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Soldering Iron Tip

Filing a soldering iron tip

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Peter Howell 127/11/2020 10:54:25
21 forum posts
4 photos

My electrical soldering iron tip has become quite worn and I had thought to file it flat, but 'Googling' the subject there are dire warning against doing this. The main one being that it will remove the tip's coating, but surely the tips of the old fashioned irons I used when I was at school that were heated in a gas oven were only chunks of copper, I'm sure they were filed as necessary.

So is it OK to file the tip and re-tin it ? It is copper - not plated (well its not magnetic).

Peter

Andrew Tinsley27/11/2020 10:59:30
1256 forum posts

If the tip is that bad, then you have nothing to lose. I will take a file to my soldering iron tips that are noncritical in use. Works for me and keeps me going until I remember to get a new tip.

Andrew.

Thomas Cooksley27/11/2020 11:23:30
44 forum posts

Hi there, most modern soldering irons have coated tips to stop corrosion and make the the tips last longer. Filing the tip can remove the coating and increase the corrosion. If the coating on your tip has already been damaged then filing it may provide a short term solution but I would get a spare tip asap because the old one won't last very long once you take a file to it. Tom.

Neil A27/11/2020 11:23:52
78 forum posts

Many modern soldering iron bits are iron plated to increase their life. When the plating disappears the bits wear at an increased rated. I have had a 1mm diameter bit reduced to about a quarter of it's original length while soldering around 60 DIL sockets onto a board.

As has been said, if you have worn through the plating, then you have nothing to lose by filing the bit. It will just wear a bit faster.

Neil

Bazyle27/11/2020 11:25:04
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5698 forum posts
208 photos

Temperature controlled irons often have an iron tip that is nickel plated. You clean it regularly, like every few minutes, when hot only on a wet sponge. Yes wet sponge really works! but not the usual plastic spnge there are special ones, but a bit of wet towel will do. If you file off the plating it quickly gets eaten by the solder disolving the oron or copper core.

Dave Halford27/11/2020 11:25:17
1142 forum posts
11 photos

peter,

If your iron tip is worn then the iron (FE) coating has long gone anyway. Just don't go mad as less mass = less heat held.

angry 2 Three posters beat me to it!

Edited By Dave Halford on 27/11/2020 11:26:30

ChrisB27/11/2020 11:34:20
575 forum posts
192 photos

The Parkside soldering station I have came with replaceable screw on tips, they are made from brass with some type of coating, once the coating wore off solder would not stick to the tip so I replaced it with a copper tip...a much much better improvement over the original ones. So if the tip of the soldering iron is copper I see no problem in filing it and re tinning it.

Peter Howell 127/11/2020 11:37:31
21 forum posts
4 photos

Thanks guys. I'll file it for now and order a new tip.

Those old school gas heated irons were well used (and abused !) I remember they used to look like a miniuture axe. I guess modern kids wouldn't have any idea what they were. To think what we were allowed to do in the workshop I'm taking early '60s

Georgineer27/11/2020 14:50:21
451 forum posts
25 photos
Posted by Peter Howell 1 on 27/11/2020 11:37:31:

Thanks guys. I'll file it for now and order a new tip.

Those old school gas heated irons were well used (and abused !) I remember they used to look like a miniuture axe. I guess modern kids wouldn't have any idea what they were. ...

You speak the truth, Peter. There's a Reddit forum called "What is this thing" and old -fashioned soldering irons turn up quite regularly, along with a lot of other things I regard as everyday items.

George B.

Peter G. Shaw27/11/2020 15:58:56
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1232 forum posts
44 photos

When I started work in Sept 1959 as a GPO apprentice telephone technician, my first job was learning how to run jumpers across the MDF (flexibility point in all exchanges) and this involved using rather large copper soldering irons of which there were two, one of which was being (re)heated in a gas fired heating device, whilst the other was in use. Yes, they had to be filed and tinned before use, and no, these were not axe shaped.

Later, we started using electrically heated irons which worked from the exchange 50V supply (40V in manual exchanges). As you might expect, these were much safer.

Mains operated electric soldering irons were available, but were not to be used in telephone exchanges due to the possibility of mains getting onto the telephone circuits in the event of a failure of the iron's insulation.

Good grief, that's 61 years ago!

Peter G. Shaw

Ed Dinning 127/11/2020 21:01:31
29 forum posts

Hi Folks, modern irons with plated tips should not be filed.

Cleaning is don eon a damp sponge (not soaking) or the modern equivalent that looks like brass wool.

RS and others do a tip tinner/ cleaner paste in a small pot the was normally used about twice weekly in a production environment the gert the tip nicely bright after a lot of use (RS 507-8698)

Ed

peak427/11/2020 23:49:59
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1325 forum posts
147 photos
Posted by Peter G. Shaw on 27/11/2020 15:58:56:

.........

Later, we started using electrically heated irons which worked from the exchange 50V supply (40V in manual exchanges). As you might expect, these were much safer.

................................

Peter G. Shaw

Until someone brought a 24v Quick-heat down from the repeater station and plugged it into the MDF

Bill (ex exhange/transmission construction)

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