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Does my MIG just suck, or is my technique all wrong?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by BorregoK5, Apr 25, 2002.

  1. BorregoK5

    BorregoK5 1/2 ton status

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    I'm a newbie to this 110v MIG which I'm borrowing. I've done a bunch of buzz box welding in the past with good results, and a lot of oxy-acetlyene stuff as well... but I don't have a buzz box anymore and my gas stuff just isn't suited for what I'm doing. This MIG is a FirePower FP90, its rated to 90Amps as follows.
    80 amps @ 15% Duty Cycle 17.5 volts
    on 120v single phase 60 hertz with a 20 amp draw

    60 amps @ 20% Duty Cycle 21 volts
    on 120v single phase 60 hertz with a 15 amp draw

    My issue isn't with the duty cycle, I don't need to sustain a long bead but I have a hard time getting a clean puddle with it. I'm working on 1/4 steel which I taper first and realize I'm not going to get a single pass on this thing but I'm having a hard time getting any pass on it, even on thinner material. Either I'm setting the wire speed to nearly its slowest setting with the Min/Max switch set to Max(I know, cheezy) and working an area for a long time to get it hot enough to puddle (at which point I'm playing zig zag trying to get both sides to puddle together, or I'm upping the wire speed and not getting any penetration. Another thing which has been bothering me is the wire speed is erratic, I've set the tension internally at the pinch wheel and that seems ok, but the spool knob holding the spool on gets tighter with use, and if you loosen it, it unravels. It's no wonder they discontinued this model, anyway, back to the rest. I'm using .030 hobart flux cored wire fabsheild 21-b. I get a decent penetration on my .120 wall tubing but the erratic wire speed and poor puddling makes for a bad weld. A lot of splatter too but I think that was a result of my distance from the work, a closer distance from the tip has solved some of that. One last factor, I'm using a long extension cord. It doesn't get warm, but could this play a role in its poor performance. Last but not least, I'm looking to get into my own MIG but want to keep it under a grand. I'd prefer a 220 setup with a potential to upgrade to gas in the near future but don't need it now. Since most of what I'm playing with is 1/4 should I avoid a 110 model or has this little 90Amp just poisened my opinion of the 110v models?
     
  2. Mreetz

    Mreetz 1/2 ton status

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    Are you using flux cored wire? I put in the wrong stuff once and had the same issues you are describing here.

    Nevermind, just read that closer, only other issue I've heard of is mig welding in the wind isn't recommended.
     
  3. BorregoK5

    BorregoK5 1/2 ton status

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    I think the wind issue is when using your mixing in gas, but I could be wrong. I've been welding everything I have in the garage trying to improve my technique, reading books, blah blah.. just doesn't seem to be getting any better. I could have arc'd the things I need in little or no time with a great puddle and a great single pass bead... but I really like the whole MIG idea. Somebody save me!

    I take some of that back.. I just went out and looked at some of the thin metal and I guess those are ok, kinda.. but its like sheet metal thin. I think I just need more power..
     
  4. 55Willy

    55Willy 3/4 ton status

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    any pics of the welds????
    how are you drawing the puddle?
    circles? horseshoes? back and forth?
    are you pushing the puddle(backhand) or drawing the puddle(forehand)

    try to by-pass the extension cord.
     
  5. Butch

    Butch 1/2 ton status

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    The splatter with flux core is normal. If your wire is erractic your tip at the end may have splatter on it making the wire drag against it. Buy some nozzle dip for starters will help with the wire. The book should give you an idea of how to set wire speed according to the heat range. Mine has #'s so it is not a problem. I dont like flux core on a small machine, it seems to suck to me, but that is a personal opinion. I just like to run with gas unless it is big flux core wire. The extension cord is going to be a problem, if you have to have it try to get a 10ga core and keep it as short as possible.
     
  6. BorregoK5

    BorregoK5 1/2 ton status

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    Well, I got so sick of the dang irratic wire feed that I opened up the mig (unplugged of course) It's a good and heavy box so I expected to see the large tranformers as opposed to a small switching power supply. The whole spool assembly is kinda rigged by design and was coming apart internally. I tightened it up and shimmed it so it could move a bit more freely and put it all back together. Its still a poor design but I'm getting a smoother feed and the thinner material is puddling better. I'm getting a nice consistent buzz at the tip for what used to be a stop and go feed (faster/slowwer/faster/slower, sounds like a lopsided motor too, rar-rar-rar-rar). It's still doing it but not nearly as bad. I was able to pull a single pass puddle at first but the feed started getting funky again. I'm geting better results by running vertically and angled under the puddle dragging it down(drawing the puddle?). Flat surface I need to either back and forth (which looks better than ever now, or horseshooes, circles tend to bubble up on me. The smoother the wire feeds, the better the puddle.. any opinions on the 90 amp rating being too small or?
     
  7. BorregoK5

    BorregoK5 1/2 ton status

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    I can't ge my work close enough to an outlet which wont pop the breaker without an extension unfortunately, I have a shorter one I can try, might help. I'm really eager to try a gas equipped mig, from what I read it makes for a "pretty" weld.

    Consequently, upping the wire speed with it moving at a more consistent rate (not speeding and slowing so much) has made for better penetration than it did before. I'm going to go out and see about the tip, try and get the spool to no bind when its rotating would help a lot.. dang cheap design!
     
  8. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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    The single shield flux cored wire generally sucks for anything thicker than sheet gauge. The size and rating isn't really a problem if you use gas shielded wire, but if you regularly weld 1/4" material I'd step up to the 135 amp welder minimum.

