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  1. #21
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    For general electronics work I am on my second American Beauty since 1962 when I got my first. I use the thermostated stands and when I need more heat, just set the iron somewhere off the stand and let it reach the desired temperature. The stained glass window guys next door often spend an entire shift soldering the joints and will not consider anything but an American Beauty, much larger than we are discussing here, of course.

    I have several larger irons and a Weller gun that are used as required, but rarely.

    I have a Weller soldering station but rarely use it.

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    I get good joints, regardless.. but that came more out of first making a few BAD ones than which iron was to-hand.

    "Practice joints" are allowed, too. Iron or Iron-plated tips are good. A moist sponge or such for wiping clean is essential. Spend on high-grade solder, and more than one kind OF it, is well-worth it.
    Yes. "Experience is mistakes repeated many times". After a while, you stop making the same mistakes. You are now "experienced".

    They apparently still make the "American Beauty" soldering irons. In the US, no less.
    60 Watt, 1/4" Pencil-Style Soldering Iron

    I do recall the guy that installed my Mom's SS range top many years ago used a soldering gun (Weller makes these in the 200-300W range for under 100 bucks). Thermite would seem to favor a torch for larger gauge wires but I think if you have a constrained geometry it might be best to use a gun or iron with sufficient power.

    I just have a little Weller 40 pencil style. Ok for some stuff. When I needed a little extra power I plugged it into my Variac, which allowed me to apply an extra 10% or so of line voltage (~135 volts) which gave me about 50W output. Rough on the iron, but I got done what needed getting done. Normally I just plug it into the wall.

    I was just thinking about asking for a soldering station for my birthday. Since I have the Variac, I think one approach for the best "soldering station" for me would be a 60W pencil iron, plugged into the variac, with the variac normally set to less then 100% of input voltage. This would give me some tip control, and the Weller 60W is a pretty rugged tool. On the other hand, the Weller W60P3 runs 72 bucks. So I could get a Hakko FX-888D or a Weller WE 1010 soldering station for 100 bucks. They're both rated 70W (Hakko, the Weller is rated 75W). For those of you not familiar with amusing "EEVBLOG" from down under, see a comparison here. David Jones is an electrical design engineer out of Sydney, Australia. Very entertaining.

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    Good to hear that. I came here to recommend a basic Weller 60W also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bosleyjr View Post
    They apparently still make the "American Beauty" soldering irons. In the US, no less.
    60 Watt, 1/4" Pencil-Style Soldering Iron
    Story behind Dad's trusty 100W "American Beauty".

    HE.. still 'only' a Corps of Engineers Senior Construction Inspector about 19 of his 36 years in - was teaching ME, a 14 yr old - "The (sacred and most Holy) NFPA "Code".. as we install an extra lighting circuit in a newly-built home.

    Lesson of the day includes "lockout" safety,

    He has me descend from 2d floor to basement, pull, then carry to him both of the pull-out cartridge fuse blocks of our last-ever pre Square-D "QO" service entrance panel / loadcenter.

    THEN he plugs in the Soldering iron. Which .. for the first time in his ken, ever, Won't heat.

    Bemoans that he has had it for years, but all tools die eventually, we shall just have to go and buy a new one.

    Wise-arse that I was already, I suggested a better idea.

    He should bend over, let me kick him in the arse. Then I'd bend over whilst he kicked me in the arse.

    That started a loud and pompous lecture on irrelevance to the task and the general impertinence of smart-aleck teenagers...

    Which he stopped short .. red-faced. VERY....when I picked up the two cartridge-fuse carriers and looked at them, pretending to be ever-so puzzled about this mysterious force called "electricity".

    Or not..

    Must admit, it was still a GRAND and life-long useful lesson in how a(ny) gooberment inspector's MIND can sometimes work.

    Or not.


