Kit build came to an abrupt stop

Last weekend I was working on my Elecraft K2 project all was going well until I tried to clean my Weller soldering tip in the wire sponge. For some reason it the wire sponge was not letting the soldering tip go. It was as if the tip was soldered to the sponge that was supposed to clean it! I did free the tip from the sponge and I tried to clean the tip once again and the same thing happened but it was even harder to remove from the wire sponge. I then took a closer look at the Weller soldering tip and half the tip was missing, it seemed to have come off. I never had this happen in the past with these tips and of coarse it was this tip that I did not have a spare of. I did pick up some new tips (4 of them) and will now be able to continue with my Elecraft
Wire sponge
K2 project once again. At one point I was using just a sponge that was damp to clean the tip's but I found this cooled the tips down and the soldering was affected. Has anyone out there ever had the problem of the soldering tips dissolving or breaking off in the wire sponge? The temperature on the Weller WES51 is set to around 800.
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “Kit build came to an abrupt stop”

  • I never had one break off like this, but I’ve used them to the point where they became rather blunt stubs. You can probably take a file to it and get a little more use out of it until your new tips arrive.


  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Anthony thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I am not going to file the tip as it’s in the trash now. I have purchased some new tip’s and plan on using them until they fail. I have used this failed tip for many projects and I guess it has served it’s time.
    Have a great weekend and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Karl N7DMA:

    Over time, the plating on the tip wears away, leaving the substrate exposed. Hey, oxidation happens!

    A tip (pun intended!): after you are done using it for the evening, clean the tip, and melt a blob of solder on it. Do not clean the blob off. It will protect the plating from oxidation.

    Remember that the flux is corrosive, and the tip will fail over time. As to why it broke off like that, my guess is that the platingfailed, and heat/oxygen/flux caused the substrate material (either copper or steel) to fail. Just a guess.

    The tip is in a pretty harsh environment. I also have a well loved and well used Weller iron, one that tips are no longer available. Sigh. Next iron is a Hako. I use them at work, and am quite impressed with them. Pricey, though!



  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Karl, I can understand that the tip is going to wear out and over time it’s going to fail. I just had never had it break apart like it did. But after reading the replies it does not seem to be abnormal. Up to this point I a very happy with my WES51 and the tip seem to be common place at the supplier. Thanks for the great info and also for taking the time to comment on the blog.
    Have a great week Karl.

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