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My 14YO hasn't welded before - Welding kit advice please


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OK, I realsie this is going to sound a little bizarre, but I have to ask. My lad is 14 yet has incredible ability with angle-grinders etc etc, and is very capable doing the sort of jobs many twice his age couldn't do. He'll do a head-swap no worrries. He recently converted his mother's car to gas. He did a damned fine job too. But I digress, he's started to learn spraying, and now he wants to learn to weld. Thing is, I can't weld. He's got library books out on the subject and seems to think he wants a TIG or MIG?

This would be his Xmas present so I thought I'd start looking now. (Yes i know most fathers get their boy a games console, but then... my lad isn;t most lads??)

I'm hoping to get something 'used'. Is a budget at £3-400 for decent semi-pro grade kit reasonable? I would rather see good tools, all my own stuff is good, and I'd like to see him learn where the limit is his skill, not the kit? What should I look for? He wants to work on his push-bikes, or doing heavy work on a camping-trailer project for starters. The variation in pricing is mind-boggling. Any advice welcome.

Edited by Landrover17H
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Push-bikes would almost certainly want TIG, big heavy stuff is more MIG or even stick territory but a camping trailer isn't too heavy in the scheme of things.

For stuff like aluminium you want an AC TIG with HF start - most of them can do AC, DC, and stick (arc) welding.

200A should be plenty, for the bike stuff it's the low-current high-frequency that you need.

Foot pedal is going to be your friend especially for fine stuff.

Check out The Fabrication Series on youtube, the guy does some good no-fancy-BS advice and reviews, he recommends learning with the boring standard torches & tips rather than trying to pimp the latest blingy bits and bobs.

A word of caution though - a lot of bikes are not steel or aluminium, they're more exotic materials / unspecified alloys that will be harder to weld... TIG can do it all, but it's very hard if you don't know the grade never mind whether it's titanium or magnesium.

I would also budget ~£50 for a half-decent self-darkening helmet, the really good ones (Speedglas, Esab, Lincoln) are proper money but my better half got a Parweld one for ~£50 that's worked fine for her on the welding course. Don't buy a cheap no-brand Chinese one, you only get one set of eyeballs and arc-eye isn't funny.

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Fridge is on the nose with welding bikes if you can't identify the parent metal you could end up with seriously weak welds in my own mind tig especially acdc is not a beginners tool you would be better kicking off with mig to get the feel of welding, tig with a pedal involves coordinating two hands and one foot independently could lead to a lot of frustration and put you off for life I would say it is a case of learning to crawl before you can run so my advice would be get a cheap mig learn and then aspire to tig when you have more appreciation of heat levels over material thickness and weld puddle flow hope this helps regards Stephen 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks gents, I'm under order form my boy, and I tend to do as I'm told where my children are concerned. Vai FF's suggestion I've started to look into this on YT. Broadly, seems for 'precision' we want TIG, for 'production' we want MIG. And the camping-trailer is the biggy. As Stellaghost says, kick-off with MIG to get a feel for it, sounds wise.

A self-darken helmet... that's a thing?! I'll get one.

So in short we want a 200A MIG. Anything in particualr brand spring to mind?

Edited by Landrover17H
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Have a look in R Tech's site personally I have never used them but several on the forum have and I've heard nothing  but good reports. On the screen side of life I recently bought an esab sentinel auto darkening helmet fantastic well worth the money regards Stephen oh meant to add you can do aluminium, stainless with a mig easier with spool gun attachment and gas would need to be pure argon regards Stephen

Edited by Stellaghost
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My reasoning for going straight to TIG is that TIG can do everything in one machine, and out of the box doing straight DC welds on steel it's not too hard to learn with the basic button (no foot pedal). MIG is definitely more point-and-squirt though. If I had a lot of steel welding to do (EG a car to restore) I'd be MIGing it as you've got very little hope of doing TIG upside-down underneath an old motor.

