The Tree House loves TreeStuff!

Welders? Any welders on this site?

flushcut

TreeHouser
Joined
Jan 15, 2011
Messages
12,857
Location
Delavan, WI
What have you got planned for your new welder Rajan? I had thought about a multi process welder, but about the only thing I cant do now is tig weld aluminum. I have been looking at HF ac machines.


What sort of cast part did you need welded Chris? I am a cast welder from waaaaay back!
Cool deal rajan. What sort of welding projects do you do?

Since ive had my syncro 250 ive learned a ton about welding. I love it. I love fabricating and design. My log trailer is currently cut into pieces. :lol:

Pulling the trigger on a miller 252 end of the month.
For right now repair work. But I would like to do an ally chip box, a few firewood racks, a log dolly, and a hand full of odds and ends.
 

CurSedVoyce

California Hillbilly
Joined
Jun 30, 2008
Messages
33,228
Location
Near Yosemite in CA USA
Seth and the Scout Troop are currently working on learning to weld and making a BBQ trailer.. The instructor is letting me learn too :) About time I learn the basics...
 

Al Smith

Mac Daddy
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
13,938
Location
Northern Ohio
If you've ever seen a Lima crane there's a chance I might have welded on it ,That's what I did before and after being in the navy until I started what I do now .

The deal on cast iron and peening it does two things .First it stress relieves the weld and also a hammer blows drives about 400 degrees of post heat to the metal .Either preheat and keep the temp up to about 400 before you strike an arc using nickle rod or stitch it cold allowing each stitch to cool before progressing .I've had better luck with this method than pre/post heat .

With a torch and actual cast iron rod you use borax flux.Actually 20 muleteam boraxo works pretty well .This method you about need to pre and post heat .

Depends on the iron too .Old Ford and Caterpillar are tough to weld but John Deere is easy to do without cracks .Exhaust manifolds for example you would have better luck brazing than welding .I've done quit a few and never had one get hot enough to melt the brass in spite of what some may say .Then again they were operated in this flat land not on a 40 % slope at 80 percent throttle on a Ford 429 or something .
 

Tree09

Treehouser
Joined
Feb 28, 2017
Messages
3,887
Location
Peoria il
I've been asked to comment on machines a few times, and so i thought i would put some of my beliefs and opinions on the matter here rather than starting another thread. This will be a long, rambling, multi post deal so i apologize already lol. Bit of a backstory if someone doesn't know me, I've been welding for a living for around 15 years now, ranging from production factory work on tractor parts to pipe welding. I've literally burned tons and tons of wire, I've used just about every welding process that's performed by hand, but because of that, i look at things differently than others might. While the needs of a professional welding for money are different than someone who wants to weld occasionally in their garage, there are facts about machines and tools that are glossed over to sell more machines and more expensive machines that really don't improve anything at all. Some of my prejudices are from the reason certain welding codes exist, and some are from my own experiences.

Selling welding equipment is a huge industry, and many of the ideas some may have about welding are pushed as fact by the manufacturers. A surprising amount of welding "info" is literally propaganda, and it hurts industry more than you can imagine because engineers buy into shit that they don't understand fully and change procedures and codes to match the propaganda. This affects everything from cars to pipelines, and billions of dollars are wasted. If you want a more detailed explanation of mig welding propaganda wasting billions, please check out Ed Craig's weld reality website. Ed is an engineer that specializes in production mig welding, and i had personally developed many of the same beliefs that he had before i even found his site. While i disagree with him on some stuff, he's pretty much on point with a lot of stuff.

Many will recommend a mig welder for home use. I've personally ran more mig than any other process, and it is an amazing way to weld. It's the easiest to learn, had the highest speed, and can do very thin to very thick sections. It's pretty much the only way to do body work, muffler work, and other light gauge stuff around the house. However, it is not without its limitations. The steel must be clean, oil free, the equipment is complicated, and can't be done with any breeze at all. A certain understanding of the different types of metal transfer is required to weld properly, and out of position welds actually take more skill than stick imo.

