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Need welding advice


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21 replies to this topic

#1 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 01:08 PM

I recently inherited an old Italian made Clarke TurboWeld 150EN 220V gas or gassless MIG welder from my grandfather. I already did a tweco conversion, cost $50 because I needed a whole new torch. I don't have the dough for a tank/regulator/gas though so I'm going to start out with gassless flux core wire. I will be welding exhaust, lift parts, bumpers and very rarely thin sheet (I hate body work).

I'm on a really tight budget so I thought I'd get the Harbor Freight 0.03" wire and their auto-darkening mask to learn with. Should I consider brand name wire to make it easier to learn or increase my weld quality? I'm not sure what the differences in wire are besides their applications but I've watched guys use HF welders with HF wire......splatter city....

#2 ShawnW

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 01:20 PM

The HF mask I have with the auto darkening has been just fine. I wouldn't go cheap on the wire though. Remember using gas means you don't spend as much in wire and get a lot better weld eventually at a lower cost spread over time. The wire at Home Depot has been OK in my welder but the wire I have been buying from a welding supply has been significantly better and cost the same.

#3 3eyedwagon

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 04:50 PM

The Harbor Freight cheapo auto shade should do fine for you. I actually prefer them over helmets like Speedglass, and the Speedglass made Millers. Paying $200-$500 for a helmet that needs batteries, and won't work without them seems awfully silly to me. Batteries go dead = You're done welding until you get some more.
"Solar" powered just seems ALOT more common sense to me. You already have a power source every time you weld, why not use it? I have good luck with the $40 auto shades. One lasted me about 7 years until it got propelled across the shop, and the helmet shattered. The shade however still works, and I turned it into a handheld exhaust screen. Works great. I've had 3 others for quite awhile now. The youngest is about 2 years of service now. Still going strong. Can't be beat for $40. These are one of the only cheap tools I will ever own, but, it's because they've proven to be just as good, if not better, than the expensive models.

As far as flux cored wire: Get some decent stuff. You aren't going to save alot by buying cheap stuff anyways. Maybe a buck or two on a 7 pound roll. Just FYI, I'd avoid bodywork with fluxcore like the plague. It just isn't well suited for it. Some people will tell you they've done it, and I don't doubt they have, BUT, go take a look at the finished product. It's usually garbage. I've seen slag entrapments cause alot of problems with body filler bonding, and even paint chemical reactions. It's just not worth it to have to do it over again. It will probably be a little difficult doing exhaust as well. It just digs alot to be working on really thin stuff, but, it can be done in a pinch. Good luck.

#4 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 08:10 PM

The HF mask I have with the auto darkening has been just fine. I wouldn't go cheap on the wire though. Remember using gas means you don't spend as much in wire and get a lot better weld eventually at a lower cost spread over time. The wire at Home Depot has been OK in my welder but the wire I have been buying from a welding supply has been significantly better and cost the same.


Is the better wire from the welding supply still Lincoln brand? That's all HD here carries.

#5 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 08:31 PM

It will probably be a little difficult doing exhaust as well.


I've been planning on trying the method in this video:



#6 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 11:10 PM

You've got a good start with the 220v machine - eventually you'll probably want something with a bit more features than the old Clarke but that's a much better starting point than a Chinese machine - and converting it to the Tweco stuff was a good move. I have a Thermal-Arc MIG machine made by Tweco's welder division and I love it!

Learning with flux-core..... hhhhmmm. Can't say that's the best way to learn. Flux core is not well suited to small-guage work - for sheet metal type work you really want .023 and pure argon gas (carries less heat). Less heat means less spatter and burn-through. Exhaust falls into the same catagory as sheet unforunately. Flux-core has excelent penetration and is just fine for a lot of stuff - 1/8" and up it will run very well if you can stand the slag, spatter, and just generally uglier welding it produces.

If your plan is to do exhaust I just don't think Flux-core is going to cut it. You'll have to turn the machine WAY down - if it can even go low enough.

I'm sure money is a concern - but have you priced a 75/25 bottle rental? You can buy one at a later date but renting for now might be a good option. The machine may already have a regulator? If not they are relatively cheap.

I wouldn't buy cheap flux-core. That's just a recipe for disaster. I will sometimes buy cheap solid MIG wire because it doesn't matter nearly as much. I would run whatever brand your friendly local welding supply sugests as a "good budget wire" - ask for that.

Personally I don't like the Harbor Freight auto-darkening helments. I have one - I use it for friends/helpers when I'm welding and they are around. *I* use one of these:

http://www.weldsafe....ies-pr-415.html

It's a $100 insert for a standard $30, 5-1/4" x 4-1/2" helment. Then if the helment wear out you can just swap it to another and you can also swap over to a full-size non-auto shade. These have a larger veiwing window than the HF models. Anyway - it's the cheapest route I've found that works for me. I love mine.