If you look at what we did on the BCoT welding course (thread here) it wasn't a huge learning curve considering most folks there (my better half included) had never touched a welder before and were managing to bash out a passable weld after 4 evenings.

On machines, MIG or TIG or multi (machines that can run as TIG or MIG), I'd say 2nd hand industrial is preferable to brand new cheap no-name, name brands like ESAB, Miller, Lincoln, R-Tech, MTA (MigTigArc), Migatronic, Kemppi, NBC/Butters are at least made to be repaired and spares should be available.

A lot of the really cheap stuff has non-standard consumables - under-sized or fixed torches etc., for MIGs you want a euro torch connector and it's got to be a gas-type welder. A good earth clamp helps too, the flimsy tin jump-lead thing that comes on a lot of machines does you no favours.

Factor in a chunk of cash for a decent sized bottle of gas and the regulator, the small or disposable bottles cost huge amounts - you can rent bottles from BOC but it's spendy, or you can get rental-free ones from a lot of suppliers including some motor factors, Motor Parts Direct do them near me. ALWAYS turn the gas off after welding, it's no fun to discover £100 of gas has disappeared through the welder solenoid over a weekend. I make it habit to hang my helmet on the cylinder which reminds me to check the valve, and I often give the valve a quick tweak/check on my way past.

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TIG is great all the time you can work the right way up, and preferably sitting down.

If you need to weld underneath anything (car, trailer etc) a MIG is going to be a whole lot easier.

AS FF has mentioned, Justin on The Fabrication Series is a great teacher and very passionate about his TIG. Another good channels to watch is Welding Tips and Tricks

 

Oh , and I'll highly recommend R-Tech Welding for their great kit and fantastic customer service.

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11 hours ago, FridgeFreezer said:

Factor in a chunk of cash for a decent sized bottle of gas and the regulator, the small or disposable bottles cost huge amounts - you can rent bottles from BOC but it's spendy, or you can get rental-free ones from a lot of suppliers including some motor factors, Motor Parts Direct do them near me. ALWAYS turn the gas off after welding, it's no fun to discover £100 of gas has disappeared through the welder solenoid over a weekend. I make it habit to hang my helmet on the cylinder which reminds me to check the valve, and I often give the valve a quick tweak/check on my way past.

https://hobbyweld.co.uk/ are a good place to get gas bottles from, they do all the different mixes you are likely to need and there is no rent just a deposit so it is not costing you when you are not using it

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Posted (edited)

My thanks to you all. Minded to this being for my son, whilst I'll have a bash no doubt the genearl idea is to get him going. I'm beginning to see the advantages to TIG over MIG, and it seems once you know what you're doing, you're better having both. This is for a 14YO beginner, and I'll follow FF's wrods with a known brand. Seems, with a decent screen, we want a used

ESAB, Miller, Lincoln, R-Tech, MTA (MigTigArc), Migatronic, Kemppi, NBC/Butters

With gas etc, this is going to get rather more spendy than I thought? Been on eBay, seems anything by say ESAB runs to £5-600 ish or rather more. Ouch. Then there's gas and screen, blah... TIG once learnt, seems to have advanatages, but MIG seems to be the way to go for a start. MIG it is.

Seeing stuff in Aldi for £50 and Clarke kit for £200 new, I had not realised. I thought £400 would do it easy.... It looks like it's  easy to walk a  £1000. Oh dear.

Edited by Landrover17H
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It's like anything though - you can spend as much as you like on it, someone will happily take your money!

@Shackleton has done some good basic welding stuff and talked about welders a bit on his channel - you can see the difference a decent welder and proper gas makes when he gets his new machine!

Although a cheap welder will still weld, they can make life hard - wire jams, poor feed, crappy torch / ground clamp, low duty cycle... You don't need bells and whistles on a MIG - as long as you can adjust the amps and the wire speed and it's got a decent wire feed that's all you need.

Jez used to say buy welders by weight - heavy is better - the old ones with big copper transformers have very little to go wrong. My NBC is so old even NBC don't know when they made it but it's as simple as a box of rocks and the wire feed motor would rip your arm off, I paid ~£200 for it.

