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My welding journey...
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Mr Margaret Scratcher
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2021 2:39 am    Post subject: My welding journey... Reply with quote

So after a very brief first test of my welder (GYS SmartMIG 162) and racking up a grand total of about 30 minutes of welding experience on a couple of bits of sheet steel back in 2019, I decided to try to do some more realistic practice by cutting a section out of the old floor I removed from my 66 deluxe ( https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=723551 )

Corner cut off:
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Figuring out settings:
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Centre weld had good penetration, but was a higher setting than the simple welder settings suggested:
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A friend suggested that I should flapwheel rather than just wire wheel where I'm going to weld and the earth area, so that might explain that. I'll try that next time

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Cleanup with flap wheel:
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Overall I'm pretty pleased with that as a first try, not sure I'm ready to tackle my lower nose repair section just yet, but I think it's good enough for some tucked away areas Very Happy
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orwell84
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2021 6:19 am    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

Your welds look good but you need to have the metal bright and shiny clean before you weld it, both sides if possible. You will get better penetration, fewer burn throughs and nicer welds.
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sportin-wood
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:21 am    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

Nice job! I bought everything to try my hand at welding too, but I'm always hesitant when it comes to using the "auto-darkening" helmet/shield I bought. I guess I'm afraid the batteries will fail, causing permanent damage to my eyes....
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Mike Fisher
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:48 am    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

sportin-wood wrote:
Nice job! I bought everything to try my hand at welding too, but I'm always hesitant when it comes to using the "auto-darkening" helmet/shield I bought. I guess I'm afraid the batteries will fail, causing permanent damage to my eyes....

My auto darkening helmet I bought at Harbor Freight works fine every time.
I don't think we're seriously in danger of eye damage.
I built a 12x12 steel chicken coop on skids as my biggest welding project.
Get to welding as it is fun to see what you can do! Twisted Evil
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Mr Margaret Scratcher
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:18 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

sportin-wood wrote:
Nice job! I bought everything to try my hand at welding too, but I'm always hesitant when it comes to using the "auto-darkening" helmet/shield I bought. I guess I'm afraid the batteries will fail, causing permanent damage to my eyes....


I forgot to switch from my face shield to my welding helmet and yeah, that shit is bright. Embarassed Luckily I was outside, so it wasn't too bad, just the equivalent of accidentally looking at the sun/a bright light, none of the horrible 'arc eye' symptoms from what I read.

Short version, you'd know about it before you did yourself any lasting damage.
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Busstom
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:28 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

sportin-wood wrote:
Nice job! I bought everything to try my hand at welding too, but I'm always hesitant when it comes to using the "auto-darkening" helmet/shield I bought. I guess I'm afraid the batteries will fail, causing permanent damage to my eyes....

Little to no risk...you'll know immediately if the battery fails...and your helmet should have a "low battery" warning light (LED) to warn you beforehand. You'll be amazed by how quickly they darken.

I keep a Bic lighter right at my welding station; one thing I always (ALWAYS) do before I strike an arc is pull my helmet down and flick the lighter once to double-check the darkening function...you don't even need to light the lighter, just make it spark (so you can even use an old, spent lighter, you just need spark). You could even use a flint striker if you have one lying around. After a brief break between welds, rather than pushing the power button again, I just strike the lighter in front of the helmet to verify it's still on, then weld away!

OP, smart to start with scrap cuts, I see a lot of people jump right in on the actual project without skills Wink or they're just working on the project before their skills are developed.
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modok
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2021 5:29 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

Even if the auto darkening thing runs out of battery it will still block all the UV light which is truly dangerous.
Harbor freight auto darkening helmets are perfectly adequate for small work IMO, I have fancier helmets but they don't work much better.
see here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMyeVXuElkQ
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Mr Margaret Scratcher
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:24 am    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

Another practice, this time using a flap disc to get the metal really shiny, and getting the earth clamp closer and also using the flap disc to get that metal shiny:


Cut a slit, this time across some of the floor ribs - I've been a bit worried about how I'd go about dressing the welds across those kinds of areas in order to make a seamless weld:
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First pass:
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Cleaned up well, and I found that with the metal nice and shiny I could set the two switches on the welder to the recommended settings (A, Min) and get decent penetration.

