Jump to content

Soldering iron tip temperatures


chaz
 Share

Recommended Posts

I recently replaced my Antex 25 watt iron with a new one. The poor old thing finally expired after a long life, full of abuse.

 

I suspect that the new iron runs at a higher temperature. I habitually use 145 solder for most of my work with brass but I am finding that it oxidises so fast on the new iron than I am constantly needing to clean the tip. it's so bad that I can't carry solder to the joint on the iron - before I get to it a film of oxides has formed. I don't remember this being much of a problem with the old iron.

 

It may be that tip temperatures have been increased to cope with lead-free solder. Anybody able to comment?

 

I have taken to using my temperature controlled iron, set to 250, for jobs where I have to carry solder to the workpiece - although lack of heat reserve limits this to small work.

 

Chaz

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite probably the old one had an original copper bit whereas the new one has a steel bit.

 

I. Suggest you try swapping the bits over to see the result before trying more desperate remedys.

 

The steel ones are a pain in the proverbial until you get.the tinned properly.

 

Wally

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Gold

I recently replaced my Antex 25 watt iron with a new one. The poor old thing finally expired after a long life, full of abuse.

 

I suspect that the new iron runs at a higher temperature. I habitually use 145 solder for most of my work with brass but I am finding that it oxidises so fast on the new iron than I am constantly needing to clean the tip. it's so bad that I can't carry solder to the joint on the iron - before I get to it a film of oxides has formed. I don't remember this being much of a problem with the old iron.

 

It may be that tip temperatures have been increased to cope with lead-free solder. Anybody able to comment?

 

I have taken to using my temperature controlled iron, set to 250, for jobs where I have to carry solder to the workpiece - although lack of heat reserve limits this to small work.

 

Chaz

Modern tips often have a different coating ie lead free I solder every day in my job luckily in my present employment we don't use lead free solder but in previous jobs where we did the lead free environment meant we used to go through tips like crazy.... The best way to prevent them oxidising is stick to leaded solder and where possible keep the tip temperature down if the iron has a variable temperature. Another good tip is to tin the tip heavily solder as you turn it off and leave it to cool with a solder coating it helps keep the tip from corroding and oxidising. I hope this helps.

 

Mark J

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chaz

 

I found the same problem when I bought a new tip for my ERSA. The problem I think is that you need to get it 'Tinned' well before using it. I tried everything, different solders, temperatures, fluxes, and eventually got it to take the tinning, but it took a while.

 

Try melting some high melt solder on to a clean piece of scrap brass then add flux and start with a cold iron. Put the tip onto the solder and switch on and allow the iron to melt the solder on to the tip. You may need to do this a few times and keep cleaning the bit after every attempt.

 

Let us know how you get on?

 

Regards

Sandy

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chaz, a tip I picked up from Tony Wright's Loco building DVD (Right Track 1 & 2) was that for temp. comtrolled systems, a rule of thumb is to set to twice the melting point of the solder.

 

I recently got myself a Weller digital temp. controlled system (tip temp. readback) and it has been transformative. I also began using plumber's paste flux, based on a recommendation from someone on here. Again, transformative, no nasty fumes, non corrosive and I can apply the flux precisely. It also works on WM. It is also widely available so overcomes the restriction on posting acid flux.

 

Before getting the new system I used a 45W Weller which did a great job but I could never take a blob of solder off the roll and carry it to the work. The tip has finally deteriorated after years of abuse. I did then, and still do, like to chop off a small piece of solder to control quantity. My old iron would have no trouble picking this up.

 

John

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chaz, a tip I picked up from Tony Wright's Loco building DVD (Right Track 1 & 2) was that for temp. comtrolled systems, a rule of thumb is to set to twice the melting point of the solder.

 

I recently got myself a Weller digital temp. controlled system (tip temp. readback) and it has been transformative. I also began using plumber's paste flux, based on a recommendation from someone on here. Again, transformative, no nasty fumes, non corrosive and I can apply the flux precisely. It also works on WM. It is also widely available so overcomes the restriction on posting acid flux.

