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Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Posted by leeave96 (My Page) on
Sat, Nov 20, 04 at 13:37

How thin of a piece of sheet metal can you (or have you) welded with a stick welder? I'm considering a Lincoln AC/DC stick welder and am concerned that a lot of welding/fix-it chores around the home is stuff that is as thin as 1/16" thick.

Soooo, how thin to you go with your stick welder, what is your welder make and model, what rods and settings you use and any other advice would be great!

Thanks!
Bill


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

You'll find a lot of Unistrut, Powerstrut, welded up for brackets, and pipe and equipment supports in factories and similar places with stick. Strut is usually 12 gauge which is fairly thin. Most of the rod you find is 7018 in 1/8 or 3/16 diameter. I really prefer a MIG welder for welding anything around 1/16, and much of my home welding is done on material up to 1/4 inch with a 100 amp Clarke MIG unit.

GG


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

1/16" is 16 gage- about.060". With 1/16" electrode, it can be welded, but the results are not usually neat. MIG with .023 wire and gas shielding can do beautifully on 16 gage. 14 gage is about .080", 12 gage would be much thicker, about .100" or so- my chart is not here at the moment.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

There are some good welding forums and sites, here is one http://www.aws.org/cgi-bin/mwf/board_show.pl?id=1

I was kinda holding off so that someone with more technical information and expertiese might post like the one above. Just my "laymans" experience, I use lower settings, rods with less penetration and more filler which don't seem to burn thru the thin metal quite as bad, and in welding thinner metal to thicker, I try to form the puddle on the thicker metal and work it over into the thinner, trying to avoid staying on the thinner metal too long.
Having said that, MIG is better for the thin stuff, but you have to have it clean of paint and rust, I like stick much better on on thicker, rusty or painted surfaces. However I do some grinding on stuff that I am going to weld with the stick welder, like bevel the edges of the metal to form a V groove for a strongser weld with deeper penetration, and use a rod that gives better penetration and higher settings. Some practice, trial and error will teach you a lot that you just can't hardly get from the written word.
Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes.
Bill P.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I seen a demo where a guy welded two gum wrappers together...
I know this sound imposible... But I got to see it...


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I'd go with flux-core or MIG.

Stick works better on thicker stuff.

Of the three, I prefer MIG. Looks nicest!


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

One of the tests in a welding class I took was to weld aluminum foil together. The number of holes determined your grade. Plenty of us got As for no holes.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Assuming you want to be able to repair things thar crack or break around the home,I would consider an oxy-acetylene setup. If you already know how to weld, things like mower decks, etc. can be welded with stick,but a torch or mig makes it a lot easier.
Mike A


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I've welded 1/16" mild steel with a 1/16" 6013 rod. Those little rods dont go very far, so they are actually pretty expensive :). If the fitup was less than perfect, I burned though a little dab. Otherwise, it seemed OK. I'm certainly no pro, so you might have better luck. The welder I was using was a 110V stick POS from a battery charger company. I dont to want to mislead you by giving any current settings, since I dont believe the marks on that thing anyway. As far as I could tell, the thing only works at all when set to flat out (70 amps if you believe the front dial!). I'd use a mig if it was available. Good luck!

Kurt


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I took a welding class over the summer at a local community college.

We did stick, flux-core, mig, tig, plasma cutting, oxy-fuel cutting. No oxy-fuel welding. They said gas welding was basically obsolete, but good for sheet metal. TIG was a real challenge for me - I spent as much time doing that as all the other types combined. Of all of them, I prefer MIG. Clean and nice welds.

I have a small MAPP/OXY setup at home that I suppose I could use for welding odd jobs.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I'd have to agree that gas welding is not a process that would still be recommended. Way back in the early '70s,I built a Dunebuggy using the welding torch. If you need to repair anything by brazing, you'll need to know some basics such as tip size, setting the regulators, lighting the torch, and adjusting the flame. Just stuff you should learn and remember.

GG


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Actually I have a small project that I might use my MAPP/OXY setup for.

I want to replace the wheels on a steel bed frame with steel pads. I'll glue some felt under the pads.

The problem with the wheels is that they dent good carpeting, and also dent hardwood flooring. A large steel pad, say 3" or more in diameter, would be less likely to cause dents, and the felt will prevent scratching the hardwood.

Since I haven't seen anything like this in the shops, I thought I might cobb up some metal rod to some metal disks to substitute for the wheels.

