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  • Harbor Freight welders and rods

    I convinced my boss to let me buy a Harbor Freight Tig/Stick welder and the last two days I have been using it. The best thing you can do for a Harbor Freight welder is to NOT use their welding rods! I bought some 3/32 7018 and 6011 with the welder. I was having a hard time starting the weld and while the welder is 240v input and welds smoothly, although I think the voltage is a bit low. However I got some Lincoln 1/8" 7018 at Home Depot because they didn't have 3/32". Wow, what a difference! At the same current setting the Lincoln 7018 was easy to start, burned smoothly, and was easy to restart.

    This job was all out of position welding on the frame of a machine and lots of vertical and overhead welding. I had to be a contortionist to reach many of the welds and some of the fit ups were not very good. So I decided that I would use the Tig instead. I managed to make very nice welds very easily in all positions except a couple where my non-focusing eyes (cataract surgery) made it difficult to see, even though I bought reading type lenses for the helmet and I wear varifocal glasses. The welder came with a foot pedal current control which is nice for bench welding. However it also had a start button on the torch but you can't vary the current. However I learned Tig welding on a machine with no current control, and learned to control the heat by how fast you move and feed the filler so no problem.

  • #2
    Try a clear glass gas lens that will allow more light from the arc to help you see better.

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    • #3
      I don't know the HF welders, but my AHP (AC/DC Pulse) TIG (&stick) has start & end amps settings that comes in handy when using the finger switch. I start high and end low for most applications. There is also a finger switch (I have not used one) that has current control.

      If none of that is any help to you how about taping the foot switch to the back of your head. Ok, that sounds a little smart ass I know. The manager at the local Praxair store told me about visiting a customer one time and finding a guy TIG welding inside a tank. He would just lay back and start welding. He had the pedal tucked in under his head. Not a skill I think I could master, but he apparently did it just fine.
      *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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      • #4
        To follow up on Bob's post, I've also heard of people who learned to use the foot peddle by locating it under their hip and rolling over a little to control the arc.

        Really, you need a welder that supports 2T/4T process so that the trigger can scroll you through a canned cycle of starting amps -> main amps -> final amps. I don't see 4T on most of the HF machines.

        Dan
        P.S. For those who have not heard of 2T / 4T... look here: https://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com...ngs-part3.html
        At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

        Location: SF East Bay.

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        • #5
          This reminds me of some rosin core solder I had when I was a kid. I was interested in electrical/electronic stuff but just could not get the hang of soldering. Ruined some circuit boards, never could get the solder to wet. One day I used some different solder. Holy crap, wets out right away, so this is how it's supposed to work. Turns out there was something wrong with that solder I had been using. Bad flux I presume. Ruined my interest in electronics for the rest of my life as I had moved on to mechanical stuff like engines and go karts. I'm still slow when it comes to modern tech to this day. I blame it on that solder experience in my formative years.

          I can believe a similar experience with crappy welding rods would dissuade someone from welding in the future.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by garyhlucas View Post
            I convinced my boss to let me buy a Harbor Freight Tig/Stick welder and the last two days I have been using it. The best thing you can do for a Harbor Freight welder is to NOT use their welding rods! I bought some 3/32 7018 and 6011 with the welder. I was having a hard time starting the weld and while the welder is 240v input and welds smoothly, although I think the voltage is a bit low. However I got some Lincoln 1/8" 7018 at Home Depot because they didn't have 3/32". Wow, what a difference! At the same current setting the Lincoln 7018 was easy to start, burned smoothly, and was easy to restart.

            This job was all out of position welding on the frame of a machine and lots of vertical and overhead welding. I had to be a contortionist to reach many of the welds and some of the fit ups were not very good. So I decided that I would use the Tig instead. I managed to make very nice welds very easily in all positions except a couple where my non-focusing eyes (cataract surgery) made it difficult to see, even though I bought reading type lenses for the helmet and I wear varifocal glasses. The welder came with a foot pedal current control which is nice for bench welding. However it also had a start button on the torch but you can't vary the current. However I learned Tig welding on a machine with no current control, and learned to control the heat by how fast you move and feed the filler so no problem.
            Which model welder did you get?

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            • #7
              Gotta love it. Went on the HF site and they don't even list the Chicago Electric Welder I bought! Its 160 amp max and 100% duty cycle at 125 amps. Has the foot pedal and the torch switch and a stick rod holder.

              After using it for a couple of days I am seriously thinking of getting rid of the Titanium Mig welder and buying a Tig/Stick machine. I found out a 60 cu/ft Argon bottle costs $160 and $25 to fill. Which is much less than I expected and Tig is just so much more capable than mig for the stuff I would be likely to do. Absolute control of heat and filler is so nice. Mig is faster but faster doesn't mean anything for hobby welding.

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