and one the small one and I just swap them over when I want to change bit size. Much easier than playing around with hot bits.

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James Moorhouse
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby James Moorhouse » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:47 am

For our type of soldering, i.e. non-electronic, solid copper bits are far more suitable than plated ones. Having tried copper, I don't think I'd ever go back to plated bits. Here's what Martin Wynne wrote on the Finescale Modelling Yahoo Group some time ago:

Plated bits are fine for electronics, but I much prefer a plain copper bit for modelling. Much easier to keep clean, solder flows cleanly from it, and it's quickly filed back to shape when it gets worn.
You can buy a length of copper bar from Eileen's Emporium and make half a dozen different shaped bits for different jobs. The Weller irons accept plain 5/16" dia copper bar.
If anyone is struggling to learn to solder, try starting with a plain copper bit freshly filed. Tin it with cored solder *as it warms up*, and off you go...


I chose a Weller soldering iron because it is so easy to make copper bits for them. See my earlier post on this subject here.

MikeH
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby MikeH » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:41 pm

Thanks everyone for all your comments.

I have decided to go for a temperature controlled unit for sure and probably just an analogue one, For digital you seem to pay alot more just for a digital display which looks like it would take far longer to set to your required temperature than with a simple dial

Cheers

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Flymo748
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Flymo748 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:04 pm

MikeH wrote:Thanks everyone for all your comments.

I have decided to go for a temperature controlled unit for sure and probably just an analogue one, For digital you seem to pay alot more just for a digital display which looks like it would take far longer to set to your required temperature than with a simple dial

Cheers


A good choice...

One thing that mine has is a note of my two default temperature settings. These were given by Iain Rice many years ago in one of his books.

- whitemetal - 200 degrees

- brass/nickel silver - 375 degrees.

These, of course, are much higher than the melting point of the relevant solders. However when you think about it, the iron has to have enough heat in it to melt the solder, boil off the flux, and heat the workpiece so that a good join is made, and after hiving all the heat for that, *still* have enough heat to keep the solder liquid and flowing easily until the joint is formed.

Of course, for delicate things or for big lumps of metal, the iron is turned down or up. That is where the adaptability of a temperature controlled iron comes in.

Your iron may not be calibrated to be exactly the same as this. But give them a try as a starter and see where you go from there.

HTH
Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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David B
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby David B » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:34 pm

Flymo748 wrote:One thing that mine has is a note of my two default temperature settings. These were given by Iain Rice many years ago in one of his books.

- whitemetal - 200 degrees

- brass/nickel silver - 375 degrees.


200 would be maximum for white metal and 375 all but too high for 145 degree solder (which I presume you are using). I suggest 300 as adequate for most jobs and if you need more heat with more metal, use a larger bit, the heat drawn off by the metal being adequately replaced by a 50W iron. Too much heat can damage the solder.

I have mentioned before, elsewhere, a rule of thumb to double the melting pint of the solder and add 25 or 30 degrees. Then adjust if necessary and get a balance between temperature, bit size and amount of metal. With 145 solder, I find 300 degrees to be plenty.

Then there is Resistance Soldering . . . . .

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Flymo748
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Flymo748 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:00 pm

David B wrote:
Flymo748 wrote:One thing that mine has is a note of my two default temperature settings. These were given by Iain Rice many years ago in one of his books.

- whitemetal - 200 degrees

- brass/nickel silver - 375 degrees.


200 would be maximum for white metal and 375 all but too high for 145 degree solder (which I presume you are using).


Nope ;-)

The vast majority of my soldering is done from a gurt reel of Carrs 179 tin/lead/silver solder. In case that runs out, I have another one in the bottom drawer...

Yes, I have 145, and 100, and 70, and <looks in tool chest> even some 224. All in strip form, and they all are used and all have their uses. And there's the 188 solder paint, and of course my very useful Anonymous Chinese Solder Balls. But I would conservatively say that 90% of my soldering is done straight with the 179.

Cue a further debate on best solder for the job!

