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problematic welder


v8bobber
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Hi all,

Shortly before I started my trialler project I bought myself a Clarke 151TE Mig welder which up till recently has been a joy to use although sometimes I wish I had bought a slightly more powerful one.

However, the last couple of times I have used it, it has been blowing fuses. I blew two whilst welding on the wing bars, 3mm tube and another two whilst welding on a relatively thin bracket that I fabricated for the fuel pump and filter. On this occasion, one fuse went in the plug of the welder, the second time, the fuse went in the extention lead.

The only thing that I can think of that is different this time is that the earth clamp was slightly "sticky" to the metal as if it was welding itself slightly to the workpiece aswell. I have cleaned that off as a precaution but wanted to get some advice before I used it again.

Sounds strange but it seems as if the welder just isn't as powerful as it has been and seems more reluctant to form an arc. The thicker pieces of metal that I have worked with recently have been a real chore. I have looked in the manual and there doesn't seem much in the way of maintenance but wondered if anyone had any ideas as to what might be causing the problem. I can't go on welding for a couple of minutes and then spend another couple of minutes changing the fuse!!

Regards,

Dave

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The 151TE wasn't designed to run from a 13A plug/socket, if you read the manual you are supposed to use a 16A round pin socket/plug which will be the cause of your fuses blowing -this is also why they are supplied with no plug fitted.

I tried mine when I first had it from a 13A socket and it was fine for anything up to about 3mm, but when moving onto the bigger stuff they would just pop for a pastime -from then on I fitted the 16A plug/socket and worked flawlessly (unsurprising really!) At the same time I fitted 6 meters of 25A flex from a caravan parts place and never looked back :) you need to take the cover off to do it, but well work it IMHO.

You may find that as you are getting better at welding the current draw is increasing (more consistent weld = more consistent current) which is now why it is becoming an issue.

Get the first problem fixed, you may find the plug you are using is knackered and giving you high resistance.

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The 151TE wasn't designed to run from a 13A plug/socket, if you read the manual you are supposed to use a 16A round pin socket/plug which will be the cause of your fuses blowing -this is also why they are supplied with no plug fitted.

I tried mine when I first had it from a 13A socket and it was fine for anything up to about 3mm, but when moving onto the bigger stuff they would just pop for a pastime -from then on I fitted the 16A plug/socket and worked flawlessly (unsurprising really!) At the same time I fitted 6 meters of 25A flex from a caravan parts place and never looked back :) you need to take the cover off to do it, but well work it IMHO.

You may find that as you are getting better at welding the current draw is increasing (more consistent weld = more consistent current) which is now why it is becoming an issue.

Get the first problem fixed, you may find the plug you are using is knackered and giving you high resistance.

you are indeed a gentleman and a scholar. i guess that this means that i will need to do the same for my extention lead if I don't put a longer cable on it?

In fairness, i am welding to some thick (roll cage) tubing so I may well be generating a fiar bit of extra current. Did you find that it was easier to use afterwards??

I will order some flex and a new plug/fuses and see how I get on. Thin stuff only for a bit then!!

Do you do anything else with yours in relation to maintenance?

Cheers,

Dave

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i guess that this means that i will need to do the same for my extention lead if I don't put a longer cable on it?

Umm.... yes... just make sure the cable is rated to 16A, or more if it is a long one otherwise you'll start losing voltage at the welder. TBH, I'd try and avoid using an extension if you can help it, the fat flex coils nicely without kinks, is bright orange for good visibility, and a trailing plug/socket is a) likely to get driven over and broken B) cost you quite a bit more (in comparison).

BTW, don't go connecting a 13A 4-way onto the 16A plug unless the 4-way has a built in fuse -it's not designed to run at the higher current and you could well melt it :ph34r:

Do you do anything else with yours in relation to maintenance?

Only once I broke the swanneck with shroud that was stuck fast... the liner seems to be lasting well, although I always have a spare of each bit in stock. Actual maintenance.... ummm let me look that up....

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just looked on fleabay. As you will already know, but surprised me is that these 3pin plugs look nothing like the "normal" plugs that I have. How do I go about sorting it so I can use is on the normal 240v / 13 "household" system that I have set up in the garage??

Dave

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The proper answer is you wire one into the main feed from its own ~16A breaker.

The other way is to tap a spur off a ring main if you are lucky enough to have one of them in your garage (like me), which are fused to 30A and should have no problem supplying the juice.

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Hi Chaps,

Got a few questions on this thread as these are issues i considered before i bought my welder:

1. When you say put a 16 amp plug on the welder - are these square three pin and plug into a 13amp socket? or do you need a round 3pin 16amp plug AND socket?

2. If you stick a 16 amp plug onto the welder that plugs into a 13amp circuit, won't the circuit and the fuse at the box be the weak point and still stop you consistently drawing more than 13amps?

3. Would it be better to use a heavy duty extension cord that you can plug into your cooker socket if you have one and need to use an extension as these are normally 30amp IIRC?

4. If you spur off of a ring, sureley that will still draw 13amps and is actually the equivilent of using an extension cord (connected to wire that is not rated for the current) regardless of what plug and socket you use at the end of the spur?

I'm not an electrician so tell me what i've got wrong here!

5. If possible, could one of you put some links up to the correct wires, plugs and sockets to buy to do this properly?

6. Obviously i suppose the best solution is a dedicated circuit rated at 16amps with 16 amp sockets and plugs, but it may not be that easy for everyone to have this run from their fusebox to the garage without majorish work?

Thanks

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1) Round 16A plug and socket

2) The fuse box or consumer unit will be rated to 20 or 30A depending on whether it is a ring main or not, and wired with 30A cable -it's not a limiting factor.

