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Thread: soldering irons

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    soldering irons

    Hi to All,
    I have been getting a lot of assistance with my Fender Blues junior on this great site. Thanks to all ! I have ordered my new tubes and bias pot but wanted to ask a question on soldering.

    It seems to be common knowledge that the boards and traces on the Blues junior do not hold up well to heat.

    I have a old but reliable Weller WTCP soldering station (does not have a temperature control) and 700 degree tips that I use for general things on my guitar, a roll of solder wick, and rosin core solder. Does this soldering station produce to much to heat to work on this board safely?

    If I need a pencil tip what wattage would you recommend?
    Thanks Again
    dadroadie

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    Member patlaw's Avatar
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    The tip on the WTCP soldering iron is temperature controlled. A PTA7 is 700 degrees. A PTA8 is too hot for most circuit boards, but it may be required for a board that uses lead-free solder. Wattage doesn't control temperatures. It controls how much the temperature of the tip droops when you touch it to a cold surface.

    I bought a digitally controlled Hakko soldering station, and I love it. With the best equipment in the world, you still have to master the art of applying enough but not too much heat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dadroadie View Post
    I have a old but reliable Weller WTCP soldering station (does not have a temperature control) and 700 degree tips that I use for general things on my guitar, a roll of solder wick, and rosin core solder. Does this soldering station produce to much to heat to work on this board safely?
    I bet it's not as old as mine. I've been using it for decades.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    No wait that was my dad's.
    This is like mine but mine has a black base unit.
    It's temperature controlled by tip selection as Pat said and I second the reliable.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'm also using a No7 tip. I think it's a PT-BB7
    It's fine for tube amps and PCBs with leaded or unleaded solder.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I have been using my Weller WTCP-S (50W, temperature tip-controlled) for almost 40 years now.

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    Supporting Member nevetslab's Avatar
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    I too have been using Weller WTCP stations and normally 700 deg tips, while having a collection of different tips. My portable station in my tool case is the Military version that comes in a neat grey metal case, tip storage/tips, even has the Desoldering Iron assembly.

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    I had picked this up at a TRW Radio Amateur's Technical Swap Meet in Redondo Beach back in the 90's for $40. My other Weller WTCP station got the usual upgrade to a Male XLR connector on the front, Female A3M on the cable to replace the original locking-collar connector that tended to wear out. Those work forever. More than adequate for servicing your Fender combo amp....all about soldering technique. Those PCB's do want to lift off the board all too easily.

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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    Another WTCP user here. It fell off the bench once and the casing cracked open. It was too good to let go, I just ran a zip tie around it to hold the base together.
    When we were running these full time in the shop, we did have to replace the mag switches in the iron occasionally.
    The 700 deg. tip is great and you should have no problem if you don't hold it on the joint too long. I bought a 600 tip by accident once and it's useless. Not sure what it would even be for.

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    "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Within a reasonable range, my experience is that not enough heat will cause more problems than too much heat. You have to hold the iron on the joint longer. That said, there's no substitute for experience and/or practice when it comes to soldering.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    It is bad technique that damages boards, not just heat.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Along the lines of what Dude said, I have a Radio Shack adjustable station (that is actually really nice) and I set it at 715F. That small extra nudge gets me in and out faster and seems to heat the actual component body less. I can't say how that might be on a tender PCB, but the idea is the same. Get the solder and what it's being applied to heated to flow temp and GTFO Because I proto a lot I sometimes get a joint that's been worked over a few times and the solder gets stubborn. That use to cause some trouble, but I have a feel for when that's happening before it becomes a problem now and I desolder the joint and apply new, flux core solder. My point is that if you're going to be soldering on the same pad several times for tweaks and adjustments you'll want to desolder it every couple of times just so you don't have to heat the bejeesus out of it to melt it or hold the iron on there too long trying to get it to flow. I see this as learning from my own failures, but the pros here are calling it "technique"

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    A few guys here have promoted the idea of picking up electronic junk to practice de-soldering/soldering on. I think it's an excellent idea. Thrift shops or e-recycle bins are full of cheap/free practice material.

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    "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Oh, and FWIW...

    If you're soldering and desoldering and resoldering (etc.) you can take that lead free solder and just toss it in the bin. Plain ol' 60/40 is the stuff.

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Master Destroyer nosaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by g1 View Post
    A few guys here have promoted the idea of picking up electronic junk to practice de-soldering/soldering on. I think it's an excellent idea. Thrift shops or e-recycle bins are full of cheap/free practice material.
    And the best part of that is if you screw up or lift a pad well you know what not to do, because its not your amplifier your trying to fix. Like going to the batting cage to practice hitting the ball you get as many swings as you can afford....
    nosaj

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Lead free solder sucks.

    It is required in Europe. Not here. You are under no obligation to use the stuff in the USA, even if the unit is built with it.

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    to work on those boards,you need to solder and desolder in the fastest way possible,that means you need enough power,especially on ground planes,i use 48W minimum,today you can find even a bargain TS100,which is a very powerful tool,powered at 24v/3A you can get more than 60w and the tip is superfast.

