View Full Version : Old CK Systematics spoolgun: What's it fit, and can I use it?
10-15-2009, 03:12 AM
I picked up this Craigslist treasure, in the form of an old C.K. Sytematics spoolgun and converter box:
It's a little rough, but the price was right ($50) and I know the same basic gun is still being made today- I used one just like it on an almost-new ESAB machine just a few months ago.
I only have a couple of buzzboxes and a TIG machine, so I'll have to keep my eyes open for a power supply for this thing. The question is, what's it fit?
Here's a closeup of the box face:
... and the back of the box:
The threaded military-style connector has five pins; both on the back and where the gun lead attaches at the front. The local Miller/Lincoln shop doesn't recognize it, and the box has no model number or part number we can find.
So: Can anyone identify what this thing was originally supposed to mate to? Better yet, anyone know if this thing can be converted to work with something else?
I'm tempted to borrow the ESAB gun again (helpful neighbor) and see how the actual gun connection wiring compares. If it's basically the same, at least then I know I could find a relatively new power supply it'll work with.
Anyone got a little light to shed on the subject?
10-15-2009, 03:38 AM
Those are good guns. That unit will fit just about any mig machine. Esab, Lincoln, Snap-On, Hobart, and others sell this gun as their own. CK makes them up in washington. (Or down for you)
The guns are wired a little differently depending on who CK OEMs it for. The ESAB has a mechanical gas valve in the gun itself.
Call CK, they can get you a manual for it. There may or may not be a contactor in it. If there is you can hook this up to a standard stick machine and run aluminum with it. Aluminum is the one exception to needing constant voltage power source for mig welding. Aluminum prefers, in many cases, constant current.
If there is not a contactor in the box then the connector will most likely be Three pins for power, (hot, neutral, ground) and the other two will be contactor control. This will probably be a N.O. relay in the box. Might be internally configurable to send out a 24v signal as well.
You got a hell of a deal. One thing I would do is change the front end parts to the lincoln versions. Then it uses standard tweco tips, insulators, and nozzles.
You can see mine in the pic below hanging on the right of the machine. I built mine from an old Hobart AG-2000 version. Had to make my own control box. Its sitting on top of the feeder.
10-15-2009, 05:38 AM
Interesting. Thanks for the info.
Actually, the aluminum was the main reason I was interested in this. My TIG works great, but it's kind of light for thick aluminum at 180 amps. I've run into a couple of cases where it just didn't have enough horsepower to get a good join on relatively large sections.
I needed to borrow the ESAB setup (250 amp) to do a heavy aluminum skiff mod a few months ago. Worked great, though the welds weren't, of course, as clean as a nice TIG bead.
I have plenty of other stuff for doing thin materials (TIG, small MIG) or heavy steel (various buzzboxes) so I've been looking for a way to duplicate that ESAB aluminum setup in a way that I could actually afford. :D
My TIG power supply is constant current, as I recall. You're saying I could run this spoolgun off of that? If so, that's an interesting interim solution, and I'd probably try that, but as above, I'm looking for a little more beef.
I was figuring that, once I know what kind or brand or style or power supply I might need (or be able to adapt the gun to) I'd just keep an eye out for a used one in the 250+ amp range.
Alternatively, I've been considering saving up for a Miller 252, or whatever this years' model designation is. A 250 amp MIG, anyway. The spoolgun for it is almost a thousand bucks- if this one can be adapted (and works, it's still a bit of a pig in a poke at the moment) that'd get me what I want at a pretty fair savings.
10-15-2009, 12:44 PM
Yes, you could hook it to the tig machine. Your contactor output from the blux box would connect to the foot pedal (A and B pins on a miller) to activate the power supply. Make sure HF is off!
Only problems is 180 amps is not a whole lot and you can hit the duty cycle limit pretty quick.
You could hook this unit to a 252 as well. Two ways to do it. First, does your spoolgun have the speed control pot in the bottom of the handle. If it does than there is a good possibility you can connect it directly to the 10 pin connector on the 252. Two wires for trigger, two for motor, and three for the speed control pot. If the spool gun does not have it you could make a small adapter box that has a amphenol for the gun on it and a 10 pin one for the machine. Put a 10k pot in there to control the spool gun speed. You could even get fancy and take a piece of three wire shielded and make the pot remote and splice in at the machine. That way the speed control is next to you. Connect the gas line to the spoolgun gas fitting. The internal valve will turn on for the spool gun.
Other way is to connect the contactor output on the blue box to the trigger input on the front of the machine for the gun. Little 4 pin AMP connector. 120 to the blue box. Weld power lead to the main stud (Not the spoolgun one). When you want to use the spool gun pop the latch on the drive rolls for the internal wire feed.
I would go with option number 1. It may also have a soft start for the spool gun. There is an annoying issue welding aluminum mig with cold starts. It will take a second or two for the arc to get established on cold metal. Aluminum feeders will feed the wire slowly until the feeder sensed current flow on the weld lead and then bring the wire speed up to full. Often referred to "run-in"
When you start experimenting with aluminum mig start your wire feed on the high side. Too slow the wire will burn back and weld itself to the tip. Once this happens stop immediately at the risk of birdnesting your feeder or gun. The tip is now pretty useless. I have tried resurrecting them but they usually fail quick. There are specific sizes of tips for aluminum. Often you can get away with using a .035 tip with .035 aluminum but as the wire expands the wire can jam. If specific aluminum size tips are not available use a standard size tip one size up. .035 > .040, .030 > .035 and so on. At can help if you mill a notch halfway through the tip about 1/4" back. Remove half the diameter of the tip so the hole is exposed. You will have a half circle piece of copper sticking out. This reduces the chance of the wire burning back and ruining the tip.
Newer inverter mig machines with pulsing will produce the nice "stacked dimes" bead of a tig machine. And there are techniques that can help on standard mig machines.
Remember, pure argon. I split from my tig machine.
10-19-2009, 06:01 AM
TIG and Arc (stick) are constant current sources, whilst MIG is constant voltage.
You can run a wire feeder from a constant current source, but the wire speed has to vary with the arc voltage rather than staying constant.
My first MIG, a Cebora with permenantly live torch, worked that way. There was a reostat (variable power resistor) in series with the feed motor which was them powered by the main transformer, 'drooping' type as found in old buzzbox units. It worked and was one of the first affordable units on the UK market. I got a deal on it at the local motor factor close to where I work and the Manager ran me back to work in his car so I didn't have to carry it a mile or so!
10-21-2009, 12:03 AM
Aluminum actually likes to run CC with a standard mig feeder. Had a guy call me saying he was having issues with his spool gun welding aluminum. Told him to try CC mode (He was using an engine drive). I think he thought I was crazy. Called back later saying is solved his problems.
Oh yeah, you can also Tig with a CV power supply as well.
10-21-2009, 06:32 AM
You know if you hang a small mig up, like on a step ladder. Keep the torch lead in a straight line as possible you can weld aluminum wire through it. I have done many cable tray splices through the years with a cheap gas mig. THEN I crawled my heavy self down them later. Never occurred to me I should have pre-heated or done anything differently.
The least amount of dust and crud in the liner will cause it to birdcage thou. Run over the liner with something and kink it, it is over.
The lack-of-heat from a small power supply, and the birdcage is why the spool guns work so well. I missed one at a auction for $5.. still kicking myself. It was in a box, staged for a special buyer. I cried foul.. but.. didn't press the subject.