3) Not really, you are still limited by the 13A socket, and the cooker outlet is a switched fused spur at 13A, so you'd gain nothing.

4) Nope, it's heavier than 13A cable.

5) Erm, not atm, trying to pack for a holiday!

6) I suppose it is one solution, but nothing wrong with a spur off a ring main.

Finally, some advice.... you are no longer allowed to do electrical work on any outbuildings and can be prosecuted if caught, not to mention being unable to sell your house. This has all come along with 'Part P' of the building regs and has basically stopped eveen competent people doing any wiring in the kitchen, bathroom or any outbuildings, including outside lights. There's now a multitude of exams and qualifications you need to touch stuff like this, and frankly for a DIYer it's not worth it.

If you are as unsure as you appear from your post you really should get a qualified sparky in to do the work, it is expensive but it will be right.

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The proper, and correct way to do it is to run a dedicated 16 amp supply straight from your fusebox, and put it onto a separate 16amp fuse/RCD.

You cannot safely run this from the domestic 13amp supply that you have.

Yes you do need the 16amp plug AND socket.

Plugging into the cooker socket will not make any difference as the welder and the extension lead will still have 13 amp fuses in them.

You should not wire a 16amp socket into a domestic 13amp ring main, as the standard fusing on a ring main is 32amps, and dont forget that the 16 amp plugs have no fuses in them. In short this would then mean that the only fuse in the circuit between your welder and electrocution would be a 32 amp one. Not good.

With the current Part P regs the only correct wires etc to install are to employ a qualified electrician to make the necessary changes for you.

It is majorish work as you put it, but I cannot condone the use of the "30 amp nail" in the mains plug, or other unsafe modifications to the ring mains of your home.

If you dont know what you're doing and arent qualified you have two choices:-

1. buy a **** load of 13 amp fuses and keep changing them

2. bite the bullet and employ an electrician to sort it out for you

I used to have one of these welders and it used to blow fuses for a hobby. Interestingly my 180 amp Cebora still runs a 13amp plug and never blows fuses. I think the cheapo welders are partly to blame.

Just to add I'm not an electrician! I'm just trying to keep people safe!

Jon

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Guest noggy

i thought id bought a terrible welder when mine kept blowing 13amp fuses when welding at around 200amps.

its only now i read this thread that ive realised my welder can draw upto 42amps!

no wonder i blew loads of 13 amp fuses!!

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Hi Chaps,

Got a few questions on this thread as these are issues i considered before i bought my welder:

1. When you say put a 16 amp plug on the welder - are these square three pin and plug into a 13amp socket? or do you need a round 3pin 16amp plug AND socket?

2. If you stick a 16 amp plug onto the welder that plugs into a 13amp circuit, won't the circuit and the fuse at the box be the weak point and still stop you consistently drawing more than 13amps?

3. Would it be better to use a heavy duty extension cord that you can plug into your cooker socket if you have one and need to use an extension as these are normally 30amp IIRC?

4. If you spur off of a ring, sureley that will still draw 13amps and is actually the equivilent of using an extension cord (connected to wire that is not rated for the current) regardless of what plug and socket you use at the end of the spur?

I'm not an electrician so tell me what i've got wrong here!

5. If possible, could one of you put some links up to the correct wires, plugs and sockets to buy to do this properly?

6. Obviously i suppose the best solution is a dedicated circuit rated at 16amps with 16 amp sockets and plugs, but it may not be that easy for everyone to have this run from their fusebox to the garage without majorish work?

Thanks

The 16A plug on the welder goes into a 16A round pin socket.

How you wire it depends on what rating your supply is in the garage. If it is fused at 30 or 32A you could spur off of that for the welder socket as it is unlikely you are running another 16 odd amps in the garage whilst busy welding.

A ring main should be fused at 30-32A so you could spur off that.

The usual caveats apply........it is against the law to do this work yourself.

Steve

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The 16A plug on the welder goes into a 16A round pin socket.

How you wire it depends on what rating your supply is in the garage. If it is fused at 30 or 32A you could spur off of that for the welder socket as it is unlikely you are running another 16 odd amps in the garage whilst busy welding.

A ring main should be fused at 30-32A so you could spur off that.

The usual caveats apply........it is against the law to do this work yourself.

Steve

No - that is dangerous! In short it means that you could potentially draw 32amps through a plug and socket that are only rated for 16 amps.

Jon

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You can still work on electrics 'DIY' under part-p, you simply have to get the work validated afterwards. Major things can require various amounts of paper work, but it is still cheaper in the long run to do it yourself (assuming your competent that is).

Also to do the part P exams is a one off fee of around £50, so long as you can manage your own learning and get the right teaching materials (ebay £4), then even the most occasional of DIYers could get them selves qualified to sign off on basic changes.

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You can still work on electrics 'DIY' under part-p, you simply have to get the work validated afterwards. Major things can require various amounts of paper work, but it is still cheaper in the long run to do it yourself (assuming your competent that is).

Also to do the part P exams is a one off fee of around £50, so long as you can manage your own learning and get the right teaching materials (ebay £4), then even the most occasional of DIYers could get them selves qualified to sign off on basic changes.

I thought the exam was only the first stage. You then had to be a member of one or other of two organizations in order to do the sign-off and it was that bit that cost an arm and leg.

Steve

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To self certify under part P without first obtaining permission/authorisation from the local Concil building Control to start said works, you need to belong to the NicEic, Napit, or several others,

A suitably qualified person (ie sparks with 17th Edition Regs, 2391 Test and inspection) can also I believe certify without spending out on Nic etc, but has to notify building control first , but check with local building control as some do and some don't :huh:

Regards

Les

NicEic Qualifying Supervisor :D

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