Old dog learns new trick...Welding!

Discussion in 'Motorized Bicycle Welding, Fabrication and Paintin' started by silverbear, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Over the past few years being on the forum I have much admired those here who are welders and think nothing of fabricating everything from frames to forks to gas tanks. To a non welder it appears to be magic, joining steel to steel.

    Last summer I watched Fasteddy alter frames, make engine mounts, modify a crank shaft, extend handlebars... all sorts of things. He encouraged me to give it a try and so have others here, assuring me it was something i could learn.

    I'm 67 years old and know nothing about welding, but with some help from my friend Tinsmith and the use of his shop I'm determined to learn enough to make a few things for my bikes, especially an in frame gas tank for my 1950 Panther. I also want to make a custom exhaust pipe for it which will mostly involve pipe bending, but also some welding. The Panther has recently gotten an engine upgrade, from the 50 CC HS to the 99 CC Predator. Now it wants some cosmetic changes.

    The welder I'm using is a 125 Hobart Handler which operates on 115 volts and uses flux core wire for MIG welding.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYpqRitOlKU&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isiZKrXxARs&feature=related

    The one shown in the videos is slightly different in that the model I'm using has two separate control knobs for amperage and wire feed rate, so has a little more control.

    I want to start on my gas tank pretty soon, but figured I'd better spend some time getting the feel of what's involved with something that can't leak. I have a two wheeled cart that I got at an auction for the Briggs engine powering a water pump on it. Eight bucks. With some modifications I think it will make a nice carrier for the Hobart welder. And it will give me something to learn on.
    (cont.)
    SB
     

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  2. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Dan had some scrap pieces for me to practice on and had me do several weld lines, none of which were very impressive or even very straight. With the welding mask on I could see fine until I hit the trigger completing the circuit and the arc of light, even through the protective darkened glass is so bright it makes it very difficult to see what you're doing. At least it was hard for me. I tried to focus on holding the angle of the gun steady, pulling the line along slowly and in what I thought (incorrectly)was a straight line.

    I figured I might as well start tacking the welding cart frame pieces together. I had cut pieces of angle iron salvaged from a Hollywood bed frame. They form a rectangle the welder will sit down in, like a cradle. In the photo of the Hobart in the previous post you can see the pieces along the bottom edge of the welder.

    I thought tacking the pieces together would e simple. Zzzzt. It would be if I could see what I was doing. I missed one corner so badly I welded the angle iron directly to Dan's welding table. Oops. It took a chisel to get it loose. The others went a little better, but not much. I did the welding from the other side and by the time I had welded all four corners I was getting better and was getting a sense of where I was in the 'bright darkness' (It is like trying to see something next to the sun, overpowered in light so intense as to be virtually invisible).

    I chipped away the slag left over from the welds and cleaned things up with a wire brush and could see a number of missed spots, poor bonds. Good thing this is going to hold a welder and not gasoline. I used a grinding disc on the side grinder to clean up the welds and spatter, then went back to fill in where I had missed. By now I was getting more of a feel for the gun, the angle of attack and the rate of moving the weld bead along. There is no teacher like experience.
    (cont.)
    SB
     

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  3. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    SB,
    The Hobart Handler is an excelent little machine. I have one, 80s vintage that has served me well. I've used it to build the last four hot rods and countless other projects. I run it with a C-25 gas mix (CO2 and Argon) and I run .025 wire.
    Practice and then a little more practice and you'll be welding like a pro in no time. For thin material, sheetmetal, take your time and do short spurts and don't try for long, continous beads. Start then let off the trigger for a moment leaving the wire welded in the puddle then pull the trigger again and go a short way again then stop. For thin stuff like fenders and other sheetmetal I usually only weld for two or three seconds before stopping and allow things to cool for two or three seconds then pull the trigger again.

    Find some scrap metal or various thickness to practice on and just weld until you start to get a feel for how the metal flows when in a molten state.
    It's very hard to tell someone how to weld. It would be easier to be there and watch then show you but there are some basics like keeping the tip clean, snipping the wire between welds so you're not starting with that little molten ball on the end of the wire, finding the proper amp and wire feed speed and so on.

    Just keep practicing. I've seen your other work and I know you'll develope a technique that will work for you. Welding is somewhat of an art, and you're an artist. You'll do good.
    Keep us posted on your progress.
    Tom
     
  4. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    SB,
    What number shield are you using. I've found that a #10 is actually too dark for MIG welding. I prefer a #8 and I have a corrective lens in my hood ahead of the shield. If you wear glasses by all means wear them while welding and provide the weld area with good lighting.

