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Choosing a Soldering Iron?


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Could anyone suggest a cheap soldering iron for kitbuilding? I have both brass and whitemetal kits that need putting together.

 

I have heard that a minimum of 25 watts is recommended for a non temperature controlled iron. Also I hear recommendation of using an Antex. Problem is over here I cannot find one and eBay offers them at ridiculous prices not to mention shipping. I can however find a Weller 25 watt quite cheaply. My question is: would it be just as good as the Antex? Any very cheap temperature controlled alternatives that people have used for this kind of work?

 

Matti

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You are buying one of the very fundamental tools of model building.  I wouldn't try to skimp out- however, Antax are not the only brand in town.

 

Weller, Hakko and Antax are all good name brands.  If you can find a robot making place, or similar, then they will likely have one of those 3 in stock in a temp controlled iron.  

If you intend on making whitemetal kits, then a temp. controlled iron is very helpful.  It _can_ be done without, but... it's not going to be easy, you are going to melt castings, and generally I'd say invest in a good iron.


I don't have experience with the knock off Chinese versions, but I would suspect you get what you pay for- a decent priced knock off is going to be far easier to work with than an expensive but wrong iron.

 

I have a Weller 25w, and a 75W iron, and I would not go to them for precision work, because I have a Hakko 936 station.  That's an analog, 50w, temp. controlled station with easy to change tips.

 

James 

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1 hour ago, Matti8 said:

Could anyone suggest a cheap soldering iron for kitbuilding? I have both brass and whitemetal kits that need putting together.

 

I have heard that a minimum of 25 watts is recommended for a non temperature controlled iron. Also I hear recommendation of using an Antex. Problem is over here I cannot find one and eBay offers them at ridiculous prices not to mention shipping. I can however find a Weller 25 watt quite cheaply. My question is: would it be just as good as the Antex? Any very cheap temperature controlled alternatives that people have used for this kind of work?

 

Matti

Have you looked at buying direct from Antex?

 

https://www.antex.co.uk/home/

 

Three distributors listed for Finland too https://www.antex.co.uk/distributors/europe-distributors/

 

Andi

Edited by Dagworth
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Can I suggest the following:

Buy CSI Deluxe Premier75W Digital Soldering Station from Circuit Specialists - Circuit Specialists

 

This unit has transformed my soldering  allowing  brass and white metal soldering at the touch of a switch.  Very rapid heat up - so ideal for the simple one off job.   I struggle to find a fault.

 

Edit:  Sorry for some reason links are not transferring.  

 

www.curcuitspecialists.eu then look for 75W soldering centre

 

Edited by Andy Hayter
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For etched brass, I've used an Antex 45w for years, and before that a smaller Antex. British Telecom used them and engineer friends said they were very reliable. 

 

For whitemetal, I have a cheap temperature soldering station from Maplin. 

 

I understand that you don't want to mix the solders on the tips, although I'm not convinced. Powerflow flux works for both after all. 

 

Whatever you buy, as has been said, it's a fundamental tool so get something decent. 

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40w minimum, interchangeable tips, temperature control. 

 

brand is not so important. 

 

I use a Chinese 998D soldering station with hot air reflow gun with airflow and temp control and 50w iron with heat control and changeable tips. It does everything I need it to do, produces nice clean joints and has improved my soldering dramatically over the 25w Wilko cheapie I used to have. 

Edited by PMW
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2 hours ago, peach james said:

You are buying one of the very fundamental tools of model building.  I wouldn't try to skimp out- however, Antax are not the only brand in town.

 

Weller, Hakko and Antax are all good name brands.  If you can find a robot making place, or similar, then they will likely have one of those 3 in stock in a temp controlled iron.  

If you intend on making whitemetal kits, then a temp. controlled iron is very helpful.  It _can_ be done without, but... it's not going to be easy, you are going to melt castings, and generally I'd say invest in a good iron.


I don't have experience with the knock off Chinese versions, but I would suspect you get what you pay for- a decent priced knock off is going to be far easier to work with than an expensive but wrong iron.

