Weller WD1 85W Controller/Canfield SolderMate 11/SilverGleem Solder

by Caco
(PA)

Experienced solderers have been stumped by this issue and have looked at my workspace and are confused as well, and I hope you can help.


Started small glass work a year ago with what I believe to be a high quality Weller soldering station...here's what happens:

- I'm going through solder tips very very quickly, I'm not in a high moisture or dry area, and give good care to my tools.
- After 5-10 minutes, my soldering tips stop melting solder. I've been using SilverGleem, but it happens with 60/40 lead free as well, and the solder just stops flowing. The iron tip appear oxidized even if I wipe every few minutes and try to keep my tips silvered at all times. So after 5-10 minutes of solder flow, the tips just sit on the solder, nothing melts, the temperature readout on the controller stays at the set degree.
- I contacted a well known supplies website where I get my copper tape and glass (the tape is fine, I've tried other sources as well, so it's does not seem to be the tape) and the website owner told me she has a few clients that don't do well with SilverGleem solder so she does not recommend it. This does not address my issues and many artists successfully use and recommend SilverGleem as it's a great look. She sold me sal ammoniac to clean the tips which I'm reading is caustic and I'm afraid to use.

-I've programmed the temp on the Weller at 700, 750 and upwards of 800 degrees (it goes to 850) but this does not help. When the tips go, they just sit on the solder and it does not melt.

-I've changed from Gel flux to now Canfield SolderMate 11 flux, no improvement.

-I know technicians that solder boards all day and don't have issues, whereas I'm just trying to do small craft like items and it's an ordeal.

Any ideas? Weller support says it does not sound like the iron but the solder, the SilverGleem folks say it's the flux, and around we go. TIA! Caco

Answer

I went to the Weller web site and read about the Weller WD1. It is meant for electronics work not stained glass. The tip is very small and I can see why it would oxidize in a short time. In electronics the soldering is done in very short sessions, not continuously for 15 minutes or longer. Also, the flux used in electronics is different than flux for stained glass work and I imagine that is a factor considered when the WD1 tips are manufactured.

With all of that in mind, I'd suggest that you get a new soldering iron, one made for stained glass work. The Weller 100 PG is made specifically for stained glass. I've had the same one for 15 years and it's working as well now as it did when it was new. The tip controlls the temperature, so you don't need a separate temp controller. It comes with a 700 watt tip. You can buy 600 and 800 watt tips as well to.

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