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Posted: 7/16/2008 5:44:32 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/16/2008 5:45:43 PM EST by Lester_Burnham]
I have very little experience, and learned mostly by trial and error. This is the welder I just bought: www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=94056

I know it's a real low end one, I got it just to learn with and do some real light duty stuff.

Anyway, I'm having a hard time getting a good weld bead, it seems to get more into blobs than a good smooth bead. I've tried reading some stuff online www.millerwelds.com/education/tech_tips/MIG_tips/, and bought a welding book, and it seems like every source I read recommends a different angle for the wire to be held to the work. I've seen 10*-15* either forward in the direction you're welding ("push"), or back towards the bead you've already welded ("drag"), or 90* perpendicular. The manual that came with the machine recommended a 35* angle.

I've experimented with different angles, but still having a hard time getting a good bead. I'm welding some square tubing that's about 1 1/2" square, and the steel is about 1/8" thick. It's .030" flux core wire. I have the machine set on "low" ("high" caused a lot of spatter) and tried feed speeds from 1 to about 6...nothing really seems to make a difference. I've got a couple good beads, but it seems more luck than that I'm getting it.

It did seem to work better, the closer I got the tip to the work, but I'm afraid of getting the tip clogged. I had rented a Lincoln a while back, which was a lot nicer machine, but the tip got clogged really easily, so I guess now I'm hesitant to get too close. Also it seems like keeping the wire shorter has better results, but I want to make sure I'm on the right track and not waste time or wire on stuff that won't work.

I did read one source that said MIG welds will just naturally appear a little differently than regular welds? Any hints or tips for a beginner?
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 5:48:39 PM EST
Practice a lot.

I learned by practicing, with a professional Mig welder when I was a young one.
You'll get the hang of it. Although I found the ones without gas, like you bought, more difficult.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 5:50:42 PM EST

Originally Posted By Punani:
Practice a lot.

I learned by practicing, with a professional Mig welder when I was a young one.
You'll get the hang of it. Although I found the ones without gas, like you bought, more difficult.


Yeah I was about to edit that I read gas made nicer welds.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 6:03:00 PM EST
the flux core does behave different than solid core wire. but not better or worse imho just different. sometimes its actually alot better than solid core. like if you are welding outside you dont have to worry about your sheilding gas being blown away. of course you do have to clean the slag off each bead which is a pain. to avoid clogging the tip, buy a can of tip dip. you can get it at any place they sell welders. the length of the wire coming out of the tip should be kept constant between about .5" to <1" depending on settings and what you are welding. sounds like youre pretty limited as far as heat settings so youll need to play with the wire speed more than anything.

have you tried watching videos on youtube? i honestly dont know whats out there as far as welding. ive never looked but im sure someone has done a video and may give you some insight.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 6:13:19 PM EST

Originally Posted By gmaxwell:
the flux core does behave different than solid core wire. but not better or worse imho just different. sometimes its actually alot better than solid core. like if you are welding outside you dont have to worry about your sheilding gas being blown away. of course you do have to clean the slag off each bead which is a pain. to avoid clogging the tip, buy a can of tip dip. you can get it at any place they sell welders. the length of the wire coming out of the tip should be kept constant between about .5" to <1" depending on settings and what you are welding. sounds like youre pretty limited as far as heat settings so youll need to play with the wire speed more than anything.

have you tried watching videos on youtube? i honestly dont know whats out there as far as welding. ive never looked but im sure someone has done a video and may give you some insight.


yeah the heat is only "high" or "low", so it does seem to be the wire feed speed. I haven't tried any youtube videos, I'm on dialup, but I'll check it out.