 

Before getting the new system I used a 45W Weller which did a great job but I could never take a blob of solder off the roll and carry it to the work. The tip has finally deteriorated after years of abuse. I did then, and still do, like to chop off a small piece of solder to control quantity. My old iron would have no trouble picking this up.

 

John

 

Thanks John. I do use a temperature controlled iron and this does avoid the oxidation problem but because it has a limited heat reserve its pretty useless with larger bits of brass. Its fine soldering up say brake linkages on wagons - where you have to carry the solder on the iron - but wouldn't be any use putting a wagon body together. Of course the 25W will cope with that and the solder can be cut and popped into the corner with plenty of liquid flux no problem. But this means I end  up using two irons and having to switch constantly between the two, which is a pain.

 

I agree with you about the ease of use of paste flux BUT I was warned off using it because of the difficulty of cleaning it off effectively. I believe at least one pro' model painter refuses to paint anything that has been soldered with paste fluxes as the invisible residues in time will spoil the finish.

 

Chaz

Edited by chaz
Link to post
Share on other sites

Chaz

 

I found the same problem when I bought a new tip for my ERSA. The problem I think is that you need to get it 'Tinned' well before using it. I tried everything, different solders, temperatures, fluxes, and eventually got it to take the tinning, but it took a while.

 

Try melting some high melt solder on to a clean piece of scrap brass then add flux and start with a cold iron. Put the tip onto the solder and switch on and allow the iron to melt the solder on to the tip. You may need to do this a few times and keep cleaning the bit after every attempt.

 

Let us know how you get on?

 

Regards

Sandy

 

You're quite right about the need to tin the bit thoroughly and I always tin mine with electrical solder (not lead free!), with the help of Fluxite if it's reluctant to tin before using it with 145 or 188 on brass. I also treat it to a re-tinning at the start of every session - basically whenever the iron is switched on. Howver the point is that until the new iron I had no problems working with 145 provided I was scrupulous about wiping on a damp sponge after each use. Now I am finding it impossible to work with 145 unless its melted on the work with plenty of liquid flux. Any solder carried on the iron oxidises so fast its impossible to apply.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chaz, a tip I picked up from Tony Wright's Loco building DVD (Right Track 1 & 2) was that for temp. comtrolled systems, a rule of thumb is to set to twice the melting point of the solder.

 

 

John

 

Well John, I'm running the temp' controlled iron at 250 with 145 solder - a setting I arrived at by experiment. Not far away from your rule of thumb - however I will try pushing the heat up to 290 to see if the flow is better. However this doesn't get me off the hook - I'm still forced to have two irons on which is inconvenient and sometimes a right pain.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Modern tips often have a different coating ie lead free I solder every day in my job luckily in my present employment we don't use lead free solder but in previous jobs where we did the lead free environment meant we used to go through tips like crazy.... The best way to prevent them oxidising is stick to leaded solder and where possible keep the tip temperature down if the iron has a variable temperature. Another good tip is to tin the tip heavily solder as you turn it off and leave it to cool with a solder coating it helps keep the tip from corroding and oxidising. I hope this helps.

 

Mark J

 

Thanks Mark. I don't have any lead-free solder and will not use it. !45 is not lead free but the oxidation problem is, I'm pretty sure, a result of higher tip temperatures. I was speculating that these have been designed into new soldering irons so that they will work with lead-free, which I believe needs a higher tip temperature. is that so?

I do use my temp' controlled iron at 250 and have no problem with oxidation but, as I have said, this iron is just not man enough for larger bits of brass. it will do brake gear but not wagon bodies (for example).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite probably the old one had an original copper bit whereas the new one has a steel bit.

 

I. Suggest you try swapping the bits over to see the result before trying more desperate remedys.

 

The steel ones are a pain in the proverbial until you get.the tinned properly.

 

Wally

 

Good point. Unluckily for me I threw out the tip, which itself was on its last legs, with the defunct iron. However I do have some spare bits in a drawer and will try one the next time I do some soldering.

On your last point I do tin the bits very thoroughly before I start using them but you know that they all need periodic retinning. For this I have always used cored electrical solder. I've never had a problem with oxidation until the new iron met 145 solder.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Chaz.

