Update: Weller solved the problems I describe in this article with a new design of the retainer. This new retainer solves all the problems described in this article. The new retainer looks very different and uses a spring to pull the tip to the heating element.
A little bit more than a half year ago I bough a Weller WT solder station. This solder station has a very smart design and there are many features I like.
- The solder pencil is very small, but has exactly the right weight and grip to solder for a long time without fatigue.
- The cable between the station and the pencil is very flexible, soft and never gets tangled magically.
- The tip heats up to working temperature in seconds.
- After a programmed time, the station goes into power saving mode and automatically wakes up as soon you touch the solder pencil again.
- It has a large nice display, just showing the info you actually like to know.
- Even digital, temperature can be quickly and precisely changed.
- The solder pencil is very modular, you can actually have multiple heat elements with different tips and change them in the middle of the work.
- The tips are small and relatively cheap, but from a high quality.
- The stand is heavy and does not slide away. You can switch between brass wool and a sponge if you like.
Yet, there are two annoying issues…
I have been in contact with Weller about this issues and they kindly sent me replacement parts at no cost, but it actually does not solve the problem. I personally think that both issues are related and could be easily solved if the design of the tip would slightly be changed or another material used.
Issue 1: The Tip Retainer Unscrews Itself
The tip retainer, which is this second object from the left in the photo above, actually unscrews itself constantly. It happens after turning the station off – so before you can start you work, you first have to fasten the tip. It also happens sometimes after turning the station on, even the tip was perfectly fastened before.
Even more annoying, it happens in the middle of the work. First, you notice there is not enough heat transfer to the tip anymore, then you actually feel and hear that the tip retainer got loose.
There is a special tool to fasten the tip retainer to the heat element. Meanwhile I hate this tool, because I constantly have to use it. Before I start and two or three times while I am working. It is a serious issue killing any productivity.
I was told, as a workaround, I shall fasten the tip gently while the solder iron is still warm. This does not really make a difference, it just saves time, because I do not have to let the tip completely cool down before I can fasten the tip retainer again.
Issue 2: The Tip Retainer gets Deformed
After a while, the tip retainer gets deformed, so it can not press the tip anymore against the heat element.
I assume, if the tip retainer would stay in place and only had to be screwed on and off to actually replace a tip, this would not happen.
After approximate a month, the tip retainer can not retain the tip anymore. The tip is pushed out in front of the retainer – I think because of the temperature change. There is no pressure to the heat element, so the heat transfer does not work properly anymore.
After cooling, the tip is stuck in the tip retainer and can not be removed anymore. It requires a lot of force and this can not be good for the tip and for the tip retainer barrel.
I really hope Weller will fix this problems soon, because the overall design of this tool is great. I would love to write a recommendation about it, but I cannot with these serious issues still unsolved.
If you have questions, miss some information or just have any feedback, feel free to add a comment below.