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Soldering irons for white metal.

9598 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  pedromorgan
I am looking for a bit of assistance with selecting a soldering iron for white metal. I have been recently looking in all the old boxes of models i own & came accross a djh kit i bought years ago & decided to have a go at building it because djh kits i always found djh kits easy to build. So my question is where can i buy a good soldering iron for white metal without breaking the bank balance. I cannot remember what the melt point for white metal is & i was looking at a variable heat iron with a miminum heat of 150d but didnt buy it because i wasnt sure if it was any good. Can someone please point me in the right direction.

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I use an Antex, temperature controlled iron, 50Watts and have it set on 200 degrees celcius for whitemetal work.
Antex would be my reccomendation as well. Best iron out there.

Charles Emerson
QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 13 Jan 2009, 23:23) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I use an Antex, temperature controlled iron, 50Watts and have it set on 200 degrees celcius for whitemetal work.

So where would i find one of these & is this a variable heat iron or do i need to buy anything extra like a special power supply or something like that??
Also what kind of solder & flux do i use to tackle white metal & where can i purchase them from?

Not sure where you are located however an internet search of suppliers should yield some leads on where to obtain one.

This is a variable temp unit, just dial up the temp required and the unit changes the temp of the iron. No special power supplies required - its all built in. Just plug it in and you are away.

I purchased mine from Richard at DCC Concepts in Perth Western Australia a long time ago and it has served me well.

White metal solder is usually a 70 degree melt point solder and sold as such - plenty of suppliers however once again Richard at DCCC has it in stock at good prices.

I use Richard's Sapphire flux however the Carrs range also have an appropriate flux too.

One tip (aprden the pun!) is to put a different tip in the iron when working on whitemetal compared with your normal brass and electonic work as the continued use of whitemetal solder which is a different alloy from the 145 degree and 179 degree solders will cause the tip to evolve into an obscure alloy in its own right and thus not very effective for brass soldering later. A tip costs around AU$15 from memory.
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Viessmann make a Rolls Royce version and solders and fluxes are readily available from Gaugemaster in the UK.

Hi Alberta.

Not sure what your budget is so it's a bit difficult to offer advice. I recently purchased an Antex 690 SD thermostaticaly controlled, digital display soldering station complete with 50w iron which set me back £186.

At the other end of the spectrum Antex do the TCS 230 which is a self-contained 50w iron with in-handle temperature control for just over £50. Have a look at their web site at
I have actually found one on the C&L website its the antex temprature controlled iron & i'll purchase one from their. I buy track & most of the bits i need from them.
I use an ordinary antex 25 watt iron. just solder quickly before the whitemetal melts!

seriously though i think soldering whitemetal is far more about the solder and the flux than it is about the iron.

whatever iron you get i would urge you to go with Antex. they are the best there is.

Soldering and soldering stations discussed in this video, amongst other things.
I use various standard irons from 10w to 25w, and change the bit size.

It is more inportant to have a lower wattage and smaller bit with very small parts than with large sections. Also a good idea to have more than one solder, with different mekting temperatures. You can go down in temperature for smaller parts after solderign the larger parts, and not run the risk of the earlier solderjoints becoming liquid again.

Hope this helps
*** As one who teaches soldering regularly and also builds very many high quality locomotives I have to disagree, sorry.

The important thing is to get heat to the joint at the right level for the joint to happen as soon as possible so the whole mass of metal is not heated. A powerful Iron will always be better in that respect than a low wattage Iron.

the ONLY time you will create problems for yourself is by having a low wattage Iron - a low power Iron will be slow, therefore greatly increasing the risk of a meltdown.

Its cleanliness, correct solder and flux, the control of temperature and very much the ability of the Iron to deliver consistent energy to keep the tip at the required temperature thats important.

For example I use both a 55 and a 70 watt temperature controlled Iron for almost all jobs - and have even used a Gas Iron for soldering to very large whitemetal castings.

With whitemetal, 25 watt is marginal for all but small castings.

Like Peter I also do the occasional whitemetal job at high heat ... but generally have the tip at between 195 and 210 degrees for WM depending on the whitemetal itself - some has different melting point to others, but its all between about 225 and 250 degrees.

You should expect to pay about the price of a high quality locomotive for a good temperature controlled Iron - the discount models are OK for general use but will soon show their limitations when high quality work is needed.

The brands I recommend most highly are Hakko or Antex. Both ccover most of the important issues well however Hakko are without doubt now the better Iron and they are also the most sophisticated.

Their new 70 watt FX series have the element and the temperature controller as part of the tip itself, so they are incredibly stable.... plus an automated sleep control built int the stand to increase tip life / prevent tip damage from long term non-use under full heat. (and their 70 watt Iron is actually far smaller than you expect - smaller than a 20 watt Iron in fact... yet it weighs ony 44 grammes - a delight to use as its so nice in the hand.)
They are however quite expensive for the average modeller.

The most economical temp control Iron with the requisite quality is the Antex TC660 - a nice Iron at a reasonable price.


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i do agree with that to an extent. I use a 25 watt iron. not temperature controlled. i find the conbination of high heat for a quick blast and the 25 watts for the larger castings to be about right. i was using an 18 watt untill about 6 weeks ago when it went phut. and i sometimes had trouble with the larger tender castings.

I have an 80 watt iron and it would be a complete no-go near whitemetal. it would melt the castings so fast you wouldnt have a chance!

I once had a go on an "RF powered iron" that was used on aircraft electrical wiring. i swear i could have stuck it in a bathtub and it would have boiled it! the power was increadable. and temperature controlled to boot! i nearly fainted when i heard the price.

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