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder, 21 October 2010 - 11:16 PM.


#7 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 01:01 AM

I really lucked out getting this welder. My dad has a junk HF welder so naturally I thought he would give me that and keep the Clarke, but he didn't want to bother running an outlet for it then trying to figure the thing out.

I need to learn to weld exhaust tubing because that's the only way my Brat is getting finished. There's no way I can afford to have a shop do it - especially since they wont weld on used cats. The exhaust and rad are all that's left.

I've also got to fix the exhaust on my Ramcharger then I have a long list of thicker metal jobs I want to do - couple bumpers, pushbar, lift, etc. That's why I'd like to get set up for thicker metal and just "deal with it" for these two exhaust jobs if possible.

#8 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 01:05 AM

I've been planning on trying the method in this video:


You can't do that with Flux-Core - the slag inclusion will be outragous. He's using gas in that video - see how clean his welds are (I mean the metal is clean - his welds look like dookie)? Flux-core leaves a coating of "slag" (the burnt remnants of the flux used to sheild the weld puddle from the air) which has to be chipped off with a hammer to expose the clean metal - you can't remelt this slag back into your next weld or you will create a weak "pocket" of crud in your weld - if you did that method with flux-core I would almost gaurantee you a leak in your exhaust if not half a dozen or more.

And his welds look like absolute garbage using his "method". I can run nice clean beads on new exhaust tubing using .023 and 75/25 on a low setting of my machine. It's all about your technique with sheet metal - you have to move to avoid burn through but not move so fast that you don't get good penetration.... this is what welding is about and that guy on youtube makes *me* look good - and I'm but an amature compared to the people I've learned from.

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder, 22 October 2010 - 01:16 AM.


#9 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 01:13 AM

That's why I'd like to get set up for thicker metal and just "deal with it" for these two exhaust jobs if possible.


Gas sheilding IS a setup for thicker metal. It's just an all-around more pleasant process. The only thing that I would use flux-core for is farm welding with a portable 110v machine. Where it's superior penetration and ugly appearances are far, far away from my garage and my cars. :rolleyes:

You already have the punch to do 1/4" in a single pass (maybe 5/16") being as you have a 220v machine. You don't need the flux-core and you definitely won't like the price of the stuff - solid wire is cheaper so you save on wire which more or less pays for the gas - in the end it's a draw. When you consider your time to chip and clean all that slag..... it's a no-contest win for gas shielding.

Flux-Core has it's place - but it's not in a garage where bottles are not a problem from a portability or storage standpoint.

GD

#10 WRX2FFU

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 06:29 AM

The HF helmets are fine. I have one I use for friends and such. I also have a speeglass and i prefer it. It's just more comfortable to me. The HF units have good shade protection which is the important part. The speeglass has a lower "light" shade which also allows easier viewing when not sparking.

As far as wire... I have gas(:lol:) so it's not as important really. I run flux wire if I happen to run out of gas but try not to use it.

I have had chaep wire weld just as good as expensive wire. .030, .035 will do most anything you need.

I agree with abouve that you need to avoid sheet metal work with flux wire. You'll never get the desired result.

For sheet I run 75/25 gas with .025 wire. I have used .030 but seem to get a lot more burn thru, especially with subie sheet metal. IIRC it has a high lead content and that makes it a little soft.

Also and this is just me. If your doing flux or gas mig. Clean, Clean, Clean. You need to make sure where your welding is rust and grease free. Do some prep and you'll be a lot happier with the welds in the end.

Another tip. Make sure you are comfortable and your torch lead is not tangled and such. It will make things smoother and eaiser. Granted you cannot always weld in comfortable postions but do your best to try.

The best thing to do is get some wire, some scrap, and start making sparks!

#11 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 11:07 AM

You can't do that with Flux-Core - the slag inclusion will be outragous. He's using gas in that video - see how clean his welds are (I mean the metal is clean - his welds look like dookie)? Flux-core leaves a coating of "slag" (the burnt remnants of the flux used to sheild the weld puddle from the air) which has to be chipped off with a hammer to expose the clean metal - you can't remelt this slag back into your next weld or you will create a weak "pocket" of crud in your weld - if you did that method with flux-core I would almost gaurantee you a leak in your exhaust if not half a dozen or more.

And his welds look like absolute garbage using his "method". I can run nice clean beads on new exhaust tubing using .023 and 75/25 on a low setting of my machine. It's all about your technique with sheet metal - you have to move to avoid burn through but not move so fast that you don't get good penetration.... this is what welding is about and that guy on youtube makes *me* look good - and I'm but an amature compared to the people I've learned from.