Cheers
Flymo
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www.5522models.co.uk

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David B
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby David B » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:28 pm

Flymo748 wrote:Nope ;-)


Thanks for the clarification - succinct and to the point! :)

You are the only person I know using solder with that high a melting point, for general use. I have had a roll of 179 for several years and not even started it; I have yet to find a use/need for it. I am open to offers.

What do the rest of you use . . . ??

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David Thorpe
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby David Thorpe » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:37 pm

A bit higher! I've tried a lot of the specialist solders but find that I achieve just as good if not better results using ordinary 60/40 tin/lead multicore solder wire, melting point 190°C, flux 2.5%, bought through ebay (£4.98 for 100g).

DT

Philip Hall
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Philip Hall » Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:22 am

I use 145 for most construction work, although ordinary multicore for anything that might need a little extra strength, like chassis frames, Little Things That Can Easily Get Broken Off like lamp irons, and also for electrical connections/pickups. Like David, I keep the temperature down to about 300 simply because a pure copper bit stays cleaner that way. Even an iron plated bit will tarnish if the wick is turned up too high.

Incidentally, I read on a packet of 145 solder once that it should not be heated beyond 350 degrees, something to do with cadmium. This was in the days when Roger Sawyer had Eileen's so it might be different now. I bought a large stock of 145 and multicore a long time ago when we thought that leaded solder was going to be hard to get...

Philip
Last edited by Philip Hall on Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Flymo748
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby Flymo748 » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:54 am

David B wrote:
Flymo748 wrote:Nope ;-)


Thanks for the clarification - succinct and to the point! :)


I will take on board your point about the iron being too hot for low-melt. The last thing that i want to do is to cause the solder to degrade.

So I'll try it down at 170 degrees - I'll change the markings on the soldering station now.

As I'll be bringing a number of D&S whitemetal kits to Missenden, the last thing that I want to do is to blow holes in them!

Cheers
Flymo
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MikeH
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby MikeH » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:48 am

I did notice that the new antex soldering stations only go down to a minimum of 200c so hopefully it won't be too bad for whitemetal

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John Donnelly
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby John Donnelly » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:22 am

As someone new to the wonderful world of soldering, I purchased this one from Maplins but I've been led to believe that it may be just a bit too powerful so would appreciate any advice:

Image

John

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LesGros
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby LesGros » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:15 am

[John Donnelly wrote:
As someone new to the wonderful world of soldering, I purchased this one from Maplins but I've been led to believe that it may be just a bit too powerful so would appreciate any advice:

Hi John,
Having a powerful iron is not a disadvantage. You have a good piece of kit to cope the wide range of soldering tasks carried out when Railway modelling. Others on the thread have already mentioned the relationships between temperature, and the appropriate size of bit to be applied to the various tasks.

The best thing to do next, is to gather some materials together; brass sheet/rod , steel track (old peco if you have it) Include delicate as well as chunky joints eg tiny bits of angle brass or NS.

Spend an hour, or two, to practice cleaning, and soldering these together; also, try tinning stripped copper wire in various thicknesses. You will soon find that you get a good feel for how long to keep the iron in contact.

One thing to avoid is mixing lead free and Tin/lead solders on your bits; there is an interaction which causes poor joints. Lead-free also required higher temperatures, which creates a greater risk of damage to delicate electronics from overheating. Avoid breathing the fumes whichever solders, and fluxes you use

Keith Norwood has excellant advice on railway modelling techniques on his website; see the topic on NS Vs Steel track.

best wishes
LesG

The man who never made a mistake
never made anything useful

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Soldering Irons

Postby grovenor-2685 » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:17 am

I've been using one of those for several years now without problems, I don't know what is meant by 'to powerful' I usually run it about 380 but sometimes have to turn it up for large pieces of brass.
I did have an element fail once and bought both a new element and a spare iron in case the repair was difficult. However the replacement element fitted reasonably easily so I now have two irons for it and keep them with different tips.
Regards
Regards
Keith
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