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I'm not happy with the soldering irons I've accumulated over the years. Seems to take forever to heat up the wires to the point the solder will melt, and by then the piece is so hot it's melting the insulation well away from the stripped area. Need something better. Any recommendations?
 

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I'm not happy with the soldering irons I've accumulated over the years. Seems to take forever to heat up the wires to the point the solder will melt, and by then the piece is so hot it's melting the insulation well away from the stripped area. Need something better. Any recommendations?
1. I have used really good lab soldering irons with base station/holders. Last for ever, controllable heat and cost about $40.

2. Resistance solders (running on batteries) are good for quick fixes http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/tools/69d3/?cpg=ab, but I don't think they're good if you do a lot of soldering. This type does not use heat. They run an electricial current through the solder to melt it, more like welding really. It takes time to get use to and the graphite tips tend to break. Also, you can find plans in the Internet to build them yourself.

3. You can go solderless for some connections using Posi-Lock products. http://www.posi-lock.com/ I can personally vouch for these connections, best non-solder connector around.
 

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i have several older soldering irons. they work best for me when the tip is clean. i usuall scrap the tip & clean it with a little sandpaper. they seem to get a little hotter.
 

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Old Truck Junkie
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My brother is a pro at this kind of thing. He uses heat sinks at the ends of the wire that he is working on. It stops the heat before it gets to the plastic insulation.
I don't want to say you don't know what you are doing, but you need to control the heat on the wire. More practice.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
1. I have used really good lab soldering irons with base station/holders. Last for ever, controllable heat and cost about $40.

2. Resistance solders (running on batteries) are good for quick fixes http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/tools/69d3/?cpg=ab, but I don't think they're good if you do a lot of soldering. This type does not use heat. They run an electricial current through the solder to melt it, more like welding really. It takes time to get use to and the graphite tips tend to break. Also, you can find plans in the Internet to build them yourself.

3. You can go solderless for some connections using Posi-Lock products. http://www.posi-lock.com/ I can personally vouch for these connections, best non-solder connector around.
What is a lab soldering iron? Googled it and didn't get anything useful. Have used Posi-Locks before, but some applications don't allow enough room for them. My dad always emphasized heating the work, not the solder. Said it gave the best results.

i have several older soldering irons. they work best for me when the tip is clean. i usuall scrap the tip & clean it with a little sandpaper. they seem to get a little hotter.
Yes, learned that from my electrical engineer father. Unfortunately, the genes didn't make it to me!

My brother is a pro at this kind of thing. He uses heat sinks at the ends of the wire that he is working on. It stops the heat before it gets to the plastic insulation.
I don't want to say you don't know what you are doing, but you need to control the heat on the wire. More practice.
Heat sinks at the end of the wire or between the area to be soldered and the insulation? What does he use for a heat sink? Aluminum foil, wet rag, or something else? I'll be the first to admit my technique stinks. If it didn't, I wouldn't have so much burned insullation and gobbed up connections! I've had considerable practice, but my technique isn't getting better! Again, my problem seems to be that by the time the work is hot enough to melt the solder, the insullation is cooking. That, and not having four arms to hold the work, solder, and iron. Guess something like a fly tying vise would be helpful to hold the work.
 

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X2 on keeping the tip clean. It transfers heat better and, if you wait to even touch your wires until you can easily melt solder on the hot tip, and then use the blob of solder on the tip to help transfer the heat to the wire, you will be able to heat the wire quicker.
 

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The Reanimater
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I'm not happy with the soldering irons I've accumulated over the years. Seems to take forever to heat up the wires to the point the solder will melt, and by then the piece is so hot it's melting the insulation well away from the stripped area. Need something better. Any recommendations?
This is one I bought.

http://cgi.ebay.com/70W-TEMP-CONT-S...66:2|39:1|72:1205|240:1318|301:1|293:1|294:50

It's like the kind I was using when I worked at a TV Shop Repairing Things.
 

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What is a lab soldering iron? Googled it and didn't get anything useful. Have used Posi-Locks before, but some applications don't allow enough room for them. My dad always emphasized heating the work, not the solder. Said it gave the best results.
Sorry, google 'soldering iron station' for what I refered to as 'lab soldering iron'. Good ones have tips that stay clean by using a damp sponge.

