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retrogear
October 22nd, 2015, 03:00 AM
My Weller soldering station base TC202 and pencil TC201 had sat dormant for many years. I ordered a new Weller tip and started using it again.
The way I remember it, it was temperature controlled based on what tip you ordered, 700 degree or 800 degree. Years ago, I used to have it turned on and
it would regulate just fine sitting idle. Now it is getting too hot and darkening the tip. Is anyone familiar with this model? The base does not have
a temperature dial. I recall that the regulation is all done in the pencil itself? I can get a new heating element for about $32. The pencil itself is $99.
The pencil is a three prong connection into the base. Anyone know how the temperature is controlled on this model? I'm also thinking I might just use
a variac to control it.

Larry G

Chuck(G)
October 22nd, 2015, 08:47 AM
Yup, the TC201 uses the "curie effect" tips. Basically, the handle has a heating coil and a switch attached to a magnet near the tip end of the handle. When the iron is cold, the magnet is attracted to a slug in the tip (the part that has a number stamped into it to indicate the temperature), closing the switch and activating the heater. When the curie point of the slug (the temperature at which the slug becomes nonmagnetic), a spring pulls the magnet back toward the cord end of the handle and the switch is opened. Dead simple. The base is nothing more than a 24VAC transformer. The third pin in the connector is for grounding and plays no part in operation.

So what can go wrong? Well, the heater can burn out--that happened to mine after about 30 years. IIRC, repair wasn't cheap, but it wasn't $99 either. Sometimes you can find a good deal on an NOS heater on eBay. If your iron hasn't been used for a long time, sometimes corrosion can get to the movable magnet and have it stick in the "heat" position. There, all usually need to do is work the magnet with the end of a screwdriver so it springs up and down again.

The Weller TC irons are extremely reliable.

Of course, you can also spend $50 and buy a whole new iron that's a clone of one of the modern Hakko units...

retrogear
October 22nd, 2015, 08:56 AM
Yea, after consulting with Mr. Google for awhile I see the base is simply a 24VAC transformer with ground as 3rd pin. The control is all inside the pencil iron. A magnetic switch turns the heating element on and off
controlled by a temperature sensor, I'm guessing some time of bi-metal spring. I remember now the end where the tip rests actually being magnetic. I also remember hearing the click and then a tick,tick,tick as the metal heats up, then the tick sounds as it cooled down, then repeat. Used one constantly when I did repair work many years ago and still remember the fresh aroma of flux and lead wafting through my nostrils ... Maybe that's why I feel weighted down so much now, too much lead in my blood :)
The only pencil I find is TC201T which is shown belonging to a different station base model WTCPT but the plug looks the same so should be a good substitute ?

PS - Chuck, just saw your post, thanks. Cleaning, freeing the magnet makes sense ...

Larry G

Chuck(G)
October 22nd, 2015, 09:23 AM
The TC201T is essentially the same iron--over the years, some (small) improvements have been made. The heater is slightly fatter, necessitating a somewhat larger shield (the part that screws onto the handle over the heater), but it's not much different after that--still plugs into the same base.

You can save a few bucks by scouring vendors. Here's one that has it for $77 with free shipping (http://www.tequipment.net/WellerTC201T.html?Source=googleshopping&gclid=CNWfxpvL1sgCFVFafgodgnUBng)

Also, I believe that Snap-On used to rebrand this iron as their own--but probably don't now.

retrogear
October 22nd, 2015, 04:48 PM
Well, that didn't go so well. You were right Chuck, the magnet was seized in the barrel. I took it apart to free it and when I re-assembled, it wouldn't heat. So I opened it back up and the heating element is open.
Now I have parts coming to fix the floppy drive and other stuff and nothing to solder them with - good planning :( In the short term, I think I can borrow an iron from work. Guess I'll be ordering the TC201T in the near
future ...

Larry G

Chuck(G)
October 22nd, 2015, 06:32 PM
Sorry to hear about it. On the other hand, when you get the TC201T, you'll have what amounts to a new unit.

So maybe not so bad...