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AndyT View Drop Down
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    Posted: 11 Oct 08 at 04:35
Hi Folks,

Feel free to chip in with advice or other comments, and I'll consolidate things so It doesn't get too long.

First thing is that even if you haven't welded before its not that difficult so don't be put off.

Purchasing the correct equipment can be expensive but will save you money in the longer term, particularly if you've got an older bus like mine.

General Advice

Most people can't fit their van in their garage so are restricted to welding outdoors, this means that you may need to buy a gasless mig welder.
In many cases they are able to use gas as well but check before buying.

If you choose to use gas then there are several "mixes" available, and with experience you will probably obtain a better quality weld.

Clean the area you intend to weld thoroughly, this will highlight any weak/rusty spots and will save you time in the long run.

Best site I know for general advice and tips is:-

http://www.mig-welding.co.uk/

Safety

Never ever start welding without a mask, don't even pick up the tool. At best its painful (red weeping eyes etc), at worst its blindness.

If possible have someone on hand with a spray bottle, to put out any fires.
Paint, underseal etc are all flamable and care must be taken at all times.

If working with someone, get into the habit of shouting "eyes" before you strike a weld.
This way they know to look away.

If working on your own, stop regularly to check for fire/smoke, and make damn sure you can get out of the vehicle, or from underneath it double quick.

When working on vehicles it is recommended that you disconnect the battery, just make sure you have the codes for the radio etc before you do so.

The Welder

These are available  for about £150, mine is a SIP 130amp and has given good service for the last 6/7 years without any problems Modern welders probably give more control but I don't have any experience of them, so can't recommend anything.
Basic welders like mine can weld upto 6mm thick steel which is fine for vehicles.

The Mask

Very important in my view is to buy the electronic mask, which allows you to see what you are doing, and goes dark once you start welding.

Going to cost you about £70, but you only get one pair of eyes, using  the standard mask is safe if you know what you are doing, but be bloody careful if you don't.

Practicing

Once you have bought the equipment you are going to be itching to practice, so what do you need.

Any mild steel is suitable for tbis but be prepared to clean up about an inch or so either side of where you intend to weld, serves 2 purposes, you don't mix paint etc into the weld which reduces strength,  its easier to strike a weld, and there is less chance of starting a fire which you can't see through the mask easily.

Other Equipment

I use a 4" angle grinder £20ish for clean up work and a good quality wire brush for cleaning up the weld.
Angle grinders are versatile if noisy, you can buy grinding disks, cutting disks and wire brush attachments quite cheaply.
All of these last a long time so running costs are low.

I also use:-

A sheet metal bender from Screwfix for £50ish.
Different clamps from Machine Mart @ £12 for 4.
Niblex from Frost @£28 (like drawing on paper but you are cutting metal)

Actual Repairs

Firstly have a look at the Welding Projects topic, if you are new to welding LT's then you could get some useful tips about your particular problem.

For general bodywork I use 0.9mm sheet, and for chassis work 1.2mm or thicker.
The problem with thicker steel is that its harder to bend to shape, anything over 1.2mm is beyond my equipment, so I don't use it very often.

That's all for now, more to follow as others offer their advice.

Cheers


Andy



Edited by AndyT - 16 Oct 08 at 22:11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mikebdomain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 08 at 16:19
Hi Andy
 
Some great advice there - although I could never get on with a gasless welder - I use argon with a SIP Topmig 150 turbo - mind you probably something to do with the fact that I can only seem to weld with 1mm wire.
 
My advice for practicing 'starting out' welding is
 
Turn your gas on (if it has gas)
Set your welder up on the lowest wire feed speed and on the power setting for the sheet thickness you are welding with (consult your manual)
Hold the welding torch at a slight angle about 5-10mm away from a bit of scrap metal, pull the trigger and turn the wire feed up slowly until you hear a nice constant crackling sound.
Once you have the constant crackling sound off to a tea - move the torch with a slight left to right motion.
 
Some people drag the wel others push - I prefer to drag it.
 
A couple of points
Never weld without a mask (you will wake up in the midle of the night screaming in pain...been there)
And find a suitable mask that you can actually see through once you are welding..
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 08 at 18:12
Thanks for the post mate, nice to get a second opinion and some more tips.