There are 3 main types of metal transfer in mig welding; short circuit, globular, and spray arc. In short circuit, the wire actually contacts the work, the end melts off, and the small ball of molten wire is lowered in the weld puddle by the wire feed. It is used on sheet metal and other thin sections, including some open roots (the first pass with a gap inbetween two pieces). It is the lowest energy input metal transfer, and because of that it isn't allowed on any structural anything as far as codes go. This is the only type of transfer MOST homeowner mig machines are capable of, and that's one reason i hate them lol. On thin stuff, the needed heat input is very low, but on anything thicker, short circuit simply does not reliably penetrate, especially when any weave is needed. So while it's easy to use, it just does not give reliable results on anything of size enough to be useful.

The second type of metal transfer with mig is globular. Here we have increased the wire speed (which is actually our heat control with mig) and increased our voltage, so when the wire contacts the work it burns back uncontrolled up the wire and falls into the puddle. This leads to large spatter at some settings, but we are starting to get enough heat to penetrate better. This is where the better of the homeowner single phase migs top out, which sucks because we are almost to proper heat input settings. Stuff less than 1/4 can be welded here with consistent results, but anything more leads to cold lap and incomplete fusion with improper technique. However, depending on the gas used, even your higher settings will produce this kind of transfer. You can weld uphill with some of these lower settings, but without perfect technique, you will have incomplete fusion. It works, but isn't the best arc, and leaves much to be desired.

When you finally stop messing around and get ready to get something done, you turn up into what is called a spray arc. Here the wire leaves the contact tip and, assuming you have at least 90 percent argon mix, explodes into tons of little balls of molten metal. This carries the current across the arc very efficiently, producing good consistent fusion with very little spatter. Once again, the wire speed controls the heat, but the voltage and impedance control the arc shape, allowing complete control of bead profile, where increasing voltage makes more concave welds, which is desired when doing fillet welds, and butt welds can be built up by lowering the voltage. Overhead welds can consistently be done as long as the weld bead is kept small enough, as the arc force is enough to hold the bead in place. In a production setting, this is where all welders operate, regardless of material thickness. The travel speed is increased to make smaller welds rather than turning down. This is also required for hardwire structural work, as the penetration makes for sound welds. With short circuit and the lower ranges of globular, you can have a weld that passes visual inspection, only to lack fusion on one side. That is why it is inferior. Pulse welders are becoming common, and they work by producing a spray arc that is stable but only a portion of the time. So by controlling the time you control the heat input, allowing consistent vertical up welds to be made, thin sections to be welded with less distortion, and alloy welds to be done limiting heat input. Any larger sections are still more properly joined using proper mig spray settings.

Self shielded wire is one thing i haven't messed with much, maybe someone else with more experience can provide some input on it. I do know that most of the wires are limited to one pass, because the alloys used contain al and other impurities in an attempt to stabilize the arc. So basically it's trash. However dual shield is about the best stuff out there. Dual shield uses both a gas and alloy agents in the wire, producing ridiculously strong ductile welds in all positions, with excellent deposition speeds and weld profile. However, amperage is needed to run these wires, and most garage machines just can't do it. As with hardwire, the larger the wire the better the feeding, so decreasing wire sizes to attempt to hit spray arc really just doesn't work..045 is the smallest dual shield i would consider running, and .035 is the smallest hardwire that's worth a shit. Even with the .035, you need to be around 180 amps to hit spray, which gives you an idea of machine size and duty cycle
 

forestkeepers

Forest Keeper
Joined
Apr 14, 2018
Messages
411
Location
Kansas City
And beware of internal nickel build-up over time dealing with stainless. I brew kombucha as a detoxifier and our other maintenance guy who does the welding duties drinks up to help eliminate heavy metals.
 

