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Soldering iron: The story

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  • Soldering iron: The story

    Several years ago I decided I needed a soldering station, so I bought a nice but inexpensive Weller set. It had a 40 watt tip and it plugged into a cute little red station with a temperature control and a cute little sponge and a holder for the iron. It has worked ok for me until recently when the iron would no longer heat up. After some quick testing it appears that there was an open circuit in the heating element. (I did drop it a few times.) So I ordered a new iron for the set.
    Meanwhile, back at my Slot Cave I still needed to solder something. Going through some "stuff" I pull out my back up soldering iron that I have never used or tested. It was pulled from a box of junk and stashed away "just in case" I needed it. It turns out that this iron is an old Ungar #776 unit with an Archer 33 watt element. I get out the flux and plug the Ungar in. And it works! I clean the tip, I tin the tip and I solder away! Quite a difference soldering with the Unger vs the Weller. The Unger seems to apply the heat better than the Weller ever did, and this may be the reason why.
    Photo 1
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    The Weller tip. 40 watt. Little chisel tip. Made for heating little wires and things.
    Versus the Ungar
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    Big beefy tip, seems to be able to heat things better. Maybe the Ungar just retains heat better when soldering brass sections for chassis. I don't know. Maybe someone can explain this.

    Scott
    Why doesn't my car run like that?

    Scott

  • #2
    Your on the right track the ungar with a bigger tip when applied to a solder joint has a higher volume of heat if you will so the tip takes longer to cool than the weller would doing the same job

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Noddaz, There have been more slot car chassis built with an Ungar 776 with a 1/4 chisel tip over the years than all other irons put together

      You can get these 45 watt 1/4" chisel tips (with built in heating element) from PCH Slot parts........get a couple as they are getting hard to find,.....and, ....while you are at it , get a Sal Ammoniac block from them as well ,..... the best ever tip cleaner/restorer ......(every experienced chassis builder has one )

      Cheers
      Chris Walker
      Last edited by chrisguyw; November 17, 2020, 08:36 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        The Ungar is balanced better in your hands too. I still use a 776 & a 777 from the 70's. Weller bought the Ungar line & was making heaters & tips for them. I don't have any of the Weller, but heard the quality had slipped.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have an Ungar 45 watt iron with a chisel tip. With that iron the tip and the heating element are one piece that screws into the handle. With Weller irons the tip is separate from the heating element and heat transfer is not as good as it is with an Ungar iron. When you are soldering heat transfer is very important. Although a pencil tip is better for soldering small electrical connections you can use the corner of a chisel tip as well. As was already mentioned a chisel tip has more mass and is good for soldering things like brass plate.
          I believe that Weller bought Ungar some years ago.

          Comment


          • #6
            I wonder if I shim the soldering tip on the Weller iron if it will transfer heat better. There is one way to find out.
            Why doesn't my car run like that?

            Scott

            Comment


            • Bill from NH
              Bill from NH commented
              Editing a comment
              Scott, did your shimming have any effect on the performance of your Weller iron? Your Archer tip was an item Ungar made for Radio Shack. I have a black Archer handle they also made. As others have said, I'd like more that 33W for chassis building unless I was working with small wire, rod or thin sheet stock.

            • noddaz
              noddaz commented
              Editing a comment
              I haven't tried it yet. Not very high on the DO list.

          • #7
            Soldering iron part 2

            I was fussing around with a chassis and it came time to solder wires to the motor. Well then, it must be time to shim up the gap on the Weller soldering iron body and the tip. I look around and find some thin stainless steel and cut out a section for a shim. I work it to the handle and tap the tip into place and tighten the set screw. Initial report, it works pretty good. I seem to have better heat at the tip and therefor not burning wires up while trying to attach them. I would call this a win.

            Scott
            Why doesn't my car run like that?

            Scott

            Comment


            • #8
              Scott, glad to hear your shimming seems to promote better heat transfer. I asked because I have a NOS Weller 80W iron w/orange handle that the two tips slide in & are held in place by a set screw. I've replaced the slotted set screw with an allen set screw but I've not used the iron yet, I'll have to see if it requires any shimming for heat transfer.

              Comment


              • #9
                noddaz Why don't you just get a larger tip for the Weller you have? They sell them, I have several tips for my butane unit - and just like you say, when I need to solder 6AWG wire, I don't use the small tip!

                Comment


                • noddaz
                  noddaz commented
                  Editing a comment
                  My problem with the Weller was heat at the tip. The way the iron is built has a set screw that holds the tip to the iron. The heat transfer from the body to the tip is one thin line along the length of the tip. With the shim in place there is more surface area between the tip and body. My initial results show the iron working better. I don't think a larger tip would have worked since it suffered from the same design.

                • dinglebery
                  dinglebery commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Ohhh ok, I know which one you're talking about now - yeah that one is terrible!
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