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I'm in mourning

No, not because stalwart British comedienne June Whitefield has died (she looked a bit like my mum) but because after 27 years hard use, the element in my Weller TCP soldering iron has failed. At first it seemed that both the magnastat switch and element had failed o/c but common sense in fault finding said that if the switch had failed o/c it was highly unlikely the element would be o/c as well. If the switch was failed closed then the element could overheat and fail. But both open? Better positioning of a tip by the switch confirmed its operation.

I was somewhat confused trying to figure out which spare parts where still available and which new spares would fit my old iron, a common complaint from many people trying to figure out Weller’s desperately confusing numbering system. Anyway after 45mins looking and head scratching, I’ve ordered a new element and new barrel. But what a time for these things to fail when the whole of the UK except retail stores have closed for Christmas and New Year. And as there are few high street shoppers about the retails stores that haven’t gone bust may as well not open! :frowning:

Anyway, Weller irons have a reputation for longevity. I’ve gone through several bits and sponges in the 27years I’ve used this but that’s all. But if the elements are going to start failing after only 27 years, then their reputation is going to suffer ! :wink:

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Hi Andy,
I know what you mean with ever-reliable tools eventually giving up and it being difficult to get spares for them.(sounds like you managed to though, so that’s good news).
I have a Black & Decker drill that I have had for 40 years - it started life in the UK, travelled with me to Germany, then Australia and then back to Germany and it still works as well as it did on the first day that I got it! All it has needed over that 40 years is the plug or complete mains lead changing for each of the countries.

My soldering irons have not lasted as long - my main one is now 7 years old and as well as it burning through tips over time the nut used to hold the tip in is loose, even after clamping the barrel to it. I have already bought it’s replacment but I don’t have a great hope that the new iron will last longer than 7 years either!

“They don’t make 'em like they used to”!!

73 Ed.

When I bought my TCP I had just fixed the PSU so it was just the pencil and stand I needed. In 1991 that cost me about £30 which was eye-wateringly expensive.

Today a new TCP is £93.65, a PSU £112.74 and a stand £28.51 making £234.90. I was truly gobsmacked when I saw the new prices! If it wasn’t for 30+ years muscle memory using a TCP I might have bought something new and shiny.

The bits in my Weller solder gun (for the bigger jobs) last me 2 years at most. They are very easy to change and fairly cheap. The gun is about 20 years old element is still good. The great thing about the gun is the instant heat and little bulb which illuminates the job. Sorry to hear your element is kaput Andy. For finer work I have two Antex irons, a 15w and a 25w, both are over 20 years old and still working as well as Ed’s drill. They take several minutes though to get to full heat.

73 Phil

A new element and barrel cost £40.74 inc VAT but at least it was over £30 so I get free postage. It’ll be Thursday for next day post with New Year’s Eve tomorrow then a holiday on New Year’s Day in the UK and another holiday on Jan 2nd in GM.

When my iron failed I found it just as cheap to buy a new iron (psu and stand were fine). Now the chicken and egg situation - do you need a soldering iron to attach the new element and switch? :innocent:

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£93.65 for a new iron.

Yes, but I have a Antex X25 in the car boot (has been used twice to rescue gear on contests) and a 12V one with a cigar lighter plug. You can be sure they’ll both fail when I come to solder the new element in place.

When I built my first radio way back in the pleistocene, a one tube trf kit, I used a plumbers iron heated on a gas stove. Crude and primitive but it never failed me! The sad thing is that now I have four or five irons and little inclination to use them…

My Weller TCP, a christmas gift when I was ten, has survived 37 years of usage so far, some with commercial-grade operation.

I only recently replaced it by an Ersa i-con Nano because I wanted more flexibility regarding the temperature for SMD soldering.

But I still feel a bit bad for retiring my old fellow who has served me so well from my first AM receivers with Germanium diodes through the exiting days of early computer hardware, like fixing ZX81s and first PC clones…

Man, I am feeling old when remembering these times :wink:

73 de Martin

You could take up golf… :wink:

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I still have the same soldering iron after 40 years. I’ve looked after it well. I’ve replaced the element 4 times, the tip 6 times and the body 3 times.

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I would be confident that these three would all work, like you were with the trusted Weller! The Antex are 220/240V. Interesting that they do 12V DC version. Have had these donkeys years:

:sun_with_face: It’s on its way according to the email just received. :sun_with_face:

My main soldering iron here is also a Weller WCTP model.

The handle assembly is a TC201Z, and the power supply is a TC202.

This iron had done a good bit of production work at the company where I worked. It and its brothers were replaced by newer, safer irons. I was lucky to save it from the dumpster, decades ago.

A few years back. the lighted On-Off switch failed, so I added a neon indicator on the left side of the power supply.

Otherwise I’ve had no issues with this unit, although I’ve gone through a number of tips.

I haven’t looked for new tips in a long time. This iron works well with tiny conical tips, small screwdriver-type tips, and large, massive tips. The larger tips are capable of soldering to thick copper pads and ground-planes on PCB’s, which is nice when you need to do that.

I also built my first ATS-3 rig, the mostly-surface-mount ATS-3A from KD1JD, using a pointed tip in this iron.

For production work we used only the 800-degree tips - marked 8 on the tip base. They are much quicker than the 700 degree tips (marked 7). The 800-degree tips avoid prolonged heating of pads and parts, and they do good work when used by skilled assemblers and techs.

All my SOTA tuners and antennas were created using this iron, and these provided an efficient path to simple multiband activations and many thousands of contacts for almost six years now!

I’m not mourning yet, but your little piece about your iron touched my heart this New Years Eve - thank you!

Happy New Year and 73,

George
KX0R

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What is this I see before me… an SMS telling me the delivery is scheduled today (Jan 2nd) for 9.20-10.20. This cannot be! Anyway the van turned up at 9.27. OK, having scared the driver by answering the door in my dressing gown it was time to shower and dress. Five minutes trying to open the boot of the car as it was frozen solid, fetch the Antex X25 from the boot (it lives there for contest repairs with 1m of solder wrapped on it), study exactly how old wires were dressed, fit new element without breaking the fine wires, swear a lot, find pair of “higher gain” glasses, swear more and find the “deep space gain” glasses, solder it up, check continuity, reassemble, switch on… and it works. It make the strange “boiling water” noise that I had read about whilst first heating but normal clicking has been restored to the shack.

Ordered on Sunday afternoon online from Rapid, email confirming dispatch on Monday, holiday Tuesday, arrived Wednesday before 10am. Job done. :slight_smile:

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They obviously used the correct flux :smile:

Phil, you can make a tip for soldering guns out of heavy gauge wire. Crush the outer bend a bit with vise grips or hammer.

Elliott, K6EL

Brian,

Gas? Valve? Luxury Lad, Luxury. I had to cut kindling and light the fire in the kitchen wood stove for heat. I then pinched my father’s small plumbing iron, made a wooden handle for it and used his Salammoniac block and Bakers Soldering Flux to clean and tin the iron. The solder was the standard plumbers stick of 60/40 solder. I used this arrangement to solder the wiring on my various crystal sets.

I saw gas in the city house of an aunt once.

When we were connected to the power grid I spent my savings on a Birco soldering iron. Horrible unwieldy thing but at the time it was magic. I don’t mourn it’s demise.

Youngsters don’t know they are alive these days.

73
Ron
VK3AFW

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