From: John De Armond
X-Source: The Hotrod Mailing list
Date: May 1994
Subject: My trip to the Welding shop
I dropped by my friendly local welding store today to buy some rods
for the first time in about 6 years. Amazin' how long 150 lbs of rods
will last the casual welder :-) Anyway, this store is an MG dealer.
In case you don't know, MG is famous for its dozens of specialty
rods and alloys. Expensive rods. "Suck-wind-until-your-meatballs-bounce"
expensive rods. I used to sell 'em in my store. In Single rod quantities
in some cases.
Anyway, in the decade since I had my welding store, the've been busy.
Their handbook on their rods is now 164 pages! The book is called
"Superior Alloys for Maintenance and Repair" and can be had from
your local MG dealer or 800 558 8524. The book is free. I picked up one
and have found some interesting stuff.
First is their collection of cast iron welding rods and MIG wire (!).
Yep, you can MIG cast iron. They list 3 rods that can be used with AC,
a bare rod that color matches gray cast iron, and amazingly enough,
a rod that can be used to weld oily or burnt cast iron or weld
steel to cast iron (MG-289). One application shown is welding a steel
plate over a hole in an engine block! They also list a gouge/Vee rod
(MG-570) which in one pass will prep the crack for welding.
Next is Aluminum. They list several rods for aluminum including the
MG-400 that can be used either with a torch or DC stick. They also
have a couple of rods that they describe as being between a filler rod
and a brazing rod. The deal is the aluminum base is heated with a torch
until it just barely starts to surface melt and then this rod is applied
like a brazing rod. I alloys with the base metal. And they have an arc
rod for oily aluminum.
Then there is the cutting rod, the MG-560, which they claim will
cut as cleanly as an acetylene cutting torch. I used a predecessor
to this rod and it worked as advertised.
Probably the most amazing rod they have is the MG-600 rod which is
designed for stud removal. It is a special high strength alloy
rod coated with a special flux. If a stud is broken off down in
a hole, one simply pushes the rod down on the stud. The flux
flows out and protects the threads from the metal. The metal builds up
until it protrudes from the hole. It is allowed to build up a bit
more, then a nut is laid down over the protruding alloy and welded to
it. Then the nut is turned, removing the stud. Supposedly the alloy
is strong enough not to break before the stud comes loose. They claim
it can also be used to remove broken taps and drills. They say this
rod can also be used to weld things like automotive springs!
The rest of the rods are equally interesting including a stick welding
rod for copper! This is interesting stuff.
X-Source: The Hotrod Mailing list
Date: May 1994
So, John, can I get some rods for an arc welder to do body sheet metal?
or am I better off buying a mig welder? I can weld OK with an arc
, never tried a mig. I have a 76 pontiac ventura I want to fool around
[Lemme put it this way. I was nuclear certified in a previous life and
*I* can't stick weld sheet metal much thinner than 14 ga. I've never
seen anyone else who could either. I CAN TIG sheet metal, though it
takes a very specialized setup and technique. This includes a small
100 amp torch, very fine filler rod, heat dams on either side of the
joint and a very good fitup. Everything you do is aimed toward fusing
the metal with the absolute minimum of heat. I've fabricated thin
gauge stainless steel machine guards using TIG but I'd not want to
do much in the way of body work.
Just get a MIG. I was looking at what Miller has on my last trip to
the welding shop. They've got a nice cart-mounted MIG that retails
for $750. It should discount for $75 less. It has all the nifty stuff
like electronic speed control, stitch, spot and so on. Compared to
what you get with the $400 el-cheapo units sold in the auto parts
places, there'd be no question I'd get the Miller. I'm sure the
other major brands have something competative. JGD]
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Advice on welding equipment
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 14:39:14 -0400
> I am wanting to purchase a welder for my personal use. I have never
> welded before. I plan on not doing alot of welding but there are two
> things i want to do with it. I will work on light automotive stuff
> (Like exhaust work) and i want to build a small trailer to pull my
> riding lawn mower with my truck. (maybe 4x8 or larger). I keep hearing
> a mig welder is the easiest to weld with, why is this?
