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  • Welding Lessons

    Those of you who know scoot about welding probably all ready know this but I'm a hack and didn't - and maybe someone else can learn from my ignorance.

    Here's the set-up:

    I had some Stainless Steel to weld and being down to 1 MIG welder (my son and grands have the old Lincoln which I used to have set up for SS) I switched the Eastwood over to SS wire and pure argon shielding gas. All went well on a small SS job I had (exhaust on the Volvo) and there is more SS in my future as I rework the exhaust on Mutt so I wanted to leave the welder set up for SS.

    Here comes the learning experience: In between the SS jobs I needed to weld up the mild steel exhaust support bracket for the turbo exhaust on Mutt. I thought that rather than switch the welder back and forth I'd just weld up the bracket with the SS wire and argon. Turns out that this is a REALLY bad idea. I was getting crappy beads (even worse than usual) but I did manage to glue the whole thing together. Eventually I ran out of argon and decided to complete the final welds with oxy/acetylene and that's when I learned the nasty lesson. Thinking "while I'm at it" I decided to touch up the MIG welds with the torch and found out that I had little to no penetration on the MIG welds. As I melted the MIG welds with the torch I could see the edges of what should have been the weld puddle and they were not integrated with the base metal. With the torch I was able to melt the whole thing into a unified hunk.

    Bottom line - SS wire in a MIG running argon does not result in a decent weld on mild steel. In the future I'll either change the welder over or just torch weld the whole deal to start with.

    No doubt someone with a lot more skill than I have will say that you can MIG mild steel with an SS setup if you JUST......... But I'm not that guy.

    Dan
    Last edited by DanStokes; May 10, 2020, 07:34 PM.

  • #2
    there really is little reason why welding mild steel with stainless shouldn't work... was the exhaust pipe coated? I've been in the same place as you - with stainless wire in my welder - and I welded hangers onto exhaust (think it was the 83 diesel I had)... the only thing I can think is there was either oil or a coating on the exhaust pipe that was blowing your argon away. Granted, I used 75/25 as my gas.... but here's something to consider

    Can argon gas be used for MIG welding?
    Yes, 100% Argon can be used to MIG weld steel, but you're likely to get an unattractive weld bead that is tall and narrow, often with a weld-weakening undercut. Mild steel MIG welds using 100% Argon shielding gas are also known for losing ductility.

    one key is they set their welder to perfect settings - any variance and it seems you'd your result.
    Doing it all wrong since 1966

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    • #3
      you should read the article... I knew the bit about not welding stainless with 100% argon on mig, but didn't know why.... now I do, thanks Dan

      https://welditu.com/welding/tips-mig...ith-100-argon/
      Doing it all wrong since 1966

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      • #4
        Dan--how is your vision when welding? Being able to see what's going on with the puddle is very helpful. I know it's gotten harder for me over the years to see what I'm doing....I use a cheater magnifying lens behind the darkening lens in my helmet, but even then I have to take extra effort to get thing situated so I can see what's going on.

        As for welding stainless with the mig, I haven't tried, and probably never will. I have gone to using the torch for most exhaust work, instead of the mig. I also like using the tig for mild steel, but it depends on what it is I'm working on--it works bet on new metal, that is well fitted.

        My fabulous web page

        "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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        • #5
          Originally posted by SuperBuickGuy View Post
          you should read the article... I knew the bit about not welding stainless with 100% argon on mig, but didn't know why.... now I do, thanks Dan

          https://welditu.com/welding/tips-mig...ith-100-argon/
          Interesting article. I have the argon because I was advised that it was needed to weld SS but it sounds like that was bad advice. Maybe I'll try my blend gas for my next SS job and see how it turns out. Welding SS with the argon was OK but I was not really happy with the results. Anybody need an argon bottle? Sounds like I might have been OK with the SS wire if I had used my blend bottle.

          Jim - My eyesight sucks, the result of long-term Type 1 diabetes. If not for a myriad of eye operations I'd be blind. So that's an ongoing challenge for me when welding. Mostly, I have to weld from spot to spot as I can't see either the puddle or where the bead is going. I'm not willing to stop joining metal so I live with it. I'll get someone to weld for me when I redo the cage as I can't trust my welds in that sort of critical application.

          All in all this IS a tricky deal.

          Dan

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DanStokes View Post

            Interesting article. I have the argon because I was advised that it was needed to weld SS but it sounds like that was bad advice. Maybe I'll try my blend gas for my next SS job and see how it turns out. Welding SS with the argon was OK but I was not really happy with the results. Anybody need an argon bottle? Sounds like I might have been OK with the SS wire if I had used my blend bottle.

            Jim - My eyesight sucks, the result of long-term Type 1 diabetes. If not for a myriad of eye operations I'd be blind. So that's an ongoing challenge for me when welding. Mostly, I have to weld from spot to spot as I can't see either the puddle or where the bead is going. I'm not willing to stop joining metal so I live with it. I'll get someone to weld for me when I redo the cage as I can't trust my welds in that sort of critical application.