I've just added a link to a website which has movies and stuff which should be of interest to beginners
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote team french Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 08 at 19:16
with gas you should push with cored wire(non gas) you generaly drag. tho as above these arent hard and fast. for other equipment an edge setter or joggler is handy. the hand/plier type cost about £35. for pannel repairs id say its a must realy. and sanding disks(with the backing disk type) can be better than grinding disks on thin sheet and paint removal and also cheaper!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 08 at 19:41
Hi new electronic weldimg masks on E bay from about £25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 08 at 19:47
Mine's a Speedglass which I bought from BOC years ago, shades from 3 to 11.
11 is fine for welding but to be honest I'd recommend a 2/11 if they are available.
Damn good price tho.

P.S. Batteries last 2000 hours or there abouts so running costs are none existent.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 08 at 19:50
Sounds like a few links to suppliers etc might be useful.

Machine Mart are sometimes good for pliers/wire etc and for magnetic clamps etc I use Frost.co.uk
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mikebdomain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 08 at 08:00

I found wire brush fitments for the grinder do the job brilliantly - don't waste your money on the cheap one though they last about five minutes and are a real false economy. I use the twisted wire type and one lasted my whole last project.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 08 at 09:34
Screwfix are good for gasless wire If you do gasless you know different wire can give vastly different results the wire I get from screwfix Is very good. Nice even welds with little spatter and easy to grind back for a good finnish on thin metal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mikebdomain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 08 at 09:43
hmmm I will have to try that on my gasless mig. The last load of gasless wire I got was from B&Q and I was sure I was using a plasma cutter and not a welder - it cut a perfect clean line where ever I tried to weld and that was on the lowest power setting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 08 at 21:23
Mike,

Have you got a code for the B&Q wire, can see where this could be useful even if it was a bad batch etc.
I've only used wire from SIP and some wire I bought on the internet which is excellent but cost £30ish for 5kg quite a while ago. I'll find the box, check it out and post details later.

Cheers

Andy

P.S. I'll start a new thread for welding pics in a bit and migrate your post later if that's OK.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mikebdomain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Oct 08 at 08:27
To be honest Andy, I lost my temper with the damn stuff and the gasless welder has been thrown at the back of my shed - never to be used again.... I think the wire is still in the machine I will try and have a look at the weekend.
 
I am quite happy with my gas welder now and as I am able to get a good solid weld, not pretty, but solid, the guy at the MOT station said it was some of the best hobby welding he  had seen for a long time (although he may have been gay...)  and at the moment I have no intention of going back to gasless - although if I did, I think I would have a go with the screwfix wire that Thal is on about.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mikebdomain Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Oct 08 at 10:09
P.S - LOL a thread for welding pics... better make a lot of space available... Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 08 at 00:01
Updated me !st post, don't know how else to flag it, will delete later.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote team french Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 08 at 21:00
and know ones mentioned disconecting the battery yet(just rememberd myself). the welder should earth to the set its self but they have been know to fry batterys. at work when we weld jobs when sat on the fork lift forks its never done any thing adverse to them, some do have a battery isolater switch which we often use, better safe than sorry etc!!! and easyer than having to move 2tonnes off a dead fork lift!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Oct 08 at 22:09
Good point and thanks for the reminder, I update me notes.
I generally do, but disconnecting the battery can cause nightmare problems with more modern vehicles. Radio codes, immobilisers etc.
Battery failed on our kids C70, soon as he put the new one back on alarm went off and stayed on. Can't remember the fix but you would never have guessed it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Dec 08 at 05:28
Hi Folks,

Has anyone ever tried running a mig from a generator, if so how big etc.

Cheers

Andy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Feb 09 at 12:44
Originally posted by AndyT AndyT wrote:

.... When working on vehicles it is recommended that you disconnect the battery...


i'm sure i read somewhere that you should disconnect the battery *and* the alternator.

true or false?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Feb 09 at 22:08
just the battery is enough if you manage to weld through a wire the resulting short could cause the battery to explode thats the theory but Ive never heard of it happening. Ive managed to weld through wires but all its done is melt the wire.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MostlyMonki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Apr 09 at 13:40
did my first bit of welding at the weekend (just a bit of seam on a beetle, no pics as it wasnt exactly pretty), but I'm having some problems with me mig.... managed to get through 2 and a half bottles of disposable gas, just doing about 15" of seam, and welding one bolt to the chassis. now it was anything but clean welds, and i had to go over most of it a couple of times, but still seems a lot of gas!! anyone know why i might be getting trough gas so quickly? or is that normal?
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