I suppose a gas setup would do for this kind of thing. It doesn't have to be pretty, and it doesn't have to be all that strong, as the weight will be resting directly from the rod onto the disk.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I welded .031 material with a crack in it. I used an AC stick welder with carbon arc attachment and some filler metal. A carbon arc attachment is two carbon rods that can be adjusted to touch forming an arc then adjust the arc by opening the carbon rods to get the proper arc length. This methad is simular to a gas torch.

Here is a link that might be useful: carbon arc atachment


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I have found that I can cut metal bed frames easily with my chop saw, and can weld it without much problem with my Lincoln 225A stick welder, just a little harder drilling a hole in it, its pretty tough stuff. I would not think that there would be much of a challenge to cut or take the wheels off and weld skids, or pads on in place of them. It is pretty easy to find some extra ones in scrap metal or that people are throwing away, if you want to try some to do a test run on and see how it goes. Or take a piece of scrap bed frame and a piece of rebar, start your puddle on the rebar and work it into the angle. Your MAPP/OXY may be ideal, on the other hand. Like you said, it should not take too much to hold it *under normal use* . ":^)
Bill P.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Bill P:

I remember trying to use some of that bedframe material a few years ago to make a battery support for one of our local firetrucks after rust had caused the battery box to rot, and that allowed the battery to drop on the road during a fire run. Since the steel is designed to flex like a leaf spring on a car, it becomes extremely hard and brittle and will break at any weld points. It is definitely hard to drill. I wouldn't recommend using this for any projects that require structural integrity after welding.

GG


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I wasn't planning on welding on the bed frame. The wheel replacemens would simply fit in where the wheels are now. The wheels are attached to stubby posts that fit into stamped steel cylinders under the frame. Fairly crude, but fairly common for bed frames, I think.

I was even thinking of using wooden dowels and round pieces of plywood, but obviously those wouldnt' be as strong as steel.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Thanks G.G., I agree with you. I tend to ramble a bit and was thinking about material to practice on for test run by taking a piece of scrap bed rail and welding a piece of re bar to it sticking up which would slip into the formed cylinders that the wheels slip into. I would not use that material for stuff needing structural integrity, especially where a failure would cause much of a problem. Although an entire rail with two stobs sticking up on it to slip up into the cylinders might leave an impression in the carpet but probably not a hardwood floor. It would however, probably make quite an impression on a bare foot if one stepped on it or stubbed a bare toe on it. Just kinda thinking out loud. In my mind, I envisioned something more along the lines of a piece of quarter inch or 3/16ths strap stock about 2 X 3" ground and rounded to take off any sharp edges, with the upright welded on for a pad for each corner, painted of course to prevent rust. Heck, the plywood with the dowell pins glued in place and re inforced with a deckmate screw run in thru the plywood into the pin might even be sufficient if the weight of the frame rested on the plywood. The pin would mostly just keep them in place, but that wouldn't give Rich any time on the welder. ":^)
Bill P.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

If you have a DC stick welder you can buy an air cooled Tig torch, plus a bottle of argon and you can tig weld by using "scratch start" method. This will let you weld thinner material and heaver metal depending on amps. This is a cleaner process,but you will not be able to weld aluminum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tig torch- air cooled


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

What about welding aluminum with an AC stick welder using a TIG torch?

I believe there's a higher priced Lincoln stick welder that does both AC and DC.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

To weld aluminum with AC you need high frequency with Tig


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Ah, thanks for the explanation of what's needed to get an AC welder to work for aluminum TIG.

I have seen some smaller inverter style power supplies that can do both stick and TIG. But they seem like they tend to be pricey.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Grainger sells a High Frequency Arc Stabilizer for AC stick welders for about $250. This allows you to do all kinds of welding a lot easier. I've used one for a few years, and it does make it easier to weld, since you don't need to crank up the welder to a point where your heat is at the upper limits to start and maintain an arc. The duty cycle of this unit is 20%. They also have a TIG torch kit that will work with this for about $150. This will let you do those welds on impossible metals like aluminum and stainless. I don't have the TIG kit so I can't give you any feedback on it.

GG


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I am interested in the inverter approach because these systems appear to be more efficient, and may require less amperage for the same result. My workshop is limited to 40 amps 220 volts. The Lincoln buzz boxes require 50 amps.

It's possible I could up the amperage in the workshop to 50 amps, or run a buzzbox at less than full throttle. Or I could just use oxy-fuel :-)


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Spam:

I'm not familiar with what you are calling an inverter for welding. Can you post an address that may describe it.