    Rene
     
  9. HarryH3

    HarryH3 1 ton status Author

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    You need a heavy duty extension cord. The cheapies are made with 16 or 14 gauge wire. When you start pulling a lot of current through them (which a 90 amp welder will), there is a large amount of voltage drop across the cord. /forums/images/icons/frown.gif Like mentioned earlier, get a 12 or 10 gauge extension cord to get the most voltage out to the welder. For the thick stuff, you're pushing the welder to its limits. If the voltage coming in is too low, then the welder can't put out its rated power.

    Sounds like the feed for the wire isn't too hot either. I've got a Lincoln Weld-Pak 100 that welds very nicely.
     
  10. 55Willy

    55Willy 3/4 ton status

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    if you are drawing the puddle, you are doing it the same way you would read.left to right.
    back hand is done right to left. which most thicker metals weld better that way. That way is awkward for me so I get in the postion to weld it left to right,LOL.
    sounds like you ar egetting closer to what you want.


    I also have the lincoln weld pak 100, works great. I want the 175 and gas soon....LOL
     
  11. BorregoK5

    BorregoK5 1/2 ton status

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    Well, I fixed the dang spool issuse, it feeds very good now. Some of the problem I was having with the puddle is definately user error. I wasn't getting the tip right on top of my work. With the tip about 1/4" from the puddle, it puddles really well now (didn't though with erratic wire speed). And duty cycle is an issue all of a sudden, went into thermal shutdown on me for the second time ever (I'm usually good about letting it cool off). I was getting excited at the quality of the bead, and just kept on going to the next beams (splicing a server rack into four pieces, had to reenforce it befroe I cut it). I'm going to do a bit of heavy stuff next and see how it does with the changes. Thanks for everyones help, tip was a little on the dirty side too, but not too bad since it was so far away from the work /forums/images/icons/crazy.gif.

    What about getting a 220v MIG with gas potential (at least the fittings for it) for under $1000. Is there such a thing? And what would you reccomend for a 220 extension cord... I'm moving and the 220 is even farther than my 110 is now.
     
  12. BorregoK5

    BorregoK5 1/2 ton status

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    I'm having a hard enough time seeing my work now that the tip is nearly on top of it.. right to left is good for me! LOL

    So, survey says yay or nay on needing a 220v? what about these smaller ones for dirt cheap.
    Lincoln http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1725774362
    Lincoln http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1724676754
    Lincoln http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1725858253
    Hobart http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1725339137
    Miller http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1725485222
     
  13. ftn96

    ftn96 1/2 ton status

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    Right outta the gate, You aint got the ballz in that little bitty machine to weld 1/4. I have a 155 amp and it just scraps by!!!
    Listen to what ever advise Trustyk5 gives you!
     
  14. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    I got my Miller 175 which is a sweet little portable unit for around $650. I'm really pleased with it. With tank, regulator, cart, extra 10 lb spool of .030, large view visor, and some extra consumables, all total and out the door was about $850 IIRC. I've heard the Hobart equivalent has a purge valve and is a little cheaper. The purge would probably sway me over if I had it to do again.
     
  15. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    <blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr>

    if you are drawing the puddle, you are doing it the same way you would read.left to right. back hand is done right to left. which most thicker metals weld better that way. That way is awkward for me so I get in the postion to weld it left to right,LOL.
    sounds like you ar egetting closer to what you want.

    <hr></blockquote>
    Of course, this generally assumes a right handed person holding the gun in their right hand, tilted toward their body so they can see under the nozzle. /forums/images/icons/laugh.gif

    Bottom line is, you get a smoother, more shallow weld if the nozzle (and arc) are pointed slightly ahead of the puddle, with you hand behind the nozzle along the direction of travel. If you point the nozzle/tip back into the puddle (hand leading the puddle) then you get better penetration and a generally taller bead. Of course that’s just part of the equations but, there is what I think I know about it…
     
  16. BorregoK5

    BorregoK5 1/2 ton status

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    Well, I've managed to get a lot out of these posts. I went and took a look at the Miller 175 w/ regulator and I like it. I found a shop with a rental unit which I can go give a try and see how I like it, but couldn't find one for less than $780. It does however fit my below $1000 criteria so I'll probably get it. I did finally get a good weld on two 1/4" plates cornered together with the edges tapered but I had to make three complete passes... it looked... adequite. It was strong though, so thats what really counts.
     
  17. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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    A 3 pass with that small machine on 1/4" is the only way you'll get it strong enough. You could pre-heat the thicker stuff with a torch which will help a lot too. Even 200-300 degrees will make a big difference...

    The Miller 175 sounds like the perfect welder for what you want/expect out of the machine. You could go a little smaller but my personal opinion is buy the largest welder that is within your budget. It's easier to turn a big machine down for thin stuff than to try and weld beyond a machine's capabilty. Once you add the bottle of shield gas you'll be set.../forums/images/icons/cool.gif

    Rene
     
  18. outlaw612

    outlaw612 1/2 ton status

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    IMO, go with the Miller. Ive always had good luck with them. DONT buy the Hobart. The parts are expesive and the welders arent the greatest. Ive got a 220 hobart but only because it was free.
     
  19. Zeus33rd

    Zeus33rd Smarter than you GMOTM Winner

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    What Rusty said. Savin my duckets for the MillerMatic 251. Waaaaay more than I need, But that way I won't have worry about anything.
     
  20. TheGeneral

    TheGeneral 1/2 ton status

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    I have a lincoln 135 and get some good welds on 1/4 single pass and have taken the welds to the local college for tensile strenght and very good. As far as welders go, I bought the 135 MIG and have a 225AC/DC stick which feels the gap for welding different metals and different positions. Anything more than 1/4" requires me to preheat with torch, but I haven't ran into anything I can't get done with this combo of welders/torches for under 1000 for all three (minus the tanks). Just my 2cents.
     

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