Tree09

Treehouser
Joined
Feb 28, 2017
Messages
3,887
Location
Peoria il
Most of the time, if you are welding at your house, you are either fixing something that's rusty and paint covered, or you are building something new and unless you have a large shop, will also be covered in rust. So right off the bat you will have a ton of prep work before every weld if you were attempting to use mig. Any surface impurities will lead to porosity with mig, which makes the weld totally worthless, and will need to be completely removed before further passes because it will just keep bubbling up forever. Some corners can't be cleaned all the way on repairs, so once again any repair attempted with mig will likely be worse than it was before. If you are outside, or have the garage door open, or a fan on, or basically any air movement at all you run the risk of having your shielding gas blow away, leading to porosity. Basically, if something's not perfect, you have porosity. So in my opinion, unless you have 100 amp service to your shop, which is large enough to fit whatever you want to build in it with the door closed, or are doing light guage stuff, a mig is the wrong tool.

Stick welding has been around forever, and the technology really hadn't changed much. I'm sure you have heard it's harder to do, and that's true to a point. The most skilled welders in the world are still using stick and tig (which is done using a stick welder), but reaching that level of mastery isn't even close to needed to build and repair structural members. You may have heard it's slower, which is true in some situations. You've probably tried it, and simply striking an arc was hard as hell, and disorienting because you couldn't steady yourself enough to strike an arc and then find where you were gonna start welding in the first place. When you start learning, that's kinda how it feels. That's just because it's new to you, and you probably weren't taught the easy way to do all of this. Most of the people teaching other people to weld haven't actually done much welding themselves, so bullshit like striking a match to start an arc is still taught to everyone, and leads to generations of people arcing up everywhere except the weld itself lol. I'll cover all of that and more later, now I'm just trying to explain why stick welding should be what you are doing in the driveway, rather than mig.

Stick can be done just about anywhere, in almost any conditions. Hell it's even used under water. Wind doesn't bother it, so you can open the door and put the shop fan right by you. Rust and paint will still cause problems with certain rods, but other rods can eat right through light impurities. The machines are usually very simple, and easy to maintain for decades and generations. The rods are cheap, easy to aquire at almost any hardware store, and can change according to your needs instantly. You can weld al one minute, and then weld on steel the next, and then on to cast. The only thing you need to drag around the shop is one cord, and it doesn't have to be kept straight or even limited in length. You can weld uphill, downhill, overhead, whatever and make sound welds that are easily visually inspected. And believe it or not, can give a mig gun a run for its money on flat production style welds as far as speed is concerned up to about 300 amps. You can weld thin stuff, thick stuff, you can even use it to remove welds and excess material. You can cut with it in a pinch, and with the addition of an argon bottle and tig torch you can tig weld with a dc machine.

Most problems that people have stick welding is from improper rod selection for what they are doing, or using a cheap machine and not knowing what the limitations are and how to work around them. Some cheap machines are so terrible that i wouldn't even be able to weld with them. Harbor fright comes to mind. So please, don't waste your money. Buzz boxes come in two types, ac only and acdc. When stick welding, a dc arc is preferred for most rods, but even ac machines can perform fine with the proper rod selection. So in other words, a cheap Lincoln, Miller, or Hobart ac buzz box will work just fine. The thing that they lack is of course the dc, and the ability to really fine tune the heat. Knowing this, we can choose rods to work in these parameters, rather than attempting to use rods designed for more expensive dc machines.

7018 is pretty much considered the gold standard of welding rods. It's used for all structural work, and pipe welds in chemical plants, steam systems, power plants, nuclear plants, etc. It produces welds that are incredibly ductile, with almost negligible hydrogen, hence the nickname low hi (low hydrogen). What no one understands that doesn't weld in the mentioned places is that once you open a can of rods, they are only low hydrogen for a few hours unless you keep them in a specially designed oven to keep them completely dehydrated. So if you have owned an open can for more than a day, it is no longer low hydrogen. They still will weld ok, especially if you burn off the first 1/4 inch of the rod before starting to weld, but they will be prone to porosity at lower heat settings and will not deposit a low hydrogen weld. But for some unknown reason, everyone tries to use this rod to weld with, when in reality it's hardly needed for their application. Pipelines are not welded with low hydrogen electrodes, and before mig became common really nothing was. Everything made in a production setting used production rods, such as 7024, the 2 for flat position. In the field, 7024 is called jetrod, or monkey rod, because a monkey can literally make welds that look like a robot. The rod requires a slightly higher heat setting compared to different rods of the same size, but has iron powder in the flux to increase weld deposition. They also run better on ac, because the associated arc blow with dc can lead to a harder to control puddle. When using them, you simply light up, hold the rod in contact with the plate, and let it burn. In fact, they invented gravity welding to do it where an operator would man several fixtures designed to let the rods burn using gravity to feed them. Then even went so far as what's called firecracker welding, where they just laid them on the plate and struck an arc and let it burn on its own, sometimes with a few firebricks to hold it in place. If you have ever seen the super old school ship welding electrodes, that were as big as a pry bar, this is what they are used for. They make them in smaller sizes too, so if you have a buzz box, this should be your go to if its flat.
 