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    Quote Originally Posted by 9100 View Post
    For general electronics work I am on my second American Beauty since 1962 when I got my first. I use the thermostated stands and when I need more heat, just set the iron somewhere off the stand and let it reach the desired temperature. The stained glass window guys next door often spend an entire shift soldering the joints and will not consider anything but an American Beauty, much larger than we are discussing here, of course.

    I have several larger irons and a Weller gun that are used as required, but rarely.

    I have a Weller soldering station but rarely use it.

    Bill
    Thanks Bill, didn't know about them. My old variable temp Weller is stuck on full blast, I think I'll replace it with one of those.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Screwmachine View Post
    My old variable temp Weller is stuck on full blast, I think I'll replace it with one of those.
    I've had to replace the element and thermostat that adjusts temp by the TIP installed in each of mine at least once, probably still have a spare in the drawer.

    A set of several tips by temperature as well as shape plus at least one spare element and t-stat "comes with the territory" on those, but they last a long enough time to make it still a good deal for what had been all-day production-line use by the hundreds, old "day job".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Screwmachine View Post
    Thanks Bill, didn't know about them. My old variable temp Weller is stuck on full blast, I think I'll replace it with one of those.
    Weller still sells parts, or at least they did the last time I needed something. Owned by Cooper now.

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    For wires as large as 10 ga. I would go with the Weller pistol style soldering gun. Dual heat range and they last forever. I have one that I bought about 40 years ago and as far as I know the one that I grew up using that was my dads is still working.

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    It's odd, but I have been using "soldering irons" for decades, and can get the results I need, with anything from a "pencil iron" up to a regular "soldering copper", depending on what is needed for the task.. Even a torch. But, I have a lot of trouble using a "soldering gun".

    I suspect it is that the "gun" has nearly no thermal mass in comparison to a "soldering iron"., so it responds much differently, not the way I am used to. . They seem to respond much like an undersized soldering iron.

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  13. #30
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    I bought a Weller instant heat gun and I think 20W pencil iron <>40 years ago and after a life of service vans and trucks plus god knows what else -including being dropped in saltwater - (with the power on - of course )and retrieved when the tide went out! both still do what it said on the box.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JST View Post
    It's odd, but I have been using "soldering irons" for decades, and can get the results I need, with anything from a "pencil iron" up to a regular "soldering copper", depending on what is needed for the task.. Even a torch. But, I have a lot of trouble using a "soldering gun".

    I suspect it is that the "gun" has nearly no thermal mass in comparison to a "soldering iron"., so it responds much differently, not the way I am used to. . They seem to respond much like an undersized soldering iron.
    Special-purpose tool, in my experience. ABSENCE of thermal mass is the plus.

    My use WAS where the mass in the material was so great I'd need a HUGE tinsmith's "soldering copper" to get it up to heat before the insulation was melted back an inch. And had no space atall for one of those or its electrically-heated cousin. Low 6V and 12V, but high-amp, large wire, automotive "back in the day", mostly.

    A high-wattage "gun" kept pumping-in energy as it was transferred away, yet had a small enough working tip (the only place that gets really, really HOT) to get into the sweet-spot FOR best transfer.

    I say "was" simply because the applications and I morphed to fields where screw and clamp terminals, "IDC" and other crimps, clamp-bolts, wire-nuts, mechanical connectors were the go-to rather than solder (also more modern automotive, plus AC & DC distribution).

    OR.. a proper Sil-Flo or similar "braze" (HVAC), I. Kassoy's 19K "white welding" (jewlery) was wanted rather than "soft" solder, anyway.

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    I have I don't know how many plug in irons and stations.
    All that is easy.
    I have to ask butane powered. You don't want to run a cord or maybe can't.
    Any good, how much different to use.
    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    I have I don't know how many plug in irons and stations.
    All that is easy.
    I have to ask butane powered. You don't want to run a cord or maybe can't.
    Any good, how much different to use.
    Bob
    There were a slew of those made to run off cigarette-lighter refills. Tried a couple. Once, only. They don't hold enough gas for anything BUT "emergency" work, and most places I was, no open flames were permitted, nor practical even if it had been. One risked setting-off a Halon system capable of challenging the very fires of Hell!

