How am I killing these iron tips?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by dk_ace, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. dk_ace

    dk_ace Member

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    I've ruined every iron tip I have for my Weber 40W pencil iron. I thought I had decent soldering technique, but I don't think I should be going through tips like this.

    I wet the sponge when I'm soldering and constantly wipe the tip clean and then tin it with solder. I leave the tip tinned when I unplug and store the iron.

    Am I doing something wrong? The tips start to get holes in them and then it quickly goes south from there and I have to throw them away.

    Thanks for the help,
    D
     
  2. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    You mean Weller? First, be sure you're not using acid core solder. Second, I prefer the brass shaving to a sponge for cleaning tips. I think constantly steaming the tips may lead to accelerated corrosion. Third, I've had trouble with newer Weller tips wearing out very quickly. A good tip should last many years. The Wellers seem to be very inconsistent.

    If you can swing it, get yourself a nice Hakko 936 (if you can find one...it's discontinued) or FX-888 and never worry about it again.

    edit: I should add that the problem I see with the sponge is that if you don't use distilled water, you have all sorts of contaminants in the water that you're constantly depositing onto the iron. If you use distilled water and keep the sponge clean, it's probably fine but the brass shavings are SO much better there's little reason to use anything else.
     
  3. Hwoltage

    Hwoltage Member

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    Check and make sure that when you put the iron in the holder it doesn't rock back and press the tip against anything. I have one of those metal coil type holders and I had to cut it shorter specifically because of this.
     
  4. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

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    But w/ flux, solder, and even brass, how could some H2O contaminants be any worse?
     
  5. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Our water here is from a well. It has all sorts of things like iron and other deposits. It can potentially be acidic. When you touch the tip to the sponge, whatever happens to be on in the water immediately gets deposited on the iron as the water evaporates. That's why I recommend distilled water, especially if you're on a well. A gallon of distilled water just costs a couple of bucks and will last a LONG time :)

    Or just spend a few bucks on the brass shavings. Once you go there, you'll never use a sponge again.
     
  6. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

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    This +1 for me.

    Used to go through tips like mad, until one day, after scrubbing out the saucepan we use to boil water for tea and coffee, I had an epiphany - saw all the calcium that was constantly accumulating in it, and I put it together.

    Distilled water in the sponge, and tips last forever now.

    (keep using the same water in the kitchen though - love all those minerals!)
     
  7. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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    I was thinking I had no answer for you, as I use the same procedure and the tips on my irons are 50 years old. But aside from that being the answer (find some NOS Ungar tips), it struck me - do you unplug the iron rather than let it idle for long periods? I never let it get hot enough for the solder to evaporate. (of course, if you have one of those new-fangled temp controlled jobbies, this is perhaps moot)
     
  8. Sensible Musician

    Sensible Musician Member

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    use a ceramic tip on temperature controlled iron. a plain resistive element just gets hotter and hotter - or colder and colder if you foolishly try to use it

    use that gold colored wire wool (not sure what it's called) instead of a sponge. sponges smear gunk onto your iron, wire wool removes it

    use the correct solder for you job
     
  9. kinmike

    kinmike Supporting Member

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    Are these the same? Anybody got a picture?

    Thx, Mike
     
  10. crunchman

    crunchman Member

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    Same thing happens to me, I thought I was cleaning the tip too much ??

    Az water is very hard, gotta try distilled ! I guess

    I thought it was also the cheap Stahl tips I buy from Parts express.
     
  11. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    It's the same. It's just a little bin with a brass wool in it. You stick the iron in, and it cleans it off very shinny every time. The solder doesn't really stick to the brass, so you periodically just take the shavings out and dump the old dried solder out (it all just falls to the bottom).

    Here's an example:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0..._m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1QTPANWJ6TF6EKPC80WS

    I use the one that came with my Hakko, but this is a very low tech product...just brass wool and a little cup. I'm sure anyone you get will work.
     
  12. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    No kidding, you mean like one of the brass scrubby pads for the dishes? I've had no trouble with my Weber station, but I like the idea even so.

    --Ray
     
  13. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Sure, I think that would work fine. I believe the Hakko one is a little bit finer cut, but it really shouldn't matter. I didn't even think of that but I would certainly try it if you have one around. Just stick in something. I bet a small, empty can of cat food, or a sardine can, would be perfect. Something small and made of metal.
     
  14. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Vendor

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    Those 40W Weller chisel tips are crap. They just disintegrate! The 25W smaller ones aren't as bad, but its a bear to get anything to stick to the back of a pot with that 25W iron.

    I've gone to Hakko soldering stations and the tips last forever. I have one set up with a small tip for switches and smaller stuff and one with a big chisel tip for grounding to pots and other chunkier stuff.
     
  15. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    Thanks John. Gotta run by the grocery store this afternoon anyway, I'll make a detour down the aisle. :beer

    --Ray
     
  16. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

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    I have tips last for years. I use very small pointed tips, I never use water on them. I wipe them off with anything handy that doesn't melt. When they start getting oxidized I use a small file to clean them up and reshape them.
     
  17. dk_ace

    dk_ace Member

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    Thanks for the help guys. I broke down and bought the FX-888 station. I'll be soldering for years to come, so I decided there's no since buying another cheap pencil iron when I could put the money towards a good station. I'll be using it for the first time tomorrow night. Mine came with the little brass wire wool pad to use as well as a sponge and rubber cleaner. I'm going to try the brass first, but if I ever use the sponge I'll be sure to use distilled water. I think I was using tap water in the past with the disintegrating tips, but my memory is a little fuzzy on that point.

    Thanks again,
    D
     
  18. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    Ha ha....write back tomorrow night after you try the brass shavings. Let us know if you'll ever use a sponge again :)

    I haven't used a sponge in almost 10 years :D
     
  19. dazco

    dazco Member

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    Yep. I used to go thru tips like crazy with wellers. Got 2 hakko 936 stations about 10 years ago, one for home and one at work. I literally can make one tip last 6 months at work where i use it every day, sometimes for hours ! Never seen tips last so long. In fact, i usually change them just because i feel i ought to. Sometimes they'r ewear down, but it takes a loooooooong time. Great stations.
     
  20. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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