Okay....it's confession time!!! (hangs head in shame.....)
About 6 months ago I decided I could use a soldering station, as I was going to start getting a bit more ambitious with my decoder installs (by fitting LED headlights and resistors etc)....Yes, that may not be what some blokes call ambitious, but for me it was/is.
Like the original poster of this thread, I couldn't see the need for anything too expensive. I do most of my purchasing on ebay, and soon found one of these:http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/New-SOLDERING-IRON-STATION-937D-with-Iron-Handles-/160819802473?pt=AU_B_I_Electrical_Test_Equipment&hash=item25719b7169&_uhb=1#ht_4893wt_932
BEAUTY I thought.
I soon had the said station in my hands and it worked really well.....for about a month (or about 4 uses given my limited use pattern).
Not wanting to get involved with protracted warranty claims etc, I soon had the casing off and had a bit of a fiddle with my multi meter. I decided (rightly or wrongly) that the transformer was suspect.
Hmmm, what to do??
I gutted the station, only retaining the box and the facia with the 5 pin socket that the cable-to-pencil plugged in to.
I soldered a length of twin core cable to 2 of the pins on the back of the 5-pin socket. This twin core cable (about 3m long) was what was left of a 12 volt flouro camping light that had died. It has a cigi plug on the other end.
So, I now have myself a perfectly suitable (non-temperature-controlled) 12 volt soldering iron.
I've just been out in the shed using it to solder-up some LED automotive-style lamps to light-up a couple of dark spots on my layout.
I am now also considering my options for a decent soldering station....Hakko might get the guernsey this time.
PS: I've kept the transformer with all wires snipped off....it makes a good weight for holding stuff while glue dries and other similar jobs that need some weight added etc.