There's a couple of holes I missed:
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Round two to fill those holes:
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Held up to the sun to check:
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Still a couple of spots I missed, but I was pretty happy with that!
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Dan the workingstiff
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:08 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

modok wrote:
Even if the auto darkening thing runs out of battery it will still block all the UV light which is truly dangerous.
Harbor freight auto darkening helmets are perfectly adequate for small work IMO, I have fancier helmets but they don't work much better.
see here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMyeVXuElkQ


Been shadetree welding for 30 years. Just bought a Hobart auto-darking helmet a year ago. Should have got off the wallet YEARS ago....

Edit: my point is I'm happy with my auto-dark helmet. Much more user friendly than the old flip down version. I too was hesitant of auto-darkening, let alone the harbor freight.
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orwell84
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:01 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

You’re a natural. Seriously, that looks great.

Get the auto helmet. My first one died on me and I was like ouch, buzz, ouch, buzz, wtf!? until I realized what had happened. It didn’t burn my eyes out or even bother me once I stopped.
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modok
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 8:47 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

I'm run though about ten of those HF ones at home and work.
They run out of batteries after 1-3 years.
They do have a solar panel thing on the front, that is real, storing it aimed at a light source seems to prolong battery life.
One of them, I ran wires out of it and powered it up it with two AA batteries, that got another two years out of it, then the brain died. I actually miss that one, the batteries were zip tied in the top part, and acted as a nice counterweight to keep it from flopping down.

Since MIG is mostly one handed operation, I use a high powered flashlight in other hand to see what I'm doing. Auto-darkening is nice but only when there is lots of light available. Many of us do our best welding when jammed into a corner stuck underneath a thing, so, flashlight.
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andybla
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:54 am    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

I would overlap the weld dots a bit, i mean weld from the previous dot rather than put the next one next to the other. And tack maybe just a second longer or so

Also, sometimes you see a tiny pinhole in your centers, that's dirt sticking in it, you can solve that by giving a little extra short tap directly after the weld

Also, you can't avoid metal warping, maybe if you wait very long, but then still.. that's why it is better to weld with lap joints every inch when welding large panels, and even then...

these are some things i have learned being an amateur Very Happy
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Mr Margaret Scratcher
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:34 am    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

orwell84 wrote:
You’re a natural. Seriously, that looks great.


Well, that's what I was thinking, so I decided to take the plunge and actually weld on my bus...

Repair panel held in with magnets:
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Started to tack in:
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More tacks:
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So far so good.

Came back the next day and couldn't get a decent weld with the same settings. Tried on the scrap again, great. Was it a matter of the earth clamp being further away? I had it here:
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I filled in some more tacks, but couldn't really then see where I'd missed, so tried to grind back the welds with a flap wheel. At this point I feel like I've made a bit of a boo-boo and made the surrounding metal too thin, and was blowing holes through:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


It seems like there's literally no margin for error when trying to grind back a weld flush on a piece of 1mm steel, and my lower nose repair sections looks like it's even thinner metal... Confused

Quite annoying as I was really happy with how flush I'd got my little repair strip to sit.

andybla wrote:
I would overlap the weld dots a bit, i mean weld from the previous dot rather than put the next one next to the other

Yeah, when trying to fill in with tacks, I was adding a tack in between a previous two tacks, is it a case of getting a decent amount of spaced tacks to stop the metal being able to warp itself out of place, and then start adding the next tack onto a previous one?

[/quote]
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orwell84
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 10:06 am    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

I often grind as I go...do a few tacks, grind the not quite flush, more tacks and grind. I use a die grinder with a cutting disc or even a dremel with a cutting disc to grind the welds almost but not quite flush. Then I smooth it out with a mini belt sander or whatever.
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chrisflstf
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 1:26 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

Ground clamp needs to be on BARE metal, always
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viiking
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:43 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

I also found that using a flap disc or grinder inevitably led to thinned out metal when I first started welding. So you add another bead on the thinned out section, blow some holes, end up with even more welds to grind down or worse put too much heat into a panel causing distortion etc.

The method I found worked for me is to use a thin cutting wheel with a grinder on its edge to “cut down” rather than grind down each high point. That is have the cutting wheel perpendicular or vertical not horizontal to the weld. You cut/grind the weld which is proud of the metal surface and you have much better control of what you are doing because the point that the disc is touching the metal is very small.

It’s tedious work, you have to get really close to see what you’re doing and have a steady hand but you end up with a good surface that you can more easily knock down with a fine flapper with less risk of thinning the metal.

Just be sure to move around the work so as not to introduce too much heat when grinding.

I also do the tack welds with gaps letting it cool and then go and grind each tack down before doing another weld overlapping each one, then grind down again etc. It is slow work but you save time because you spend less time dealing with excess grinding and warping caused by overheating.