treebilly

Student of the Jedi
Joined
Aug 10, 2014
Messages
4,668
Location
North Lawrence,OH
So you’re not recommending a Miller or Lincoln 210?
I do understand the reasons for pure and clean steel with a mig as well as the air movement. I was told the Miller over the Lincoln just because we have the Miller dealer within 500 feet of our shop which makes parts readily available. The buzz box is fully capable, I just don’t think the shielded wire is worth a f&*#. I didn’t buy it so it is possibly crap. Also the welder could be crap. Not positive since it’s not mine, but it probably was from HF. It made steel stick together but looked like a flock of geese got into a fight with a flock of ducks and chickens joined in. No matter how I approached it wouldn’t turn out. This was new steel cleaned and Recleaned with the torch to burn off anything I missed.
 

Tree09

Treehouser
Joined
Feb 28, 2017
Messages
3,887
Location
Peoria il
6010 is called a cellulose rod, because the flux is made with paper. It is fast freezing, with little slag that is readily removed. It's used for pipelines, and the first pass of many pipe welds. It also requires a dc machine, preferably an old school generator style to produce a drooping arc curve. You can't run these on cheap machines. You can run 6011 tho, which runs about the same, on the cheapest ac machine made. It will fill large gaps because it freezes the moment you wave the rod away from the puddle, but it penetrates deeply to really tie stuff together. It seems harsh because of this, but by simply whipping the rod in and out of the puddle, you can control the heat simply by moving around more or less. It will burn right through rust or paint, and can be used to hack stuff apart by cranking the amps way up, especially if you dip them in water first. You can weld overhead easily, because the arc force is so strong it pushes it where it needs to go, and by whipping in and out you allow the puddle to freeze in place. You can weld either up or downhill, which is how all pipe welds used to be made, and pipeline welds are still made by going downhill. For simple repairs or fabrications that require flipping, or on rusted steel you simply use this rod, and you can weld up about anything. When whipping to control the weld, you just wiggle the end away about 1/4 inch and come right back. This combined with the forceful arc leads to the stacked dime look, which when done right the ripples are almost invisible and a smooth surface is formed. You can also simply weave slowly back and forth, which will build up a weld while gaining maximum penetration. They say with 7018, 2/3 of the weld is above the plate surface, where with cellulose 2/3 is below the surface.

7014 is an iron powder flux rod, with slightly less iron than the 7024. Btw, when reading what the electrode is, the first two numbers are the tensile strength, the 3rd is the position (1 is all position and 2 is flat), and the fourth is the type of flux. 4 means iron powder, so all rods in that family will run kinda similar. It will behave fairly similar to 7018, but isn't low hydrogen and the required storage. It will also run much better on an ac buzz box, because that's what it is designed to do. 6013 is similarish, but is slow as hell and requires a higher heat setting. The flux won't behave until you turn it up ime, but you can use it on thin stuff too by welding downhill. As a pipe welder, my go to is always a cellulose rod, and with baby sized rods you can do muffler pipe downhill with a decent fit and a bit of practice.