 

I have a Weller 25w, and a 75W iron, and I would not go to them for precision work, because I have a Hakko 936 station.  That's an analog, 50w, temp. controlled station with easy to change tips.

 

James

 

Thanks for the info. After looking for a 936 I see they are nice but out of production and pricy for used. There are Chinese made replicas on eBay and one in particular I saw which I also watched a YouTube video on. After 20 hours or so of use the reviewer gave a favourable opinion of it. Do you think it might be a decent option?

 

Matti

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43 minutes ago, Andy Hayter said:

Can I suggest the following:

Buy CSI Deluxe Premier75W Digital Soldering Station from Circuit Specialists - Circuit Specialists

 

This unit has transformed my soldering  allowing  brass and white metal soldering at the touch of a switch.  Very rapid heat up - so ideal for the simple one off job.   I struggle to find a fault.

 

Edit:  Sorry for some reason links are not transferring.  

 

www.curcuitspecialists.eu then look for 75W soldering centre

27 minutes ago, Phil Parker said:

For etched brass, I've used an Antex 45w for years, and before that a smaller Antex. British Telecom used them and engineer friends said they were very reliable. 

 

For whitemetal, I have a cheap temperature soldering station from Maplin. 

 

I understand that you don't want to mix the solders on the tips, although I'm not convinced. Powerflow flux works for both after all. 

 

Whatever you buy, as has been said, it's a fundamental tool so get something decent. 

 

Thanks to both of you. I had a look and they seem quite nice and reasonably priced. Not sure if Maplin will ship here but I will look into it.

 

Matti

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5 minutes ago, Matti8 said:

Not sure if Maplin will ship here but I will look into it.

Save your effort, they went bust a few years back now.

 

edit: see below

 

Andi

Edited by Dagworth
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30 minutes ago, Matti8 said:

 

Thanks to both of you. I had a look and they seem quite nice and reasonably priced. Not sure if Maplin will ship here but I will look into it.

 

Matti

The one I recommended will ship to Europe (I got mine delivered in49 hours to France!) and you can with one tool reliably solder low melt to white metal and 225C electrical connections and everything in between.

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25 watts is the bare minimum you'll need.  Try to get something a bit more powerful - I'd echo what PMW says, 40w minimum if you can.

 

Chinese clones?  I've had an Aoyue soldering station for years and it has never let me down, although it has now been relegated from my workbench to the layout room after I was given a Hakko which has been excellent, though truth be told it doesn't actually do anything more than the Aoyue did - it just does it a bit faster.  Whatever iron you get, check that spare parts are available, as well as a decent range of inexpensive spare tips.

 

DT

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12 minutes ago, Torper said:

25 watts is the bare minimum you'll need.  Try to get something a bit more powerful - I'd echo what PMW says, 40w minimum if you can.

 

Chinese clones?  I've had an Aoyue soldering station for years and it has never let me down, although it has now been relegated from my workbench to the layout room after I was given a Hakko which has been excellent, though truth be told it doesn't actually do anything more than the Aoyue did - it just does it a bit faster.  Whatever iron you get, check that spare parts are available, as well as a decent range of inexpensive spare tips.

 

DT

 

Understood, many thanks. What model of Aoyue do you have? I'd definitely like to look into one knowing that someone trusts it.

 

Matti

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8 hours ago, PMW said:

40w minimum, interchangeable tips,

 

If you are soldering smaller items you can easily use a 25w (or even an 18w) iron. If you do want to solder O gauge items then a 40w iron is a much better bet. 

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12 hours ago, Matti8 said:

Could anyone suggest a cheap soldering iron for kitbuilding? I have both brass and whitemetal kits that need putting together.

 

I have heard that a minimum of 25 watts is recommended for a non temperature controlled iron. Also I hear recommendation of using an Antex. Problem is over here I cannot find one and eBay offers them at ridiculous prices not to mention shipping. I can however find a Weller 25 watt quite cheaply. My question is: would it be just as good as the Antex? Any very cheap temperature controlled alternatives that people have used for this kind of work?

