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Weller Soldering Iron Tip Problems - not taking solder

userx2

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I have a Weller TCP-01.
I do not use it often.

The tips have recently started not taking on solder and have a dark blueish dull look.

I tried cleaning them with all sorts of stuff from sponge to steel-wool to brass wire brush and eventually sanding paper.
I also tried citric acid as well as flux.

All to no avail.

Is there a way to clean these tips to make them work again?


I have replaced one tip with a new one but now notice this is possibly starting to happen. The tip is turning dark again after a relatively short period.

The solder is the same roll I have been using for many years.


I am not sure if relevant, but I replaced the element of that soldering iron not that long ago.

Does anyone else know more?


Best regards
X
 

prairiedog

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It might be overheating if the Magnastat switch is stuck on. Blue tips are when it's quite hot.
When you operate it with no tip, there should be no heat. When you put the tip in, you should hear and feel the "click" from the magnet closing the Magnastat switch contacts. Could also use an ohmmeter on the connector to confirm the heater can be switched off.

Don't use sandpaper to clean a tip, it scrapes off the plating and the tip is ruined.
The most I use is rubbing a tip on a wood block if there is really bad slag buildup. Brass wool and steel wool are too harsh I find, it scratches the tip's plating if you look with a magnifier.
 

KlausST

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Hi,

I tried cleaning them with all sorts of stuff from sponge to steel-wool to brass wire brush and eventually sanding paper.
I use Weller tools, too.

The solder tips - with my experiece - last longer than most other brand solder tips .... if you treat them carefully.
Urgent: No abrasive cleaning methods. No steel wool, no sanding paper, no hard metals or stones at all.

The tips have a thin protective surface. As long as this surface is healthy you get very good soldering results.
When the surface is broken, the first problem you will recognize is, that there will remain spiky solder at the solder joint.
Soon the solder joints will get worse and worse. The tip is dead. No way back to life. It needs to be replaced . With an original one.
It may last for years even with heavy soldering.

Cleaning: as soft as possible. I use a sponge wettened with deionized water. Just wipe off the old solder and put a ver little piece of new, high quality solder back to the tip. That's all. For very fine SMD solder joints you may repeat this.
(Wip off old solder, put on new solder, wipe off solder, put on new solder .... ready)

Klaus
 

userx2

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I am aware on how to not use abrasives and be careful with the tips. That is not the problem here. this is just happening all by itself.


Regarding the thermal switiching:

I did not notice that the iron is too hot while soldering but it could still be a problem.

I can feel the tip being held i place by magnetism but I will check on the operation.


Regards
X
 

dick_freebird

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Using the damp sponge to clean often, helps. But
mostly this:

(a hard rosin w/ tinning, perhaps similar to plumber's
tinning flux but not acidic)
 

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c_mitra

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I did not notice that the iron is too hot while soldering but it could still be a problem.
But this may be the most likely culprit.

White the tip is hot, rub vigorously with the green pad (used for cleaning pots and pans)- damp but not dripping- and you should see bright shining solder layer.

If the shiny appearance goes out in 2-3 mins, the tip is overheated. If you have filed or sanded the tip too much, the inner iron will be exposed and it may not like to pick up solder.

The solder is wetted by a copper surface and the tip has a heart of iron but a skin of copper. Copper does not rust but corrodes none the less.

If it is consistently overheating, then the base unit needs attention.
 

betwixt

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If it is consistently overheating, then the base unit needs attention.
The TCP-01 has its thermostat inside the handle, it uses the magnet Curie point to release a spring loaded switch when temperature is reached. It is very efficient because it monitors the tip temperature rather than the barrel temperature.

The tip should have a number stamped at its blunt end, '7' for normal soldering. If the thermostat is sticking, which is probably the main failure mechanism on that model, I fixed one once by opening the switch and cleaning the contacts then wiring it so that instead of cutting the current to the element, it broke the connection between the earthed barrel/tip and the floating element. The element was permanently connected in the handle. I then built a small triac control board inside the base and controlled it by looking for continuity between the element and earth paths. It kept an otherwise faulty iron working for years afterwards and I think it is still here among the cobwebs somewhere.

Brian.
 

userx2

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The TCP-01 has its thermostat inside the handle, it uses the magnet Curie point to release a spring loaded switch when temperature is reached. It is very efficient because it monitors the tip temperature rather than the barrel temperature.

The tip should have a number stamped at its blunt end, '7' for normal soldering. If the thermostat is sticking, which is probably the main failure mechanism on that model, I fixed one once by opening the switch and cleaning the contacts then wiring it so that instead of cutting the current to the element, it broke the connection between the earthed barrel/tip and the floating element. The element was permanently connected in the handle. I then built a small triac control board inside the base and controlled it by looking for continuity between the element and earth paths. It kept an otherwise faulty iron working for years afterwards and I think it is still here among the cobwebs somewhere.