    I had a couple of bad experiences with the self darkening hoods and I still relay on my old fixed one and quick head tilt to lower it when I have the torch (tip) in position. Youngsters will laugh at that but you gotta do what works for you. Good luck.
    Tom
     
  5. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Pretty it isn't, but it holds together and will hold the welder securely. Dan is going to look for some scrap 4" angle iron to raise the cradle up over the level of the wheels so that the side panel of the welder can be opened to change the wire spool. So next week I'll finish up the carrier and perhaps then we can start cutting out the tank parts. I certainly need more practice running weld lines, probably hours worth of welding before I get a real feel for this.

    But it was a good first lesson and I thank Dan for his help. As I have said before, even an old dog can learn a new trick, so long as a treat is involved. Seeing a gas tank on my Panther that I welded myself will be the perfect treat to spur me on.

    A curious thing. I'm not sure if they were there before and I had not been paying attention, or maybe they were attracted by the intense light from my welding, but there are some strange creatures inhabiting Dan's back yard...

    See you next week in the Tinsmith's shop.
    SB
     

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  6. GearNut

    GearNut Active Member

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    For a noob at welding I say you are doing fine.
    A little tip, do not waste your money on tip dip. The stuff you dip the gun nozzle in to keep the build up from sticking to it. Instead use some good ol' Vaseline and apply it with a Q-Tip. Works just as well and costs alot less.
    Also get some Ferro Slick with the little piece of felt and a clothes pin. Do a web search for it if you have to. The stuff is cheap and insures you have a clean, slightly lubricated wire going into the liner.
    Enjoy your new experiences with welding! I know that when I first started out I seemed to get caught in a circle. The more I welded the better I got. The better I got the more I wanted to weld. If I could have welded the pictures onto the living room wall I would have. ;)

    Edit, this place can be fun too:
    http://weldingweb.com/index.php?

    And here's a place for some excellent how-to info:
    http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/index.html

    Ha! The site added a smiley to the web address.......
     
    #6 GearNut, Mar 17, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  7. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    A few more critters including the mother of all mosquitoes. Even the tree has a certain "presence" and I love the old boot birdhouse. Dan's good humor and fabricator's skills are everywhere, from his yard to his house to his shop and the clever things he makes there.

    We had a great day riding our motorbikes through the countryside this morning and making sparks this afternoon. It is good to have such a friend.
    SB
     

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  8. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    2door and gearnut, thank you both for the tips and encouragement. I don't know what number the glass is in the helmet, but will look next Saturday.
    SB
     
  9. tigmaster

    tigmaster Member

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    Well You have a great start and a talented teacher to boot!.....I've been welding for over fourty some years and used every type of welding known,arc,oxy/act,m.i.g.(both flux core and solid wire)t.i.g.,arc spray...and some air/arc cutting,carbon arc brazing and silver soldering...Done high pressure steam pipe in all positions and was onced certifed nuke/powerplant weldor ....I think that You should upgrade to 75%/25% gas mix and use solid wire,You'll love it!....fluxcore sucks!...too much slag like arc welding...lots of cleanup...A little tip, get some soapstone and draw some lines to follow and shine a bright light on Your work area,it'll help You see the lines with Yer hood down...And don't go to lite on the shade or You'll be crying in Yer beer!(from welding flash) Enjoy Your new found friend and keep on sparking!....Tigmaster....
     
  10. RicksRides

    RicksRides New Member

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    Silverbear Get gas hooked up and youll notice an immediate improvement in the look of the weld - fluxcore is some dirty stuff gas pushes the impurities out of they way as you weld. Ive welded for better then 20 years as a DIY'er . just the other day i posted in my occ chopper thread that i can never manage to get a pretty weld when i use fluxcore and only use it when i run out of gas. But a weld doesnt have to be pretty to be strong as long as you get good penitration, you can always grind and weld over it to fill in any missed spots. You soon wonder how you ever got along with out one. Good Luck and Enjoy. rick
     
  11. fasteddy

    fasteddy Well-Known Member

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    Silverbear,
    Look on the side of the helmet and there should be a knob that you can adjust to lighten or darken the shade of the lens. If it's like most of them the knobs fallen off and you may have to turn it to either light or dark and turn it so you can get the shade so your happy with it. If the knob is still there, there are numbers on the helmet to give you an idea what it's set at.
    Don't set it too light. If you get flash burned eyes you will have a good idea what a trip to **** is like because you will think your there. I made the trip once.