Here's the NBC opposite a very decent MTA unit, notice the size of the wire feed motors:

nbc_vs_mta.jpg

While I remember - 0.8mm or even 1mm wire (if the machine will take it) is far easier than 0.6mm which likes to birds-nest inside the machine at a moment's notice.

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Posted (edited)

i do remember, back in the day, my father had an Oxford. I was too young to remember much more, but he'd near forklift it anywhere. 0.8mm wire... understood.

 

The adage goes... You can have it good, cheap, quick. Pick one.

 

I'm guessing the limit is 200ish Amp 'cos we're talking single-phase set-ups, correct?

Edited by Landrover17H
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4 hours ago, Landrover17H said:

 

Seeing stuff in Aldi for £50 and Clarke kit for £200 new, I had not realised. I thought £400 would do it easy.... It looks like it's  easy to walk a  £1000. Oh dear.

As previously said and endorsed within this thread R Tech will do you a 200 amp single phase unit for £400 it was what I was going to buy when I thought my cebora was on it's way out .UK based will speak to you in layman's terms check them out  but I will echo what Fridge has said old is gold I've had my cebora for around 28 years  it gets worked hard until recently no trouble off it and that turned out to be a snapped wire ultimately you need to factor in future use requirements no need to break the bank if your only going to be using it for 3 or 4 weeks of a year regards Stephen 

Edited by Stellaghost
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Posted (edited)

My fear is buying a dog and being uanbale to recognise this. Not knowing what I'm looking at, how easy is it to buy a pup when looking at used MIG welders. Is a 'seller-demo' enough to prove it's 'a good 'un'?

If  a seller-demo is a good idea, what would be good to see done or have brought along to weld, to reveal tired kit?

Edited by Landrover17H
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I used cheap migs for years - thinking I'd save my money until I could get a decent AC/DC Tig.  Lots of frustration due to the inconsistency of the cheap Migs - the thing would weld beautifully one day - next day would spit and pop and produce rubbish results.  Then the last one failed - and  friend persuaded me to go to a proper welding supplier - who had an ex-hire NewArc Mig (NewArc no longer make migs unfortunately) - and what a difference - consistent results, remarkably low amp welding     . . . .

 

So decent kit all the time - which puts the AC/DC tig further away as I only have a single phase electric supply and the low-powered ones go for more.

 

Worth having a look at https://www.mig-welding.co.uk/forum/

Tutorials, examples of jobs and machinery problems all discussed

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On 8/21/2020 at 8:36 AM, mickeyw said:

TIG is great all the time you can work the right way up, and preferably sitting down.

If you need to weld underneath anything (car, trailer etc) a MIG is going to be a whole lot easier.

Beat me to it. The other point worth making is that TIG is far more finicky when it comes to cleanliness and angle/access Add in the angles and it makes life hard. MIG can easily cope with something being not quite perfectly clean and is slightly less worried about wind. A while back I was cursing my bottle of argon as being a bad one... turns out it was the desk fan (on low) about 5m away ever time it swung round :lol:.

 

On 8/21/2020 at 11:37 AM, Landrover17H said:

i do remember, back in the day, my father had an Oxford. I was too young to remember much more, but he'd near forklift it anywhere. 0.8mm wire... understood.

 

The adage goes... You can have it good, cheap, quick. Pick one.

 

I'm guessing the limit is 200ish Amp 'cos we're talking single-phase set-ups, correct?

I've got a cracking MIG set (bought second hand from Nigel (Hybrid_From_Hell) its a 270A Oxford single phase MIG and its a cracker. They're about £1200 new and I'd happily go out and spend that on it. It works on Single phase, it just needs a 16A plug.

