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Old 20th Nov 2023, 5:17 pm   #1
ScottBouch
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Default History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Most of us have had one at some point, but when did the famous Weller TCP soldering iron and transformer box first appear?

I have a PS-2D transformer and 45W 24V TCP iron on my desk here, but have also seen PS-3D transformers available - what is the difference? When did these models spring up?

There's also the earlier PU-2D oblong box transformer with binding posts, when did these begin life?

(Of course the PU-2D had a bit of a design oversight... pouring water onto a sponge, on top of a mains powered device! The PS's were an improvement from that standpoint.)

I'm just curious to chart a bit of electronics history as I can't find these answers online.

Of course there are also the later temperature controlled versions, but I'm on about the ferromagnetic tip TCP irons.

Cheers, Scott
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Old 20th Nov 2023, 6:53 pm   #2
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

According to Wikipedia Carl Weller patented the magnastat in 1960 and the W-TCP was introduced in 1967. Trouble is Weller didn't seem to produce much in the way of documentation until the Cooper Industries takeover in 1970 so researching the early irons isn't easy.

There was actually another low voltage magnastat iron available at some point in the 1960s called the W-MCP rated at 20W whereby the ferro-magnetic sensor was built into the element housing. I have one of these that had a broken screw-in tip which proved impossible to remove without destroying the element. The power unit is type PU-5D.

The attached Cooper bulletin (revision date 1/71) may be of interest. It highlights the fact that the W-TCP have tips which don't 'freeze'. This implies that the MCP may have preceeded the TCP.

Alan
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Old 20th Nov 2023, 8:06 pm   #3
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Weller was founded by Carl Weller, an American TV engineer who was fed-up with using rubbish soldering irons, so the story goes.
His first product was the black 'gun-style' iron.

I've attached the patent for the Magnastat, an excellent cure for insomnia...
The first 'Magnastat' irons, or should I say stations were the black bakelite 'PU-1D'
Made in the UK in Horsham. They are about 48W, or actually marked '24V @2A'
Weller sold-up to Cooper in 1969, and UK production moved to the north-east, Tyne and Wear. From now on everything is in 'Cooper-Light-Blue'
The PU-2D came in the mid-70s; 2 terminals for the iron connection, with the tip not earthed. Interesting, because on the PU-1D the tip is earthed.
Late 70s came the PU-3D, with the Bulgin plug and an earthed tip.
Irons were rated 50W.
The PS-power supplies came in the 90s, with a 45W iron.

You can still buy a new Magnastat iron, from RS, Farnell, etc. A hundred odd quid. But not the power supply! They are rated at 50W and come with an Amphenol plug (I think its called)
They will have a different barrel, and a short tip, and tip adaptor. To use your old tips, you will need to buy the other style of barrel. Part no. T005 10 311 99

More info here:-

https://classicweller.com
http://bama.edebris.com/manuals/weller

classicweller is run by a chap called Greg, who is very knowledgeable on Weller

Weller is now a brand name of Apex Tools.
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Old 20th Nov 2023, 8:49 pm   #4
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

In May 1968 at Pye Cambridge factory on Westminster tx test I was first introduced to the TCP. A black base, spring holder and sponge, with iron connected by hollow round nut terminals with slot head.
It was demonstrated to me how to light a cigarette against the element barrel sleeve by replacing the tip with a 4Ba screw or just a screwdriver. With no curie point to release the magnastat, red heat soon arrived!
I had my first one for myself in my shack maybe 6 or 7 years later.
Today, I now have a few such stations.
Rob
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Old 21st Nov 2023, 12:52 am   #5
Oldmadham
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBouch View Post
Most of us have had one at some point, but when did the famous Weller TCP soldering iron and transformer box first appear?

I have a PS-2D transformer and 45W 24V TCP iron on my desk here, but have also seen PS-3D transformers available - what is the difference? When did these models spring up?

There's also the earlier PU-2D oblong box transformer with binding posts, when did these begin life?

(Of course the PU-2D had a bit of a design oversight... pouring water onto a sponge, on top of a mains powered device! The PS's were an improvement from that standpoint.)

I'm just curious to chart a bit of electronics history as I can't find these answers online.

Of course there are also the later temperature controlled versions, but I'm on about the ferromagnetic tip TCP irons.

Cheers, Scott
The earliest transformers were full of black sealing gunk, which probably minimised any such problems.
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Old 21st Nov 2023, 1:56 am   #6
Wellertcp
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Yes, the PU-1s were potted, whereas nothing afterwards was; (in the UK, anyway) Cooper value-engineering, I guess.
So if your PU-2 developed a crack, or a hole; made by some wally pressing a hot iron into it; water from the sponge would find its way in to the transformer.
Less than ideal !
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Old 21st Nov 2023, 12:27 pm   #7
M0FYA Andy
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

I was interested to read above that the TCP was first introduced in 1967. I first became familiar with them in a 'work experience' type holiday job between school and university in 1969, so they were nearly new. When I left I was allowed to buy one (second hand) for £9.
I subsequently ended up with multiple examples.
Years later I had to open up the transformer unit of one for some reason I forget, and was shocked at the poor quality, with one of the mains wires stretched across and crushed between an internal bakelite wall and the baseplate. It should never have left the factory in that state.
But I still use mine regularly!

