Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fixing an Antex soldering iron


Antex soldering iron
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
While I probably pack too many tools when I go to an exhibition, there are some that I definitely wouldn’t go without. In fact if I realised that I’d forgotten to pack them, a quick u-turn would be executed to go back and get them.

One such tool is my soldering iron. It’s an Antex 25W model which I have customised (“pimped” for the MTV generation) with a 8ft long power lead. This allows its use on the layout whilst plugged in to a 4-way block on the floor. It’s amazing how much difference this makes when you struggle to re-solder a switch blade to a tiebar in front of a crowd impatient to see trains run again. No need to find a way to get the socket on to the layout or supporting it as it dangles in mid-air !

However, nothing lasts forever and my iron packed up. But as I can’t bear to throw things away when they can be fixed I ordered a replacement element for 12 quid from Squires and carefully disassembled the iron to replace it.

Really all I have left of the iron I once bought after this is a handle and couple of screws but it’s still cheaper than buying a new one and so much more environmentally friendly.

A second iron is required for the fix as you have to unsolder the wires from the old element and solder the new one in. A matter of minutes work but a show stopper if you are fixing the only soldering device you have.

After carefully putting everything back together a quick test showed all was well and the tool can return to the exhibition box to resume its travels around the country. Soldering irons are pretty simple tools – just an element in the end of a lead really. There are only two screws to undo to release the lead and three soldered connections. It just goes to show, the simplest ideas are the best.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello.
How can I replace the heating element and power lead in XS25 iron? How to disassemble this iron?

Thanks in advance.

Phil Parker said...

Sorry, I don't have an XS25 iron to look at to answer this. However I would recoment that you check the price of the replacement part as it might not be much less than a whole new iron.

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Anonymous said...

I have a couple of old Antexes- an 18W and a 25W. I found that the price of the tips was astronomical so had a scout around for something that I could adapt. I took a punt on a bag of 10 assorted from China for a couple of Aussie $. I think they were intended for Hakko irons.

These arrived OK and I opened out the hole in the least useful one as an experiment. I recall that it was 4 mm and I opened it to 4.5 for the Antex. It slipped on the iron and works as well as an original. The tips seem to be made of iron-plated steel not copper but it makes no noticeable difference. They have a thin steel 'liner' in the hole which came out with the drill. I intend to make a copper adaptor that fits this sleeve exactly, with a clamp grub screw, and the body of which is split like the Antex tip with spring clip to fit the iron. I can then use the rest of the tips easily (I also have a Pace MBT but the Antexes are more portable!)
Regards, Bob Cat