As its seeming to be a long-term investment, I'd look at either the Oxfords (still decent transformer types) or an R-Tech. I know several friends with them, most haven't had any issues, but those that have have been sorted in the click of a finger with repairs/replacement and/or a loan machine in the mean time. The R-Tech warranty/aftersales seems second to none. That said Oxford have something like a 20Yr guarantee that parts will be available.

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Oh and for welding gas... A TIG will eat through gas in comparison to a MIG. It's a much slower process until you're sh!t-hot and pre/post flow gas + a slower process means you go through it. I don't do a great deal of welding but I reckon its about 2 or 3 to 1 on the MIG at least. In fact I can't actually remember the last time I changed the cylinder on the MIG. 

Gas wise, you want to look for a rent-free cylinder most likely. I use Albee (part of Air Liquide), they're not the cheapest but you get a decent fill pressure compared to some. From memory about £120 deposit for the cylinder (with regulator built in) and then about £70 a fill for 11L at 200Bar. However the main thing is they have two stockists that are local. One 10mins from work and one 20mins from home.

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On 8/27/2020 at 9:15 PM, landroversforever said:

Oh and for welding gas... A TIG will eat through gas in comparison to a MIG.

Yes, this took me by surprise the first time I had a play with my own TIG. Small (relatively) bottles plus paying for it yourself seems to make it go faster too ;)

When I was welding at work we had the big bottles plus a spare to hand, so I never really took a lot of notice of gas consumption.

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TIG is FAR more difficult to master than MIG.

 

If you can TIG then if you wnat to learn MIG super easy

If you can MIG learning TIG is like starting from scratch

 

However, if he starts on TIG and finds it just too hard then he might give up, then again if he learns MIG then he may never learn TIG which is a skill to have without doubt, hobby or workwise

 

I did 12 months TIG training at crawley tech college - look locally, as its a seriously risky thing to learn DIY and if you get bad habits from the start tricky to change.

 

Night courses are avaiaoble and not expensive, and he gets to play with MIG TIG GAS ARC without you buying the wrong machine !

good luck to him whichever route he chooses and poost up his work from time to time :)

 

Nige

 

 

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On 8/27/2020 at 9:15 PM, landroversforever said:

Oh and for welding gas... A TIG will eat through gas in comparison to a MIG. It's a much slower process until you're sh!t-hot and pre/post flow gas + a slower process means you go through it. I don't do a great deal of welding but I reckon its about 2 or 3 to 1 on the MIG at least. In fact I can't actually remember the last time I changed the cylinder on the MIG. 

Gas wise, you want to look for a rent-free cylinder most likely. I use Albee (part of Air Liquide), they're not the cheapest but you get a decent fill pressure compared to some. From memory about £120 deposit for the cylinder (with regulator built in) and then about £70 a fill for 11L at 200Bar. However the main thing is they have two stockists that are local. One 10mins from work and one 20mins from home.

Even more gas if you do stainless and wnat pretty colours :rofl:  

 

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The old Clarke red MIG machines are a sneaky choice. Well understood, good aftermarket support, can be converted to Euro torch. Transformer machines, so harder to let the magic smoke out. A second hand 160 or higher, if seen working, leaves you with change.

Spend the money on the mask, and the cables. Air fed masks are essential in the warm, I think, especially if your wear eye glasses.

MIG is approachable, so long as you clean the metal, and good for bad repairs, if you know what I mean.

You can get going in an hour.

I'd love to Tig, for the aluminium alone, but it's beyond my time and cash budget, unlike MIG.

I wonder, some times, if OA welding is a better option than Tig, a bit cheaper to get into, and less to go wrong. If you are happy with a defused bomb in your yard.

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12 minutes ago, Gazzar said:

 

I wonder, some times, if OA welding is a better option than Tig, a bit cheaper to get into, and less to go wrong. If you are happy with a defused bomb in your yard.

Only problem with oxy acetylene is fire brigade will not go near it if there's an incident, small village I used to live in had a set go bang in the back of a van when the guy lit up was treated initially as bomb caused quite a lot of damage the full length of the street regards Stephen

Edited by Stellaghost
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