Keys to maintaining the Hakko FR-301

The Hakko FR-301 is one the most commonly used desoldering tools.  It is readily available worldwide, reasonably priced, and performs well enough to tackle nearly every repair in retro.  To keep the FR 301 working properly, it must be maintained.  The most important process in maintaining the FR-301 is cleaning the tool correctly.

Hakko, in their service manual, is quite clear about cleaning the heating element with the nozzle.  However, one of the most overlooked steps is cleaning the valve plate, fixing plate, and the pump head.  Each time you use the Hakko FR-301 to remove a component, solder is heated up and sucked into the filter pipe.  That solder collects in the filter pipe.  During this removal process, solder flux is liquified and then evaporates into the filter pipe.  This flux will pass through the filter chamber and collect on the valve plate.  The flux builds up over time and gets sticky inside the pump.  This will decrease the valve plates effectiveness and reduces your suction power on your FR-301.  These parts must be kept clean to ensure the vacuum pressure or “sucking power” of the tool remains high.

Here are steps on cleaning these parts.  You need to remove the filter pipe, press the release button, and remove the pump cover.  Then you can remove the screws holding the fixing plate.  Once the fixing plate is off, remove the valve plate.  Don’t remove the pump head.  Use isopropyl alcohol to clean the fixing plate, valve plate, and pump head.  Then allow these parts a brief moment to dry.  Reassemble the pump and the rest of the Hakko FR-301.  Check that your filter pipe and ceramic paper filter are clean.  Now you are ready to remove more components!

Maintenance on the FR-301 should be done as needed.  If you feel that your pump is losing suction power, stop using it and immediately begin the cleaning process.  This will prevent you from damaging circuit boards by leaving the heating element on the boards too long to overcompensate for lost suction power.  The linked video demonstrates the cleaning procedure as well as other tips on using the Hakko FR-301.

Purchase a Hakko FR-301 (affiliate link)

Hakko FR-301 Service Manual


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