Thanks to both of you for the info.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 6:30:38 PM EST
Learn the machine, and listen. When you get that steady buzz, that says your in a grove. I always work backwards making a letter C on its back, or small circles. The angle you'll just have to practice to see what works for you. The blobs could be your changing the distance the tip is from the metal, when it's popping move a little closer. And if there is wire speed adjustment, you may need to adjust that also. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, those spark can travel pretty far.
Link Posted: 7/16/2008 9:36:42 PM EST
Sounds crazy but I spray a little Pam on the tip and it keeps the spatter from sticking to the tip as bad.SS
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 10:01:19 PM EST
Turn your heat back to on high unless you are blowing through your material. Try your wire speed around 3-4, if you still get "blobs", try moving a little faster. I tend to get too close to my work when welding (usually thin sheetmetal) and replace my tips fairly often. on horizontal surfaces I prefer to push rather than pull, but it varies.

Like everyone else said, keep practicing.

Link Posted: 7/18/2008 5:33:56 PM EST

Originally Posted By IceDiver:
Turn your heat back to on high unless you are blowing through your material. Try your wire speed around 3-4, if you still get "blobs", try moving a little faster. I tend to get too close to my work when welding (usually thin sheetmetal) and replace my tips fairly often. on horizontal surfaces I prefer to push rather than pull, but it varies.

Like everyone else said, keep practicing.



man, where the heck have YOU been?

good info too, thanks.
Link Posted: 7/18/2008 8:54:36 PM EST
I am going to second the high setting. I have used the HF welder at a friends house and I weld quite a bit at work. That thing was a trip. A little playing around and it was running well enough to do the job. He too, had his set on low. Go to high and play with the wire speed. Some spatter is to be expected. Nozzle dip and anti-spatter spray are your friends. Nozzles and tips are consumables and won't last forever.
As for distance, MIG differs from stick in that w/stick, the arc will get hotter if you open the gap up while MIG gets hotter with a shorter gap.
For travel direction, I was always told that a drag will penetrate deep and build more, while a push is for thinner material and less penetration.
The only other thing that comes to mind is that the HF machine will have a very low duty cycle. It is expressed as a percentage. It is likely 10% or less. That means that in one hour, you can weld for 6 minutes without overloading the welder. If the internals get too hot, the welder will do all kinds of erratic crap.
I've got a couple of books that I got when I was in school. If you have a vocational college close, go to the bookstore and see what they have. I can sympathize with your position on buying HF. However, if you are ever going to hang your neck on your work, you should really be looking for an upgrade. The welder is just like the nozzles and tips, consumable.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 8:27:36 PM EST
one thing i didnt see posted was to make sure you have good clean metal. get a 4 1/2 inch angle grinder and some flap disks for it.

the cleaner your metal the better whatever it is your welding will turn out.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 10:05:08 PM EST

Originally Posted By Lester_Burnham:

Originally Posted By IceDiver:
Turn your heat back to on high unless you are blowing through your material. Try your wire speed around 3-4, if you still get "blobs", try moving a little faster. I tend to get too close to my work when welding (usually thin sheetmetal) and replace my tips fairly often. on horizontal surfaces I prefer to push rather than pull, but it varies.

Like everyone else said, keep practicing.



man, where the heck have YOU been?

good info too, thanks.


I've been lurking on and off for awhile. Other interest have taken hold for the time being.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 11:03:53 AM EST
Do you have an autodarkening helmet? I found a cheap one from one of the Chinese distributors really helped when I was playing around with a MIG.

Kharn
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 3:35:47 PM EST
Don't worry about the angle. Just keep the angle the distance from the weld the same. Meaning it is better to have the wrong postion but exactly the same postion thru the whole weld. If you start moving your hand all around trying for some perfect angle you will never get a good bead.

Just before I weld a bead I will move my arm thru the whole motion to make sure I am seat correctly. I find one of the best things I can do is be in a nice spot for the whole bead. Some where I can just pivot my arm and not move my upper body.

Also playing with a oxy/acc cutter made me a better mig welder.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 4:08:42 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/23/2008 7:14:07 AM EST by wildearp]
I have a bit of welding experience and have been through a few welders.....

