I started soldering when I was a teen, and have used many irons from Radio Shack to Weller.

Here are two of my favorite lower cost systems.

Model 898D
I bought this one for work, and liked it so much I bought one for my home use. Used it to build a E682 and Renard SS24 this year along with soldering wires, and connectors for my light show. There are several brands of this. I like it because it has a heat gun on it. While there for solder reword/surface mount I use it a lot for heat shrink tubing work. Look for an 898 D.

https://www.amazon.com/Smartxchoices...dering+station


The other one I have had great luck with is the Weller Thermaboost soldering gun. I used this one to solder many wires and rail joiners on my model railroad.

I have learned over the years the key to great soldering is the solder. After using many brands I have settled on Indium Solder.
https://www.amazon.com/Indium-Wire-S...um+solder+.032

They have both lead and lead-free solders. It is a commercial grade solder used by many professional circuit board soldering shops.

Kevin