    Plumber's mini - the classical Prest O Lite or Forney sort with a tiny tip in the small handpiece run off a hose rather than the bulkier all in the hand Bernz-O-Matic propane or MAPP tank-mount torch, are nearly as handy and way, way more controllable and reliable all positions and angles. I prefer Butane, but eBay can still find 'em for most any fuel gas yah have - even Acetylene-without-also-Oxygen. Used to also be popular in roadside bicycle repair shops in Asia run off carbide & water.

    The integral screw-on torch/tank ones also don't like being run torch-downward, if you've been spare having to try THAT.

    BTW.. there are quite a few electric irons with enough element mass that work when heated-up on a cord, then unplugged, and still make a proper joint after a short trip afoot to a nearby area.

    Done far more of that than of resorting to special tape-wrap solder and a Zippo or Bic lighter.

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    "most places I was, no open flames were permitted..."

    Weller pyro-pen is a catalytic device. No open flame belive it or not, during operation.
    Puts out heat like the hinges of hell, with the big tip you can sweat solder number six
    wires together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim rozen View Post
    "most places I was, no open flames were permitted..."

    Weller pyro-pen is a catalytic device. No open flame belive it or not, during operation.
    Puts out heat like the hinges of hell, with the big tip you can sweat solder number six
    wires together.
    Well, here's another thing I never knew that I needed...

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk

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    Yeah I have a wide assortment of irons too, including a butane powered fella'. It does use an open flame to light but then you hit a button to kill the flame and the gas just catalyzes as it goes through a screen of some metal or another and it puts out plenty enough energy to solder wires up to 10 gauge easily. The butane tank isn't small either, I haven't kept track of burn time between refills but it would probably run for hours. Not my go-to, but comes in handy when it's needed.

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    I know it's off-topic to the OP's request for a simple portable iron, but the best irons IMO for varied work are the Metcal (now OKI) irons. The original models using the "STTC" tips are the best. These irons use a bimetalic construction of the tips (in a plethora of sizes/shapes) that uses the Curie-point of the tip to control the temp of the tip. There is an r/f power supply box and a slim hand-piece with a flexible silicone co-ax cable attached. The r/f supply provides variable power to the tip, to keep it at the set-point construction of the tip. Consequently, they do not rely on thermal mass, and the tip always stays at a constant design temp, with more power supplied depending on the soldering conditions. Tips can be had in a variety of set-point temps (500,600,700,800 F). So you can put a tiny tip in the handpiece for soldering SMT pads without burning the pads off, or a big 1/4 tip for something requiring lots of heat, without having to adjust anything--just stick the new tip into the handpiece. IBM bought some of the first ones in the 80's when they first came out, and bought probably many thousands as they were all over the labs and manufacturing lines. You can still buy the black "tower" looking power supplies on ebay (they're indestructible), which will still work with the handpieces and STTC-family of tips. Can't say enough good about them, a really smart idea that works extremely well (and still working 30+ years after they were introduced). I have three and it's about all I use for any soldering task.

    STTC Series Chisel New

    STTC Series Bevel

    STTC Series Conical new

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim rozen View Post
    "most places I was, no open flames were permitted..."

    Weller pyro-pen is a catalytic device. No open flame belive it or not, during operation.
    Puts out heat like the hinges of hell, with the big tip you can sweat solder number six
    wires together.
    I'm not huge fan of the pyro-pen but have used it if there is no other option.
    Like name suggests it sets everything on fire that gets close to exhaust ports, usually happens in cramped spaces where you have soldering joint in the middle of wire spaghetti.

    For portable field use Milfaukee and Ryobi have cordless battery powered soldering irons and DIY options are also popular.
    Ubiqituous TS-100 soldering iron and 18v battery pack from milwaukee/makita/whatever (or car battery) works really nice if you don't mind bit of a project.


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