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  • I need help with MIG spool gun settings

    I wish I was a better welder, but I only do it occasionally on just a few pieces. I've never taken a class, and never get to weld all day and really get some chops. I have a Ready-Welder spool gun hooked up to an AC-DC Hobart buzz box, and I need to weld a frame of 1x1x0.062 tube. I can't seem to get settings that work other than stitch, and I get burn throughs. I recall before I got the box and used 12v batteries I could do better but I don't know why.

    So my last piece was at 120v + dc, 0.035 wire, C25 gas. I tried 0.030, but it seemed worse. I don't know the feed rate, it's not calibrated. Anybody got thoughts, or am I doing as well as can be expected on such thin stuff and just need more practice and a better touch?
    Location: Jersey City NJ USA

  • #2
    I'm probably even more of a novice than you, but my impression was that for something as light as 0.062 you want thinner wire - 0.024 or so. For settings I could only look up what the recommendations are - no personal experience with anything that light. Hopefully one of the pros will chime in.
    "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979

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    • #3
      First your welder is CC not CV so that is going to be your first problem, batteries are going to act like a CV source.

      Like Mickey says, try .024.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the replies. I dove in last night and got the job done with only a few burn throughs on 48 welds. But it definitely could be better. I guess I need to do more homework. 1/8" aluminum part of the job today, but I've got that under better control. Usually....
        Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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        • #5
          Originally posted by macona View Post
          First your welder is CC not CV so that is going to be your first problem, batteries are going to act like a CV source.
          Ding ding ding we have a winner...

          Originally posted by gellfex View Post
          Thanks for the replies. I dove in last night and got the job done with only a few burn throughs on 48 welds. But it definitely could be better. I guess I need to do more homework. 1/8" aluminum part of the job today, but I've got that under better control. Usually....
          Hey, Jr. You have the wrong kind of power source for GMAW welding!!!
          There are two types of power sources CC (constant current) used for SMAW
          and GTAW welding and CV (constant current) used for GMAW and FCAW
          welding.

          GMAW gas metal arc welding
          GTAW gas tungsten arc welding
          SMAW shielded metal arc welding
          FCAW flux core arc welding

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          • #6
            OK shade, I think I get it, though the mfr of the spool gun thinks it works (sort of) and give instructions for doing so. I originally got the spool gun as the cheapest practical entry I saw into AL welding, I read the little MIG boxes had a rep for birds nesting the soft AL wire trying to push it through a long tube. While I could get decent results, I found maintaining the charge on the batteries a PITA, as well as dealing with a voltage that dropped during your welding session.

            I really haven't used stick much, at least not on delicate work. Would I be getting better results with a 3/32 stick on this 1/16 material? I find the flux makes it much harder to see what you're doing than the gas shielded. Or should I find myself a cheap MIG box to hook up the spool gun to? Most of my work is with light metal.
            Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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            • #7
              Originally posted by gellfex View Post
              OK shade, I think I get it, though the mfr of the spool gun thinks it works (sort of) and give instructions for doing so. I originally got the spool gun as the cheapest practical entry I saw into AL welding, I read the little MIG boxes had a rep for birds nesting the soft AL wire trying to push it through a long tube. While I could get decent results, I found maintaining the charge on the batteries a PITA, as well as dealing with a voltage that dropped during your welding session.

              I really haven't used stick much, at least not on delicate work. Would I be getting better results with a 3/32 stick on this 1/16 material? I find the flux makes it much harder to see what you're doing than the gas shielded. Or should I find myself a cheap MIG box to hook up the spool gun to? Most of my work is with light metal.
              Are you doing this for a hobby thing, and just welding for yourself or are you going to sell these weldments?

              If it is just for yourself and do not want to invest in good equipment you can just keep doing what you are
              doing and deal with the struggle of jury rigged equipment.

              If you are doing as a business part time or otherwise you really need to invest in some proper equipment.
              Generally you will need either a spoolgun like you have or a push-pull system, those are expensive. Some
              guys will get a Teflon liner for the small home shop Migs but you will wear out the liners relatively fast and
              still deal with bird nesting, but even spoolguns will nest up from time to time.

              If you want to get a decent albeit light duty machine you can purchase a Millermatic 180 with a 100 series
              spoolgun for around $900. Generally you can find New Miller equipment for 20-25% off list. My LWS sells
              at 24.5% off list.





              I run my Spoolmatic 30A gun off either my Millermatic 350P or my Trailblazer 302D. I also have never
              found an aluminum stick electrode that will not leave porosity in the weld Lincoln's were about the best
              but they still were not good. I either Mig (GMAW) or Tig (GTAW) aluminum.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by gellfex View Post
                So my last piece was at 120v + dc, 0.035 wire, C25 gas. I tried 0.030...
                I missed this the first time thru, likely because I was laughing so hard. When welding aluminum you
                need to run pure Argon for shielding gas, not C25 (25% carbon dioxide). So you will also have to get
                another cylinder or trade that once back for pure argon. C25 if for carbon steel only.

                Pure helium is okay too but is way to expensive these days, if you can even find it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Shade View Post
                  I missed this the first time thru, likely because I was laughing so hard. When welding aluminum you
                  need to run pure Argon for shielding gas, not C25 (25% carbon dioxide). So you will also have to get
                  another cylinder or trade that once back for pure argon. C25 if for carbon steel only.

                  Pure helium is okay too but is way to expensive these days, if you can even find it.
                  Umm, fair nuff given what I said, but I'm not THAT big a dope! It was steel tube I was welding with C25, I have 100% argon for AL and stainless.

