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Thoughts on Weller Soldering Stations

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  • Thoughts on Weller Soldering Stations

    Over a year ago, I picked up a beat up Weller W-TCP soldering station from a Ham radio estate sale. It has a TC201 soldering pencil installed.

    Initially I was impressed with how well it worked. I was shocked to see it didn't have a temp control knob, but at the same time, it always seemed to put out just the right amount of heat for the job, all without any excess smoking of the rosin. Impressive.

    There was about a week of blissful soldering with this unit before the tips wouldn't stay in place. The barrel nut was worn out and chewed up.

    I didn't bother fixing it and stowed it away. I was cleaning the garage and I listed this, (among other items) for sale. The guy who wanted to buy it was minutes from meeting me when he cancelled, once he realized that it had an issue requiring repair.

    That's when I got curious as to whether it actually could be fixed. Weller, after all, makes parts for a lot of their irons, why not this one... I found the part number is a BA60 barrel nut, and pretty inexpensive. On its way now.

    The user manual also revealed just how it auto-heats. Here is a link to it if anyone is curious. Fascinating stuff.

    I've gone through three Weller SPG-40 irons. They're cheap but they keep failing on me. Now I can see why. You get what you pay for.

    http://bama.edebris.com/download/wel...ch%20Sheet.pdf
    Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    When I worked in a manufacturing plant (early 80's) we used Weller soldering stations exclusively and they were quite reliable. Those units had the temperature control knob as we had to solder to Mil-Spec and that required different soldering temperatures.

    I have owned a Weller soldering station for the past 25 years. Never had it serviced because it never failed me or had any problems.

    I suppose there are good ones and bad ones that come off the assembly line. I must have gotten a good one.

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    • #3
      I used Weller soldering guns as kid and their soldering stations at several employers. Always thought they were quality stuff. The solder stations I remember using didn't have temp control knobs either, but there was a thermostat built-in to the tip which you could hear gently clicking on and off.

      For most of my career, though, I did all of my soldering using various Unger soldering pencils and tips and they worked fine both in the field and on the bench despite the lack of active temperature control.

      A few years back, when I realized that I'd be doing a bunch of circuit board assembly for our MIDI products, I looked into soldering stations. My first choice probably would have been the Weller, but its price was premium compared to the competition. The Hakko stations were a better value and well reviewed. I wound up purchasing digital unit by AOYUE, model 9378, and it's been working great for the past several years.
      Last edited by Admin; 03-16-2017, 04:11 PM.
      -Admin

      Allen 965
      Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
      Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
      Hauptwerk 4.2

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      • #4
        I'll most likely keep W-TCP one on the work bench. I'll put my less expensive irons in my field tool bag, and keep a spare. I've had an SPG-40 fail on me while in the field, and it was maddening. The gentleman whose house I was at just happened to have his own SPG-40 laying around so that I could finish the job without a trip home. They are like the Geo Metros of soldering irons. If only they lasted more than a few years.

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        • #5
          I used a Weller pencil iron for many years for amateur DIY projects, and it held up for 18 years. When it finally died, I bought a replacement made shortly after Weller had been acquired by Cooper Tools and manufacturing had been moved to Mexico. The quality of the replacement was nowhere near that of my previous Weller, and it fell apart from day one. Tips didn't fit well. The barrel nut constantly came unscrewed by itself. When I complained to Cooper Tools about it, they dismissed my complaints, so I switched to Hakko stations.

          That said, I have heard that the quality problems that the pencil irons suffered never reached Weller's higher priced products like the soldering stations. But I was very disappointed with how Weller/Cooper Tools responded to my complaints about the problems with my new iron. It boiled down to: You're crazy and you don't know what you're talking about.
          I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

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          • #6
            Have used them at several employers and apart from that the handles get a bit too hot to my personal taste they are about the most reliable I saw. However the latest Ersa (tought it was Ersa) stations were great. They cut the tip automatically but when you lift it out of the holder it is hot by the time you reach the joint. Very small and light but with enormous power (and just as expensive).

            For myself I use since years a JBC SL2020.

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            • #7
              This is one alot of folks, including me, are buying now. Crazy cheap on Ebay.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sAyz5faHsY&t=512s

              It's coming next week
              1960 Blonde RT-3
              Leslies: 2-speed 22H, 760, 105 Round Sound Machine.
              Young Chang U121
              Fatar SL 880
              Nektar Panorama T4

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              • #8
                The endless strive toward CHEAP is the problem. Products keep getting cheaper and cheaper until you can't buy a good one anymore.

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                • #9
                  I highly recommend this recent series on "heaters" at EEWeb:

                  https://www.eeweb.com/profile/max-ma...oldering-irons

                  https://www.eeweb.com/profile/max-ma...rons-part-deux

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by KC9UDX View Post
                    The endless strive toward CHEAP is the problem. Products keep getting cheaper and cheaper until you can't buy a good one anymore.
                    My Weller soldering station is the anchor of my bench.Well made reliable product.When and if it goes I'll get a Haako.
                    Cheap in repairs is everywhere.They just throw it in the dumpster and get another one these days.
                    Cheap also; is when you run a Nord or Motif or whatever 5K keyboard you'd like,through a lousy cheap DI.
                    Doesn't mean I'm going to run over my Radial DI's with my Bridgestone LT24575R16's.
                    I could and they would still work though.Actually did back over one of my ATA briefcases.No harm done to the contents.

                    Quality soldering is not an option,more of a requirement.Inexpensive tools of any kind are usually a waste of time and money.
                    Since the Weller pencil quality fell off twenty or so years back,my 'field' 35 watter has been an offshore 'Armaco',
                    that is at least the quality of a '70 era Weller.
                    Last edited by Sweet Pete; 12-16-2018, 10:59 PM.
                    sigpic A100/251 A100/147 A102/222 B2/147 BCV/122 M3/145 M102/145
                    Various modern keyboards and modules.

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                    • #11
                      I tried the Weller irons with the Curie Point temperature control back in the early 70's. The mechanical thermostat contacts failed too often with daily use so I abandoned them and never went back. I do production and the only irons I find durable enough are the same old-school Ungar handles and screw-in elements I've used since the dawn of time. Ungar became Cooper, then Weller and now Apex. I use two setups- the #4037 45 watt element with PL113 1/8" screwdriver point tips for everything from SMDs up to 20 ga through-hole leads and the #4033 45 watt 3/8" chisel point for anything but SMDs. I use Variacs with both to turn the irons down when idle to prolong tip life, and to boost heat output when doing boards with lots of parts.
                      Tom in Tulsa

                      Fooling with: 1969 E100, 1955 M3, 1963 M100, Leslie 720

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