Miller. Get one.



Tip: Hold the torch with both hands. ONe hand to trigger, the second to support against a fixed object.
Link Posted: 7/26/2008 8:00:59 AM EST
Hang out and do some reading over here...

http://www.hobartwelders.com/weldtalk/

Lots of good info and really nice folks.

You may have the polarity wrong or a bad ground connection on your torch where it attaches to the machine.

Good Luck


Bryan
Link Posted: 7/26/2008 8:08:52 AM EST
I've got a Miller which I like very much.

that said... make sure you use solid wire with gas. Flux core does ok in a pinch (like fixing your 4x4 out in the middle of nowhere) The real sexy welds will be with gas (in comparison)

practice!

and then practice some more

oh, check out local steel suppliers and see what they have for scrap / remnants. you could find some good stuff there. (here in Denver, DenCol has a better scrap yard than most regular retailers!)
Link Posted: 7/27/2008 11:11:03 AM EST
adjust your wire speed. you probably feel the gun jumping in your hand, don't you? this high wire speed will cause the globbing you are talking about. the thinner material and the hotter you weld, you need higher feed rate. the puddle can only backfill at the same rate of gouge and annealment. and yes always drag unless you are running a vertical. you can sometimes push an overhead weld but this comes with years of experience.
Link Posted: 7/27/2008 11:12:48 AM EST
btw. you're welding with flux core not mig if there's no gas. if you are using "mig" wire you are only laying your weld material on top because there is no shielding gas or flux. try using .030 flux core wire from hobart and you'll see a big diff.
Link Posted: 7/29/2008 4:14:41 PM EST

Originally Posted By Kharn:
Do you have an autodarkening helmet? I found a cheap one from one of the Chinese distributors really helped when I was playing around with a MIG.

Kharn


yes, I got one over at Harbor Freight for about $50.
Link Posted: 7/29/2008 4:16:53 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/29/2008 6:27:40 PM EST by Lester_Burnham]
good info from everyone, thanks a lot, I have some practicing to do and check back!

if I do anything I'm particularly proud of, I'll take a pic...but don't hold your breath waiting.

ETA: little update, something was wrong with the machine. I don't *think* it's always been doing this, but the wire was slipping...I would change feed speeds and the wire would feed at the same rate. I opened up the machine, and the motor *does* speed up, but there wasn't enough tension to increase the feed speed. I think I'm going to have to look at it more in depth tomorrow, I increased the tension almost all the way and it still seems to be slipping. It did increase the speed slightly, but not much...I can still see the motor spinning faster than the wire is feeding. I did get a better bead after tinkering with it though.
Link Posted: 7/30/2008 5:31:43 AM EST
Pull the inner sleeve to check for kinks and blow it out with compressed air. Also on most machines the drive wheel has different grooves for flux core (.035) or regular non shielded wire (.023 or .025). It doesn't matter how tight you make it, if it is on the 035 groove it wont drive smaller wire worth a damn and feed rate will be off. If you use the 025 groove with 035 wire it will pancake the wire and your welds will suffer as well. Also make sure the tip matches the wire size and the polarity is correct.
With small machines it may be necessary to preheat the weld area with an OA torch. Make sure that you have clean metal and the correct bevel ground to ensure good penetration.
Practice
Practice
Practice
Link Posted: 7/30/2008 4:26:57 PM EST

Originally Posted By Predator458:
Also on most machines the drive wheel has different grooves for flux core (.035) or regular non shielded wire (.023 or .025). It doesn't matter how tight you make it, if it is on the 035 groove it wont drive smaller wire worth a damn and feed rate will be off.


This was the problem. I took it apart this morning, the wheel was on the larger diameter groove. I put it back together and I got the best weld I've made so far.

I tried taking pics, but they didn't turn out well, I'll try again. Anyway I can't totally blame the machine, my first welds were done with a Lincoln machine that I rented, and they came out pretty bad too. I really learned something from everyone that posted in this thread, you guys are awesome, thank you so much.

