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FridgeFreezer

Doing a welding course - notes as I go

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Think of it like an arc welder rod, turned inside out, stretched and wound into a drum. 

If you didn't get that, it is also known as flux cored, the shield is created by the flux as you jam wire into the weld pool. 

Nasty way to do things with bodywork for sure, but in a pinch it can work, and better results on thicker material. Also handy if welding outside a lot as the flux doesn't get blown away like gas. 

Proper gas mig (I prefer argon co2 mix) is better in just about every way. 

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What Bowie said - flux cored wire for very cheap MIG machines (Machine Mart's worst) or maaaaybe if you absolutely must MIG outdoors on a windy day. You can run flux cored wire in a "gassed" MIG, just turn the gas off and change the wire.

Normal MIG is nicer and yes you can notice the difference between CO2 and proper Argon/CO2 mix (Argoshield etc.)

If you watch @Shackleton's YouTube videos you can see how his welding changes as he moves from a crappy old welder and flux-cored wire, to gas, and to a better welder.

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Hi, I read this thread with great interest, I learned to weld many years ago, self taught and if I dare say so myself I became very good at gas, arc, and mig, although I was very wary of mig welds and still am if others have done them. The reason for this is there are a lot of people who buy the cheapest nastiest mig they can find and thing they can weld anything with it, not realising that they are getting little or no penetration. I remember a bloke who had made a trailer and was selling it, I went to look at it for a friend and tapped one of the lashdown points with my foot, it fell off, as did several other bits, anyway this guy wasn't so much annoyed, as curious as to why it had happened, he showed me the welder and it was one of the lowest powered units available, just about good for car bodywork, but useless for anything above about 3mm thick.

When you are starting off with any weld you want to look at the back of the piece, if you can see a coloured line along where you've run the bead then at least you have penetration and are in with a chance, if not then it wont stick. Incidentally, here's a tip if you're welding thin stuff, car bodies and the like. Get yourself a sheet of flat copper, a lump of immersion heater tank is ideal, if you're welding something thin and it keeps blowing through, like it does on say a floor pan, put the copper sheet underneath before you weld, it stops a lot of blowthrough and makes the job easier.

I don't do much welding these days, but I have a 400A mig and a very large plasma cutter for doing maintenance on my mates farm, I also have a couple of small mma units and a tig, but I've not done tig in years. The first run I ever did was on aluminium, and it was perfect! I had to laugh, I'd gone for a job interview and the boss asked if I could weld, I told him I could do gas, mma, and mig, but hadn't done tig. He put me on a bench and handed me a torch, I knew the theory, but that was it, well the bead went down, on a lump of aluminium and it was perfect, I don't know who was more impressed, me or him, I think it was down to the fact that I'd just spent several weeks laying loads of beads of silicon down. A welder once told me that if you can put a decent bead of silicon down then you stand a good chance of making a decent weld, which makes sense really since both rely on speed and feed. sadly I don't do very much welding these days, but I'll enjoy seeing how you all get on.

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13 hours ago, FridgeFreezer said:

What Bowie said - flux cored wire for very cheap MIG machines (Machine Mart's worst) or maaaaybe if you absolutely must MIG outdoors on a windy day. You can run flux cored wire in a "gassed" MIG, just turn the gas off and change the wire.

On my mig I have to swap the polarity of the torch and clamp to work with flux cored wire instead of solid wire with an argon co2 mix shield gas. Negative to the torch for flux cored from memory. Something to do with the splatter and flow of electrons and where the heat is. Yeah I don't really understand why :lol: Anyway if you look at migs which are sold as gas and gasless they will have the ability to swap the polarities. 

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I've happened across The Fabrication Series and have to say the guy is far more switched on (and far less boring) than most of the others I've seen - and he's also very practical, advising against buying any fancy gear, consumables, etc. even though I'm sure he'd get sponsored to do so;

 

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2 hours ago, Cynic-al said:

Thanks for the links, I will watch those!

I did, after trawling through to find the ' basics to mig welding ' ones, explained it all fairly simply.

 

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Urchfab is pretty good too although he does drone on a bit - his fabrication is neat & no-nonsense though - his video on welding thin panels is about the best tutorial I've seen;

 

 

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Gasless mig for bodywork is absolute garbage. Stay away. What seems to have happened is low end tool manufacturers have found a way to bodge "flux core" MIG welding, which is used in some industrial processes (though often with gas as well), into "you don't need to buy gas for it, innit mate". I'm pretty good with MIG - currently coded - but really struggled to get what I'd consider a "good" weld out of a gasless machine helping a mate fix a chassis. It's nasty. Really, really, really nasty. Easier to blow holes, harder to fill them. Harder to get decent penetration, very easy to get porous, slag filled, weak snot. Funnily enough, his welds improved immensely when I persuaded him to rent a gas bottle and switch over. 