                  As for your previous question, I'm in business, but welding comes up pretty infrequently, last time was at least a year ago, most of what I design and build is tapped and assembled with screws. I do enough to have invested what I have, but not enough for a TIG. Investing another $900 on something I'm not sure will work with my nonstandard spool gun might not make sense.
                  Location: Jersey City NJ USA

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gellfex View Post
                    Umm, fair nuff given what I said, but I'm not THAT big a dope! It was steel tube I was welding with C25, I have 100% argon for AL and stainless.

                    As for your previous question, I'm in business, but welding comes up pretty infrequently, last time was at least a year ago, most of what I design and build is tapped and assembled with screws. I do enough to have invested what I have, but not enough for a TIG. Investing another $900 on something I'm not sure will work with my nonstandard spool gun might not make sense.
                    The $900 includes a compatible spool gun, if you are a
                    business $900 should not be much of an investment.

                    You have to use the right tool for the right job. Labor is
                    your most expensive cost and your most valuable asset.
                    Wasting time on substandard equipment is very very
                    expensive. I replaced my Millermatic 251 with a 350P
                    for a 20% gain in productivity. My ROI was months.
                    Get a decent piece of equipment and it will change the
                    way you design and build, right no your biggest issue is
                    not ability but equipment. MM180 is a bear minimum
                    for welding aluminum, you really should be looking at a
                    MM 212 and heavier spoolgun for Al. I have been welding
                    since 85, learned in the Navy. Ran my own welding and
                    fab shop for 9 years. I have some experience.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I hear you Shade, and appreciate your professionalism, but truly for my "one off" business (I do special effects and such) it would take a remarkably long time to pay off. The piece I'm working on, the giant wizard puppet for the stage show Wicked, has taken the most of my welding for half a decade. It's a minor part of the work and I've only made 12 of them for the 12 worldwide shows. And sad to say, my amateurish welding on inappropriate equipment has been adequate to the task, both on steel and AL. Muddling through is part and parcel of being a self taught jack of all trades.

                      This is far from first time I've been envious of people who have had the opportunity to get really good at skills I've a smattering of. I've an apartment to renovate and I'm jealous of the guys who are REALLY good at taping drywall joints. They can do it ridiculously faster than even the the regular contractors. Oh well, each to our own pigeonholes.
                      Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                      • #12
                        This may be complete dribble so please take it for what it's worth, but could you switch to brazing wire? With a wall as "thin" at .062 and a very low heat setting you would have less chance of burn through. It would work for steel and stainless(i'm not sure which types though). You'll have to run pure argon with that wire but I hear it's pretty easy to work with, it just doesn't look as pretty.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by robosilo View Post
                          This may be complete dribble so please take it for what it's worth, but could you switch to brazing wire? With a wall as "thin" at .062 and a very low heat setting you would have less chance of burn through. It would work for steel and stainless(i'm not sure which types though). You'll have to run pure argon with that wire but I hear it's pretty easy to work with, it just doesn't look as pretty.
                          Thanks. I had never heard of MIG brazing before, did some reading, might be worth looking into. I often work with stainless spring temper wire 1/16-3/16, it might be a good way to attach it, though it would still anneal out the temper.
                          Location: Jersey City NJ USA

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by robosilo View Post
                            This may be complete dribble so please take it for what it's worth, but could you switch to brazing wire? With a wall as "thin" at .062 and a very low heat setting you would have less chance of burn through. It would work for steel and stainless(i'm not sure which types though). You'll have to run pure argon with that wire but I hear it's pretty easy to work with, it just doesn't look as pretty.
                            Originally posted by gellfex View Post
                            Thanks. I had never heard of MIG brazing before, did some reading, might be worth looking into. I often work with stainless spring temper wire 1/16-3/16, it might be a good way to attach it, though it would still anneal out the temper.
                            I have heard of Mig brazing, have not done it, but if you use much of it you could have a decent welder paid off first.



                            Looked, did not see it anywhere in 1 or 2 pound spools for a spool gun.

                            Harris 10 pound spool was almost $17 per pound, ouch.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by gellfex View Post

                              As for your previous question, I'm in business, but welding comes up pretty infrequently, last time was at least a year ago, most of what I design and build is tapped and assembled with screws. I do enough to have invested what I have, but not enough for a TIG. Investing another $900 on something I'm not sure will work with my nonstandard spool gun might not make sense.
                              Not sure if you ought to look at it that way.... If you got a decent used tig welder with AC capability, you could do AL with the tig, and since tig units can also do stick welding (our Lincoln 175 has an actual switch to convert over) it would take care of the buzz-box usage as well. Gas is a wash, both mig and tig use gas.

                              You could recoup part of your your investment, since the spool gun isn't useful with what you have, and you'd need to spend more to use it right anyhow. Spool guns seem to sell well around here on CL, everyone sees them as their cheap option, pretty much as you seem to have done.

                              The tig isn't just for AL, it's a nice welder for steel..... (it's my favorite type of welding, I just wish I could justify one at home). When material is too thick to deal with well as tig, switch it over to stick.

                              The 175 kinda gives up around 3/16" to 1/4" as a tig, but we welded 3/8" steel structure with it as a stick welder just fine.

                              Since mig (GMAW) depends on shorting the supply with the filler wire to melt it with a somewhat un-controlled high current* from a fixed voltage supply, but stick depends on a controlled-current arc with variable voltage, you have a definite incompatibility. I suppose you might be OK by setting the current high (simulating CV operation), but then you deal with the uncontrolled voltage which may also be rather high.

                              GMAW has voltages often in the 16V to 25V area, where that would be a bit low for stick. Stick would have a higher open circuit voltage which drops when the arc starts. Somewhat opposite actions.

                              * the wire speed sets the average current in a mig unit
                              CNC machines only go through the motions.

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