GD


I knew he was using gas but I didn't know the slag would make such a difference...scratch that idea....

#12 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 11:19 AM

Gas sheilding IS a setup for thicker metal. It's just an all-around more pleasant process. The only thing that I would use flux-core for is farm welding with a portable 110v machine. Where it's superior penetration and ugly appearances are far, far away from my garage and my cars. :rolleyes:

You already have the punch to do 1/4" in a single pass (maybe 5/16") being as you have a 220v machine. You don't need the flux-core and you definitely won't like the price of the stuff - solid wire is cheaper so you save on wire which more or less pays for the gas - in the end it's a draw. When you consider your time to chip and clean all that slag..... it's a no-contest win for gas shielding.

Flux-Core has it's place - but it's not in a garage where bottles are not a problem from a portability or storage standpoint.

GD


I called some local welding supply shops and priced a tank and some 75/25: $71 for a 20 cu ft tank and $24/filling. Then I'd still need a regulator (not built into my machine), $70 at the welding supply or $30 @ HF.

It'll cost me an additional $125 up front to run gas but after considering the advantages I'm going to try to save up another few weeks and get a tank.

#13 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 12:10 PM

A 20 cu ft cylinder is really rather small - personally I have an 80 cu ft cylinder on my welder and I feel that I could have gone to the next size and wouldn't have been sorry about it. I got really lucky when I bought my cylinder 6 or 8 years ago - the welding supply I frequent must have been having real good times because they were running a steep sale on tanks - I got my 80 for like $70 with gas. Now with the economy no one is running sales on tanks anymore. :mad:. My Oxy torch setup was rediculous - like over $200 for my O2 cylinder alone!

As I said - check around for a place that will *rent* you a bottle for a year, etc. It will save you money and trips for refills to have at least a 40 cu ft bottle. A 20 will not last long at all. Especially with you being in the "practicing" mood. A good day (maybe half a day) of practice and you'll dry up that bottle. Refill pricing doesn't increase linearly with the size of the tank - it's cheaper per cu ft to fill a larger tank so you save money there.

Check craigslist for used tanks - just make sure they aren't selling you a rental tank :rolleyes:. In this case it pays to shop around.

GD

#14 subiemech85

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:47 PM

my welder came with K-T e71t-gs self shielding welding wire, it works fine
I also bought the made in Italy 2# item# 44877 for $15 at harbor freight, and the Hobart e71t-11 for $20 at tractor supply

my lincoln pro-core 100 cost $75 at a pawn shop 3 years ago

the harbor freight blue flames helmet is good, bought a second one because the first one disappeared after welding class one day.

try miller and hobart welding boards for more help
ESAB has a lot of info.

#15 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 12:01 AM

I don't have the patience to wait till I can afford gas so I'm trying flux core for now.

I got the HF auto darkening helmet - literally the same as the blue flame one minus the $10 sticker job. Works okay but I think I should value my sight more than that mask implies...

I'm using Lincoln NR211 flux core wire from HD. I did notice the HF flux core wire is made in Italy, not China. The HD wire is US made.

It took me about 45min to stop blowing holes and just make ugly globs on some scrap exhaust tubing but that was all the time I've had so far. I settled at minimum power (of course) and 35% wire speed. I'm confident I can get sealed joints with more practice.

Posted Image

Posted Image

#16 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 03:56 PM

Ok - so I was cleaning the garage and I ran across a bit of exhaust tubing and my old Harbor Freight 110v MIG welder (already setup with Harbor Feight cheap-rump roast .035 flux core :rolleyes:) and I thought.... what the hell! I'll give it a whirl and see if I can make it burn and encourage you a bit..... so here's the result.... mind you this is with about 5 minutes of setup - I lopped off a couple 4" sections of pipe, ran them on the belt sander to clean off the aluminizing, clamped them to my welding table and went to town. I did a couple passes on a peice of scrap to get the settings down - minimum amperage, and a wire speed of about 1.5 or 2 on a scale of 0 to 10 (not sure exactly since I did it by feel):

Posted Image

Not my best work - but reasonable given the cheap junk welder, cheap junk wire, and setup time I gave it.

So I take it back - it's possible if you know how to run a welder. If you don't have the skill already it's not what I would sugest learning on. I let a skilled welder (WAY more skilled than me) friend of mine borrow this cheap machine for a job where he didn't have 220v availible and he said the same thing - he could make it run but he wouldn't give it to someone that didn't know how to weld because it would just frustrate them.

