The pride and joy in my shack is a Weller WECP-COD3 soldering iron. It is the only professional piece of equipment I have.My late father used in when he was still working at Philips and he got to keep it after his retirement. Unfortunately his Parkinson’s disease advanced to such a stage that he gave the iron to me so that I could help him fix the electronics in his house. Recently the iron had been acting up and the culprit turned out to be the temperature sensor/switch. Even though Weller is a world-class brand, after 26 years of use it is no surprise that even their equipment starts acting up. That doesn’t matter, because a world-class brand has world class service and so I ordered a new sensor (50 Euro) which my ever so nice QSL manager Wouter sent to me. I could have ordered it locally, but then they still would have ordered it from Europe with a 45 day lead time. Here in Taiwan Weller is not sold any more, because Japanese stuff is cheaper. My iron is too old to be interesting any more. Well, I am old too, but quality still shines and Weller remains top quality.
So now I wonder: how old is the soldering iron in your shack? Do you go for quality or buy low price and throw it out after a while? Leave a comment if you please. It will surely be fun to read.
I have several irons in my shack. Up until three or four years ago, I had no temperature control and those irons don’t count, except for the 65 watt iron with the honking big tip I use for soldering coax connectors. You have to use an iron with a large thermal mass or it just won’t work. The one I use is intended for people who make stained glass stuff, and it works great. I’ve had it for, um, 10 years, 15?
Three or four years ago I bought an Aoyue 968 for doing surface mount soldering/rework. It was cheap, but it’s still functional. For all the SMD stuff I do, it’ll probably last for decades even if the total life is 100 hours.
Great comment, Jonathan. I don’t do much SMD stuff, but even then my smaller Weller iron will do for basic SMD components. I’ve heard about Aoyue, but not seen them here in Taiwan much. Chinese stuff and their name is quite tricky to pronounce: Ao is like the ou in mouth. Yue is double phoneme: the Yu is pronounced like the letter U, the trailing e is the short e-sound like in egg.
Holy cow! I don’t think I could pronounce it correctly even on my best day. To be honest, I’ve had some trouble with this iron because I think the heating element wasn’t seated properly so the tip wasn’t making good thermal contact with the heater. Since there’s essentially no documentation on the iron, or any drawings or photos to let me know how it’s supposed to be arranged and since I have never used any similar irons in the past, I had no idea how it was supposed to be or what the problem could be.
It worked well enough for SMD, although it seemed to be a little cooler than I expected, but when I put a bigger tip on it for more general work, the tip didn’t get hot enough to melt anything. When I watched a video on changing the tip of a similar iron, I noticed the heating element in that iron was sticking out a lot farther than one in mine did, and I gently pulled on the element in my iron and it slid out father. Then, there was a distinct click, and I thought I’d broken it, but I think it was just clicking into place because it heats fine now.
I’ll try with a bigger tip in a few days when I get around to soldering the pins on the Arduino shield I’m building. That needs more heat the 0805 resistors. That’ll be the real acid test.
I have no doubt that your Weller works just fine for SMD. In fact, I wish I’d had one for just general use before I got what I’m using now. Weller makes fine irons. The three non-temperature controlled irons I have are Wellre.
mine is a Weller WTCP-S. I bought it 30 years ago, when I went to university. 10 years ago the switch in the handpiece failed so I went back to the shop to complain “ONLY 20 years of usage and ALREADY this thing fails :-)”
Weller is still nice but much to expensive in Europe. They sell for a fraction in the US.
I still have the Weller soldering gun I bought in 1955, original case, which is rare because they were so brittle. Still works fine. I have sort of a soldering iron collection now, so it seldom gets used.
73 and I hope your Weller lasts as long as mine has.
John, W9JGO, Illinois USA
@Jan DK3LJ: I guess I was lucky then that mine lasted more than 20 years. Even though expensive, the quality of the solder joints is what makes Weller really stand out.
@John, W9JGO: wow, that is quite an achievement. When my Weller is 59 years old I will be 80. I guess the Weller will still be fine, but I – on the other hand – will not. Anyway, will there still be things to solder then?
Weller WTCPT. bought it about 20 years ago. Still going strong. Have not been building as much as I once was but it did see some heavy use for a while. Retiring in a year or two, will probably get some dust blown off it 🙂