The Weller irons last pretty long. I have two of the WES51 and then another I bought new for about $89. This is a heat device and like a light bulb has an finite life. Still if you consider the length of service you usually get from them they are a pretty good product. I have used mine every day for some years changing sponges and Tip now and then. I have a couple of WTCPT in out of duty stage due to heaters. I have had them through the years and when they go bad now day it is just as well t buy a fresh WES51. I have fixed them but for the aggravation the WES51 gets you there faster and with a fresh look as well.
I used a Radio Shack iron for a week or so at a Radio Station build- it stopped after that couple of weeks but was also a PITA to use. I went out to the car and brought in a WES51 and finished the job. I have Ungar and other 117Vac Wellers but the WES51 and it's tip is a much easier unit to work with.
Now if we can only get those idiots at Deoxit to make good spray cans again- Half of what I spray goes on the floor with that stupid yellow tube they came up with. I will never buy another of those again. Hey we need a class action for wasted product and floor cleaning plus wasted Technicians time.
That would put them in their place.