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    Master Destroyer nosaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexradium View Post
    to work on those boards,you need to solder and desolder in the fastest way possible,that means you need enough power,especially on ground planes,i use 48W minimum,today you can find even a bargain TS100,which is a very powerful tool,powered at 24v/3A you can get more than 60w and the tip is superfast.
    I have found as of late working on RF amps removing the finals A weller Heat gun with a short piece of 12g copper gets solder flowing real quick to use the solder sucker. Works great for chassis connections also, but also acts as a quick media eraser for magnetic tapes.

    nosaj

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    Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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    Thanks for all of this great information and advise! I'm going to run over to Good Will and pick up a "practice buddy".
    dadroadie

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    Master Destroyer nosaj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dadroadie View Post
    Thanks for all of this great information and advise! I'm going to run over to Good Will and pick up a "practice buddy".
    dadroadie
    Ask if you can et something out of the trash they've thrown away. The idea is spend no money.
    nosaj

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    Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nosaj View Post
    Ask if you can et something out of the trash they've thrown away. The idea is spend no money.
    nosaj
    Yes, but you still have to go through the actual store too. You never know what you'll find!

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    I've had several Wellers, a new temp adjustable model but the pencil's connecting pin broke while removing it, and an old WTCP with 201T pencil and station that just quit getting hot, the pencils aren't interchangeable so now i have 2 Weller stations and 2 pencils and nothing works except the on light. Time to buy a Hakku.

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    I've ordered parts to build a 70W T12 station as an experiment. Intended as a low-cost backup unit but I'll see how it goes. The thermal transfer is theoretically a lot better with direct-drive than a slip-on tip type bit and the temperature feedback more accurate. What this means is that the mass of the part being soldered should have less of an effect on the bit temperature. Also, tips can be changed on the fly while they're hot. At the moment with my 80W Xytronic which I really like, to solder onto the back of a 24mm pot I have to raise the temperature to compensate, or change the tip which means letting the iron cool down. One thing I've found is that improving the thermal coupling between the element and tip helps a great deal. I use a cylindrical brass shim and 1200 degree ceramic grease and it really improved the temperature regulation.

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    Last edited by Mick Bailey; 02-11-2020 at 07:12 PM.

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    Many great posts from folks a thousand times more knowledgeable than me, but I'd add don't wiggle or tug on any component to be removed if it seems stubborn, especially on boards with stubborn solder and weak pcb traces. The still-hard solder just levers the pcb pad off the board. That sinking feeling when you see a little bit of foil flake away is your ticket to another half an hour fixing, if you are lucky! Make sure your iron tip is good and clean and tinned and if it doesn't seem to want to melt don't just wait around forcing heat into the thing, take a step back and asses. I've found running a little more fresh solder onto a stubborn joint helps thermal heat transfer and can get a pad to heat up quicker you can pull a piece directly out at 90 degrees with practically zero force. I always clean pads like this if I'm not sure if the solder I added is different to the original solder, maybe creating weak joint. (though really I tend to clean most pads on most repairs for the same reason, I may be corrected on this!). I find if you get the right angle on solder wick it draws enough heat into itself and not so much the pad's glue so the solder flows into it easily and swiftly, I've found it a little harder to use a solder sucker well on these weaker boards but it's probably just my technique ;P

    I recently had to fix a frontman 212r with a loose input jack that had mangled the hell out of the pads on the board through people using it with the jack-nut loose, it's doable, and you can make it strong again even though it doesn't look pretty, but much better to take it real slow at first and try and avoid creating any new problems!

    Highly recommend a practice board first, most I've worked on seem to have been fairly forgiving but certain newer fenders seem to be very fragile if you go in with 'a blunt instrument'.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OwenM View Post
    ... but I'd add don't wiggle or tug on any component to be removed if it seems stubborn, especially on boards with stubborn solder and weak pcb traces. The still-hard solder just levers the pcb pad off the board.
    You've found my weakness I get very impatient because I know I need to get in and out. I pull assuming I've got the solder melted and think there must be a kink in the lead at the other end of the hole. A bend in the lead on turrets and eyelets is common practice for good technique (make the contact solid and the solder just holds it in place...) So instinct tells me when I can see melted solder and there's resistance it's a bend in the lead. But I don't work on PCB's much. And usually when I do they're older ones. I've ripped up more than one trace. I do a little better now but my PCB technique isn't winning any awards

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    "In fact when I run into problems working on electronic circuirts, there are so many times that when I finally track it down, the source of the problem is located between my soldering iron and my seat." SoulFetish

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    I get very impatient because I know I need to get in and out. I pull assuming I've got the solder melted and think there must be a kink in the lead at the other end of the hole.
    If there's a bend in the lead I cut it off flush with the board on the component side then remove the cut off end from the solder side. It's better to write off the component than write off the board.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I've encountered boards where resistors and such sit up off the board a little ways. The wires are kinked in a little S curve so they sit at the right altitude. In fact you can buy special pliers to do such kinking. But I have also encountered boards where the part wires come through the board, and on the solder side, the bit of wire sticking out was squashed with pliers or something to spread it. That means the wire won't fit back through the hole. It means parts can't fall out before they are soldered. it also means you can't heat solder and pull the part out, you HAVE to snip the end off.

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    One of the crap jobs is to remove a 3PDT switch that's a press-fit in a double sided PCB before being soldered in with unleaded.

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