As far as requiring 50 amps to power your buzzbox, that's for flat out full power welding, and even then, the nameplate rating for the welder may only be listed at 45 amps. You'll just have to check the welder tag Also, you'll find most welding done at around 110-135 amps depending on thickness and rod size. I have a 295 amp machine that tells me it pulls 65 amps at that setting, but since I weld at 130 amps max, I should be drawing about 25-30 amps. If I get some time i'll stick my amprobe on it and post it for reference for you.

GG


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

>They said gas welding was basically obsolete<

modre throws a penalty flag on that one.

if that means don't triffle with a gas outfit...wrong.
a oxy-ace outfit is a must. I couldn't function without one.
I was a Pgh. steamfitter for a spell in the younger days. a cutting torch is quick and easy and highly practical...takes some practice not to make a mess...that flame cuts quick, but with practice and a steady hand you can make sawlike cuts...put the welding tip on and grab a coat hanger and you have steel welds from sheet metal thinkness up...grab a brazing rod and you have steel/brass/cast iron ability...grab some silver soldier and you have refrigeration lines and cable ends...and it's not that far removed from pedestrian plumbing type soft solder.

with a gas outfit you can preheat bigger stuff for electric welds to minimize distortion on cooling...you can tweak crooked stuff just by heating and let cool to make it right on the money...you can heat red then bend...you can use an oxydizing flame to clean rust,,,remove stuck steel parts (red)...add carbon...and I'm sure there's stuff that didn't spring to mind in this typing.

with all that ability out of one tool, why not dabble in melting a coat hanger? I wouldn't call it obsolete...just a specific niche like anything else.

maybe kbeitz'll chime in on this...he strikes me as another wide guy.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Velly intersting Modre, tell me more about how to use an oxydizing flame to clean rust, please. Also the best techniques and best products for sweating copper plumbing joints, if you will.
I have a good stick welder, but think that now I may just melt a coathanger or two and try it out.
Bill P.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Modre,

All your reasons to have a set of torches are good, but I really do think the use of a torch for welding has been surpassed by the little mig welders. I used to do a lot of welding with my torch, usually on 1/8 inch stock or thin tubing. Anything beyond that was just a waste of gas trying to create a weld with enough penetration. Trying to weld using a torch on large sections of heavy gauge sheetmetal will create expansion problems since such a large area will be heated before the metal reaches a melt point. Using a mig welder will heat only a small area either side of the weld so expansion and oil-canning won't need as much work to relieve it.

A torch is still a recommended tool for any metal shop.

GG


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Oh, they taught us how to cut with a torch, no problem there.

I agree that a torch is a useful addition to a metal shop. However, so far, I just have a small MAPP-OXY setup, good for thin stuff. I am a bit reluctant to get an acetylene setup just yet, but will get around to it.

I may take your suggestion to try welding some steel with a coat hanger and my MAPP-OXY equipment. It might be just the trick for those bedframe feet I want to make.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

>sweating copper plumbing joints<

you can't get lead solder any more due to drinking water concerns, so the off the shelf Oatey products (antamony I think) at HD are the norm. as far as "best" I don't know...my guess is silver but it's overkill and requires excessive heat...silver is for high pressure high stress situations. water lines stay at water temps, and solder melts at 400-ish, so soft solder is perfectly OK.

heat rises, so after you CLEAN (sandcloth for external/fitting brush for internal)all the joints, flux and assemble, start at the lowest point and work up. heat and test til you see the solder flow DON'T OVERHEAT THE JOINT or you'll never control the solder and you have a leak. you just want melt temp and not much more than that. heat the "goes inta" pipe as well as the fitting collar. when it's ready (constantly test with the solder roll), put the flame opposite the solder application and watch the capilary action draw the solder into and around the joint til it's full. pull the flame off and continue to apply the solder til it solidifies. if you're doing valves, make sure the valve is off it's seat to allow air to pass and not pressurize the pipe or it'll blow the solder out of the joint. if you're unsure of a joint, pull it back apart and start all over...sometimes you can "re-do and patch" but usually that ends up bad. if you're doing a valve close to a fitting, do the valve first because the brass body takes more heat than the copper...that may even heat everything else up so additional flame is minimal for the close parts...once the brass valve cools to solid state, it'll act as a heat sink and keep that joint right while you finish up the close joints.

when the copper heat is right, the solder will run like water...the caution is don't over-do the heat...you just want a working temp range and no more...constantly test with the solder for melt temp, and don't be afraid to move that flame away the minute you get the temp....also the big thing is CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN.

this may be stupid to add, but flux's job is to provide an isolated environment for the joint while the solder runs...it's more of a "bodyguard" and integral to the joint itself...ANY dirt or fingerprint on the mating surfaces can compromise it.

also, don't even try to solder a pipe with even a small puddle of water in it...you'll never get the heat right and the expanding/escaping steam will blow out any solder you try...pipes have to be dry.

pristine CLEAN, flux, adequate but not excessive heat, completely fill the joint , and get out...and that's about it.