Brian.
Yes, I did have another thread here on this forum about this iron, a while ago.

Here:
https://www.edaboard.com/showthread.php?381662-Weller-TCP-01-soldering-iron-question-problem-with-thermal-switch

The thermo-switch went faulty and I had to replace it. It is a genuine Weller replacement element.
I did notice at that time that the audible on/off clicking I used to have with the old one was not present after fitting the new.

But after posting on the forum, i decided that that could be normal.
Well, maybe it is not normal and maybe the new switch is not switching correctly.
That would be a bummer as the warranty is now gone.
 

betwixt

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Check the spring is in place beneath the thermostat, it keeps the element 'pushed up' to the tip but if slipped or missing, it may not see the magnetic field from the tip and assume the wrong temperature.

Brian.
 

userx2

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Check the spring is in place beneath the thermostat, it keeps the element 'pushed up' to the tip but if slipped or missing, it may not see the magnetic field from the tip and assume the wrong temperature.

Brian.
Good call but the spring pressure is good. When I insert the tip I can feel the spring resistance.
 

Easy peasy

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Cheaper tips do not have the required thickness of iron plating to make them last anywhere near as long as the original Weller tips ( 5 + years )
 

c_mitra

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Cheaper tips do not have the required thickness of iron plating...
Is that iron plated on a copper core or copper plated on a iron core? I thought it is the latter. Iron is not wetted by solder.
 

userx2

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Is that iron plated on a copper core or copper plated on a iron core? I thought it is the latter. Iron is not wetted by solder.
According to a Weller video I saw, the tips are copper and then plated with iron.

Here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq-q64ncivM
So they can actually rust.

The video was newer but I am assuming that is also true for the TCP-01 tips.

- - - Updated - - -


Ohh wow, check this out!!
It is for lead free but I wonder if it is also valid for my tips.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3OlDsKvzss
 

KlausST

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Hi,

It surely is not iron.
Any tiny iron residuals in a solder will make the soldering results horrible.

Recommendations say that Fe of 0.02% in weight in a solder bath should be the limit.

Klaus
 

Easy peasy

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Dear KlausST, you will ( eventually ) discover that soldering iron tips are indeed plated with a form of pure iron ...
 

KlausST

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Hi,

I just read through some articles about soldering iron tips.

I have to admit, that they may contain iron.
This contradicts somehow my experience with Fe contaminated soldering bath and the recommendations about max Fe in solder.

I wonder how on the tips they prevent Fe to go into solution.

Some articles talk about a "special iron plating", some about an "iron containing plating", some say that there is an additional coating on top of the iron (besides the Ni or Cr coating).
Maybe there is more than my simple thinking of a "pure iron".

Thanks for pointing that out.
Learning never stops.

Klaus
 

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as far as I am aware - it is fairly pure iron - you can plate ( or re-plate ) your own tips - if you know how - the iron will tarnish at temp if not left tinned.

the iron will not go into solution with "real" solder ( tin/lead ) but you will lose it to the non lead solders ...
 

userx2

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That first video link I posted further up explains it somewhat.

Now I just need to solve my problem somehow.

Gas anyone tried that stuff in the second video?
"Tip activator"?
 

c_mitra

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iron will not go into solution with "real" solder ( tin/lead ) but you will lose it to the non lead solders ...
I refer to my memory but iron does not dissolve in solder. Solder is Tin /Lead eutectic or even pure Tin with small amounts of other elements. Tin dissolves Copper, Silver and Gold (the coinage metals) but not iron (or Ni or Co).

Pure tin suffers from Plague and small amounts of other metals are always used for Lead free solder.

Tin plating of iron containers is common but formation of any solution is doubtful.

- - - Updated - - -

Gas anyone tried that stuff in the second video?
No I have not tried the same stuff but I think I know what it is.

This is a common flux widely used in electronic soldering work, called Rosin Mildly Activated.

The rosin is a gum product (obtained from plants)- it dissolved in alcohol but not in water. It is activated with acid to be effective in soldering.

You can get the same stuff (generic brand) from most electronics store. They are usually called soldering paste (different from solder paste) or flux. They should be light yellow in color (do not use if it is dark yellow in colour)

The video show the soldering being done at 500- it is certainly not 500C (more likely 500F and that is more likely- closer to 250C).

You can make out if the tip is overheated.
 

dick_freebird

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Somebody removed the picture of the "tip tinner" can
that I use. So I guess you're on your own, for finding
a source or an equivalent.


Using the damp sponge to clean often, helps. But
mostly this:

(a hard rosin w/ tinning, perhaps similar to plumber's
tinning flux but not acidic)
 

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