I've been welding since I was about 10 years old and used to be
certified for nuclear TIG welding. I'd never used a MIG welder
until recently. I decided to listen to some of my friends and buy
one. I may never touch the stick welder again! IF I didn't need it
to run my TIG torch, I'd move the stick welder to the warehouse. MIG
is WONDERFUL! It's kinda like squirting filler metal out of a
caulking gun. If you also get a self-darkening LCD hood, then it
WILL be like squirting out metal. You can get the wire positioned
exactly and without moving anything, pull the trigger. The hood
darkens and welding commences.
Here are a few tips: Do NOT buy a flux filled wire (cheapo)
machine. Fluxed wire is expensive, doesn't weld very well and is
fussy about feeding. Do NOT buy a cheap machine. I used to sell
Century brand welders. They private label for a dozen other
brands. The feed rollers and feed mechanism are cheap and cause
lots of problems. I quit selling MIG rigs because of all the
troubles I had.
I bought a Millermatic 185 rig. This is an excellent all-round rig
for maintenance and light fabrication. It will handle a wide range
of wire sizes. It has a nice electronic control of the feed motor
which makes the feed adjustment very smooth and stable. IT has a
large bank of capacitors in the welding circuit that make sticking
the wire almost impossible - it blows away any short. It has a high
duty cycle rating so when you get really fired up on that trailer,
you won't have to worry about overheating it. And if you want to
weld aluminum or weld far away from the base unit, the unit will
accept a MIG gun. (Some people try to feed aluminum wire from the
base unit but the wire is so soft that it jams a LOT!) You should
be able to find this rig in the $1200-1400 range.
Finally, be aware that some other old-line companies have
prostituted their name (Hobart comes to mind) on cheap,
consumer-grade welders. Don't be fooled. Building a quality welder
costs money. So does maintaining a support infrastructure. You
really do want to be able to buy spare parts and get questions
answers, don't you? Save your pennies and buy the best. Then you
don't have to buy twice.
> Is it possible
> for me to make decent welds teaching myself and reading a book?
Yes, though I'd recommend a video. Miller includes a nice video
with their rigs. I'm sure others do to. Going to school is nice
but you can certainly learn on your own.
> high school i welded in shop class for a few days, but this was a long
> time ago. Arc welders are cheapest but i hear they are more difficult
> to use. Can an arc welder be used on exhaust?
With great difficulty. I'm regarded as an excellent welder and I
can't do it reliably and I certainly cannot weld exhaust in place
under the vehicle using a stick. I use either TIG or acetylene. Or
did before I got the MIG :-)
> Can a mig welder handle
> the thicker metal to weld a trailer like this? Which weld is strongest?
Absolutely. My 185 is rated for one pass welding of up to 3/8"
material. Thicker material can be welded with multiple passes. And
with no flux, the likelihood of inclusions is much lower. As to
which is stronger, if a skilled welder operates either process,
there is no difference. But the average guy can make a much
stronger weld with MIG than he can with stick.
> What about those gasless welders that use flux core wiring? ANy help
> and direction would be greatly appreciated!
Run, don't walk, away from those.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Question about MIG welder
Date: Fri, 08 Sep 2000 01:04:22 -0400
> Just remember the old adage: You get what you pay for. I know a few folks
> that sprung for the name brand (although virtually identical) Century and
> Lincoln "baby" migs, and didn't even like those. Not enough adjustability
> was the main thing. You'll be much happier if you spend the extra right up
> front and buy some quality. Remember, this is something you should only
> have to buy once.
> Btw, I have the "baby" Miller, the 130XE, and love it.
I second that thought! I used to own a welding supply company. We
sold a lot of both Century and Lincolns cuz they were cheap. When
it came time to buy a MIG machine for myself last year, I recalled
my experiences with the store, then shored up my wallet and dropped
the $1200 for a Miller 185. Best money I ever spent. There are
toys and then there are tools. The Miller is a genuine tool.