Best soldering iron for pots and caps etc?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by donnyb, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. donnyb

    donnyb Member

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    Hi there,

    I need some experience based advice re the topic. A couple of main questions:

    (1) I want to purchase a good soldering iron that has enough grunt to make a nice shiny joint for earth connections on the back of pots, as well as being able to do the caps (with a heat sink to protect the cap) and pots connections, without damage to the internals. Is there an iron that does these different tasks very well, or do I need two irons?

    (2) Which tip shapes and sizes would be best for these soldering tasks?

    Thanks, Don
     
  2. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

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    Hakko 888 works great for both of these tasks with the stock tip. Crank up the heat for pots, turn it back down for smaller connections.
     
  3. donnyb

    donnyb Member

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    Thanks nrandall85. What wattage would you suggest for earth conx on back of pots, and cap conx to pot tabs?
     
  4. donnyb

    donnyb Member

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    Or do you work by a tip temperature setting?
     
  5. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    after seeing seymour duncan use one in a video, i switched to a big honkin' 3/32" chisel tip in my soldering iron (a decent weller station). the fat tip has more "thermal momentum", staying hot better in use.
     
  6. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    The Hakko is great at a relatively inexpensive price of a little under $100. It's a variable temperature soldering station. For soldering to the back of pots you do need to turn up the heat. You can do quick solid connections to lugs and switches, etc at maybe 250 degrees C but you might have to crank it up to 300 degrees C or a smidge more to solder to the back of the pots.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  7. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Hakko. All I've used for a long time now. The 936 is discontinued (maybe you can still find one). The replacement is the FX-888, and it is an even better iron all around.

    For soldering to the back of pots, I would recommend not raising the heat. The key to soldering is:

    1) the ability to deliver heat from the tip to the target in a fast, effecient manner
    2) the ability of the station to deliver heat to the tip so it doesn't cool down.

    #1 is achieved by using a wider tip and insuring it's well tinned
    #2 is achieved by getting a station that's powerful enough to deliver energy to the tip.

    The problem with raising the heat is overheating the components without significantly increasing the ability of the iron to deliver that heat. The only place that really works is with cheap, open loop solder stations where the "temperature" control is really just controlling for more power or less power. Any decent station will maintain temperature and drive however much energy into the tip it takes up to the power rating of the station...turning up just makes it hotter but doesn't affect the ability of the station to deliver heat.

    On my Hakko FP102, I do all my soldering at 650F, which is the lowest setting.
     
  8. Binaural

    Binaural Supporting Member

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    +1 :aok
     
  9. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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    +1

    It's the BTUs that count, not the temperature, if you want to get in and out quickly. Remember, when you touch the tip to the back of the pot, the heat gets sucked out and the temperature goes down. Then you wait for the heating element to raise the temperature. The more BTUs you deliver on that first touch, the quicker the temp comes up.
     
  10. weshunter

    weshunter Supporting Member

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    i know it's probably a stupid question, but what does it mean to "tin the tip"?
     
  11. cap47

    cap47 Member

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    Coat the tip with a thin layer of solder. That is tinning the tip.
     
  12. dmagalhaes

    dmagalhaes Supporting Member

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    Hakko 936 is what I use.
     
  13. PhilF

    PhilF Member

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    I have a decent weller but thats the setting I almost always use. Sometimes I have to crank it up a bit higher to get off production solder in some electronics.
     
  14. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Another trick for heat transfer, especially on the back of pots and claws, is not only tin the tip but get a nice glob of solder on there. When it hits the back of the pot, the glob of molten solder will conduct heat extremely well. It's like instantly making your tip a LOT bigger.

    That will definitely help you get old solder off too, Flump.
     
  15. donnyb

    donnyb Member

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    Thank you all Posters. I see the temperature ranges suggested range from 250 degrees F to 650 degrees F. Tha's a big variance. Assuming 650 degrees is best (?), the answer to this following question could be helpful to us less experienced - How long approximately should it take to make a perfect earth soldering conx on the back of a quality made (say) CTS pot using a quality iron like the Hakko? eg almost instantaneous, a second, 2 seconds? Assuming the tip is heavily tinned and the back of the pot is clean and sanded a little.
     
  16. Starrman

    Starrman Member

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    Hakko FX-888 FTW!!

    I got one and so should you. I did all the Bill M mods on the Blues Junior (first thing I ever soldered), and other than an early mistake (tore some trace that I repaired quickly), it went smoothly.

    Never came close to "cooking" anything. So, it covers small stuff real well, and of course it has the heat for the bigger stuff. Great iron. I bought other tips, but used the stock tip for everything so far.

    Getting ready to change pups and pots on a Strat...
     
  17. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    I think that's my bad, I posted F instead of C earlier when I was posting C values (went back and changed it). Solder, depending on the composition typically fully melts in the 420 degree F range (around 220 C) and anywhere from that to around 625 degrees F (around 330 C) seems to work for me on my Hakko. I rarely if ever go to 650F and for tabs or switches or anything like that (and certainly PCs), I keep it lower, circa 250-275C on the Hakko dial.
     
  18. Sensible Musician

    Sensible Musician Member

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    Xytronic are good and reliable, too - even cheaper than Hakko. I've had model 379 for 8 years, sometimes in a toolbox on a trailer - never any issues.

    You do need to think about ventillation and filtering of your bench where you solder. You can cheaply rig up a fan to suck the fumes through a carbon filter. Google solder fumes and read until you get scared.
     
  19. jefesq

    jefesq Gold Supporting Member

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    or do the silver solder, ducks
     
  20. donnyb

    donnyb Member

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    Thanks to all Posters for the continuing advice ! I am looking on eBay etc for the soldering irons mentioned.
     

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