Soldering station advice

 
  MatthewH Locomotive Driver

I need some advice on picking the right soldering station.

This will be used mostly for building model train kits, ranging from the underfloor detail on the SEM GY Wagon, up through some more Brass kits (such as SEM's and Model Etch's brass train kits and the unpowered Redhen bogie), eventually getting to the MDS Rx kit. The Soldering Station will be using lead-free solder.

The two I am looking at are below:

http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=TS1620&form=CAT2&SUBCATID=953#1

http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=TS1564&form=CAT2&SUBCATID=953#1

Are these any good for the required purpose? Any reviews/tips will be appricated.

Thanks
Matt

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  bjviper Chief Commissioner

Location: Brisvegas
If they're the only choices I would get the larger 48W station as the higher thermal output will be advantageous when it comes to soldering larger brass (and whitemetal) pieces.  I would suggest you purchase a range of spare tips as well, the 2mm one will be more useful than the 0.5mm tip.

Any particular reason you want to use lead-free solder?  In my opinion for brass kits regular 60/40 would be better.
  MatthewH Locomotive Driver

The reason I'm using lead-free solder is that I don't want to run the risk of lead poisoning
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
Using the old adage that a wise man only buys once....could I be so bold as to suggest you consider something this:

http://www.altronics.com.au/index.asp?area=item&id=T2418

or have a look at the Weller range.....but they are pretty pricey and you have to draw the line somewhere I guess.

Roachie
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Roachie's advice is good, a cheap tool is no longer cheap when you have to buy another to replace it when it fails to do the job, and that is generally true of bargain priced soldering stations.

You might find it advantageous to read this before you choose a soldering station: http://www.hollywoodfoundry.com/Docs/Solder%20Tutorial%20-%20Part%201%20-%20Choosing%20Your%20Iron.pdf
  MatthewH Locomotive Driver

Thanks for both of those replies (that Hollywood foundry document was very helpful), but I wanted to spend no more than $100 on a soldering station...
  MatthewH Locomotive Driver

I have looked at the soldering station Roachie found, and saw that there was a 48W version of it. As some of the stuff I will be soldering is whitemetal, wouldn't the low temperate range (150-480C compared to 200-480C for the 80W version) of the 48W version better suit my needs?
  John_Bushell Chief Commissioner

Location: Brisbane
The reason I'm using lead-free solder is that I don't want to run the risk of lead poisoning

MatthewH
Matt,

Trying not to eat the solder as you are working.

Best regards,
John
  bjviper Chief Commissioner

Location: Brisvegas
I'd think that 200degC and 80W would melt small whitemetal parts quite quickly and personally would not get that iron...but I'm keen to hear others thoughts on it.

My regular soldering iron/station was a Dick Smith T2200 which I used for many years until upgrading to a PACE MBT250 station.  The T2200 has the same specs as the Jaycar 48w unit you linked to.  Even the PACE soldering irons are only around 50w and I have found them just as suitable as the Dick Smith station they replaced.  

The risk of lead poisoning from using 60/40 solder would be negligible.  Only if you were soldering everyday of the week and not washing your hands before eating would I start to get worried.  I haven't done amy/much research into using lead-free solder for brass and nickel silver kits so certainly research it.  One thing to consider with lead-free solder is the higher melting point and tip temperatures required.
  MatthewH Locomotive Driver

I know not to eat the solder nor inhale the fumes when soldering, but I feel a lot more comfortable using lead-free solder on my model trains. (it's bad enough that I have to use lead solder for uni work...)
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Hi Matt,
I use and can recommend Royel soldering stations (http://www.royel.com.au/Royel%20pages/tccs.htm). Not sure if the link will work?

My station has two irons plugged into the one station. Form memory the large iron is 60 watts and the smaller is around 40. I very rarely use the smaller iron however.

Bjviper is on the right track also. Pace soldering stations are excellent but you do pay for it. We use and I am sure Brendan uses PACE soldering stations in commercial applications.

Lead free solder is a little tricky. It requires a slightly hotter iron and joints may not be quite as reliable as lead based solders.

It's up to you of course which solder to use.

