Author Topic: Old Dogs.... new tricks  (Read 792 times)

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Offline EuropaTC

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Old Dogs.... new tricks
« on: Sunday,March 19, 2017, 10:26:24 AM »
Well, now I've got your attention with the title.....     ::)

This is a short post about learning new tricks, one in particular that's taken me years of watching, wishing "I'd like to have a go at that" and finally getting around to doing something about it. The trick ? TIG welding.

Yes, I know there's nothing magical or astounding about the process and there are guys on here who can produce excellent welds (which I've been envious of) so on the face of it this is nothing to shout about.   But equally I'm guessing there are folks who are like me, look in awe at a guy stitching metal together and thinking "I wish...."   So this is a "it's not as hard as you might think" post.

I've had an MMA set for a long time and successfully blown holes in lots of thin sheets over the years until I finally accepted that to weld car bodywork I'd need a MIG set. I bought one and found that yep, you can do thin stuff with this.  But it's not as neat as those guys with TIG sets and I really, really wanted one of those. I decided this year, with me turning that milestone 65,  was going to be "the year." 

So I bought one, a sheet of 1mm 304 stainless and set about blowing holes in it......   It's been a learning curve, but as I said at the start, it's not as bad as you might think. I've just finished my first project today and whilst it's not as neat as some I've seen on this forum, it's not bad for a first venture into the process and at least it's holding water at 7PSI.....

So here's the message. If you're like me and thinking "Can I do that ?" the answer is "Yes". And if you can stick weld then I'd even go as far as to say you'll be up and running within a day or so's practice. It's not been as simple to work out as MIG, but considering I struggled for ages with stick welding, TIG has much better control.

Now all I need to do is make it look pretty......    ;)

Offline andy harwood

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #1 on: Sunday,March 19, 2017, 10:46:00 AM »
Very nice work.
You are correct, as the advertisement said - "Just Do It".
And practice really helps.
I need to practice TIG more. I will be doing just that later on. I have stainless scraps & rod to waste.
There was a lot of sanitary TIG welding done where I worked. Used to go to the shop and watch.
It looked just like sewing 2 pieces of pipe together. The welders hand was so steady. He told me, if your hand writing was neat,
you'd probably make a good welder.
No one can read my writing.

Offline BDA

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #2 on: Sunday,March 19, 2017, 11:42:09 AM »

I've been threatening to learn how to weld for years. I'm a member of a local MG club (they'll let just about anybody in!) and our club owns a welder. Another guy in the club said he would teach a few of us and after many emails back and forth, it sort of fell apart. The thing that is giving pause is the equipment necessary. I don't mean the welder - after all, I can borrow the club's welder - but a table, clamps, screens (I can't do it in my garage), etc. And maybe I'm making too much of that, but then a teacher could set me straight on that. There really is no room in my garage for even a fold up welding table (ok, I could hang it from the ceiling, I guess). My question is - is all that (the bulky stuff) necessary? Is it practical at all do do welding in my driveway? Would I have to set up a screen to protect people's eyes? What sort of equipment would I need besides the welder? See the attached picture of my driveway.




Brian, your tank looks really good - especially for your first effort! I wouldn't feel the need to apologize for that at all!




Andy, that first paragraph may have been a worthless effort. My handwriting isn't good for much either!

Offline andy harwood

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #3 on: Sunday,March 19, 2017, 11:57:35 AM »
Don't see why you couldn't do driveway welding. If you are doing TIG/MIG, the wind may affect your cover gas somewhat. The gasless MIG units do a good job.
Table, welder, gloves, face shield, electrical supply, and metal scraps, good things for a start. I made my table from a section of wire shelving.
You may be able to get metal scraps for 0 costs at a sheet metal shop.
Later on in the summer, you are more than welcome to come on over and try out your hand here on TIG & MIG. Then, there happens to be a Europa frame in the shop that needs....

Offline BDA

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #4 on: Sunday,March 19, 2017, 01:51:53 PM »
As it turns out, I have a mask, gloves, and arm shields. I found a folding welding table at Harbor Freight that seems reasonable. Maybe I can actually find a place for it. Something to think about...

Offline EuropaTC

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #5 on: Sunday,March 19, 2017, 11:47:51 PM »
I'll come back with more encouragement.....    :)

BDA, that's not a driveway, that would be a plot for a house over here !  I can't imagine any problem there with arc flash to anyone's eyes unless they deliberately walk up and peer in, they'll be too far away and mostly you'll be shielding the arc with your body anyway.  It's not like stick where it's all happening at arm's length, this is close and personal.  I fitted a gas lens to the torch to improve shielding, that might be an option to improve outdoor welding.

