newby welding question

deacon

minor bike philosopher
Jan 15, 2008
8,117
3
0
north carolina
Yes I got my welder in the mail. Yes I borrowed a rod and shield and yes I read the stuff about how to start the arc. Of course I didn't seem to grasp the concept until I burned up a rod and pretty much butchered an old bike frame but by golly the thing looks like it is going to hold.

Now it is ugly as original sin but I think it will hold. Took one complete rod to learn how to get it started. They tell you to pretend you are striking a match. What they forget to tell you is not to actually touch the striker. In other words get close but don't actually touch the metal. Jeeze how stupid am I anyway. Thank god for my new angle grinder is all I can say.

So here is the question. I glanced at the blue flame a couple of times by accident. Just a nano second but I saw it anyway. So do I have a trip to the emergency room in my future or will my retina survive the glimpse. If it helps any I have double vision all the time so it wasn't in good focus lol. Just a blue blur. What are the symptoms of retina burn anyway.
 

Bikeguy Joe

Godfather of Motorized Bicycles
Jan 8, 2008
11,843
235
63
up north now
Just a glimpes is nothing.....don't do it often though. I have welded with no mask before (stupid, young) and I was O.K., 'cept you can get a killer headache from it.
 

Bikeguy Joe

Godfather of Motorized Bicycles
Jan 8, 2008
11,843
235
63
up north now
deacon- I got a self darkening hood/mask at TSC for 30 dollars!!!! Solar powered too.
In my opinion the MOST valueable thing for the beginning welder is a self darkening mask.

If you don't have or can't afford one, then use a halogen shop light on your work, you'll be able to see it before you strike your arc.
 

deacon

minor bike philosopher
Jan 15, 2008
8,117
3
0
north carolina
Thanks joe I feel much better. I think I am going to like this welding thing, when I conquer the starting of the arc lol.

The welder I got was not the welder I thought I was buying but it is what he advertised. I had no idea that they even made a welder with no amp adjustments. It is pure seventy amps. According to the instructions on the case the size of the rod is how I should adjust for the metal thickness. It sounds reasonable to me. I used a 3/32 on the bike/engine mount receiver weld. My neighbor gave me some 1/16 rods I might try tacking the engine frame with. Try to cut down on the vibrations a bit.

That monstrosity of a weld that I put down makes me feel ashamed but I will learn. One thing about me is that I am tenacious. I don't mind being humiliated by a new thing, I just hate being beaten by something like this.

Very cool on the mask... I'll start looking around for one. What is TSC by the way...
 

Bikeguy Joe

Godfather of Motorized Bicycles
Jan 8, 2008
11,843
235
63
up north now
I bought a 110 v welder at sears which has some amp- adjustment. I practice a lot, I am not very good, but I like the challenge.
 

deacon

minor bike philosopher
Jan 15, 2008
8,117
3
0
north carolina
I am going to have to practice a lot more before I attempt the drive wheel. those things have a lot of stress on them. I probably should just go ahead and con my neighbor into welding them for me. I might do that when I return his mask and replace the rods I have burned up lol.

He hardly ever uses his rod welder. He goes almost all with the wire one. I Think he did use it recently for weld a tractor part for his son in law on the farm or something. It's why he didn't want to sell that one to me.

It's about twenty miles to the nears Tractor supply but the information allows me to make intelligent bids on ebay. I agree the always black mask is a pain but I wanted to know that the welder worked before I tried to pick up anything else for it.

I may have to get a new lead for the welder but I don't plan to do too much welding. I might make some animals from the old spark plugs and bike parts I have laying around lol.
 

Walter F.

New Member
Jun 4, 2008
326
0
0
Connecticut
The main thing to remember about welding is, anything you touch is HOT! Can't you "Tom Sawyer" your friend into doing it while you watch and learn? Happy Hills & Trails Walter F. GVP
 

deacon

minor bike philosopher
Jan 15, 2008
8,117
3
0
north carolina
If I con him into the welding of the drives I will definitely watch this time. I have his dark mask now I can watch. But the welding is so small I won't be able to see anything.
 