Yes, some applications don't allow for Posi-lock connectors, but they work great for wire-to-wire or splicing applications.

Your dad was right, you need to heat the work in order for the solder to melt and bind. This is the one advantage that resistance soldering has over conventional irons.

FYI, I still use my $8 Radio Shack soldering iron for soldering, but I don't solder very often so its limitations (i.e., low wattage/heat and always having to cleaning the cheap tip) are not a big issue. If I really solder a lot (i.e., electronic hobbies), then I go for the soldering iron station.
 

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Old Truck Junkie
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It has been a while since I have seen him do any work. If I remeb right they were like clamps. He would clamp them between the insulation and the end of the wire.
I ussually twist the wires together, that helps keep them together. I put the hot tip under the wire and the solder on top. When the wire gets hot the solder melts into the connection. I imidiatly turn the hot iron off. This works for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks guys. Given me a lot to consider. Think I'm either not using a hot enough iron or just too impatient. After 5-10 minutes of heating up, my iron takes a while to melt solder, and then not all that fast. Seems like when I forget it's on and it has been on for a half hour or more it does a faster job of heating up the work. Maybe I need to plan farther in advance when using it. Also going to try binder clips as heat sinks; easy to use and a lot of surface area to dissapate heat.
 

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Have you tried pre tinning your connections?
For example if you are soldering a wire to a terminal, before putting the wire anywhere near the terminal, heat the wire then apply solder to the wire. The solder will run into the strands of wire. Then heat the terminal and allow some some solder to run onto / into the terminal. Then join the two together and with a little solder on the tip of your iron heat the join. The solder should melt and create a strong joint before the insulation has chance to melt.
 

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It has been a while since I have seen him do any work. If I remeb right they were like clamps. He would clamp them between the insulation and the end of the wire.
I ussually twist the wires together, that helps keep them together. I put the hot tip under the wire and the solder on top. When the wire gets hot the solder melts into the connection. I imidiatly turn the hot iron off. This works for me.
I use alligator clips next to the insulation and I love the old pencil type irons with interchangeable tips,make sure your iron is clean and the screws are tight that hold the tip,let your iron heat up thouroughly and melt solder on it,it is called tinning the iron it helps if you use small gauge solder and paste flux for resin core solder on twisted wires do not touch the wire till you are ready to solder and hold you iron on the joint til the flux starts to bubble and tip your piece of solder to the side of the joint opposite the heat an when the wire is hot enough ,like magic the solder will melt and start to run towards the heat,remember its like ,Brylcreem a litte dab will do you,(that's for the rest of you old guys)remove your iron and let it come back up to temp before you do another wire.
 

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For an cheap/easy temperature controlled iron you can just wire it up to a dimmer switch (like the kind used for lights in your house). I used this trick back in high school before I could afford a nice Weller solder station.

Also, whenever I have a new tip, I wrap it with ribbon solder then plug the iron in. That way the tip tins itself right when it's hot enough to do so. Keeps the tip from corroding and helps it last a bit longer.
 

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Old Truck Junkie
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For an cheap/easy temperature controlled iron you can just wire it up to a dimmer switch (like the kind used for lights in your house). I used this trick back in high school before I could afford a nice Weller solder station.

Also, whenever I have a new tip, I wrap it with ribbon solder then plug the iron in. That way the tip tins itself right when it's hot enough to do so. Keeps the tip from corroding and helps it last a bit longer.
Thanx for the input.
Welcome to the group Flux
 

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Linkmeister Supreme
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I think I`m going to break out a couple of soldering irons and practice some of these ideas, to see if I can`t learn to do it right. My soldering skills stink.

Welcome to the Vulcan madness, TensorFlux. Check in on the newbie forum, and tell us a little about yourself and your ride.
 

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Sounds like you are using too small an iron. All the tips here are important, especally the tinning of the wires! Also, how old is your solder? Sometimes the stuff does go bad when it gets too old, and it does come in different heat ranges.

I use Radio Shack irons and have no problems (since the 70's) and glad to hear that people still fix instead of throw away and buy new.
 
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