Andy
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Old 21st Nov 2023, 12:44 pm   #8
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

I worked at a firm that had a load of ex-MOD TCP irons. The power supplies were put together by the MOD themselves, and you could see RS part no.s on the components (it was simply a transformer and thermal trip from memory). I thought at the time that it was to save money, but I actually wonder if they didn't save anything and there was an engineering reason for this?
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Old 21st Nov 2023, 1:29 pm   #9
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wellertcp View Post
Yes, the PU-1s were potted, whereas nothing afterwards was; (in the UK, anyway) Cooper value-engineering, I guess.
My Cooper blue PU-5D is potted and was made in Horsham. See first two photos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by knobtwiddler View Post
I worked at a firm that had a load of ex-MOD TCP irons. The power supplies were put together by the MOD themselves, and you could see RS part no.s on the components (it was simply a transformer and thermal trip from memory). I thought at the time that it was to save money, but I actually wonder if they didn't save anything and there was an engineering reason for this?
I don't think the MoD liked the Weller power units. My ex-Mod TCP has a unit made by Farnell. See last three photos.

Alan
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Old 21st Nov 2023, 6:57 pm   #10
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

The MOD one that I used had the same type of paint (I struggle to remember the name of it? You see it on much gear from the 50s-70s), but in blue. The iron had a gland instead of a plug / socket, but it was pretty much what is shown in your photos. After all these years, it'd be interesting to know why the MOD didn't like the Weller PSUs? I guess the potting didn't exactly make them easy to troubleshoot.
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Old 21st Nov 2023, 8:25 pm   #11
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Thanks to Wellertcp for the info in post #3.
My two early Wellers (post Solon) pictured.
The copper gun bit came from elsewhere and had to be modiifed to fit.
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Old 21st Nov 2023, 9:09 pm   #12
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Quote:
Originally Posted by knobtwiddler View Post
After all these years, it'd be interesting to know why the MOD didn't like the Weller PSUs?
I believe the MoD was fond of the 'drop test' whereby the DUT was dropped on a hard floor from bench height. If it didn't break and still worked it passed the test. It's not hard to imagine a PU-1D case cracking if one of the corners happened to be the point of impact. The silly push fit connectors may also have raised an eyebrow or two.

Alan
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Old 22nd Nov 2023, 12:59 am   #13
Oldmadham
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wellertcp View Post
Yes, the PU-1s were potted, whereas nothing afterwards was; (in the UK, anyway) Cooper value-engineering, I guess.
So if you PU-2 developed a crack, or a hole; made by some wally pressing a hot iron into it; water from the sponge would find its way in to the transformer.
Less than ideal !
If you worked for the "phone company" you could order prodigious quantities of
epoxy resin & make a functional, if ugly repair.
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Old 22nd Nov 2023, 1:02 am   #14
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Quote:
Originally Posted by buggies View Post
Thanks to Wellertcp for the info in post #3.
My two early Wellers (post Solon) pictured.
The copper gun bit came from elsewhere and had to be modiifed to fit.
At a MF/HF Broadcast/Comms site we had plenty of heavy single conductor copper wire available, so we made our own tips for the solder gun.
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Old 22nd Nov 2023, 1:18 am   #15
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Quote:
Originally Posted by knobtwiddler View Post
The MOD one that I used had the same type of paint (I struggle to remember the name of it? You see it on much gear from the 50s-70s), but in blue. The iron had a gland instead of a plug / socket, but it was pretty much what is shown in your photos. After all these years, it'd be interesting to know why the MOD didn't like the Weller PSUs? I guess the potting didn't exactly make them easy to troubleshoot.
Maybe Weller had already begun a long standing tradition of sometimes omitting mains fuses? Just ask Dave Jones.
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Old 22nd Nov 2023, 10:30 am   #16
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

I was interested to note from previous posts that Weller co. dated from the 60's. Reg Batt who worked on the early 10 cms development describes a Boeing aircraft which they used for air tests and which was fitted out with benches, having low-voltage soldering irons, which clearly pre-date the Weller range.
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Old 23rd Nov 2023, 12:32 am   #17
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Just received an early Christmas present from RS. A new switch, barrel(with converter) and a couple of bits to fix up the TCP1 I liberated from the re-cycling centre a while back, and was the subject of a thread on this very forum.
I have one of the black base stations I got with an old Ungar F77 iron back in the late 80's. I bought a new element and a couple of bits for it at the time, and after fitting a compatible plug to fit the socket in the side of the base station it ran for many years. Sadly though the cord has gone intermittent where it goes into the handle, and I don't think the F77 comes apart.
As a side note, I fitted a neon indicator to the side of the base station so I could see if it was left on.
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Old 23rd Nov 2023, 2:25 am   #18
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBouch View Post

.....

(Of course the PU-2D had a bit of a design oversight... pouring water onto a sponge, on top of a mains powered device! The PS's were an improvement from that standpoint.)

.....

Cheers, Scott
My PU-2D has an RS transformer in it now and some of that brass "scouring pad" stuff instead of the sponge. 'Nuff said!

PS Award yourself a couple of geek stars for identifying the sig gen
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Old 23rd Nov 2023, 9:25 am   #19
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Thank you all so much for helping to fill int he blanks with my original question!

The PS-2D I have was given to me by an ex-RAF friend who liberated it when he retired from the RAF, not quite sure exactly when, but it's nice to konw the RAF continued using Weller kit through into the 90's perhaps.

The "Expert" black soldering gun: I inherited one from my grandparents. It's in very good condition (looks hardly used), in it's original red plastic carry case, with the instruction leaflet. It's design looks like some form of ray-gun from sci-fi films of the era! I had no idea it was Weller's first model of soldering 'device' - but now I will look at it with a bit more admiration!

I replaced the mains plug of the gun last year with a modern plug with the pin insulation bands for safety as I was using it with local kids. It scared the (insert expletive here) out of one lad who just sees old mains powered kit simply as dangerous!

Cheers, Scott.
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Old 23rd Nov 2023, 10:31 am   #20
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Default Re: History of the Weller TCP soldering iron station?

Re: sign gen. I would've said Marconi, but I think that's a trap and it's a more obscure brand that looks a bit Marconi-ish Is it German?
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