2door

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 15, 2008
16,326
123
63
Littleton, Colorado
Deac,
Is there any way you can return the stick welder and buy a little wire feed machine? I think you'd be much happier with the results. Many of the gasless wire feed, (MIG, for Metal, Inert Gas) use a flux core wire that's okay for tractor parts and stuff you don't care how it looks but a machine with gas makes all the difference in the world. Get a tank of C-25, that's an argon CO2 mix that will make your welds clean and strong with no slag or splatter. It takes a lot less practice to learn good welding technique with a wire feed and the wire is cheaper than sticks.
If you can't return the stick machine, stop by a local welding supply store, talk to the guys there and tell them what you're welding. They can provide you with the proper alloy rods and give you some good advice on how to use them. There's rod for every purpose and bicycle frames, steel ones, will require a mild steel rod intended for the purpose.
Good luck.
Tom
 

deacon

minor bike philosopher
Jan 15, 2008
8,117
3
0
north carolina
thanks but I think I'll muddle through with the rods. I kinda like it even though it is a challenge. As for looks go, if I had great looking welds the rest of my bike would look like crap.

I'm eccentric I really do like doing things the hard way. I do hate the learning curve though. I have to get some rods so I will ask around about what is the best for my purpose.

Cost wise I expect one box of rods for ten bucks will last a lifetime with me. I had to weld a receiver bar to the bike frame and it would have taken about one rod or less if I had any idea what the heck I was doing LOL.

I am expecting it to get better as I go along. I think the auto dark helmet will make a big difference. I was just guessing where to put the rod till it arced. Even then it was a little hard to tell exactly where it was cause of my double vision. It will come around though I'm sure.

One thing for sure the angle grinder is my new best friend lol I used a 3/32 rod today and it might have been a bit much. I have a couple of 1/16 rods. I might give them a try next on a couple of practice pieces.

I have to help close on my late mother in laws house tomorrow so I might not get to play with the welder at all. Over the weekend I want to play with it for sure.
 
Last edited:

deacon

minor bike philosopher
Jan 15, 2008
8,117
3
0
north carolina
The reason I like to ask these questions is not so much for my own information because I could eventually figure it out, it's to let all you guys feel superior to the old man lol. Also someone might read this who is less comfortable asking simple questions.

Okay I have the stick welder and today I am having trouble with the sticks. Not it isn't sticking though it did a little of that once it got started. It was striking the arc. it isn't even what you think.

The electrode was not sparking period. The power wasn't transferring through the rod. The question I have is will the damp air do that or did something happen to the rod between uses. I changed rods a couple of times before I got one ot work so it was the rod. I'm wondering if the damp air in my shop caused them to not fire well.

I might not have had a real good ground but when I touched the ground clamp with the electrode nothing. When I touched it with the wand directly spark. The electrode wasn't transferring the power I'm pretty sure so what will cause that.
 

2door

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 15, 2008
16,326
123
63
Littleton, Colorado
Deacon,
Moisture will effect the flux coating on the rod and can cause bad welds but will not interfer with current flow through the rod. I would look for a loose connection somewhere, possibly in the rod holder or ground clamp.The ground has to be good, no paint or rust under it to act as an insulator. Professional welders usually store their rods in a moisture proof container if long term storage is common. Moisture, if bad enough, will cause the flux to fall off and compromise the flux's ability to clean the weld area. Keep your rods dry for that reason but look for connection issues if you're not getting current through the rod. Naturally rust on the end of the rod can cause a bad connection in the rod holder. Good Luck.
Tom
 

Willy

New Member
Jul 22, 2008
4
0
0
British Columbia
Deacon,
Been lurking here for a while but decided today, after reading your thread that it's time for my first post.

