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Old 14th July 2012, 01:44 AM   #11
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There's an alternative to wet sponges, made of a tangle of metal wires. These don't reduce the tip's temperature, so are worthwhile if you're in it hot-'n-heavy.

63/37 "eutectic" solder doesn't go through a plastic phase when cooling, and is slightly preferred. Costs the same, so I use it for everything.

Never put away your iron "clean"; always apply a fresh coat of solder.

All good fortune,
Chris

Last edited by Chris Hornbeck; 14th July 2012 at 01:46 AM.
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Old 14th July 2012, 06:12 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hornbeck View Post
Never put away your iron "clean"; always apply a fresh coat of solder.
How wrong. This was the habit (long ago) with plain copper soldering tips. Those were also the soldering tips that could be sanded. Think of the soldering tools with pistol shape form that had a transformer in them.

With iron clad tips you must clean them after use to prevent the tip from flux/rosin (corrosion). Read the manual of the manufacturer to check this.
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Old 14th July 2012, 07:21 AM   #13
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Hi all,

Hmmm... from reading what you write it seems there are many ways to make the iron tip work for long in a feasible way. What I've done for the last couple of days have been to apply a coat of solder to the tip at the end of the day and also do it from time to time during my soldering sessions. I don't know if this will give the tip a long life but it works reasonably. I'll try out some of your other tips in the days to come and then hopefully will find a way of handling this that works for me.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences with me ;-)

Jesper
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Old 14th July 2012, 02:55 PM   #14
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Metcal recommend that 'each time you return the tip to the holder, apply solder to the tinned surfaces of the tip. The solder protects the tip from oxidation and prolongs the life of the tip.' Though I believe that it idles in the holder at a lower temperature.

Personally I apply solder when the iron isn't being used but the advice could vary depending on tip plating / solder and flux.

I would recommend not filing the tip because they are usually plated and any bending / sanding / filing damages it. As soon as it is breached the copper erodes behind the plating.

The old Weller TCP iron tips were pretty robust and could last years with DIY usage.

It was possible to buy small tins of tip cleaner that sort of worked. Also some solder has more flux than others and can help to clean the tip.
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Old 15th July 2012, 03:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hornbeck View Post
There's an alternative to wet sponges, made of a tangle of metal wires.
Make sure you get copper wool not steel.
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Old 15th July 2012, 08:48 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Cal Weldon View Post
Make sure you get copper wool not steel.
Yes, the brand I've used is Hakko. Feels like Xmas tree tinsel made of copper.

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 15th July 2012, 11:06 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by jean-paul View Post
How wrong. This was the habit (long ago) with plain copper soldering tips. Those were also the soldering tips that could be sanded. Think of the soldering tools with pistol shape form that had a transformer in them.

With iron clad tips you must clean them after use to prevent the tip from flux/rosin (corrosion). Read the manual of the manufacturer to check this.
i registered just to see image in this post. i thought you posted some proof tinning improves corrosion. and you didn't. and it doesn't.

btw. i believe "soldering guns" are actually younger technology than "classic" irons..also, who said guns are copper-only tips?

from wikipedia on soldering iron:
Quote:
Older and very cheap irons typically use a bare copper tip, which is shaped with a file or sandpaper. This dissolves gradually into the solder, suffering pitting and erosion of the shape. Copper tips are sometimes filed when worn down. Iron-plated copper tips have become increasingly popular since the 1980s. Because iron is not readily dissolved by molten solder, the plated tip is more durable than a bare copper one, though it will eventually wear out and need replacing. This is especially important when working at the higher temperatures needed for modern lead-free solders. Solid iron and steel tips are seldom used because they store less heat, and rusting can break the heating element.
two things:
you mention user manual, but did you check the linked weller tips?
Quote:
To prevent burn out, always keep the tip tinned with a thin coat of solder - not only during
soldering but also when the iron is sitting at idle in the holder. Very often, an operator will wipe
the tip clean before returning the iron to the holder and will not retin the tip until starting the next
soldering task. This will cause rapid burn out.
( "Refurbishing" my Weller soldering tip ... )
so according to weller (they manufacture some of the best irons out there) you got it backwards.

and here's something according to me: have you noticed how fast the flux/rosin evaporates on elevated temperature, ie those we use to solder?
what do you think is the fume that comes from the tinol (that's how we call "tin/lead+flux" in one wire over here) once we melt it?
how long do you think it can affect the tip once its molten?
so no, that flux will evaporate immediately and it won't do harm.
it's ment just to clean the metal you're soldering and it's ment to evaporate quickly.

one more thing: leaving tip untinned means you're leaving tip exposed to air, and air will oxidize it. not as fast as overheating it, but iron will oxidize on air, won't it?

(and yes, it's more important to tin the higher temp irons...for example 400c iron wil oxidize rather quickly, so i unplug it first, and then tin it while it's getting cooler, because if i was to tin it while it's 400c it would have less of an effect, as solder would melt away too quickly and i would still have the oxidized tip by the time it cools off)

also, how exactly would you remove all the tin from the tip? that's impossible.

overall, let's put this into perspective: sanding the tip is not something that will make the universe around you collapse () but sure it's better to preserve it if possible.
about the longevity: you know the sanded tip will last as much as the "ironed" tip, as long as you don't use both soldering irons.
ie think about how much you use the soldering iron...if you don't use it much and you have absolute need to modify it's shape, why not? are replacement tips expensive?
well, if they are, preserve that iron, and buy cheap chinese one to play with!


(i'm soldering since mid 80s, and i used the "bare copper" tip on a particular iron i used, and with my usage (which is by no means daily) it lasted surely more than 10-15 years.
infact i only heard about the fact that tips have iron on the internet, and i got online sometime in 2000.
if you ask me if there's a choice between ditching the oxidized tip and sanding it to reach copper and make it usefull again, what do you think i would do? )

as for original poster, i think he just discovered one needs to clean the tip, and yes, 40hrs without cleaning it, and tip must look brownish...but it's not destroyed or in need of refurbishing with such things as "tip reactivator" etc.

Quote:
What I've done for the last couple of days have been to apply a coat of solder to the tip at the end of the day and also do it from time to time during my soldering sessions.
yes, but also clean it from time to time..for example at the end of the day.
just use sponge (they're called cellulose sponges, they look pretty small dry but grow once moist), ie touch damp sponge with hot tip untill it looks shiny...
mentioned tangle of wires should work too.
buy those anywhere electronics are sold...
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Old 15th July 2012, 11:12 PM   #18
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For a few years (until I bought the brass wool) I used a bit of ammonia in the sponge water. It doesn't take much, but it sure does keep the tip clean and in good working order.

Anyone else do this?
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Old 15th July 2012, 11:30 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by c2cthomas View Post
Thanks for that. Now I understand why my tip is oxidising quickly, no clean flux.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 05:30 PM   #20
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I used a bit of ammonia in the sponge water.
Anyone else do this?
No, I usually just take deep breaths of the stuff.
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