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Welding observations from a novice

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Old 12-13-2017, 08:47 PM
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Default Welding observations from a novice

Like most hot rodders, I'm willing to spill my bank account into every manner of 'go fast' parts but when it comes to something like a welder, I start rubbing my chin and squinting while muttering, "I don't know.... I could get new turbo for the cost of that". So I went the route of the super cheap bottom end Harbor Freight Flux only Mig welder for the lofty price of about $99 on sale.

Took it home, unboxed it, got it setup and promptly went to work... melting gaping holes In my 3" down pipe. And anytime it wasn't burning holes (if I moved fast enough) , instead of a 'stack of dimes' it looked like a stack of BB's in melted candlewax.

I became well acquainted with my grinder and I could knock down the most visually offensive welding carnage. I started looking at Oxyacetylene setups and bought a setup with the normal torch, but swapped to a Cobra style last year. After that, my welds got a LOT better because I could control the heat.

Fast forward to last week. I'd seen a lot of reviews of the latest iteration of TIG welders from Harbor Freight. They've really stepped up their game on these. I decided to give it a try. I bought a HF Vulcan ProTig200 for $895.00 or so. Took it home and then wired a 220 circuit to my circuit breaker box to feed it. I've been setting up new twin turbo setup in my 5.3 turbo'd 96 Z28, using stock cast truck manifolds and some schedule 40 pipe and ELLs and was dying to try out the new TIG. After going to the local welding supply and getting a 100% Argon gas cylinder, I set it all up and started welding. Wow... this is easy! Very easy to get great penetration and visual appeal.

So, my recommendation for the guys considering a welder, don't be like me , buying a $99 low quality welder (it was a waste) nor the $1,000.00 I invested in the Oxy Acetylene. Just get a good quality (which nowadays, for the hobbyist like myself is under $1,000) TIG welder and start practicing. This welder comes with everything but a helmet, gloves and argon cylinder. Tig Torch, 3 different tungstens, 3 different Collette's, 3 different cups, Stick Welding torch, Tig Pedal, Argon Gauges, argon gas hose, Hookups for both 220v and 120v (that's right, you can run 120v OR 220v).
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Old 12-13-2017, 08:52 PM
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Wow Good stuff! Thank you!
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Old 12-13-2017, 09:22 PM
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Been debating that tig but haven't been able to pull the trigger on it yet. If you didn't return that flux core welder it isn't horrible once you put a good name brand wire on it. Blow out the lead before putting good wire on it and it'll work a lot better. Still not great but better. I have one because my mig I can't seem to turn down enough for thin stuff. Flux core is also great for fixing rusty exhaust.
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Old 12-14-2017, 09:06 PM
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That is not a bad price for tig set up. You can also purchase a Lincoln AC/DC crackerbox as they are referred to and you can reverse the polarity and tig weld with it. Last one i priced was around $450 but you will have to purchase the torch and supporting consumables. If you want a mig or flux-core your best bet is to purchase one that you can use the shielding gas which is better for doing new work. The self shielding wires are basically used for junk iron as we call it where you don't want to take time to have good clean area to weld. I have been in the welding industry going on 39 years and the type of work we do you have to have the best but for home use you can spend less and make it work to your benefit. Good luck with your new toy and as the old saying goes practice makes perfect. PS remember when purchasing a welder always try to get one that operates on 220 volt, they will weld much better and easier on heavier gauge material vs a 110 volt.
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Old 12-15-2017, 06:04 AM
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Flux core welding has one purpose only
not for welding rusty things or iron
it was invented for welding steel that has been galvanized so you don't have to remove galvanizing
people misunderstand it's uses quite a bit and now the market makes these cheap garbage " gasless " welder for entry level
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Old 12-15-2017, 11:11 AM
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Your biggest help was buying and using an oxy set up. Learning to gas weld helps tremendously when you jump to TIG. It's the same thing in essence just one use a pedal to control heat and one uses your hand placement. Welding is just controlled heating of two objects. My welding teacher in tech school wouldn't let us switch to MIG until we were very fluent in oxy gas welding.
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Old 12-17-2017, 05:26 PM
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flux core comes gasless and with gas.

no gas = self shielding which is a completely garbage useless process imo and has no purpose or place what so ever building a car. 0.

shielded (w/ gas) is actually very nice to use its more for heavier structual things almost impossible to make it look bad it lays down very wet and flat but again little purpose for building a car except maybe if your building a 2x3 box frame and running lighter wire.


In general you get what you pay for with a welder its to bad their so damn expensive. An ideal setup for me would be a healthy sized (miller 251-252) CV wire machine for all my wire needs and then a healthy sized tig welder capable of atleast 3/16 - 1/4inch. But those together is like $8000+ for something im not going to be using on the daily and i'm not rich.
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Old 12-17-2017, 07:14 PM
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I run a miller maxstar 150 stl, tig/stick-never skips a beat. Runs on 120/230v. It's true that you get what you pay for in a welder. While you may not be able to justify 1000 $ welder, it saves you time when it comes time to fab. My advice is save your money and buy something red or blue. Hobart isn't bad either. Eastwood also has a 110v/230v solid core setup for under 400 I seen on jegs.
An xmt304 used can be had for 800$ and will most likely do everything you need it to do.