HANDY TIP IN THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVE GLAZED OVER LOL

You need to use thicker welding gloves to stick weld, especially while learning. One of the nice things with stick that no one does until they are a pro is use your other hand to actually hold the rod and guide it like a pool cue. Always use dry gloves, but you can actually stabilize the rod by holding like a cigarette for the first part at least. Certain rods heat up more than others, and you will learn how soon to slowly creep your hand back to stabilize the other one, but this is completely acceptable, safe, and the preferred way imo to help strike an arc. The other trick that pipeline guys use all the time is to simply stick the rod where they want to start, but at an angle so it doesn't stick really hard at all. This is done with their hood up, simply blinking when it makes contact, because there will be a slight arc, but no where near enough to flash you. That will idle the machine up, and they use their off hand to lower their pancake hood, which you can't lower by nodding your head because it's basically a pair of goggles with a phenolic shield bolted to it. Then while holding close to the end of the rod in between two fingers, you simply wiggle the rod, and pry it free, thus starting the arc, right where you want to be and without arc marks outside the weld zone, which is a failed weld immediately on pipe. If more people were taught this technique to strike an arc and control the rod, stick weldng would be so much easier to learn.
 

Tree09

Treehouser
Joined
Feb 28, 2017
Messages
3,887
Location
Peoria il
Rich, the self shielded wire isn't worth a frig. Those machines are over a grand, have delicate computer parts to control everything, try to do everything, and fail at most. I would not go that route myself. I have, as I'm writing this, a 16 k welder on a trailer in my driveway, that i have to take in for a new computer board Monday to the tune of 1500 plus labor. They can't tell me which one, or run diagnostic to find out, i have to go and weld with it while they change them to find it. I've worked around Miller and Lincoln welders for my whole career, and every single inverter one has needs a repair at some point. A fully functioning weld shop doesn't care, they simply toss it aside and plug in a new one, but for my money, i want something that will last forever with no problems that i can't fix.

What kind of shop do you have, and what kind of power are you working with?
 

Tree09

Treehouser
Joined
Feb 28, 2017
Messages
3,887
Location
Peoria il
This is what I'm getting at. Before anyone goes and drops money on a welding machine, they need to ask themselves what they are planning to use it for. If you read the info and look at the machines that the manufacturers are selling, you get sold the notion that you can get something super light that will tig, stick, mig, and sometimes even plasma cut all in a simple package, acdc too on some. They don't tell you that in order to do all of that they have massive control boards that cost as much as the welder itself. They use less power than the transformer style machines, and when you get on the 5k plus class, might actually burn 6010 rods better or have pulse capabilities, but still are made with the same fragile electronics. Go into any old weld shop, and they will have transformer machines from the 60s or 70s, and they can walk over to them, blow off the inch of dust to see the controls, and it will weld the same as it did 4 decades ago.

If you plan on tig welding aluminium, and want the latest square wave or whatever it is this year technology to be able to adjust the arc characteristics to a slightly more cleaning style arc because the plate you've been getting has had quality issues with the oxide layer that's been causing expensive returns and reworks causing production delays and missed deadlines then by all means.... lol. If you want to build and repair most anything steel, cast, and some al down the road maybe if a tool box rips, then in my opinion get a stick welder, with the capabilities you want, and possibly even an engine drive if you can afford it. Most people are limited by the power coming in to their house, and will be fighting duty cycle, weld quality, and portability issues with most single phase 50 amp 220 volt machines. If that's all you got, then a buzz box is all i would ever buy unless i was doing sheet metal all the time, then i would get a cheap mig setup. An engine drive will have enough power to actually weld stuff, acts as a generator, and can be brought anywhere you need to weld something. Gate at your dad's place? No problem. Trailer broke at the yard? Sure thing. Storm work and need a legit generator to power lights? All night long. Winter storm and no power? No problem at all. When my dad was on a ventilator, i ran my Miller trailblazer over and ran half the house for them. I have 3 engine drives, and the most i paid for one was 500, and that's a 72 blackface sa 200 (last pure copper wound year they were made). They all will burn 5/32 rods all day no problem, all dc too, and the trailblazer will do mig, tig, and stick on both ac and dc up to 250 amps. So in other words all it ever was or ever will be used for is stick welding, because stick welding you can do a ton under 200 amps. Mig not so much.

acf6ed3236e2f0271522134e9934f622.jpg
 

cory

TreeHouser
Joined
Aug 23, 2008
Messages
17,356
Location
CT
So why was the newer yet less robust and capable technology adopted by manufacturers?

