P-38 - The Ultimate EPO Lightning

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Best Soldering Iron

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  • Best Soldering Iron

    I have struggled for years with finding the right iron which gives consistent results. I have tried many from HD to Amazon, but the one I have had the best luck with is the Hobbico 60w iron. But even with this one I do not have consistent joints, I make sure to clean the tip every use and also use flux regularly, but sometimes I cannot get the joint hot enough for a good flow, most of the time is great, and flows instantly. I use both the thick 1/8" as well as the thin electrical solder which does make a difference and helps. Just wondering what other irons are out there you have had good luck with.

  • #2
    Depends what you are soldering and which solder.

    Lead free needs more heat than the old standard 60-40 lead-tin I'm not sure how much hotter.
    Silver bearing solder also should use more heat.

    You can moderate heat with a hot iron by applying for less time so I chose a high temp iron.

    Then there's the size of copper wire and whatever you are trying to solder. A heavy wire makes you need a heavy iron. We are commonly using 12 and 10 gauge wires and sometimes getting into 8 gauge. I use 4 gauge sometimes. So I use a BIG heavy iron.

    You need to frequently clean the tip and reapply a bit of solder to it (tinning the tip) Dip the HOT tip in paste flux, then quickly wipe across a slightly damp soldering sponge to clean. It should look like very shiny wet melted solder on the tip.

    Acid core solder is bad. It eats the tip of your iron and it will promote corrosion of electronics. Its virtually impossible to clean off well enough. You WILL get "black wire disease" if you use acid core solder. That will eat your wire and go down the wire to eat your ESC and battery. Ensure you use rosin core solder and a rosin based paste flux.

    Do not use plumbing solder or flux The flux for plumbing is water soluble so it can flush out of the pipe with just running the water for a minute and electronics don't like it.

    Weller SP80NUS Heavy Duty LED Soldering Iron

    The Hobbico iron is a low end overpriced Weller light duty iron.
    FF gliders and rubber power since 1966, CL 1970-1990, RC since 1975.

    current planes from 1/2 oz to 22 lbs


    • #3
      Hello Chris,
      There is no "one " best soldering iron. Soldering is all about immediate(almost instantaneous) heat to the applied subject.
      Buying an iron based on the advertised wattage is incorrect whereas the user should be concerned of the operating temperature range.
      A low temp iron is not going to provide enough "heat" to a 10 gauge wire like a higher temp iron will.
      All the lower temp is going to do is heat up about a 6 inch length of the wire before the end that is actually being soldered is sufficiently heated to be flowed.
      On the reverse side of the analogy a high temp iron would toast most components on a 20 gauge scale of wiring.
      Your struggle for consistency deals with the ol' adage of "you get what you pay for".
      The $8 Hobbico 60W iron you reference is basically a glorified wood burning iron.
      Now the $80 TK950 Heavy Duty 60 Watt Soldering Station sold by MRC is more in line with some of the equipment that is used in the aerospace industry because it has variable temp ranges from 392- 896F.
      I'm not advocating any brands but if I was in the market this would be a pretty decent one based on the specs.
      Hope I've provided some insight to your inquiry.
      Warbird Charlie

      ScaleTech OV-10 Bronco; HSD A1 Skyraider; FlightLine: F7F-2D, P-38 Allied Green, Sea Fury; FMS 1400: P-40B, P-51 Marie, F4U Olathe, F6F, T-28, P-40E, 1500 Razor, 1700 F4U and a Fox glider; Freewing: A-10(RIP l/g parts used A-26), A-6, P-51 Iron Ass; VQ: P-39, JU-52; LX PBJ-1(B-25), P-40E; Dynam: ME-262, FW-190, Waco, Catalina; Phoenix Spitfire; Maxford Antonov AN-2; Starmax L-4 Grasshopper; Eflite 1100 T-28 float; Tech1 P40; NP O-2 Skymaster; ASM A-26 Invader; ESM F7F-3


      • #4
        I've used Weller products for years and love them. I would recommend a soldering station model with an adjustable heating element.


        • #5
          Thanks for your input guys,
          I just ordered the TK950 from MRC and look forward to using it. Chris


          • #6
            I've been using the tk950 for a few years now and love it.


            • #7
              There is one iron which is exactly what you need for this hobby. It's the Weller WESD51. I use mine all the time. You often see these in production environments as well.

              Get yourself an assortment of tips and some extra sponges along with some tip cleaner. Then use the correct tip and temp for the job, and clean your tip on the sponge EVERY SINGLE TIME you go and put solder to it.

              You can find them on ebay and other places like digi key for about $150.

              Also get yourself a piece of wood, drill some holes in it to put your bullet connectors in while soldering them. A heat sink clamp of some sort and a set of pliers also help.

              Run 650F and a big chisel tip for soldering bullet connectors.
              Run a pointy tip and temp just above solder melt point for soldering LED leads.

              Don't want to sound all know-it-all. Just trying to give some good advice.
              Meridian Aeromodelers, Meridian MS