The benefit of grinding down each tack almost flat before welding again is that you re-weld on a thickness of weld that is pretty much uniform in thickness. When you tack over the top of a previous mountain the thickness varies depending on where your wire hits so you end up with inconsistent penetration and make even more blobs. My hand is not steady enough to start the overlap consistently at the same place.

I was quite intimidated when I first started welding and grinding but now using the above method I kind of enjoy the simplicity of doing it.
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Mr Margaret Scratcher
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 3:11 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

chrisflstf wrote:
Ground clamp needs to be on BARE metal, always


Yeah if you look you can see where I flapwheeled down to bare metal there. But still, it was definitely not welding as well as it was on my practise setup of the scrap bit of floor. The only differences I can see is that on the scrap bit, both the front and backside of where the earth clamp is on are shiny metal on the practice part, and also both sides of the metal to be welded are too
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 3:11 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

Those welds looks aces! My suggestion on grinding is to not rely on a flap wheel. They're really quick to take down the welds which is in my opinion bad. I use a 36 grit roloc wheel and a 3M green core weld grinding disc to cut down welds. You could also use a mini belt sander. Stacking 3 cut-off discs works too.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 3:26 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

viiking wrote:
I also found that using a flap disc or grinder inevitably led to thinned out metal when I first started welding. So you add another bead on the thinned out section, blow some holes, end up with even more welds to grind down or worse put too much heat into a panel causing distortion etc.

The method I found worked for me is to use a thin cutting wheel with a grinder on its edge to “cut down” rather than grind down each high point. That is have the cutting wheel perpendicular or vertical not horizontal to the weld. You cut/grind the weld which is proud of the metal surface and you have much better control of what you are doing because the point that the disc is touching the metal is very small.

It’s tedious work, you have to get really close to see what you’re doing and have a steady hand but you end up with a good surface that you can more easily knock down with a fine flapper with less risk of thinning the metal.

Just be sure to move around the work so as not to introduce too much heat when grinding.

I also do the tack welds with gaps letting it cool and then go and grind each tack down before doing another weld overlapping each one, then grind down again etc. It is slow work but you save time because you spend less time dealing with excess grinding and warping caused by overheating.

The benefit of grinding down each tack almost flat before welding again is that you re-weld on a thickness of weld that is pretty much uniform in thickness. When you tack over the top of a previous mountain the thickness varies depending on where your wire hits so you end up with inconsistent penetration and make even more blobs. My hand is not steady enough to start the overlap consistently at the same place.

I was quite intimidated when I first started welding and grinding but now using the above method I kind of enjoy the simplicity of doing it.


That’s pretty much what I do, but you explained it better. I was never a steady handed welder. I try to hold with too hands and brace the gun against something.

To the OP. You have come a long way fast. It took me years to get that good.
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viiking
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2021 3:31 pm    Post subject: Re: My welding journey... Reply with quote

orwell84 wrote:
viiking wrote:
I also found that using a flap disc or grinder inevitably led to thinned out metal when I first started welding. So you add another bead on the thinned out section, blow some holes, end up with even more welds to grind down or worse put too much heat into a panel causing distortion etc.

The method I found worked for me is to use a thin cutting wheel with a grinder on its edge to “cut down” rather than grind down each high point. That is have the cutting wheel perpendicular or vertical not horizontal to the weld. You cut/grind the weld which is proud of the metal surface and you have much better control of what you are doing because the point that the disc is touching the metal is very small.

It’s tedious work, you have to get really close to see what you’re doing and have a steady hand but you end up with a good surface that you can more easily knock down with a fine flapper with less risk of thinning the metal.

Just be sure to move around the work so as not to introduce too much heat when grinding.

I also do the tack welds with gaps letting it cool and then go and grind each tack down before doing another weld overlapping each one, then grind down again etc. It is slow work but you save time because you spend less time dealing with excess grinding and warping caused by overheating.

The benefit of grinding down each tack almost flat before welding again is that you re-weld on a thickness of weld that is pretty much uniform in thickness. When you tack over the top of a previous mountain the thickness varies depending on where your wire hits so you end up with inconsistent penetration and make even more blobs. My hand is not steady enough to start the overlap consistently at the same place.

I was quite intimidated when I first started welding and grinding but now using the above method I kind of enjoy the simplicity of doing it.


That’s pretty much what I do, but you explained it better. I was never a steady handed welder. I try to hold with too hands and brace the gun against something.


Yes but I needed a thousand words to give the same explanation as you. My teachers always said my answers were verbose. Laughing
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