TFS is excellent - he essentially runs a welding school, so knows how to teach, as well as what he's doing with a torch. Welding tips and tricks and weld.com are my other goto channels for welding education. Great explanation, quality arc shots, generally cover stuff a hobbyist is interested in. 

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I think he used MIG for the majority of his CNC router build - that's going back a bit.

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Probably the biggest improvement to my welding came when I added a +1.5 cheater lens to my mask. Amazing what you can do when you can actually see it!!!

 

Sean

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16 hours ago, lo-fi said:

Gasless mig for bodywork is absolute garbage. Stay away. What seems to have happened is low end tool manufacturers have found a way to bodge "flux core" MIG welding, which is used in some industrial processes (though often with gas as well), into "you don't need to buy gas for it, innit mate". I'm pretty good with MIG - currently coded - but really struggled to get what I'd consider a "good" weld out of a gasless machine helping a mate fix a chassis. It's nasty. Really, really, really nasty. Easier to blow holes, harder to fill them. Harder to get decent penetration, very easy to get porous, slag filled, weak snot. Funnily enough, his welds improved immensely when I persuaded him to rent a gas bottle and switch over. 

TFS is excellent - he essentially runs a welding school, so knows how to teach, as well as what he's doing with a torch. Welding tips and tricks and weld.com are my other goto channels for welding education. Great explanation, quality arc shots, generally cover stuff a hobbyist is interested in. 

Penetration is key, just ask the wife, lol. Seriously though you are quite right, I'd rather do without a tool than have to make do with a cheap nasty one. Trouble is, it gets bloody dangerous when people don't realise, just because something is 'stuck' to something when it's lying on the floor doesn't mean it's going to stay 'stuck' when you get a bit of stress on it. I remember many many years ago, back in the Marina and Escort days, I became an expert at body repairs with an arc welder, ok it took time to learn, but the results were far better than using one of those cheap nasty mig sets, buy cheap buy twice, as they say

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The penetration point is serious - when repairing previously patched components my first questuin is "Can I remove that patch with a hammer & chisel" - and often I can - which isn't as it should be.

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On 2/4/2020 at 2:04 PM, sgo70 said:

Probably the biggest improvement to my welding came when I added a +1.5 cheater lens to my mask. Amazing what you can do when you can actually see it!!!

 

Sean

+ 2 on mine I'm obviously way older than you regards Stephen 

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2nd class was last night - we had a brief recap on last week and then basically told to get in the welding bays and practice - and ask the tutor if you're not getting it.

So, I was told to go and do long runs on the test pieces;

20200205_190317a.thumb.jpg.d00e55863c60d5bbd9d1b3f24dbf31c1.jpg

 

Then on to the square - this was not to be welded in one, but more to just get you doing more beads, stops and starts, and varying lengths;

20200205_200842a.thumb.jpg.6e57bd4cd5467218866efde9e08f0104.jpg

 

Then the big one - joining two plates together. I was given a lap joint (did both sides as 1st was less than perfect), a bigger lap joint (did both sides again) and finally a T joint;

20200205_203849a.thumb.jpg.4c8d6cc2d2a5fa78d05173ffa0951641.jpg

 

Doing all this practice on the aforementioned raw cut plate doesn't half create a lot of spatter, insert highly inappropriate joke here:

20200205_193940a.thumb.jpg.a8e133a25149be321fe14fae8f894367.jpg

 

 

My better half spent the evening as many others did - getting used to the whole shebang and getting more and more consistent and controlled, you can really see the improvement compared to last week's 1st-ever-bead;

20200205_202628a.thumb.jpg.c2439fb157ec22f60fe91646fc03252a.jpg

 

What was noticeable was the difference between bays - the bays I was mostly in had a nicer bench but they're in shadow due to the layout of the room. Having a go in one of the newly commissioned bays was night & day - they are directly underneath bright lights and it makes starting off so much easier. However, the bay I chose had a very wavy bench top so the piece wanted to move round and break earth contact until I re-jigged the position.

Chatting to the tutor he said he's requested more lights but so far no news, we'll see if they manage it before the end of the course I guess!

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Nice seeing progress.

Light is key. I often pop a torch pointing right at where I'm welding. I've been tempted to fit some LED cob units to the front of my mask on occasion... You literally can't have enough. 

A decent hood isn't to be overlooked. I've gone from a £20 fixed shade ebay thing, through some mid range jobbies (R-Tech) and landed on a Lincoln Viking 3350 (~£200). I can honestly say the Lincoln is worth every. single. penny. I'd expect the same quality of the ESAB A50 or similar in that price point, though. Its clearer, brighter when not activated, allows me turn the shade down to a shade below where it would have been comfortable in other helmets without eyes feeling strained (not the same as flashed!) after a heavy welding session, very light, and it's damn comfortable to wear. Also triggers when it should 100% of the time, which is more than can be said for the not-cheap GYS... I think if I'd had a hood of similar quality when I started, I'd have climbed the learning curve a bit quicker. 