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valves, design, and convenience

another useful thought on design:
I put in a new 200A underground electric service...and moved the overhead water line to run under the electric panel...I put in a couple of ball valves to isolate the zones and a drain (hose bib) for each. this isn't necessary, but for future emergancy repairs/additions it makes a world of sense...the benefit is you don't have to drain the entire system...just isolate the work spot.

(ignore the cable wire/amplifier...the guy was a butcher, and I haven't straightened it out yet...for electric guys, note the 20A convenience outlet on the panel on it's own breaker)...also note the 2 sub panel feeds...I put in a 100A sub panel in the furnace room to strip all the kitchen and heat/AC equipment load off the existing wiring...and another 100A sub in the garage for all the welders and garage machine tools. this is overkill for mainstream public, but puts a lot more ability at your fingertips...instead of running new wires all over the house, I can just focus on a sub panel circuit for neatness and the 100A wire feeding the sub is way under strain.

I prefer ball valves rather than gates for runs, and hose bibs for drains. it costs a few cents more to build in the convenience, but shines when miserable crap happens in the middle of the night.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

95/5 tin-antimony solder is supposed to be a higher strength solder than tin-lead or lead free solders. In fact, the NFPA code requires 95/5 for sweating copper joints for fire protection sprinkler systems. Price for this solder is not much more than the lead free types.

GG


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Thanks for all the great information, I do appreciate it and will save it for reference.

Modre, tell me more about how to use an oxydizing flame to clean rust, please. I think that I have seen the results of that that I may have "accidentally" done without realizing what was going on, but would surely like to know more. Will it work on thin as well as thick metals ? What kind of settings and techniques are best for say cleaning up a rusty piece of square tube 4 or 5 feet long instead of grinding it off. Could you then wipe it down with some paint thinner and a rag, let it dry and spray paint it with some rustoleum ?
Bill P.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

> how to use an oxydizing flame to clean rust, please. I think that I have seen the results of that that I may have "accidentally" done without realizing what was going on<

oh sorry, missed that. yes you've already done it...it's just that simple...when you dial in enough O2 to make the green tips sharp (cutting tip), it's oxydizing...when you turn down the O2 to make shabby non-distinct green tips into what looks more like a welding flame and get the soot it's carbonizing. what happens is the rust will melt/blow off down to solid material long before the steel surface is effected.

>cleaning up a rusty piece of square tube 4 or 5 feet long instead of grinding it off. Could you then wipe it down with some paint thinner and a rag, let it dry and spray paint it with some rustoleum ? <

for that I would do a quick sanding disc to get some off, then use the torch for the pits...then a wire wheel...reason is it takes less gas (I'm miserly...maybe you aren't)...but I've seen fitters with an unlimited supply of gas clean big areas to new before slapping paint on. rustoleum is good, but it's just enamel based and armor coats only. there's a paint called POR (paint over rust) that is supposed to actually chemically bond to the rust and folks tell me (bus folks who aren't about to tackle years of serious rust on frames and such) it works impressively well, but I don't have any first hand experience with it...they say not to get it on your hands cause it won't clean off...it has to wear off.

re-reading your question, after the flame clean, sure... thinner and rustoleum, but there's a product called Ferrochrome (rust oxide colored emanel primer (Ditzler?) that I used to use with good results...they prime structural steel and bridges and such with it...and makes an excellent sandable filler/sealer/primer. if you see redish trusses or structural steel laying around a construction job, that's it. i used to use it on old cars...holds up well by itself, and takes an enamel overcoat perfect...which is where your pigmented rustoleum comes in. that's a finish you can leave outside in the weather.

another paint thought is rustoleum and auto enamels are pricey...go to a farm tractor dealer and get some machinery enamel...it's cheaper and better paint in my opinion...only downside is you're stuck with Allis Chalmers orange and white, or Ford blue, Deere green, Massey Grey ect...check out tractors and excavators that sit outside their whole lives to see the way that stuff holds up...it far outlasts rustoleum. it's been years since I bought some, but when car enamel was $75/gal. Allis Chalmers orange and white enamel was $35/gal. last car paint I bought was rediculous...like $45/qt.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Modre,

I have used the Van Sickle (maybe) implement paint on my last few projects. It says "Super Premium" or some such thing on it and so far, it seems more durable than the Rustoleum I've used in the past. I got it at Big R farm and ranch stores in Falcon, Co. You're right about the colors :). Also, this paint takes longer to dry, and is more likely to run than others I've used. I cant cover with one coat unless I want to deal with runs. I've used the spray can too and its the same way. It looks great when its done and their John Deere green matches great as far as I can tell.