 One tip I picked up from C/L,(no pun intended) is to coat the tip of your iron with Carrs 188 solder paint before switching your iron on.Once the solder melts a quick wipe leaves a nice shiny iron that takes 145 solder easily.Personally I swear by this method, and if during a soldering session the tip looks to be getting dull a quick dip in the solder paint does the trick.I also always dip in solder paint immediately before turning of the iron.

 By coincidence it so happens that I started using an Antex 18W iron yesterday for the first time and with a new tip also,I too noticed the tip was dulling more quickly than I was used to, but by more frequent dipping in solder paint I still successfully managed to keep the tip nicely tinned and managed to solder four handrails with 145 solder.I suspect with more prolonged use the iron will "bed in"as it were and such frequent dipping in the solder become unnecessary.

 Incidentally I've had the iron and tip for six years before using it,and given I've had a similar oxidising effect to you this probably rules out any oxidising effects being due to more modern tips and irons.

 I also use one of those brass panscrubber type tip cleaners rather than a damp sponge.However as other modellers seem to get on fine with damp sponges alone this is probably irrelevant to your problem.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Chaz.

 One tip I picked up from C/L,(no pun intended) is to coat the tip of your iron with Carrs 188 solder paint before switching your iron on.Once the solder melts a quick wipe leaves a nice shiny iron that takes 145 solder easily.Personally I swear by this method, and if during a soldering session the tip looks to be getting dull a quick dip in the solder paint does the trick.I also always dip in solder paint immediately before turning of the iron.

 By coincidence it so happens that I started using an Antex 18W iron yesterday for the first time and with a new tip also,I too noticed the tip was dulling more quickly than I was used to, but by more frequent dipping in solder paint I still successfully managed to keep the tip nicely tinned and managed to solder four handrails with 145 solder.I suspect with more prolonged use the iron will "bed in"as it were and such frequent dipping in the solder become unnecessary.

 Incidentally I've had the iron and tip for six years before using it,and given I've had a similar oxidising effect to you this probably rules out any oxidising effects being due to more modern tips and irons.

 I also use one of those brass panscrubber type tip cleaners rather than a damp sponge.However as other modellers seem to get on fine with damp sponges alone this is probably irrelevant to your problem.

 

Thanks for that tip Iain. Looks look some 188 solder paint will be going on my list for Warley.

 

Why not have a look at Dock Green if you are going - stand B33 - I'll be there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Thanks for having faith in my posting Chaz.It's the method I've always used and it seems to work.I'll be doing some more soldering with my "new" iron today and no doubt it will refuse to solder 145 having given this advice! If it does I promise to inform you.

I never thought that little old me would ever give advice to a 7mm Finescale modeller.I tell you what I feel like I've come of age and I am really playing with the Big Boys now!

As I said the idea's not mine but it's simple and seems to work.

 

Edit:Used the "new" iron today to attach a handrail and also coal rails to tender with no problems.The iron seems to be properly tinned and taking to 145 solder.Don't forget to dip in 188 solder paint just before turning off iron though.

Edited by iainp
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

it's so bad that I can't carry solder to the joint on the iron - before I get to it a film of oxides has formed.

You must know by now that I never do this - and why - just for that reason. Cooking solder while carrying it to the job has never impressed me. I also have no use for a temperature controlled unit - I want as much power at the tip as possible to heat up the job and melt the slivers of solder (or cream) at the join.

 

Tinning tips - especially the coated ones always seems to be an issue. Never had this problem with solid copper tips. I'm sure it has something to do with the coating/plating of the tip and deterioration prior to first use rather than a higher temperature element.

 

FWIW I use 188 solder paint dipping the tip in when cold and then heating up the iron. As you only use 145' solder try using a higher temperature solder to tin, even higher to 188. The composition for these solders mean that they stick better to the coating used on the iron and is 'harder' than the 145'.

Edited by Kenton
Link to post
Share on other sites

Kenton, not disputing your claim above, but, if you don't carry solder to the joint, how would you solder, say, a handrail into it's knob?

I was taught to flux both parts, and carry a minimum of solder, just touching it, the flux carries it into the joint.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Kenton, not disputing your claim above, but, if you don't carry solder to the joint, how would you solder, say, a handrail into it's knob?

