I checked and I have a WES 51. It is marked ESD Safe on the front of
the case. Do you know what “ESD Safe” means?
am the person who alerted Larry to this issue, an issue notably prevalent in
irons, especially those with ceramic insulation. It
becomes a potential lethal problem when soldering fine electronics (read: DCC
decoders). An authoritative standard industry text book on electronic soldering
strongly warns against using ungrounded irons on such circuitry.
This came to my attention when I sequentially fried the audio circuitry of
three new sound decoders, and neither I nor the manufacturer had a clue as to
what was happening (although -in frustration- not without some mutual polite
finger pointing in the process). A model railroad EE engineer
colleague (whose day job is industrial trouble shooting chip problems) -by
elimination- discovered the problem: my faithful super-reliable
non-grounded red Weller WLC100 soldering station was leaking a measured
28V through the hot iron (the cold iron had no leakage). I banished this
iron, and a bunch of other ungrounded irons immediately from all electronic
work, switched to a better grounded Weller station specifically qualified
for electronic work ("ESD SAFE") and all problems disappeared like
the snow in the midday sun.
I have been installing decoders for almost 20 years, so this internal
breakdown occurred somewhere along the way, or the decoder circuitry became more
The WLC100 is a very popular work horse model, still very much on the
market, and notably has not been sold by Weller as safe for
Denny S. Anspach MD