You guys ever use a flap disc on the grinder to take rust off? They're kind of pricey and they dont seem to last long enough, but they work really well for me. The quality seems to vary with them as well as the price.

Kurt


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

No, I have not tried them Kurt, just today saw something similar I guess on the ESPN hotrod program following the monster garage thing. Whoo Boy! I can guess what that stuff costs tho. They showed them putting a fine high gloss posish on aluminum wheels etc. But that is probably the high end stuff.
Bill P.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

As for cleaning rust off bare metal, the best thing I've found is a 3" cup brush on my 4" grinder. If it's pitted, the cup brush will usually reach pretty deep. I salvaged a bunch of 1 1/2" square tube and it's all pretty rusty and the brush cleans it up real good. One safety precaution for those who haven't used one. Wear a heavy long sleeve shirt and full face shield. When those wires break off, the're traveling very fast.
Mike A


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Excellent suggestion if you use the heavy-duty knotted wire style. And don't forget the dust mask. that stuff will rust up your pipes.

GG


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Jeez, don't tell my son that oxy-acetalene welding is obsolete. I just built a motorcycle stand for him for Christmas using oxy. LOL. It was the RIGHT method for this.

Also a few years ago we used to build racing cars using a high nickel alloy brazing method. We used bare rod and a liquid fluxer hooked up to the acetylene bottle. The rod is hard to find now but its good for some applications because you don't have to heat the metal up to much(cherry red only).

I also have a high frequency arc stabilizer that I use with my Miller buzz box and I LOVE IT FOR TIG WELDING AL. I bought the stabilizer quite a few years ago so was interested that the price was about 250.

At one time I had a el-cheapo wire feed that I finally threw away. It was great for thin wall tubing(when it worked properly). I found out years later (when I spent mega dollars to get proper power)that the problem was low power.

Fred Mc.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

I didn't mean to express the opinion that oxy-fuel welding is obsolete, just passing on the message we got in class. And I think the message was that oxy welding is simply not used much any more in industrial production welding. It's just not efficient enough to compete with electric methods. For home stuff or non-production work of course it's still in use and probably will be for a very long time.

I was somewhat disappointed oxy-fuel welding wasn't taught in the summer welding class I took, but then we covered over six welding methods in six weeks so the schedule was packed. These methods included: stick, flux, mig, TIG, oxy-cutting, plasma cutting, carbon-arc cutting. I spent one week each (12 hrs/week) on stick, flux, and MIG, and three weeks on TIG. I was told that if I had already known how to gas weld, that TIG would come easier. So that was a real challenge. I was able to produce a passable bead on steel but aluminum and stainless kind of eluded me. Although I think that with more practice and better settings I could have nailed those as well. For my home use, I think an AC/DC stick unit, as well as a MIG/Flux unit, would be best. I've got a small MAPP/OXY setup, which was good for some nickel brazing, and cutting.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Gooseberry_guy, here is a link to an inverter TIG welder setup.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=91811
This is 5-130amps DC

note that this is very like the ESAB MiniArc 150 APS DC Tig Welder. for 1/4 the price.
this is 5-150amps DC

The Miller Econtig, at $1200 is 30-150 amps DC (but has AC as well). for 5 times the price.

Sam


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

Sam,

Thanks, I'll check it out. I've got the HF converter, and only need the tig unit. I don't do much with aluminum, but there are times. Using a MIG welder with AL wire and argon works, but welds are always better and easier with TIG.

GG


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

gooseberry guy
I ordered the Tig unit from Harbor Freight but it is on backorder. I hoped I would get it for Christmas. I do not know when they will ship the unit now. I was told it would be shiped on the 17. I will report on how good the unit is. I would like to find a HF box if any one has the information on a cheaper unit. I have seen them listed for $800 and up. You mentioned Grainger but I cannot get any information on the net.


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RE: Stick Welding and Thin Metal Questions

blacksmithman:

I looked up the stock # in an old Grainger catalog to do a search on their website for the HF unit and the TIG torch kit. They now show the items as discontinued, but they also say they may have some remaining in their warehouses. They list their main phone # as 1-888-361-8649 M - F - 7am-7pm CTZ for assistance. The model number for the HF Arc Stabilizer is 3AC01. The model number for the TIG accessory is 3AC00.

GG

Here is a link that might be useful: Grainger search page


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