            All in all this IS a tricky deal.

            Dan
            if you weld aluminum with your mig or if you tig anything, the argon is great for that

            I don't normally wear glasses but I have a 1.75 corrector lens in my welding helmet.... it really does make a positive difference.
            Doing it all wrong since 1966

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            • #7
              Originally posted by SuperBuickGuy View Post

              if you weld aluminum with your mig or if you tig anything, the argon is great for that

              I don't normally wear glasses but I have a 1.75 corrector lens in my welding helmet.... it really does make a positive difference.
              Sadly, my eyes are beyond that. In layman's terms I have quite a few missing pixels where they LASER'd the inside of my eyes up to and slightly including the macula so there are "holes" in my vision. Also makes reading a real PITA.

              Went to the welding shop today and got the "good" counter guy. Now I know that the "right" MIG shielding gas for SS is a very pricey bottle that's basically helium with a touch of argon and CO2. I'd have to be welding a ton of SS to fork out about $200 for a mid sized bottle! They don't even stock it as pretty much nobody uses it but they CAN order it. He said I'll be better off with the typical CO2/argon blend bottle for run of the mill SS MIGing. As SBG noted the argon is for TIG and I expect that's where my well-intentioned "expert" got off track. Anybody need a small, fully empty argon bottle?

              Dan

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              • #8
                I have tri-mix. I rarely use it, it's supposed to be for aluminum welding - the helium heats the weld to improve cleaning.

                Why would you get rid of the bottle? take it in when empty and trade it for the right mix. Welding supply companies don't care - all the bottles are the same (valves are different for propane and acetylene) and, to be technically accurate, acetylene bottles are specific to that gas because they have balsa inside to hold the gas.... even so, most welding suppliers (all usually) will allow trade for different types of gasses..... thus take your empty argon bottle and trade it for a full 75/25 argon/co2 ....
                squirrel likes this.
                Doing it all wrong since 1966

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                • #9
                  I might do that. I have the two bottles but held off on filling or trading the argon bottle while I decide if I want to spend the big bux for the helium mix. As I've thought about I think not so I'll probably trade the argon bottle for 75/25.

                  Dan

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                  • #10
                    I haven't found the helium mix to make any difference at all with my new machine. My old Dialarc Miller - it needed all the help it could get with aluminum, so it made a slight difference. That said, when it's done I'm likely to just trade it for a backup 75/25 - not that I need it, but might as well since I have it.

                    My bottles.... I have a 75/25, an argon (because I TIG aluminum), a tri-mix, and a nitrogen for my shocks.... but that's a baby bottle. Nice thing about nitrogen, you can also use it to fill a tire or 10 in a pinch....
                    Doing it all wrong since 1966

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                    • #11
                      Hi Dan. If you remember back when we were welding stuff in your garage, I used tri-gas in the mig for stainless. That has a small amount of oxygen in it, which helps with penetration. It willwork with mild steel, but 75-25 is best choice for mild steel. And remember the 3 rules: 1-abc, 2-cleanliness, and 3- prep. Abc-always be comfortable. I learned that one from Lenny.

                      And as for seeing, get some light on the parts. I use a small high intensity light aimed away from my helmet so I can see both before the helmet blinks and the weld path as I'm welding. My light is an old dash livht like the cops used to use with a 110 to12 voltpower supply and a high intensity bulb, but you can actually buy them these days from welding supply stores.

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                      • #12
                        I remember some of those tips from the EPA days. I usual can get reasonable comfortable and as far as cleanliness the blast cabinet often comes in handy there. I bevel edges and do other prep whenever I can but it doesn't work well in thin stuff.

                        I'm doing the light thing. I have a couple of the Braun (HF) hand help LED lights and use them a LOT out in the shop. Very bright. But even that can't compensate for "missing pixels" - that part of my vision simply isn't there. So I just have to deal with it.

                        As noted above, the Lincoln I got from you is now in Sough Lyon with Ben and his boys. The older guy (now 10) REALLY wanted to learn about welding and I figured Grandpa Dan could help with that so I did. It lives on.

                        Dan

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                        • #13
                          I missed that. Nice. How are Ben et al doing? Now that you mention the orbs, I remember you saying that was an ongoing problem even back then. I so far haven't developed any problems there. My problem is hands that shake more than they used to. Oh well when I stick weld these days I get automatic weave beads...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dave.g.in.gansevoort View Post
                            I missed that. Nice. How are Ben et al doing? Now that you mention the orbs, I remember you saying that was an ongoing problem even back then. I so far haven't developed any problems there. My problem is hands that shake more than they used to. Oh well when I stick weld these days I get automatic weave beads...
                            I'll send you an Email with family updates.

                            Dan

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