Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

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Yerry
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Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by Yerry » Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:10 pm

I have the Radio Shack variable-temp soldering iron 64-094. RS does NOT sell a replacement tip. One review on their website says it can be special ordered, but alas, it cannot.

Rather than admit I'm out $21, is there a source for the replacement tip out there anywhere? It's the same size as their heavier tips, is about 2 inches long, and slides in and is held by a setscrew-- no threads on the tip.

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MrAl
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Re: Salvaging a $21 Rasdio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by MrAl » Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:32 pm

Hi,

If you cant find anything else, you can use other things like a steel nail or brass rod.
The steel does not conduct as well as the original copper tip, but still works if you keep it a bit shorter.
The brass conducts better than steel so works a bit better.
You could use a piece that fits in the iron of roughly the same diameter.

I've actually done this a number of times, making special tips for SMD and all. I've also used tips that were not made for the iron as anything fits in there and all i did was tighten the screw to hold it in place.

Oh yeah, you might need a longer set screw but dont even have to use a set screw as you can use just about any screw. It sticks out the side a little but doesnt hurt anything.
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

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Re: Salvaging a $21 Rasdio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by sghioto » Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:08 pm

Like MrAl said, I would try and make one from the 64-2065 replacement tip.

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Joseph
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Re: Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by Joseph » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:00 pm

I use solid copper ground wire for my soldering iron. Whatever gauge is 1/8" in diameter is what I think mine takes.

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Re: Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by dyarker » Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:41 pm

1/8" (0.125") would probably be 10AWG (0.1019"), or 9AWG (0.1144"), for irons with a set screw. Though 9AWG might be hard to find.

8AWG (0.1285) could be filed down for set screw; or have threads cut in with a die.

If set screw is long enough, 12AWG (0.0808") or 14AWG (0.0641"), could be used for light work like small parts on fine PCB traces.

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Joseph
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Re: Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by Joseph » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:46 am

It occurs to me that maybe I was off in saying it was 1/8" diameter because despite that thought, I now seem to recall the solid copper wire that I use is rated as 6 gauge. I can plan on checking the diameter with calipers and try to give an update in a day or two.

A factory supplied tip might usually be 8 gauge, which, according to the AWG chart, corresponds to slightly over 1/8" as you mentioned. I prefer as large a size as will fit because that increases the heat transferring capability. For soldering smaller joints where less heat is needed, I turn off a switch I have placed in parallel with a rectifier diode, which itself I have placed in the power cord, in series with the heating element. By turning off that switch, it approximately cuts the power of the iron in half.

A recommendation is to loosen the set screw and slide the tip out occasionally. Otherwise oxidized material will accumulate inside the tip hole and jam it so that the tip becomes permanently stuck. I think that applies especially if the diameter of the tip is very close to that of the tip hole.

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Joseph
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Re: Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by Joseph » Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:46 pm

Hmm, I measured the diameter of the solid coper wire with a vernier caliper. The figure I read, in inches, was 1/8 (8/64) + 5 1/8s of 1/8 (5/64) = 13/64". That equals .20", which oddly looks up on the chart as 4 gauge. The caliper is hard to read, I might have done better by checking it with my plastic calipers, which has a much more visible scale. I seem to recall buying 4 gauge wire for another bigger soldering iron's tips, and it was too big for my regular irons. So, I still think the 6 gauge wire is the type my normal iron takes.

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Re: Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by dyarker » Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:25 pm

Lay the wire on a ruler. Is it just a little bigger than 1/8", or just a little smaller than 1/4" (like 0.203" would be)?

I'm thinking a little bigger than 1/8" since that is the size tip you want.

Working backwards from what you said; the second set of marks would be 1/8th of one 64th, NOT 1/8th of 5/64ths. 1/8th of 1/64th is 1/512th. So:
8/64 = 64/512
64/512 + 5/512 = 69/512
69 / 512 = 0.134765625"

It may well be 6AWG (0.1620") you were using. Bending, then straightening, may have reduced the diameter a bit. Over tightening the caliper on soft copper would also cause a smaller measurement.

OR, measuring a piece of 8AWG (0.1285") that was still a little bent would cause a slightly larger measurement (like 0.134").
----------------------------------------
(I'll assume you inherited/given/got good deal on that caliper.)
Editorial:
Only a masocist would use a device like that unless they had to. Explains why most of the rest of the world went metric.

If you want/need to stay with inches, and do much measuring, find a caliper that goes 1/100ths then 1/10ths of 1/100th (1000ths).
End Editorial.

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Dale Y

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Joseph
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Re: Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by Joseph » Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:11 am

1/512 seems like it would be much higher resolution than the calipers would be able to have. I think I see where I goofed though. The inch scale is broken down into 1/16s instead of 1/8s, so, if I reinterpret the measurement as 2/16 plus 5/8 of 1/16 inches (1/8 + 5/8 * 1/16)", it comes out to be 16/128 +5/128. That works out as .164", which then seems right by looking up on the table as 6 gauge.

I was using the plastic vernier calipers a lot, and they actually work better than the metal ones, but I was making a lot of measurements on steel while making changes to my homemade electric bicycle motor speed reduction gearing. I didn't want to wear out plastic calipers on the metal, so I bought the cheap steel ones from the hardware store this spring.

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Re: Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by dyarker » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:04 pm

Works for me ... makes sense too

C U L
Dale Y

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Joseph
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Re: Salvaging a $21 Radio Shack Soldering Iron

Post by Joseph » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:33 am

:) That's cool.

In the meantime, take care.

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