Because the suits at the top of welding equipment manufacturers are as blatantly money hungry as (the accountants who run CAT?) as any other manufacturer who creates planned obsolescence?
 

Al Smith

Mac Daddy
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
13,938
Location
Northern Ohio
I never elaborated much on this thread but will add some now .As far as machines I have several and 4 sets or torches .An old Marquette buzz box at my house .At my shop a Lincoln movable core buzz box circa 1939 that has so heavy of windings it doesn't have a cooling fan,250 amps .Westinghouse 400 amp DC transformer /rectifier converted to single phase by using a double pi type filter to remove the ripple .Probably somewhere around 250 amps ,smooth as silk . A Lincoln SA 200 engine driven welder.A Hobart mainliner special,also engine driven 250 amp .An oddball P and H electric motor driven ,300 amp which I've never used .

As for me I've welded since I was a teenager and just take it for granted .I wish I had a TIG set up but I don't .That said I can handle anything but aluminum without one .Cast iron has never been a big deal with me .

It's hard to explain my childhood or myself for that matter .Growing up in a little podunk town in northern Ohio surrounded by cornfields that resemble Iowa .Mechanical things never were a problem with me and I learned all I could because it fascinated me and still does .

After I got out of the navy I toyed with the idea of going into engineering either mechanical or electrical but found I could make more money as an electrician .I retired at 70 years old after a career that spanned nearly 50 years 5 days ago ,August 1 . --party time--:)
 

Al Smith

Mac Daddy
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
13,938
Location
Northern Ohio
One thing I will mention about welding is once you learn it you never forget it .You might get a little "rusty" but it comes back quick .Standard mild steel with either fast freeze,iron powder or Lo-Hi is relatively easy .Cast iron is a little more difficult due to the fact it can break out if not done right .Certain steels such as T-1,"manteen", weldable tool steels,high yield types require different methods but these are out of the realm of the average person .Aluminum,mag alloy and stainless requires either a TIG set up or MIG to do right .You can do stainless with rod but it's tricky and usually isn't as "pretty ".

Gas welding is kind of a lost art ,that one my father even at over 80 years old was a master at it .On another web forum a guy in California I used to "spar" with once commented I was a lousey welder .So I gas welded two tin cans together and took a picture of it .I've been getting mileage out of that for years.Can't help the ornery streak in myself .:D
 

cory

TreeHouser
Joined
Aug 23, 2008
Messages
17,356
Location
CT
a guy in California I used to "spar" with once commented I was a lousey welder .So I gas welded two tin cans together and took a picture of it .I've been getting mileage out of that for years.
:thumbup:
 

lumberjack

Young man on the go
Staff member
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
8,681
Location
Mississippi
Stick is versatile, although I much more commonly use MIG for shop work. Normally I use solid wire, although dual shield (shielding gas plus flux core) can increase penetration, deposition rates, contamination tolerance, and less likely for the shielding gas to be blown away.


Flux core that comes with the 120v machines isn’t horrible, but usually the skill/experience of the operator is severly lacking and they expect way more than they’re (both the person and machine) capable of.


Regarding new technology, durability is an issue, just like anything. My truck requires a computer to diagnose most things but I still like it better than any vehicle before (excluding sentimentality) because it’s far more capable, more comfortable, and more efficient. New machines have better usability, repeatability between users, efficiencies, and capabilities. In the context of tree guys working from their house, a lot of that could be wasted vs the purchase price, although the lighter weight of inverter machines as well as the voltage range and compensation could be welcomed factors (portability).

My current mig (for the last decade or so) is a transformer based machine. If/when I replace it (or more likely just upgrade) it will be to a new machine, like the Millermatic 252 or 350P. (Currently Millermatic 185)
 
The Tree House Loves TreeStuff!
Top