Hope that may be of some help,

Linton
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Sorry about the formatting! Not sure whats going on there ha ha
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
When soldering white-metal parts, you often need all the power you can get, as they are often large and act as a huge heat-sink. And if a solder is billed as 170 degree solder, you need at least 200 degrees to melt it properly. Any iron less than 60 Watt is next to useless, more power means more flexibility. I use an 80 watt iron, and at times even that is not enough.

[Quote="MatthewH']Thanks for both of those replies (that Hollywood foundry document was very helpful), but I wanted to spend no more than $100 on a soldering station...[/quote]
Then you are not going to get a soldering station worth squat for that money unless it is used.
  Kevin Martin Chief Train Controller

Location: Melbourne
I know not to eat the solder nor inhale the fumes when soldering, but I feel a lot more comfortable using lead-free solder on my model trains. (it's bad enough that I have to use lead solder for uni work...)
MatthewH
Don't worry about it, you really have to ingest large quantities to make any difference. After all, what poisoned the Romans, was that they used to put lead in their wine to make it sweeter!

Roger Howell (late maker of the 'Blue Rink' Resistance Soldering Unit, referred to in 'The Blacksmith' notes) would have been quite forthright in his views on lead-free solder.

Kevin Martin
  foxdemon Train Controller

My understanding is that the lead free solder has a longer transition time between liquid and solid state and thus the joint needs to be held in place longer. As this can be tricky to do, the joint is often damaged before the solder goes solid. The lead stuff is easier to work with. As mentioned earlier, try not to gnaw on it too often and you will be fine.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Matt, it is remiss of the university to not inform you that you stand a far greater chance of death from the copper on the circuit board (or the power in the powerpoint) than you do from the lead in the solder... As others have suggested, short of eating the stuff it is fairly hard to be poisoned by lead.
  MatthewH Locomotive Driver

Matt, it is remiss of the university to not inform you that you stand a far greater chance of death from the copper on the circuit board (or the power in the powerpoint) than you do from the lead in the solder... As others have suggested, short of eating the stuff it is fairly hard to be poisoned by lead.
Aaron
They definitely told us about this as well, it just was not relevant to the topic we are discussing in this thread...
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
They definitely told us about this as well, it just was not relevant to the topic we are discussing in this thread...
MatthewH
Um, traditionally, brass is mostly copper... The green verdigris that you may or may not find forming on your brass model (mostly formed due to the flux) is quite toxic and is the real reason you need to wash your hands post working on a brass kit. Once again, you'd be safer eating the solder and whitemetal than you would the brass...
  hosk1956 Deputy Commissioner

Location: no where near gunzels
Um, traditionally, brass is mostly copper... The green verdigris that you may or may not find forming on your brass model (mostly formed due to the flux) is quite toxic and is the real reason you need to wash your hands post working on a brass kit. Once again, you'd be safer eating the solder and whitemetal than you would the brass...
Aaron
I'd rather eat vegetables and a good roo steak thanks!!
I use a Dick Smith 45w temp controlled iron with excellent success, I have an old school Weller 80w iron for the bigger soldering jobs, this combination has worked for a few years now.
In the past I have always soldered as much of the white metal bits as I could. Nigel of Model Design Studio fame has suggested 5 min epoxy glue for a lot of the detail parts of his Rx kit, I quizzed him about this and he put a sound argument for glueing parts, ie, you have a longer setting time to make sure parts are square and true, you can glue little parts without fear of damage or losing other bits that have already been fixed and the glue joint of a badly located bit can be broken fairly easy (use a bit of heat as well) and reglued.
I was in a rush with the last Rx I built but I gave the epoxy a try, I am now a convert, all of Nigels points were correct, but I also found there was less clean up involved and the process went a lot quicker.
All the brass bits get soldered and the bigger white metal bits will get the low melt stuff but all the details will be epoxied from now on, on the Rx in particular, the only low melt solder will be to fix the rear of the boiler to the cab area and to solder the completed 'front frame extension' and 'coupler housing' to the chassis, these could also be epoxied on with great success. And believe me, providing the joint is clean the epoxy will hold very well. I do believe it will speed my build time quite a bit.
I am surprised that nobody has mentioned extraction fan's, I have a little PC cooling fan set up to suck fumes away to another place other than my lungs, but I work near a window which I can open up (the fumes haven't destroyed the wire fly screen yet), it seems to work for me.