Don't skimp on the covers either. If its dirty or scratched, bin it and fit another. The inside one is often overlooked and well past it too. 

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Totally agree on both of those - light is a huge help, I've often though of mounting a head torch on the helmet or even bolting a small one to the end of the torch! The tutor on the course is well aware of the lighting but of course places like colleges move slowly where spending money is concerned - they've only just commissioned the last welding bay (tutor is setting them up while we're playing) despite the course being booked up well in advance. Also chatting to a mate last night he's about to do a welding course at Sparshalt which is one week longer but nearly double the price :blink:

Also, yes a good auto helmet is worth its weight in gold, mine's a Speedglas which was proper money ~£250 ish but the difference is amazing, also for rolling around under cars being able to see out of the side windows makes a huge difference.

H's got a Parweld one which was about ~£40, mainly because she didn't want to spend £100+ on something before doing the course and deciding if it was worth it. Drew the line at the £20 eBay jobbies, not worth losing your eyesight for £20!

I splashed out and bought plenty of spare lenses/covers for the Speedglas, even treated myself to a comfy new head-band for it before the course, mmmm fluffy :lol:

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On 2/3/2020 at 2:35 PM, FridgeFreezer said:

I've happened across The Fabrication Series and have to say the guy is far more switched on (and far less boring) than most of the others I've seen - and he's also very practical, advising against buying any fancy gear, consumables, etc. even though I'm sure he'd get sponsored to do so;

 

Justin is a superb teacher. My missus was watching one of his videos over my shoulder and agreed he comes across really well. No surprise he now runs a welding school. If you want an excuse to go to Vegas..... :lol:

On 2/3/2020 at 5:50 PM, FridgeFreezer said:

Urchfab is pretty good too although he does drone on a bit - his fabrication is neat & no-nonsense though - his video on welding thin panels is about the best tutorial I've seen;

 

I'm afraid I tried with Urchfab, I really did, because the subject matter is good,. Alas I  just couldn't listen to him any longer.

On 2/4/2020 at 2:04 PM, sgo70 said:

Probably the biggest improvement to my welding came when I added a +1.5 cheater lens to my mask. Amazing what you can do when you can actually see it!!!

 

Sean

I think this is what I need. Any recommendations @sgo70?
I reckon I'm gonna need some reading glasses soon, and have been struggling with seeing what I'm welding for a while.

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1 hour ago, mickeyw said:

I'm afraid I tried with Urchfab, I really did, because the subject matter is good,. Alas I  just couldn't listen to him any longer.

I feel your pain there. 

Jodie at welding tips and tricks gives solid, no nonsense advice. A much under rated channel. 

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16 hours ago, lo-fi said:

I got one of these, it's excellent:

https://www.gloforce.com/eye-light/

The mig light looks brilliant, I'll be buying myself one of them! 

I've been using £3 Asda/Tesco/etc. "value" desk lamps with flexi neck and the brightest LED bulb that'll fit, they make great work lights and are very much disposable if you do manage to break one.

They stand on stuff, they hook onto stuff, they lay on the floor, and they clamp to things with a croc clamp:

20180416_215317.jpg

 

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Keep at it JU.....it will suddenly "click" and you will be a happy clappy!.

 

TIG is one the of the things I am chuffed to bits to have learnt to do.....its amazingly relaxing too ( until it goes wrong:rofl: ) and really is something you'll love to do.

 

Sadly j dont even bother with the MIG now if I can TIG it !....

 

When I passed mybknsteuctor ....who was brilliant and a hard as nails northerner with evil sense of humour...handed me my certificates and said " here you go Nige .....like when you passed your driving test ....you have a vague clue ....now yoj learn from now on ....and every weld is a chance to improve ".

 

Thouthtvhe was just being a **** at the time...he wasnt... now welded up.today pegged casing 644.....and I have casing 211 on the bench for the rebuild ...I'll show picture of 644...not 211 !.

 

The difference of practise is everything and you will go all nerdy over welding from now on .

 

Keep at it 101% worth the pain and effort.....and anyone thinking of it ....it IS hard but absolutely do learn ....changes your views on welding forever and gives you the ability to bore people senseless checking things like welds on railings at the beach commenting on the undercut...and having a wife look at you sigh and shake head in utter disbelief:D

 

Here you go casing 644 cast steel pre heated and tigged with mild S275 with specula tungsten and dissimilar rods and post heated and cooled...

 

Love tig !!

20200210_155515.jpg

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I'm the same, I try to Tig everything now. I've never actually used a weave pattern like that but I was messing around a while back waiting for things to cool. I like trying to run along the edge without blowing out. I ran this pretty much non-stop, I couldn't rest my gloves down it was so hot.

 

Sean

IMG_1834.jpg

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