I was taught to flux both parts, and carry a minimum of solder, just touching it, the flux carries it into the joint.

I was taught the opposite.

 

Handrails - I presume you cannot get to the back of them (boilers?) - in the past I would have tinned both the rail and the hole (sounds odd but can be done) - I use fine wire solder as if electrical soldering. then place handrail through hole and apply heat. Remember there is always going to be some solder on the tip - it is tinned after all! But I have seen folk carry big blobs of the stuff to a joint on the iron and also seen the burn marks in the cotton where the blob falls off!

 

These days I would use a tiny amount of solder cream and apply the RSU - low setting or the hand rail expands and bends. But that is the luxury of a RSU. ;)

 

I just can't think of any soldering job where you need to carry solder on the iron. :gauntlet:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kenton, not disputing your claim above, but, if you don't carry solder to the joint, how would you solder, say, a handrail into it's knob?

I was taught to flux both parts, and carry a minimum of solder, just touching it, the flux carries it into the joint.

 

 

I was taught the opposite.

 

 

Surely what matters is whether it works for you or not. I almost always carry the solder to the joint as that seems the easiest and most logical way to do the job, and it works for me!

 

While on this thread, apart from the obvious, is there a difference on a 50 Watt temperature controlled iron and a 50 Watt standard iron? I'm thinking of the Wattage being the reserve for the heat recovery. Logic says there shouldn't be, but are soldering irons logical?

 

Phil

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

While on this thread, apart from the obvious, is there a difference on a 50 Watt temperature controlled iron and a 50 Watt standard iron? I'm thinking of the Wattage being the reserve for the heat recovery. Logic says there shouldn't be, but are soldering irons logical?

 

 

 

My temp controlled system has tip temp. readback and the drop in temperature is considerable when the tip contacts the work.  My system is rated at 50W and temp. bounces back quickly. 

 

I found this video to be instructive:

 

 

Temps are in F unfortunately so you'll have to do some mental math.

 

John

Link to post
Share on other sites

Surely what matters is whether it works for you or not.

 

...... is there a difference on a 50 Watt temperature controlled iron and a 50 Watt standard iron? I'm thinking of the Wattage being the reserve for the heat recovery. Logic says there shouldn't be, but are soldering irons logical?

 

Phil

 

There certainly is Phil. The heat reserve is related to the mass of metal in the iron. Think of a glowing spark falling on your hand - it might make you jump but wouldn't do you much harm. Now think of something substantial (say a large coin) at the same temperature - you would have a bad burn.

If your 50W temperature controlled iron is anything like mine it's quite slim and light - it can reach high temperatures but the amount of heat energy it holds will be less by virtue of its lower mass. So its heat reserve will run out before that of a more massive iron and then the tip temperature will inevitably dip. Of course because of its lower mass it will recover quicker. Small things heat up quicker than big things! It is logical and basic physics - just remember - temperature and heat are not the same thing.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Chaz

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Gold

Thanks Mark. I don't have any lead-free solder and will not use it. !45 is not lead free but the oxidation problem is, I'm pretty sure, a result of higher tip temperatures. I was speculating that these have been designed into new soldering irons so that they will work with lead-free, which I believe needs a higher tip temperature. is that so?

I do use my temp' controlled iron at 250 and have no problem with oxidation but, as I have said, this iron is just not man enough for larger bits of brass. it will do brake gear but not wagon bodies (for example).

