A special feature of this iron is the soldering pot that screws in like a tip and holds about a thimbleful
of solder. It is useful for tinning the ends of a large number of wires.
The interchangeable tips are of various sizes and shapes for specific uses. Extra tips can be obtained
and shaped to serve special purposes. The thread-in units are useful in soldering small items.
Another advantage of the pencil soldering iron is that it can be used as an improvised light source to
inspect the completed work. Simply remove the soldering tip and insert a 120-volt, 6-watt, type 6S6 lamp
bulb into the socket.
If leads, tabs, or small wires are bent against a board or terminal, slotted tips are provided to
simultaneously melt the solder and straighten the leads.
If no suitable tip is available for a particular operation, an improvised tip can be made (see figure 2-
34). Wrap a length of bare copper wire around one of the regular tips and bend the wire into the proper
shape for the purpose. This method also serves to reduce thermal inertia when a larger iron must be used
on small components.
Figure 2-34.Improvised tip.
Why should "antiseize" compound be used on the screw-in tips of the pencil iron?
If no suitable tip is available for a particular job, how may one be improvised?
Any discussion of soldering techniques should include an explanation of solder itself. Ordinary soft
solder is a fusible alloy consisting chiefly of tin and lead. It is used to join two or more metals at
temperatures below their melting point. In addition to tin and lead, soft solders occasionally contain
varying amounts of antimony, bismuth, cadmium, or silver. These are added to change the melting point
or physical properties of the alloy. Ordinary table salt has to be heated to 1,488º
F before it melts.
However, when a little water is added, it dissolves easily at room temperature. The action of molten
solder on a metal like copper may be compared to the action of water on salt.
The solder bonds the connection by dissolving a small amount of the copper at temperatures quite
below its melting point. Thus, the soldering process involves a metal solvent action between the solder