The problem you seem to be having striking an arc today could be caused by the solidified slag on the end of the electrode, this happens almost every time one has to restrike an arc with a partially used rod.

The welder you have will be much more useful with the 1/16 electrodes than with 3/32, it just doesn't have the amps to use 3/32 electrodes efficiently. The 6013 recommendation for your welder is a good one. They are readily available and are a good general purpose mild steel electrode. Don't even try to use you machine for stainless steel or aluminum though as it is not designed for these applications.

As with any new endeavor research and knowledge are your friends, do a little research on line as there is a world of information out there that will take the steep part out of the learning curve.

Here's a good place to start:

Miller - Improving Your Skills - Stick
 
Last edited:

deacon

minor bike philosopher
Jan 15, 2008
8,117
3
0
north carolina
I tried a few things before I read the replies. It was a crazy day here. I got it to work with a new rod right out of the box not the new rod my neighbor gave me that had been laying around. I welded a couple of peices of bright steel together and they did well.

Then I switched to try something different and I think you are right about the end of the rod getting coated. I might give that a bit of grinding between uses.

Also the ground issue is there. The electrode is held in place by a thumbscrew that is rusty. That could also be the issue. I also cleaned heck out of a bit of metal I was working on with a grinder and it sparked. There seem to be a lot of issues here.

Let you know what I find out. Joe I bought the 6013 rods and those are the ones that did work. I got a pretty clean fat weld with them on the two good pieces of steel that I used.

I acutally did look for the 5/64 rod to use with this welder but I couldn't fine any. I have to get a self darkening hood. I can't see what I am doing or where I am doing it.

I also broke the lens in the shield I was using so I'm in the market now seriously.
 

deacon

minor bike philosopher
Jan 15, 2008
8,117
3
0
north carolina
I just won the auto darkening helmet. With a little luck I can try welding again next week sometime. When I can see where I am striking and welding it might make a big difference.

The more I think of it the more I think it might be likely that the end of the rod is getting coated. I am going to take a look at the rods.
 

Willy

New Member
Jul 22, 2008
4
0
0
British Columbia
It's a part of stick welding that you'll have to get used to. I don't even think about it anymore, When restriking I just find a rough piece of metal nearby like an old file for instance, and just drag the rod over it to dislodge the slag on the end of the rod.
 

deacon

minor bike philosopher
Jan 15, 2008
8,117
3
0
north carolina
Very cool willie thanks.

I also realize why I am having so much trouble with the position of the weld. I have lost my spacial memory. It's why I do not drive a car anymore. I can not remember where things are in relation to other things. I lose track of cars on the road from one minute to the next. It's one of the cognitive parts of my brain being squished. Anyway it's why when I drop the dark mask, I am likely to strike the road an inch away from the seam. The auto darkening lens should help that. I'll be able to see where the strike is not try to remember where it is.

The information you guys are providing me is information any new guy trying to weld can use. I promise you I will make about every foolish move possible and I have no problem admitting it as I go along. Anyone who has followed my postings on this forum can attest to that. I always post the dumb stuff I do. It helps other avoid the crap I do lol... At least I hope so.
 
Last edited:

2door

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 15, 2008
16,326
123
63
Littleton, Colorado
Willy is absolutely correct about the slag on the end of the rod. It's been a while since I've used a stick welder, relying primarily on TIG and MIG for my projects but the slag was more than likely your biggest problem. I used to simply tap the end of the rod on a concrete floor or against a rough surface but the old file idea will work too. When you do it all the time the action becomes second nature and you don't even think about it. You'll get used to cleaning your rod before you strike an arc and things should run smoother for you. When using MIG, or wire feed I always keep a pair of side cutters handy and snip off the little molten ball that is left on the end of the wire when you finish a bead. There really is no slag but removing the little ball of metal makes for a cleaner start to your next weld. TIG requires a clean and sharp tungston so I'll keep an eye on that while welding too.
Good luck and keep us informed on your progress.
Tom