 

Matti

Can't remember the brand but I currently use a Chinese item that cost around £15 from the bay of E. It has a stablemate as I had an accident with the flex and needed a soldering iron to repair it. This one cost around £20 as part of a comprehensive soldering kit.

At this price they are almost disposable but I have a sneaky suspicion that they may outlast some much more expensive examples I have owned.

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I use the Maplin 60w temperature controlled iron and it has made life much easier but for years I used my old SRB type 1, 18w iron on etched kits and it was fine. I couldn't get on with the Antex, the bit went black every time I turned it on and then fused itself to the iron, rendering replacement impossible. However I must have been unlucky as many swear by them. The moral is that an inexpensive iron will certainly do the job but spending a little extra will add a fair amount of convenience.

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52 minutes ago, doilum said:

It has a stablemate as I had an accident with the flex and needed a soldering iron to repair it.

 

The flex is an important consideration. Some cheap sets (including the Maplin one I use) have short flexes which are annoying. They are also not as flexible as they could be. The Antex has loads of cable and it's the good stuff that flexes properly. Anyone who has bought silicone wires for tools will know how much extra this costs compared to layout wiring wire!

 

For layout wiring, I have a 25W Antex I put 6ft of flex on. This makes life a LOT nicer at shows when fixing things on the layout.

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I bought one of these Hakko stations about 3/4 years back.

 

https://www.hakko.co.uk/hakko-fx-888d-digital-soldering-station.html

 

It's even in BR corporate colours. The bits are interchangeable so I have seveal, including some thick chisel bits for soldering brass kits together. 

 

It's not cheap, but before getting it I seemed to have endless problems with cheaper irons not lasting very long, so the Hakko one has worked out better value in the log run. 

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13 hours ago, Matti8 said:

Could anyone suggest a cheap soldering iron for kitbuilding? I have both brass and whitemetal kits that need putting together.

 

I have heard that a minimum of 25 watts is recommended for a non temperature controlled iron. Also I hear recommendation of using an Antex. Problem is over here I cannot find one and eBay offers them at ridiculous prices not to mention shipping. I can however find a Weller 25 watt quite cheaply. My question is: would it be just as good as the Antex? Any very cheap temperature controlled alternatives that people have used for this kind of work?

 

Matti

 

Don't use suppliers who use eBays global shipping program, this is the one I bought are is great for whitemetal at 300 degrees, plus get some different tips, larher tips for larger shops

 

https://www.circuitspecialists.eu/soldering/soldering-stations/csi-premier75w-digital-temperature-controlled-solder-station-with-75w-soldering-iron/

 

This company has a range  of irons at differing prices, get a quote for shipping, also if you are out of the EU they mad do VAT free sales

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10 minutes ago, hayfield said:

 

Don't use suppliers who use eBays global shipping program, this is the one I bought are is great for whitemetal at 300 degrees, plus get some different tips, larher tips for larger shops

 

https://www.circuitspecialists.eu/soldering/soldering-stations/csi-premier75w-digital-temperature-controlled-solder-station-with-75w-soldering-iron/

 

This company has a range  of irons at differing prices, get a quote for shipping, also if you are out of the EU they mad do VAT free sales

Is this one good for track work, common crossings etc?

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12 hours ago, Matti8 said:

 

Understood, many thanks. What model of Aoyue do you have? I'd definitely like to look into one knowing that someone trusts it.

 

The one I have is the 937+ .  It must be at least 10 years old now, and there's now a new model, same name, 45 watts, £62,56 from PCB soldering.  The heating element in mine failed a few years ago, but fitting a new one was a fairly simple task.  Having said that, if I was looking for one now I'd be quite tempted by the CSI unit mentioned by Hayfield and Andy Hayter, if only because of its 75w power rating.

 

DT

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1 hour ago, Torper said:

Having said that, if I was looking for one now I'd be quite tempted by the CSI unit mentioned by Hayfield and Andy Hayter, if only because of its 75w power rating.

I ordered one just after I posted above, Had a text about an hour later to say it's in the post already to be delivered Monday. That's a fast service.

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