    To keep what you're welding from sticking to the welding table slide a piece of copper under the work. The welding wire won't stick to copper. Make sure the copper is thick enough not to melt

    To get the tank welded properly you will have to get .025 hard wire and gas. You need the smaller wire to weld steel as thin as body metal and it has to be used with gas if I remember correctly. The larger wire carries too much electricity to the metal and burns holes in it. The good news is that you get pretty good at welding up holes that have burned through.

    Don't remember if we got a gauge or not with the welder but you should be able to get a small tank and a gauge to hook it up to the welder at Harbour Freight reasonably or check with a local welding shop and see if they rent them short term. May be cheaper to buy.

    The Crack of Dawn has it's eye on you. It knows your coming for it.

    Steve.
     
    #11 fasteddy, Mar 17, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  12. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Gentlemen,
    My thanks to each of you for your kindness in offering suggestions and encouragement. I hadn't realized this little Hobart could be hooked up with gas. I will look in to it, but probably not until summer when I am hoping a few more leaves appear on the money tree. Another consideration is that I don't have a place indoors to work out of the wind. As I understand it even a light breeze can make welding with gas impossible. I'm picturing in my mind making a couple of movable panels which could be set up to shield from wind movement.

    Dan and I have talked about using steel for this tank a little on the heavy side precisely due to the tendency for burning through. If I can manage to make this tank with flux core wire then welding with gas later will be that much easier. Since the tank will be painted I can grind down what is bad and ugly, go back at it again and try to make things right. It might take longer that way, but it will allow me to proceed with what I have at hand to work with.

    Actually I'm encouraged with today's results. I had no expectations of learning to weld quickly. I didn't learn to swim in a day. And if I remember right, some sixty years ago I didn't learn to ride a bike in a day either. Lot's of riding and some crashes were involved. That my welds made the pieces stick together pretty solidly is impressive to me. I'm actually welding and making something... woohoo! And it will just get better.
    SB
     
  13. fasteddy

    fasteddy Well-Known Member

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    I don't know. You can learn to do some things very quickly. Like when I was 12 someone mentioned that no one had ever jumped off the 40 foot cliff we were standing on into the 30 feet of Lake Huron below it.

    On the way down I remembered that I couldn't even dog paddle but the fellas said that when I got to the surface I looked like an Olympic champion when I lit out for shore. Ya, I know but it says fasteddy, not swifteddy.

    I just opened up one corner of a cardboard box and cut the flaps off the part that was the top and put a couple of bricks on the other flaps to hold it in place to act as a wind break. If there is enough flexible plywood left I'll use that as a windbreak. When you live two blocks from an ocean there is always a xxxxxxx breeze.

    Steve.
     
  14. MEASURE TWICE

    MEASURE TWICE Active Member

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    I got a welder like your Hobart. It’s the Hobart Auto Arc 130 uses 115 volt and below the Amazon link shows the helmet that auto darkens I use with it.

    I started out at darkest and then retry after very small incremental adjustment so I could see better, not the other way around.

    Prior I rented time using both TIG an MIG and did mostly TIG with a helmet I could only see about 2 inches around the arc which had me welding wrong spots a lot. Holding the tungsten arc and filler rod using both hands and a foot pedal for on the fly adjust of current.

    I'm glad I have seen what you have started out doing, I can't wait to try using the both with the AR/CO2 and the Flux to see what can be done. I read that the flux allows for thicker weld than the gas but is neater without as much as chip and wire wheel cleaning.

    Airgas had the best price for a small tank I think of 20cf but check around as 30% savings is worth it. HF had a tank but having some place fill it they get particular and so I got the tank where I'll be filling it and they do all the maintenance on the tank. You buy it, but when you get a fill you get a different tank swap.


    The gas conversion kit is now 30% more now, but last summer I got it for $94 and then went to Airgas and got a spool adapter to use big rolls.

    I take the tension off the wire when not in use by swinging the thing that presses down the drive wheel out sideways. I would think an impression cold deform the wheel so this is an easy way to prevent that.

    Great you are practicing I hope to do as well starting out.

    MT

    http://www.amazon.com/Darkening-Solar-Powered-Welding-Helmet/dp/B002I54R0E

    http://www.amazon.com/Hobart-195158-Welding-Conversion-Handler/dp/B000LBBGTW
     
  15. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    Sometimes it's a better deal to lease gas bottles than to buy them. Most any good welding gas supply place, like Airgas, will rent/lease the bottles. You pay a one time fee for the lease and then refills are cheap. If at any point in the future that the bottle exceeds the test date they replace it at no charge to you. If you buy the bottle, it's yours and if/when it requires retesting it will be at your expense.

    As for welding outdoors; anything that will block the wind will work. Cardboard, plywood, and they actually sell portable wind and flash shields for that purpose.

