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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have bought 3 soldering irons in the past and every one of them has lasted around 10mins before they become useless!! Granted they are cheap ones from maplins but still, 10mins is a urine take!

I use to do a lot of soldering in uni and never had any real issue, we used tining stuff (technical term!) quite a lot, does it make that much difference? What am I doing wrong? Is it because the iron is rated at 40W? Should I get a 100W one? I used it on my guitar which only has thin wires so I can't see 40W being insufficient.

I tried looking for old posts about this but most of them have been deleted which is annoying!

Any tips?

Cheers
 

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I made the mistake of buying a soldering iron before (£70) and destroyed it within ten minutes.

I think its one of those things you can or cant do.
 

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What are you trying to solder with your ickle 40 watter,just some itty bitty wire such as would be connected to some LEDs or an extra large cast iron water tank
?
 

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Do You put abit of solder on the tip of the soldering iron before placeing it back on the holder-stand when using it and before You turn it off if not that might be the problem as the tip of the iron drys out and either

snaps off or just wont melt the solder even after the iron has heated up
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Last thing I was doing was soldering a new pick up into my guitar so nothing heavy duty!! I don't see any reason for a 40W iron to not be able to cope with that!

I tried but it won't even melt solder after 10 mins!!
 

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I had about 3 of the blue handled ones from Toolstation and none of them lasted after about the 2nd or 3rd time I plugged them in,sounds like the exact same symptoms mine had.Just cheap Chinese crap I'm afraid.What you really need is a 550 watt American Beauty like this.....

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah, to be honest I was hoping that it was!!

I think that might be slightly overpowered for my use lol

Do you think 100W would be better?
 

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By broken do you mean just doesnt heat up?

Ive had problems with dirty tips not transferrin the heat properly, and not melting the solder.
 

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100 watt with a selection of tips might be a good idea so you still have fine pointed tips for doing the thinner wires.
 

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Adrian
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I do soldering for a living. So i guess you could call me a professional *feels important*

I can't comment on budget irons, as i've only ever used Weller irons at home, and at work. Recently (2 years ago) work switched over to digitally controlled Pace soldering irons, and they've been a pleasure to work with, and i'd recommend them, but for £340 for a new soldering station, they're a little over most peoples soldering iron budget
and defiantly more for the professional market.

Iron quality aside, one of the things i see a lot of amateurs do (even at my own place of work) is quench the tip excessively.

There's no need to wipe the tip every time you pick up or put down the hand piece. It just stresses the tip, and shortens it's life span. I use brass wool for cleaning flux deposits off the tip, as it's more effective, and a far less destructive method of tip cleaning. And NEVER clean the tip when putting it down. Clean it, tin it, then put the iron down. Leaving it dry while hot for long periods will cause corrosion and the tip will not last long.

Secondly, most soldering tips are made of plated copper. So cleaning them with abrasive materials damages the plating, and before long it will crack and fissure, and you'll be left with a useless tip.

Buying an iron with widely available replacement tips is therefore a must, because they are consumable items, and they will wear out eventually.

35/40W should be fine for most DIY electronics applications. we use 55W irons, but the size of the tip is WAY WAY WAY more important that the element wattage. For example;

trying to solder a 1mm wire to a terminal tab with a needle point tip like this:



would be very difficult, regardless of the irons wattage, because the stored heat capacity in the business end of the tip is too little. But with the appropriate sized tip, the 1mm wire could be easily soldered with a short chisel type, like this:



Size and shape is important when it comes to soldering


If the element is getting hot, but the solder is beading off the tip, or not melting at all, the tip is corroded, and probably needs replacing.

When soldering, always apply a small amount of solder to the iron first, to conduct the heat to the two metals, then feed the solder into the opposite side of the metals to be joined, and not the iron itself.

So in summary, No, the wattage is not insufficient, if its getting hot but not soldering, you may need a new tip. if its not getting hot enough, you need a new iron, 40-55w is sufficient, get yourself a selection of tips. 1-1.5mm chisel types are the best all rounders. Unless you're doping delicate SMD work, or wood burning, needle tips are not very practical.

Any questions let me know
 

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[quote user="richwig83"]

Try cleaning the tip with a bit of fine grade sand paper of scotchbrite

[/quote]

This is a bad idea Rich as most modern soldering iron tips are plated and should only need to be wiped clean to get them bright and shiney again.Gone are the days of pure copper tips that had to be filed 20 times an hour to keep them usable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks sootpig, brilliant advice, exactly what I needed to know. I've definitely ruined my iron then!!

I shall invest in a few different tips I think and give it another go!!
 

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[quote user="Imagewerx"]

[quote user="richwig83"]

Try cleaning the tip with a bit of fine grade sand paper of scotchbrite

[/quote]

This is a bad idea Rich as most modern soldering iron tips are plated and should only need to be wiped clean to get them bright and shiney again.Gone are the days of pure copper tips that had to be filed 20 times an hour to keep them usable.


[/quote]

Well.... it worked for me and my nixie clock is still working....
 
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