Wayne
  wally-wowser1 Train Controller

Location: overlooking the Mt vic washaway on Soldiers Pinch
Having seen & known heaps of PMG / Telecom / Telstra  cable jointers  repairing Lead sheathed cables over the last 40 odd years I have not heard of any becoming inflicted with lead poisoning, just use the normal COMMON SENSE [ which the present day work force is not allowed to use any more & are dictated to  by shiny arses who have done the bare minimum at uni to get a degree in work health relations & have no idea of the real world] . I have been in cable tunnels where there was NO ventilation  watching  jointers do their magic on lead sheathing every day & never have any complaints  about the dangers they were so close to [fumes] & they are still alive today.

Just use Common sense & you will have no problems with lead based solder .

Wally.
  MatthewH Locomotive Driver

I know that lead-free solder might not be as good as lead-based solder, but there is a small risk of lead going through the skin. From Wikipedia: "Exposure occurs through inhalation, ingestion or occasionally skin contact". (and for those who say Wikipedia is unreliable [which it can be], I have read other sources that say this as well). I want to eliminate (or at least reduce as much as possible) the risk for lead-posioning, and using lead-free solder is the best for this. I would rather take twice as long to build my models than risk getting lead poisoning. So, please do not make any more posts about why I should use lead-based solder, I have made my choice on the solder I am using, and I am not changing it. So can we please keep the discussion to soldering irons please.

The soldering stations I am currently looking at are below (I cannot find a price for the Techtron ones):
http://www.altronics.com.au/index.asp?area=item&id=T2416
http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=TS1564&form=CAT2&SUBCATID=953#1
http://www.royel.com.au/Royel%20pages/t1000.htm

These are at the very limit of my price range.

Also, after a Google search, a lot of other Australian Modellers use very similar soldering stations to the first two, and have no problems with them. Link here: http://www.vr-enthusiast.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=108.

Thanks
Matt
  John_Bushell Chief Commissioner

Location: Brisbane
Matt,

Good luck.  I think your mind was made up before you asked the question.

I was being facetious about not eating the solder.  Sorry.  The intention of the thought behind the unfortunate comment is unchanged.

If your budget is so limited perhaps the best counsel would be do not buy a soldering station.  Spending what you have on a piece of equipment that would not give satisfactory performance is not wise and not sound economically.  You run up against the answer, "a soldering station is beyond my means at present".

I am not trying to be judgmental or demeaning, just giving you my honest opinion.

Best regards,
John
  MatthewH Locomotive Driver

Matt,

Good luck.  I think your mind was made up before you asked the question.

I was being facetious about not eating the solder.  Sorry.  The intention of the thought behind the unfortunate comment is unchanged.

If your budget is so limited perhaps the best counsel would be do not buy a soldering station.  Spending what you have on a piece of equipment that would not give satisfactory performance is not wise and not sound economically.  You run up against the answer, "a soldering station is beyond my means at present".

I am not trying to be judgmental or demeaning, just giving you my honest opinion.

Best regards,
John
John_Bushell
John,

Yes, my mind was made up, but only with regards to what type of solder I am using. I was (and still am) asking a question about soldering stations, and which one, within a certain price range, was the best for my needs. As far as my research has shown, similar soldering stations to those I linked in my last post work fine for what I want.

I just got a bit annoyed about everybody telling me stuff about how safe lead-based solder is, when I already knew the risks about using it and had decided not to use it.

Thanks
Matt
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
Can you get low melt lead free solder? ie: the 70 degree solder for whitemetal? As others have said, just wash your hands properly and try not to breathe in the fumes.

I've used a Dick Smith T2200 for a while when I started. It had it's shortcomings but it was ok when I started. I'm now using a Weller WD1000 and its definitely a much better unit. The main difference that I can notice is large parts heat up better with the WD1000 and the solder flows more easily.
  wally-wowser1 Train Controller

Location: overlooking the Mt vic washaway on Soldiers Pinch
Well  then,   theres  no further comment needed  later on when you find out all the problems of using non lead solder is there.  Have fun soldering & enjoy what you are doing & remember theres a absolute wealth of knowledge on these forums  gained from  past experience.

Wally.

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