Link Posted: 7/31/2008 7:48:09 AM EST
Glad it worked out for you. Practice dragging and pushing the weld with differing gun angles as well. Different metals require different technique. Always buy extra stock and try test welds before betting your fingers and toes on what you just built.
Good luck with your projects.
Link Posted: 7/31/2008 6:08:38 PM EST
I'm a welder by profession, but I can't justify spending ~10,000$ on a unit like the ones I use at work.

So I settled for a cheapy Clarke welder. I also have a Miller 110v TIG welder.

I chose the Clarke MIG because I could use gas shielding. When doing body work, gas is a must. Plus using the right gas makes a world of difference.

I use C25 for steel in the MIG, and pure argon for the TIG.



TIG.


Some words of advice.

Ditch the flux core welder, get something that will use gas.

I'd also recommend a 220volt machine. That way you can get better penetration on thicker materials.

For a bit more money (I know, I know more money boooo) you will have a better machine, and perhaps you will not get frustrated, and you can learn to weld quicker, easier, and better.

Link Posted: 7/31/2008 9:33:19 PM EST
Watch the tension on the feed wheel too. You should be able to adjust it until the wire does not stop if you pull the trigger and point the wire at a piece of wood. If it slips , adjust it a little more. Too much tension and the wire may get tracks or damage and effect the feeding through the liner in your gun.

I like to use long tig gloves myself when using a mig. I find they're more supple and give a better feel yet still cover with the longer cuff and keep sparks/slag off your wrists.

Keep a pair of 5" diagonal cutters next to you. You will be trimming the wire extending out of the gun to let just a little stick out when starting an arc. Theory says , you should trim it EVERY time you start an arc to keep oxidation out of the weld. The burnt tip of the wire has crap on it that works into the weld. Most people do not pay this any mind, but I find trimming the tip of the wire keeps the welds nicer and leaves less crap hanging around ( those stray pieces of unmelted wire sticking off your welds ).

Deffinitely try and get a gas machine. Run a CO/ARGON mix with solid wire. You can run CO alone but should see better performance with the mixed bottles.

Keep an eye out at your local Home Depot for a reconditioned or returned machine. You can usually get a great deal on one and can usually chew them down some too. It's a good way to get a Lincoln at a decent price , just make sure all the parts are there and if some are missing - be sure of the retail prices of the parts BEFORE you decide to buy the machine used/recon'd.

Hobart is owned by Miller and the machine I would say to look at. I have two of their machines and both work great. You'll pay , but not as much as a Miller and most of the parts are the same anyway. Try Cyberweld.com and believe it or not.....Amazon.com has great prices on machines too and sometimes free shipping. I got a tig from them cheaper than any weld supply could come close to and it was a Hobart just like they were selling.
Link Posted: 8/2/2008 7:47:03 AM EST

Originally Posted By Predator458:
Pull the inner sleeve to check for kinks and blow it out with compressed air. Also on most machines the drive wheel has different grooves for flux core (.035) or regular non shielded wire (.023 or .025). It doesn't matter how tight you make it, if it is on the 035 groove it wont drive smaller wire worth a damn and feed rate will be off. If you use the 025 groove with 035 wire it will pancake the wire and your welds will suffer as well. Also make sure the tip matches the wire size and the polarity is correct.
With small machines it may be necessary to preheat the weld area with an OA torch. Make sure that you have clean metal and the correct bevel ground to ensure good penetration.
Practice
Practice
Practice


++1
Link Posted: 8/5/2008 5:50:05 PM EST

Originally Posted By MoNkEyTurbo:
Ditch the flux core welder, get something that will use gas.



Originally Posted By I_M_2_SANE:
Deffinitely try and get a gas machine.


I just missed getting a Miller for $150 on craigslist over the weekend.

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