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Troubleshooting 21st Century covering iron

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Troubleshooting 21st Century covering iron

Old 11-04-2015, 05:05 PM
  #1  
oneblueyedog
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Default Troubleshooting 21st Century covering iron

Suddenly my 21st century iron cooled down. I had only one piece of trim to iron on. It had the yellow light on. It was not blinking and set to 250.

I had covered 2 wing sets for the 1 year life of the iron. I liked the ergonomic features of it. It let me down. My last iron (Royal) lasted 25 years.

I read the forums and google searched and found nothing on how to fix the particular iron. I did see a good suggestion to get out an ohmmeter and measure for open heating element. I did see a British forum that did just that and bridge the open nichrome coil with a copper wire wrap.

So I took the iron apart, since the thing was a month past warranty, the Hobby shop wouldn't make good and the cost I read in the forums would be $25 for any repair plus shipping. The iron cost me $36.99 + tax. Math and hassle made me dive in.

If the light is on, and nothing is melted. Unplug it. Make sure it is cool. Don't use your skin to test coolness. Obviously you won't be taking it apart if it is hot.

Disclaimer- this is for your reading pleasure on how I fearlessly trouble shot this covering iron. Don't try this yourself.

Make sure it is unplugged.

Take the 4 screws off that attach the shoe.

You then separate the handle from the shoe.

On mine there were 2 small diameter wires an one big one. Measure the resistance or continuity between the 2 smaller wires. All of them have heat spaghetti on them. If you can't get a reading between them, the heating element is blown.

That's where I had the problem.

In my next post I will attempt a fix.
Old 11-05-2015, 10:17 AM
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oneblueyedog
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Here's part two.

After I tested the grid, it was time to remove it from the shoe. It's held on with 2 screws. The reassembly photos show them later as I tore into the project without photographing disassembly.
I then had to disassemble the handle. It takes a special torx bit with a hole in the end. I happened to have it in a bit set I got from Northern Tool. I then desoldered the two main head wires on the circuit board.
Once the shoe is free, I ground off the rivet heads slowly and carefully. Don't pry the element cards apart. They'll break. Once I ground the four rivet heads off, I got the cards apart. Remember how they go together. Photograph your steps.
You'll see the knife pointing out the rivet size. The screw next to it is not correct. Don't use 4-40. Use the stainless 2-56 as shown, the shortest length you can get, otherwise you'll be cutting them.
I found the nichrome wire burnt through right where they looped it round and round the end of the card where the rivet goes. I just unwrapped one span and wrapped it around the screw. I cut off the excess. I wrapped the resistance wire around the bottom one too to get a good contact.
I put the top card back on and add the wires. The lengths are different so I made sure to reinstall them in the right place. I tightened them down carefully as not to crush the cards and break them.
I then put the element assembly back in the shoe. The nut would not let the fixture plate bolt back down. I drilled a clearance hole for it.
I snaked the wires back through the handle and resoldered them to the board in the right arrangement. I then screwed everything back together.
I plugged it in as it rested on a glass surface. Wisps of smoke came out, but then went away. I think it was probably machine oil from the new stainless screws, or my hand oils on the card.
I unplugged it and took the shoe off after it cooled to see if there was anything melting. Nothing melted. So I plugged it back in after bolting it back up.
I set the iron to 100C and the light went on and after a few seconds it began to blink line it should.
I verified the temperature with my old pocket thermometer. Since that old tool has not been set to ambient temperature, I trust the Coverite Iron to be working at the temperature set on the dial.

So the fault lies with the nichrome wire quality in my iron. The fix was lucky in that it was not in the middle of the heat grid. I bought a Top-Flight on craigslist just in case this one fails again.

The screws to fix it cost under $2. The iron hopefully will last. The grid is serviceable if I ever need to replace the wire element.


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Last edited by oneblueyedog; 11-05-2015 at 10:25 AM. Reason: stray photo
Old 11-08-2015, 08:59 AM
  #3  
DGrant
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Interesting.... I use these irons, and am actually a big fan of them.. I've had 3 (on my third one) over several years.. #3 iron still works fine, and is about 4yrs old..if that.. #2 iron is still shoved in its box that I haven't thrown away yet... just because really it still has a very decent shoe... So... I'm going to give that one another look and see if in fact it might have suffered the same fate as yours.. I might be able to pull of a quick fix on it... hmm... Nice post.. thanks for sharing..

PS..#1 iron actually lasted well over 15yrs.. and it went into the trash a long time ago, #2 iron lasted probably about half that time.. I still think they're better then most on the market... and that has alot to do with temp stability and shoe design. I hope #3 lasts for a while... I hate getting out the wife's clothes iron.. it reminds of me of how far I've come in the hobby though... as its sooo bulky and challenging......... ha...

The clothes iron will still do a mean covering job though.. Its not totally about the tools.. but they help.
Old 11-12-2015, 06:07 AM
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Keep your eyes peeled for a covering iron at the next swap meet you go to. I'm still using one I bought 25 years ago for $3. I've never been to a swap meet and not seen several.

For the record, I would probably try to fix one of mine if it quit on me too.


Carl
Old 05-03-2017, 10:08 AM
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Andy_S
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Thanks for the write up. I had the exact same issue, turned out to be the coil burned out on one end.

Thanks!!
Old 08-21-2019, 12:35 PM
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DGrant
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So... I recently had another 21st Century iron go out on me. This is 3 now that have burnt out... I actually own 4 of them. I pondered it for a bit as I'm tired of spending money only for an iron to go out after a few uses, so I did a Google search on possible repair, and up popped this thread... and low and behold I'd posted in it about 4yrs back apparently.. totally forgot about it until I saw my post.

I reread the thread, and I did just what the original poster did, and my iron came back to life! It was exactly what was suspected. I have 2 more of these irons that burnt out, but I'd not thrown away, because the shoes are still in good shape, so I will commence on fixing those as well... if the element is in fact the problem.

The element seems like a weak link no doubt. I have a spare TopFlite iron that's probably 30yrs old that still works fine, and I use it when the 21st Century iron goes down. For what they want for one these days(I'm seeing near $40 or more), these should be bullet proof... but looking at the element, it just looks frail... oh well.

Thanks to the original poster, my iron is back in biz, and I'll probably have a few more going again soon. After swearing by them for 20yrs, I don't know if I'll buy another 21st Century though.. I mean they work well when they work, but I don't want an iron going cold every year or so.
Old 08-21-2019, 07:55 PM
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I know your pain! I now hide my own Easter eggs. Life is so much fun. This model airplane thing might take off too!
Old 08-28-2019, 03:28 AM
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jester_s1
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Have either of you guys ever read an old thread and come across a post and thought, "Yeah, now that's a well written response. This guy knows his stuff.." only to look and see that it was your own post from several years back?
Old 08-28-2019, 08:04 AM
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DGrant
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Originally Posted by jester_s1 View Post
Have either of you guys ever read an old thread and come across a post and thought, "Yeah, now that's a well written response. This guy knows his stuff.." only to look and see that it was your own post from several years back?
haha.. yep. We are the smartest people we know too! It's all good, and we're always learning, and relearning, apparently from ourselves as well.
Old 08-28-2019, 02:11 PM
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I resemble that remark!

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