Many of you asked me about what soldering station am I using for my amps, so I thought of posting the info and a short review, and hopefully spare you from spending cash on cheap ones (as I did).
As one who went through a couple of cheap ones that had a inviting price but with unstable temperatures, waiting for them to heat up for ages, I narrowed down my search to the Weller WTCPT 120 Volt 60 Watt Temperature Controlled Soldering Station.
For one, the Weller WTCPT has a stable temperature controlled by its own patented close loop method, meaning that you’ll have a constant soldering tip temperature all throughout your soldering session regardless of the joint type. This is critical to form nice and sturdy solder joint on any connections, even on the potentiometer’s body where the heat dissipation is higher due to the greater metallic mass.
But also the Weller does an outstanding job on small, delicate PCB boards, where a more focused attention, with a smaller size soldering tip.
You probably observed that there are no temperature control adjustment knobs on the unit. This is because the ferromagnetic temperature sensor in the handle, works together with the type of tip you are using to control the final temperature, so no external adjustments are needed.
Of the many PT series soldering tips for the Weller WTCPT soldering station available, I am using several types depending on the type of work I am doing.
The one tip I use often across many types of connections – like board turrets joints, tube sockets, and even the ground buss bar soldered on the potentiometers (see the amp building videos) is the PTA7 tip that works at a constant 700F degrees. It is actually being shipped with the Weller WTCPT.
Here’s a chart with all the 700F degrees PT tips you can find as a replacement for the Weller WTCPT. I didn’t try all of them but looks like they can cover all the soldering needs in your life!
The PTA7 soldering tip has a simple flat screw driver type shape of 1/16″ size (the A size in the image). Makes it great for a variety of uses as I mentioned in my amps. This one is by far the work horse tip for me. And average of two seconds for a turret joint.
The Weller PTP7 on the other hand, has a conical 1/32″ tip and makes it ideal for more delicate uses like PCB soldering on your guitar pedal kits or the like. It takes me an average of say one second per solder joint.
If you need to go heavy duty for applications like stained glass or alike where you need enough power and contact surface to get things melted fast, I recommend the PTM7 1/8″ long screwdriver tip. That thing melts the world apart.
I am sticking with the 700F degrees tips (That’s the ’7′ in the part numbers) because of the type of solder I am using, the 44 RA Solder Wire, .062 (Sn63/Pb37 that has a lower melting point) which forms a great bond and it is thick enough (1/16″ diameter) to have a slow feed (the thinner ones will go fast as you need to feed them faster while they melt).
So, think twice when you want to buy a cheap soldering iron for your guitar amp projects. Don’t do like I did, wasting cash on soldering stations that went kaput after one month, or varied in temperature like the weather, or was impossible to find replacement parts.
The Weller WTCPT is a winner. No wonder some have it for the last 30 years and still going strong!