    Be careful with auto-darkening hoods. Keep the battery charged (most charge by solar) because if the bat goes dead while you're welding you'll get a face full of very bright light. Ask me how I know :)
    Tom
     
  16. Nyteflyte

    Nyteflyte New Member

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    Thats the best safty tip I've heard yet just purchest a new hood it never occured to me that batterys dying while welding thanks again for the tip 2 door I'm going put right inside that new hood in BIG letters check batterys Dummy
     
  17. MEASURE TWICE

    MEASURE TWICE Active Member

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    The battery in the helmet is supposed to last for years, but when it needs replacement do you have a warning it is getting near time before as you said you know exactly when it is no good?

    I will contact Amazon for the company site Neiko as I have not found the right one. The one I found is for hand bags and has the same spelling.

    I suppose if you find a type that has no batteries and work only on the solar cells that it has like an instructor of mine said only to buy let me know if it works and is a good one. I think keeping an extra battery on hand could be good, but I think they are going bad as you store them even if not in use to some extent.

    The tank I got from Airgas is that way they take care of it if you bring it back for a fill before 1 year is up otherwise I think I'm told you owe something to get it inspected, but I have not yet had it a year yet.

    I suppose I really own the bottle but I never get to keep the same one as it is on exchange basis when I go in there.

    You may also check if they cut the cost of initial fill to 1/2 price when you start your ownership of the bottle. I was told this and although one shop said this, I went to another of the same company but at a different location since I was going that way and they said they would honor it. Twice I had the receipt torn up and have them redo it over when it did not reflect this 1/2 fill 1 time deal. Hey big city and I'm not really a slicker but some let say have tendencies to make repeated mistakes in their favor.

    MT
     
    #17 MEASURE TWICE, Mar 18, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  18. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    Just thought I should offer this so I don't get jumped by devoted self darkening hood users. :)

    My bad experiences with the self darkening hoods were with two different ones, both were solar rechargable. They were company owned tools and apparently not charged regularly by the guys who were supposed to do it. Both times the lens went clear while I was TIG welding. After the second time I vowed not to use them again. If I was to buy one for myself I'm sure I would keep the battery charged properly and wouldn't have any problems. Owning one is just not a high priority item because I'm so used to my old hood with the fixed lens.
    Tom
     
  19. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    All of these tips are so helpful.
    Tom, many years ago my oldest brother had a body shop and I sometimes helped him with unskilled grunt work. I did a lot of prep work, sanding, sanding, sanding. He always warned me when he was welding not to look. So of course I looked and got an awful burn to my eyes. It felt like someone had thrown sand into them and was like that for several days until my eyes healed. It was awful, so your comments regarding the batteries certainly got my attention.

    I'm intrigued with the potential of upgrading to solid wire welding at some point. I read in the owner's manual...

    Handler® 125
    Rugged and portable,
    the Handler® 125 operates off 115-volt household current. Comes ready to weld without shielding gas using .030-.035 in (0.8-0.9 mm) flux cored wire. This welder is equipped with a built-in gas valve, and with the addition of a regulator, you're ready to MIG weld with .023-.030 in. (0.6-0.8 mm) solid wire. Use C-25 gas (75% argon/25% CO2) on 24 gauge - 1/8 in steel for a cleaner weld with less spatter. Use Tri-Mix gas and stainless wire for welding on 16-12 gauge stainless steel."

    This leads me to believe that with the addition of a regulator and gas bottle, a spool of solid wire and switching the polarity of the welder... it is MIG ready. So, is the same gun used as with flux core wire? Does the gas flow out of the tip? And the volume of gas is controlled by the gas regulator, is that right? It is intriguing to think that this little welder could do stainless steel. I'm not saying that I would be able to weld stainless, just that the welder would be capable of it in the hands of an accomplished welder. Pretty cool.

    But that's off in the future. For now I have my work cut out for me next Saturday, finishing up the cart for the welder ( which I have learned is referred to as a 'running gear'.
    SB
     
  20. MEASURE TWICE

    MEASURE TWICE Active Member

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    I only used with the ARCO2 gas and there is a channel in the hose that carries both the wire and the gas. I have not used it for so long, but I did get a special tip to put on the end, or should I say a cup for the gas to work better. Also the size of the tip to use with the wire has a number as I remember that does not exactly match. I though how can the wire fit through a smaller hole, but something with the label on the tips for size is strange. I bought extra and checked that they fit before leaving the store. I also got some of that lube stuff but have not used it yet. I always make sure large radius for any bend in the cable and also that way when storing.

    MT
     

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