Brand new Weller brand soldering iron tip turns black, what could it be?

KJ6EAD

Joined Apr 30, 2011
1,573
You have a WLC100 station with a SPG40 iron? This seems like a tip plating problem. Make sure you have a Weller ST series tip.
 
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Thread Starter

8BitSpirit

Joined Jan 20, 2016
9
The station and the iron came together in the box. I'm just going to buy some replacement tips (ST Series as recommended I guess) and see if that fixes the problem. There was a time when I recall leaving the iron on but it really was only 5-10 minutes. Maybe I underestimated how sensitive these things really are. I didn't think something small like that would be able to ruin the tip, but then again I didn't know there was a protective coating either. Somebody really needs to come up with a better soldering tutorial because it seems like every tutorial I watch leaves out a lot of very important tips and knowledge that should be added. They assume the viewer knows these things, but those who search a tutorial on soldering are noobs like me who know nothing and want to learn.
Thanks for the tips! Will post back my results when the new tip arrives.
 

ISB123

Joined May 21, 2014
1,236
I once left an iron running for 2 days and it did no damage and that was on some random brand, so I'm pretty sure that it shouldnt do any damage to Weller.
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
I'm new to soldering and when I bought a cheap 5 dollar iron on ebay I quickly realized all irons are not created equally. I shelled out 45 bucks on Amazon for a Weller soldering station. I was impressed with the performance at first and found myself soldering like a pro but quickly (in the first use) I noticed that the tip only holds a tin shiny for the first 4 or 5 minutes (or less) after which the tip turns dull/green/black/grey burnt uglyness.

I clean the tip on a wet sponge and again I tin the tip. Both the solder an the tip become burnt even quicker. It always seems like the sponge makes it worse.. The only way to make another good solder is to turn off the iron, let it cool, and start over. Then the cycle repeats! It's really P$#22ing me off to be honest because I can't figure out what I'm doing differently than everyone else. I've watched the tutorials, I shelled out the cash for a good iron, it's brand new, WHAT IS THE DEAL!?

-I bought a copper sponge, that only seemed to make it worse.
-I reduced the heat and the tip still burns the solder immediately.
-I bought 2 types of solder, makes no difference.
-I'm not using flux (because it hasn't arrived in the mail yet) so I'm sure that isn't an issue.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions. Thank you!
Over cleaning the tip can leave the iron plating exposed to oxidation - and then it won't tin.

Usually I don't even bother using the wet sponge, but when I do, I just tin the tip a tiny amount before putting the iron in the holder.

If you must use the wet sponge - clean and immediately tin before use - not after.

Antex keep production costs down by not factory tinning the tips - they just coat it with wax so it doesn't oxidise gradually at room temperature.

They can be a real PITA if you forget to tin them as they heat up for the first time.

Cleaning an oxidised tip is a tricky question - if you file it, that destroys the iron plating. The copper core alloys with the solder and erodes.

A strong active flux might do it - but I've found some that destroy the iron plating.
 

SLK001

Joined Nov 29, 2011
1,548
I had problems in the past with the Weller tips not being very durable. I much prefer Hakko soldering equipment. I find their tip plating to be very durable and long lasting. I would sometimes leave my Hakko on for a weekend (and cuss like a sailor when I found out on Monday), but the tips survived with no damage.

IIRC, the tips are copper, with an iron surface plating. When the iron plating wears off, the copper desolves into the solder, making a ragged tip.
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
I had problems in the past with the Weller tips not being very durable. I much prefer Hakko soldering equipment. I find their tip plating to be very durable and long lasting. I would sometimes leave my Hakko on for a weekend (and cuss like a sailor when I found out on Monday), but the tips survived with no damage.

IIRC, the tips are copper, with an iron surface plating. When the iron plating wears off, the copper desolves into the solder, making a ragged tip.
Weller was once the industry standard - walk into any electronics factory and you'd see row upon row of them. It all seemed to go downhill when they were taken over by Cooper Tools.

The bean counters decided that quality and reliability were unnecessary extravagancies.
 

SLK001

Joined Nov 29, 2011
1,548
Weller was once the industry standard - walk into any electronics factory and you'd see row upon row of them. It all seemed to go downhill when they were taken over by Cooper Tools.

The bean counters decided that quality and reliability were unnecessary extravagancies.
How true. I started out professionally using Wellers. Ended up using the Hakkos because of their reliability/durability.
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,217
I have worked several QC jobs where the Weller soldering irons ran all day every day for years. You hit the damp sponge several times per minute when soldering. Black doesn't matter if it isn't on the working area of the tip.

I am getting a feeling your controller is broken...stuck on, "High".
Does the rosin go up in a puff of smoke, just about instantly?
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
None of that seems to be what the TS is having trouble with.

My first thought is wiping on the sponge and removing the protective layer of solder - left in the holder like that, it'll oxidise.

Unlikely - but not impossible; could be cheap solder with dodgy flux core.

Large stocks of NOS components can have high levels of oxide on the tin plated leads, that wouldn't help.

Traces of gum on bandoliered components can carbonise if it gets on the soldering tip.
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
How true. I started out professionally using Wellers. Ended up using the Hakkos because of their reliability/durability.
In the UK, Antex irons are readily available, and at the price I could afford to treat them as expendable.

The only failures so far turned out to be caused by mains transients killing the fine wire element. An MOV protected outlet fixed that.
 

Thread Starter

8BitSpirit

Joined Jan 20, 2016
9
Yes the solder does sometimes go right up in smoke and burn rather immediately, however, I have adjusted the temperature dial and it helps some but the solder either burns or won't melt at all. I haven't found a sweet spot where it just works.
What is "eutectic" solder?
I am using thick solder right now and my components are quite small (GameBoy PCBs), what should I search for to find solder with a smaller gauge?
 

takao21203

Joined Apr 28, 2012
3,700
well heres what im using

50w station temp control
Broad tip with permanent coating
0.8mm or 1mm solder with flux (hard to find any without)
Flux only for some SMD ICs

Normally I wipe the dirt layer off with a finger.
And I leave it on for hours at times.

First, add a little solder wire, then wipe off quick with the finger.
If the tip doesnt look clear and shiny after that, ive scraped them sometimes with a blade or sandpaper, carefully not to destroy the coating.

Point tips will be ruined quickly and cant be used to apply force and the tip will oxydize fast no matter what.
They are not needed at all for SMD.
 

Thread Starter

8BitSpirit

Joined Jan 20, 2016
9
This is actually a good idea, kinda seems like a no-brainer huh. I'll see what I can do about videoing my next project to show what happens with the solder.
 

SLK001

Joined Nov 29, 2011
1,548
What is "eutectic" solder?
A eutectic alloy is one that is mixed to give the lowest melting point. For instance Sn61%-Pb39% is the eutectic alloy for tin-lead solder, melting point of 369°F. Other alloy mixes, such as Sn63%-Pb37% and Sn60%-Pb40% are close to being eutectic (but they are not).
 

Lestraveled

Joined May 19, 2014
1,946
Yes the solder does sometimes go right up in smoke and burn rather immediately, however, I have adjusted the temperature dial and it helps some but the solder either burns or won't melt at all. I haven't found a sweet spot where it just works.
So, can you lower the temperature so the solder just barely melts? If not, then @#12 may have seen the problem. Your controller doesn't adjust correctly (or at all).
 
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