Doing this under a car, overhead, etc will simply add to the frustration - I did this on a table, with the ability to run a short section, clean it, rotate the tubing, and run another section. I did this in three sections - you can see where I started and stopped and was frustrated with the flux-core's tendancy to not arc well into a cold joint.

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder, 26 October 2010 - 05:50 PM.


#17 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:09 PM

Way to show a guy up there GD....:lol:

I do appreciate the demo, though. I know my setup is not ideal for exhaust tubing from an educated welder's perspective but I'm trying to learn and save money at the same time. I've had a running 2.2/5psd swapped Brat stuck half-finished in my back yard for months now and I just want to finally drive the damn thing.

#18 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 09:54 PM

One thing you may not have considered - your power supply to the welder. With a 220v machine it's very critical that proper wire sizing be used to supply it including any extension cords.

What's your setup for power supply to the machine?

GD

#19 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 01:17 AM

I'll be moving (to the house next door, can't wait for a 2nd bedroom for the kids) within a month so I haven't even thought much about it.

Current setup is a 30amp double pole breaker feeding 10/2 Romex to two receptacles, one for the welder and the other for the dryer. I tapped into the existing line for the dryer years ago to run my compressor and only run one appliance at a time.

Once I've moved I'll be able to add a dedicated circuit for the welder: 30amp double pole breaker, less than 30' of 10/3 Romex, a receptacle placed near my bench and so its kosher to NEC a grounded neutral wire.

I've never used an extension cord with my compressor or welder, I only plug them directly into the receptacle.

Disclaimer: I'm not an electrician and I'm not saying this is the correct way to do it.

#20 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 11:12 AM

That sounds alright actually. Especially when running the machine on a low setting. They generally reccomend a 40 or 50 amp for a 220v machine though. I have a 40 amp dedicated breaker going to mine. I built a 50' 8 AWG extension cord that allows me freedom of movement - best to build your own from SOOW cord. It makes the best extension cords ever! It's so flexible it's unreal. It's less stiff than all of my 14 and 12 AWG 110v cords :rolleyes:.

You might have an experienced welder check out the machine and give it a quick run - if it's not working right you might never get it to weld decent. It would be good peice of mind to know that it's you and not the machine :lol:. Going off your pic there I see a lot of spatter. You need to practice your puddle control and make little loops or C shapes as you move. Pay attention to the puddle not the arc. :)

GD

#21 mountaingoatgruff

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 03:23 PM

I didn't know what size breaker to use so thanks for that comment. I've been thinking about making an extension cord, too.

When I began this swap I was still on speaking terms with my father who knows a guy that welds for a living, mostly stainless for almond equipment. This guy was going to teach me how to weld but now that isn't going to happen. I don't know anyone else local that can weld, which is why I've been on my own and stalling so long. I'd have to call around and see if I can find a shop that'll look at it for me.

I was using a curved zig-zag pattern at first but anything besides a relatively quick and straight zig-zag and I burn right through. I haven't tried full loops yet. I usually end up watching where I'm going because I have a tendency to stray from a linear path. I've been working on trying to hold the tip closer and go straight. Whenever I try to watch the puddle I end up burning through or curving off. Maybe I should try learning on thicker metal.:rolleyes:

#22 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 04:50 PM

When you see that it's getting too hot and in danger of burning through - make your weld wider and bring more of the base metal into the weld path. You want to move faster over thinner sections (like where the joint is located - there will always be a tiny gap here no matter how well you fit them) and get back into the pipe - never stay in one place - you want short overlapping loops that return to the slightly cooled section you just went over (that's now thicker) - it's not going to cool enough in that short time for slag to form and be included in the weld.

The devious thing about flux-core is that you MUST run a bead. If you peck at it with little spot welds (which I have done with gas on really thin stuff and things like expanded metal grating, etc) you have to stop and clean each little spot before proceeding and that's just not practical. This is why doing thin stuff with flux core is so freakin hard. Experience with thicker stuff will help - try getting some small peices of 1/8" plate and welding them at right angles to each other - called a T-joint weld. When you can get your T-joints to lay concave in the center with no undercutting on either side and lay down like a "stack of dimes" you are doing good. There should be no "hump" to the center of the weld on a joint like that. A hump indicates staying too long in the center and not incorporating the base metal - this is often accompanied by "undercutting" the base metal - usually on the vertical section of the joint because gravity pulls the puddle down. You have to "wash" the puddle up the side and stay on the base metal for longer than you stay in the center. Travel speed on each section of your "loops" is very important...... I'm probably just confusing you. Did any of that help without pictures?

For the exhaust project - it might also help you to get an exhaust pipe expander from harbor frieght so you can make one section slip over the next - this will give you a thicker base metal upon which to weld - double the thickness at the joint.

GD




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