Oxy-fuel is underated and outdated, old school hot rodders would fab and weld roll cages with that, due to oxy-fuel being able to preheat, weld, and post heat the metal all at once.
Although it is very time consuming

There's a lot of choices out there. It depends on what you need to weld. If you need to weld aluminum or magnesium, then that's a whole other subject. And a lot more costly for a good machine
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Old 12-18-2017, 10:26 AM
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Fluxcore isn't garbage, nor is it useless for building cars.
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Old 12-18-2017, 12:02 PM
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^exactly

When people complain about a 110V fluxcore welder, they don't know how to weld with it. You can't fluxcore weld like you do MIG. You need to adjust the setup and process.

I have a Lincoln Weldpack 100 HD I bought for $150 3 years ago with Harbor Freight fluxcore wire and I have no problems. Sure, a $900 220V TIG will be a lot better, I should hope so...

I've been able to get the "roll of dimes" look out of mine...But IMO I'd rather the weld hold than look pretty. I've built multiple mufflers, a whole hears back exhaust for my old 04 GTO, tacked my current 95Z camaro exhaust together for final MIG welding and just this weekend welded 3/8" plate to the frame to make a new rear swaybar endlink bracket. Four different heat settings and I think eight different wire feed settings.
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Old 12-18-2017, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by biketopia View Post
Your biggest help was buying and using an oxy set up. Learning to gas weld helps tremendously when you jump to TIG. It's the same thing in essence just one use a pedal to control heat and one uses your hand placement. Welding is just controlled heating of two objects. My welding teacher in tech school wouldn't let us switch to MIG until we were very fluent in oxy gas welding.
I had the same thing, started on oxy gas welding using more or less sheetmetal thickness material. Taught patience and control. Then came stick welding. MIG machines of today are pretty hard to mess up a weld LOL.

I'm no fancy well versed welder, but I have tinkered around with them enough to know when something is awry.

I love welding...I look forward to the day I have a detached garage with a 220V capabilities. Bring on the bigger fabrication equipment and MIG/TIG welder.
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Old 12-19-2017, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by orange88ls1s-dime View Post
Flux core welding has one purpose only
not for welding rusty things or iron
it was invented for welding steel that has been galvanized so you don't have to remove galvanizing
people misunderstand it's uses quite a bit and now the market makes these cheap garbage " gasless " welder for entry level
If you're going to throw this out there, don't you think you should mention Galvanize Poisoning so everyone with a flux core welder doesn't get sick?
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Old 12-20-2017, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Jscm3 View Post
If you're going to throw this out there, don't you think you should mention Galvanize Poisoning so everyone with a flux core welder doesn't get sick?
Sorry I forgot to include the MSDS on my last post
My bad
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Old 12-20-2017, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Jscm3 View Post
If you're going to throw this out there, don't you think you should mention Galvanize Poisoning so everyone with a flux core welder doesn't get sick?
Great point, very good way to mess yourself up if you don't know about the dangers.
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Old 12-20-2017, 11:32 AM
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Fluxcore doesn't have only one purpose of welding galvanized steel, which you should never ******* do anyways. Its design allows for field repairs where elements such as wind aren't very friendly to gas shielding. When set-up correctly, fluxcore can and will provide a strong weld. It won't necessarily be the prettiest, but it will hold.

Not all pretty welds are strong, and not all strong welds are pretty.
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Old 12-20-2017, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by muhthugga View Post
not all pretty welds are strong, and not all strong welds are pretty.
Boom!
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Old 12-20-2017, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by orange88ls1s-dime View Post
Sorry I forgot to include the MSDS on my last post
My bad
Genius AND comedian

Impressive
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Old 12-22-2017, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by MuhThugga View Post
Fluxcore isn't garbage, nor is it useless for building cars.

Self shielding is straight garbage there is no two ways about it.

Gas shielding if you read my post could be used for a 2x3 frame, welding a boxed front cross member onto your frame besides that not much more. If you have a hard time making Gas shielded flux core look nice your doing something wrong. If you want to argue that self shielded fluxcore isnt garbage and has more purpose and is more suitable building a car I invite you to build your cage, hotside, coldside, fuel cell, tube chassis with it please post pics after you do so I look forward to seeing them.

Last edited by phluxx; 12-22-2017 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 12-22-2017, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Jscm3 View Post
If you're going to throw this out there, don't you think you should mention Galvanize Poisoning so everyone with a flux core welder doesn't get sick?


Its not the flux core its the galvanize material that makes you sick. You could be welding it with stick or hardwire and still get sick its not the process its the material.
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Old 12-22-2017, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by phluxx View Post
Its not the flux core its the galvanize material that makes you sick. You could be welding it with stick or hardwire and still get sick its not the process its the material.
Yes, sorry should have mentioned that.
I was replying to a post that said flux core was invented for welding galvanized.

Any process that vaporizes it is an issue. I found that out when I was young with an oxy acetylene set up.
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