Hello Chaz

Yes lead free solder melts around 20-30 degrees higher temperature depending on the make up of it. A good way to solder larger objects with a smaller iron is to pre- heat the parts not so hot things fall apart but enough to raise the temperature of the bulk so that your not fighting a large cold object. When soldering chips and ics into some of the things we make we use a small hot plate because the PCB's are often soldered to a metal base the hot plate heats it enough to give the iron a fighting chance but not so much that the solder melts or any damage is done. Pre warming can also reduce stress and warping when soldering things like chassis and wagon sides the down side is it makes it difficult to hold. Often when I'm soldering screen cans which are thick tin plated brass often thicker than loco chassis I use a heat gun to pre- warm the metal the solder then quickly flows like butter leaving a neat joint. I have used small gas heat pencils in the passed to solder loco bodies back in my 16mm days the bodies on roundhouse live steamers are around 1mm thick brass and take plenty of heat to solder. A good quality flux also helps. Another tip never leave your iron chugging away turned up full it's a sure way to kill your tips if you need max heat do it as you need it they take seconds to warm up then as soon as the jobs done drop the temperature back down below 300 degrees or lower if possible. Many temperature controlled iron have a sleep mode to so if it's stood idle for a period of time it shuts down to a much lower temperature until you flick the iron off and on again to start working again.

 

Mark J

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Chaz

Yes lead free solder melts around 20-30 degrees higher temperature depending on the make up of it. A good way to solder larger objects with a smaller iron is to pre- heat the parts not so hot things fall apart but enough to raise the temperature of the bulk so that your not fighting a large cold object. When soldering chips and ics into some of the things we make we use a small hot plate because the PCB's are often soldered to a metal base the hot plate heats it enough to give the iron a fighting chance but not so much that the solder melts or any damage is done. Pre warming can also reduce stress and warping when soldering things like chassis and wagon sides the down side is it makes it difficult to hold. Often when I'm soldering screen cans which are thick tin plated brass often thicker than loco chassis I use a heat gun to pre- warm the metal the solder then quickly flows like butter leaving a neat joint. I have used small gas heat pencils in the passed to solder loco bodies back in my 16mm days the bodies on roundhouse live steamers are around 1mm thick brass and take plenty of heat to solder. A good quality flux also helps. Another tip never leave your iron chugging away turned up full it's a sure way to kill your tips if you need max heat do it as you need it they take seconds to warm up then as soon as the jobs done drop the temperature back down below 300 degrees or lower if possible. Many temperature controlled iron have a sleep mode to so if it's stood idle for a period of time it shuts down to a much lower temperature until you flick the iron off and on again to start working again.

 

Mark J

 

Thanks for that info' Mark. Pre-warming might well be helpful, although I'm not sure the liquid fluxes I use would not just evaporate before the joint could be made. I won't use paste fluxes on brass models because of the problem of effectively cleaning them off without leaving an unseen residue, and the consequent problems with paint finishes.

 

Chaz

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I use an Antex 690SD iron which has a temperature controlled bit with digital read-out and I don't have any problems. However, I do have five different bits ranging from a fine pencil point to a nominal ¼ inch diameter blade and I always ensure that I use the correct bit for the job in hand - this ensures that enough heat is brought to the point to be soldered and the actual task of soldering follows the old maxim of quick-in quick-out.

 

One has to wait for a bit to cool before changing them over but this doesn't take long.

 

Always remember to wipe the hot bit each time it is taken from, and replaced in, its stand, and also switch the iron off if it isn't going to be used for the next few minutes - a temperature-controlled iron reheats very quickly when switched back on.

 

I usually set the temperature to 100 degrees above the melting point of the solder - perhaps 50 degrees more if there is a lot of metal (particularly brass which is a good conductor) around the soldering point, and perhaps a bit less if I am soldering delicate white metal items.

 

Finally, I do, very occasionally, use a pencil-type gas torch if there is a lot of metal (again esp brass) to be soldered but it is very much my soldering tool of last resort and I doubt whether I have used it more than a dozen times in the last 5 years.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Another tip never leave your iron chugging away turned up full it's a sure way to kill your tips if you need max heat do it as you need it they take seconds to warm up then as soon as the jobs done drop the temperature back down below 300 degrees or lower if possible. Many temperature controlled iron have a sleep mode to so if it's stood idle for a period of time it shuts down to a much lower temperature until you flick the iron off and on again to start working again.

 

Mine goes on at about 09:30 every day and stay on until about 21:30 - they might not look that pretty but they still still work for me almost all day. Mine can't be something special other than they are in regular use daily not once in a blue moon.

 

The idea of pre-warming I like though not so practical. of course you can always use thermal protective gloves or similar which I can recommend (though remember to put them on before use)

Edited by Kenton
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...