Long-life gas soldering iron tips?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by MrShhh, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. MrShhh

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 7, 2009
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    Hi, I need the portability of a gas soldering iron and have used Solderpro irons but it's criminal how many tips they get through.

    Solderpro tips seem to be deliberately made of the cheapest quick-rot metal ever invented. Maybe it's just me being cynical but that's how it seems. They are not cheap after all....

    It doesn't make any difference what temp I keep the iron at. Low-flux solder helps quite a lot. As does keeping the tip wetted at all times and yet the tips always die after a few weeks at best.

    Does anybody know of a gas soldering iron that has tips that last a reasonable length of time? As in months not weeks. Cheers.
     
  2. sceadwian

    New Member

    Jun 1, 2009
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    37
    It's not the tips that's the problem it's the heat, if you're not using the iron it doesn't matter how low you have it set to the tip will burn, period. If you want the tip to last when it's not actually IN use it has to be turned OFF.

    Gas irons are NOT temperature controlled, they are wattage controlled, your lowest setting with no load will get the tip WAY past it's thermal boundries in a hurry.
     
  3. marshallf3

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2010
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    They do get hot rather quickly, if using mine I rarely use it for more than a few connections then turn it to minimum or off until I'm ready for it again.

    Best one I ever got I bought from Snap-On and I'm still using it after all these years with the original tip set.
     
  4. MrShhh

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 7, 2009
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    0
    Thanks very much for your help :D

    Do you know which model number Snap-On you bought marshallf3?

    I've found these kits so far:

    YAKS32A 25 to 125W

    YAKS22A 15 to 75W

    There's another 50W model but it's made by Bluepoint so I didn't include it.
     
  5. marshallf3

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2010
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    It's looks like the YAKS32A but it sure wasn't that expensive 15 years ago. It WILL put out a heck of a lot of heat on full blast and for all we know the other model is made by the same company.

    I've got it right here, it's a Blue Point YAKS1 which includes the YAS32 iron in a case with 6 extra tips (one is a small blowtorch) and a small cleaning sponge. It doesn't look as if I've ever even used any of the other tips, one of which appears to be an exact duplicate of the one that's on the iron.

    Considering the case and extra stuff to be a luxury why don't you just get the YAS32A iron by itself? Half the price, same thing.

    Don't expect to be soldering any SMD with it but it will run cool enough for normal circuit board work.
     
  6. MrShhh

    Thread Starter Member

    Jul 7, 2009
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    Thanks marshallf3, you've been reading my mind as I'd 99% decided to get the YAS32A by itself for half the money, especially as there's a shop on eBay selling spare tips at a big discount so I'll probably stock up on a couple extra just for good measure.

    I'm looking forward to putting the Solderpro in the "stuff" drawer never to be seen again.....Even the iron itself clogs up every year and resists all attempts at cleaning it. You get what you pay for, end of story!
     
  7. sceadwian

    New Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    499
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    I think you're still misunderstanding the basic point I was trying to make. A gas soldering iron can NOT control it's temperature, it gets whatever heat is produced from the burning gas, even on low this is will easily cause massive oxidation to the tip material, which is plated I might add so there is a finite amount of 'usable tip' and it's actually only a handful of microns thick, letting it oxidize in free air is like throwing tips away.

    In a small room with little to no ventilation the tip is going to get hottest, all of the air is based on straight convection of heat plus the little bit of added gas flow from the thermal expansion of a flame from a pressurized gas. In this situation the tip is pretty well connected to the flame and pretty well isolated from anything other than radiation loss of the tip, that's why it's temperature will get so high.

    At the same gas flow, in say a slight breeze the situations changes dramatically. The tip will have an airflow across it rather than pure convective air flow, so the thermal loss from airflow will be at least an order of magnitude higher, the coupling of the flame to the tip will be less as well because of the increased airflow diluting it. You're looking at a temperature difference of a 25-100 degrees F just from a guess off the top of my head.

    The effect of temperature on the oxidation rate of a metal at a temperature is pretty exponential if I'm not mistaken and the iron even at it's lowest setting is biased well above the room temperature thermal curve for oxidation. So even though it's only a 75 degree temperature difference you're talking about going from say a 10% oxidation rate to a 60% oxidation rate simply depending on the airflow in the room. Those numbers are off the top of my head, I unfortunately don't have the time to research the exact numbers you would encouter if you scientifically evaluated this, I'm personally about 75% confident on being in the ball park.
     
  8. marshallf3

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2010
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    I don't think the OP was looking for true temperature control.

    The tip of any soldering iron will oxidize even during the warming up and cooling down periods.

    Whatever oxide forms during my slight idle times just wipes right off whatever they made these original tips out of. I've even forgot to turn it down or off a few times and it ended up sitting on full for probably 10 minutes at a time but I'm still on the original tip, it just wipes clean.

    Of course I'm one that tries to get a bit of solder molten on the tip as soon as it will take it, likewise I rarely put them away perfectly cleaned.

    I've owned a ton of soldering irons over the years. Most have sucked for one reason or the other but a few have stood out like this one and my WLC100 Wellers.

    Anyone remember those old Ungar irons with the miniature candelabra base screw in elements?
    Some people swore by them, I swore at them. :)
     
  9. sceadwian

    New Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    499
    37
    I'm sorry marshal, but you're disillusioned, that is simply not the case.
    The oxides that form are a composite of oxygen and the base material, if you wipe anything away it's base material as an oxide... The air doesn't simply turn dark and deposit on the iron tip magically, that's tip material interacting with oxygen and degenerating.

    What you consider a 'high quality tip' would tend to be one that has a VERY high thickness (relative) to cheap irons, again these layers are only a few dozen to hundreds of microns thick but will affect tip live by multiple orders of magnitude.

    I know the composition of MY iron is a solid core with several layers of plate, it's an inexpensive one though I haven't been able to acquire the tip construction details even through inquiry. I do have a spare tip though that I'd like to take to a local metal finisher that has an x-ray scope to determine the layering and thickness. I know the outside layer is the hyper critical one, and that it's thickness even if it's not linearly associated with quality is exponentially associated with life.

    For a cheap tip you could have gotten an operator that took a nap during their plating run and get 50 times the life out of that tip.

    Or for an expensive tip you could have gotten a smart operator that was able to cover their tracks to avoid disciplinary actions for a product line that customers aren't known to complain about..

    I'm new to the manufacturing industry (one year here) but I've been in surface finishing associated with it for 8 years or so, this isn't some random angle I'm coming from. I know our customers, I know our product. I'm shocked daily on what is acceptable, even for a third tier manufacturer.
     
  10. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
    5,201
    312
    I like the 'fell asleep' while plating tips.

    Maybe I'll start a soldering iron company and hire some narcoleptic tip plater.

    We will have the worlds longest lasting tips...

    ..and be out of business lickety-split. ;)
     
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