Introduction: Weller WLC100 Iron Element Replacement "hack" for Masochists

I love my wlc100, it's been a very reliable iron for the past few years.  However, when i went to use it yesterday, i found that it wouldn't heat up at all.  I checked the  base station with a multi meter and found that it was indeed putting out 119v.  So I opened up the Iron and discovered the heating element was bad (theres not much to the iron, just the plastic, 2 AC wires and the element)

"Oh well" I thought...I'll just stop by my local electronics store (where i bought it) and pick up a new element.  Went there, looked around, no dice.   They had elements for the screw in variety (the teal ones) but none that would fit my WLC100 (the iron is model number SPG40).   I solder a lot of stuff and i needed something today....and didnt want to spend more than $20.  The closest my local electronics shop could come  to a replacement was only  30watts and $50, almost the price of a new WLC.

After a bit of consideration, I finally decided to go to home de-pot to see what they might have in the soldering arena.    While they didnt have a big selection, they did have a 40 watt iron (SP40L) with a similar looking heating element...could this be the same one the WLC100 uses???????

YES, it is.  Also, it was only 19 bux.   Perfect.   Took it home, unscrewed the top, discarded the "ON" light ( and plastic) it comes with and put everything back into my WLC100.  Perfect match.

Before you try this, make sure your solder station isnt at fault.  Connect a multimeter set at 120volts or higher to the outlet on the side of the soldering station (where the iron plugs into) and make sure it puts out 115-120v on temperature "5".  If it does and you're iron isnt hot, it's your iron's element that's bad and needs to be replaced.

Here on these next few pages i'll show you how to do it.    It's super easy and it will save you the hassle of waiting a few days for shipping.   Hang with me through the less-painful steps until you reach the big climax on the last page...or if you cant wait, jump to the last page!

Step 1: Get the SP40L

I know home dpot and lowes carry it but i'm sure a lot of other home improvement stores have it also.

GET THE 40 WATT version, there's a 25watt version that looks similar and may work but the WLC100 is 40 watts.   it's not temp controlled but It gets hot and comes with sharp tips- what more could you ask for?

Step 2: Remove Screws and Remove Element From the SP40L.

Now you need to remove the 3 screws on the sp40l's heating element. That's all that holds it in there, along with the wires of  course.  Once you get the screws off, take a small flathead and gently poke at the bottom of the iron where the AC cord comes in.  Pop it out of place into the iron handle so you can the remove the connection between the AC cord and the element.

Now, you have a replacement element ready to go.

Leave the AC cord plugged in if you want to be shocked while you do this.

Step 3: Remove Screws From WLC100 (SPG40) and Remove Element

just like the last step only with the WLC.  Be sure to save the screws from this (there should be 5)
because you have to reuse them with the new element.  The SP40L's screws wont work with the WLC100.

Leave the AC cord plugged in if you want to be shocked while you do this.

Step 4: Connect the Wires to the New Element

Now that you've got everything apart, connect the 2 wires from the WLC to the new element.

The new element may have one shorter wire, but thats ok.  I just used electrical tape on one end and kept the screw on connector cap on the other.

Fit everything back into place and screw in the first 2 screws of the WLC100 then screw in the 3 that secure the element in place.

You now have a (virtually) brand new iron and you didnt have to go online and wait a week for it to be shipped to you.

Now, of course, it's time to stab your face with the thing.  Plug it in first, then look at the should give you an idea of where to position the iron as you brace yourself for the stab.  
Whats great about stabbing yourself in the face with a hot soldering iron is that the wounds heal faster as they're burnt by the iron.   

Can you feel life's pressures drifting away yet?

If not, repeat this step several more times until you reach orgasm.

OH!!! and if you got one of the newer SP40Ls you get some free tips and solder which are actually worth quite a bit  :)

Leave the AC cord plugged in if you want to be shocked while you do this.