I was using my normal workbench (wooden) with the earth lead directly on the workpiece and a 18"x12" sacrificial sheet of wood directly under the workpiece. Even then I am too slow to set it on fire.....

As for steady hands, I watched loads of Youtube videos and realised that I'm simply not that good.  So I used blocks of wood as a "wrist rest" which stabilised my arm and just meant I was following the weld by wrist action. Think of the painter using a support on fine detail and it's a similar principle. It's not good enough for pro welding because it limits your travel, but 2-3" of weld was as much as I could concentrate on anyway, so it was fine for me. 

Finally a repeat plug for Youtube. There are some amazing welding videos out there and it was mostly those which gave me the push to "JDI"

Offline BDA

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #6 on: Monday,March 20, 2017, 06:04:18 AM »
Thanks, Brian! It sounds like I can manage it logistically. Now all I have to do is gather stuff to weld and get ahold of a teacher. I assume YouTube videos are good at improving technique but not for rank beginners, right?

Offline EuropaTC

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #7 on: Monday,March 20, 2017, 09:42:09 AM »
There are a couple which I would say are for people who have never welded before. There was one from a guy calling himself "Mr TIG" who very simply explains how to hold the torch and how you should be moving. It sounds in the "welding for Dummies" class of instruction but I take the attitude that if I don't know a skill then I'll read/watch any help I can get. I watched a few of his before starting and felt I understood the mechanics of the process better and how it differs from arc/MIG welding.

Another thing that I also found very useful is something called a "cheater lens". I need spectacles for both distance and reading so was a bit dubious about this item, but...   old dogs, new tricks.   Basically it's a plastic lens which fits inside your welding helmet and the focal length is  such that once you're in the welding position you get a magnified image. You can pick what magnification you want, I decided on 2x and found this gives me a very clear image of the weld pool (and any holes I'm about to blow !)


Offline FranV8

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #8 on: Monday,March 20, 2017, 11:28:12 AM »
Welding Tips and Tricks with Jody are quite good, as is the forum Migwelding.co.uk.

Great work - what welding machine have you got?  I can TIG, I learnt some by practicing then taking the results to work for the welding co guys to look at.  I think they got more entertainment than I got advice though...

Offline Rosco5000

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #9 on: Monday,March 20, 2017, 11:29:32 AM »
i have both a TIG and a MIG welder.  I will say they both have their place but the TIG is very versatile.  I learned MIG from my Dad but had to teach myself TIG.  I liken it to gas welding but with an arc instead of a flame to induce heat.  I found a lot of YouTube videos helpful.  The two best channels for me were weldingtipsandtricks and ChuckE2009.  Both have great tips for TIG welding.

As far as welding outside I would try to avoid it.  I sometimes weld near the garage door of my shop and as soon as there is a light breeze I have shielding gas issues.  You might be able to make it work if you have to but that would require you turning up the flow of the gas and you will consume way more.

I just weld on a wood workmate with an extra board on top, the only time I have had issues was with plasma cutting and welding thick material (1/4 inch) those pieces of metal hold a lot of heat and char the workmates up nicely. 

As always exercise extreme caution and have a fire extinguisher at your work station no matter where it is. 
1969 Europa S2 - 54/1869 I still can't believe I own one.
1978 Austin Mini - 1275, big brakes
1991 Ford Explorer - Lifted on 33s, custom lift and radius arms
2005 Chrysler 300C - chipped, lowered 22s
2003 GMC Yukon - chipped, lowered
You could say the stable is diverse

Offline RoddyMac

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #10 on: Monday,March 20, 2017, 12:40:24 PM »
I've always tried to advocate the "just do it" approach to anything.  When I was a kid I read a book on Honda and what I took from it was "99% of all learning is trial and error" which I have applied to nearly everything I've done.  Basically just do it, if it works it works, if it doesn't, figure out why and try again. 

The same applies to my welding skills, I borrowed a MIG welder (then bought one), blew holes in a bunch of 1" 18ga tubing, then figured out why and taught myself how to MIG weld.  When the MIG welder started to act up, dear old dad and I picked up an Eastwood TIG.  I blew holes in everything for a few weekends, then figured things out.  Watching Welding Tips and Tricks helped immensely.  The next step was welding aluminum, that took a bit more time, but eventually I figured it out.  I can say that my welds look nothing like a pro welder, but they do there job and the coupons that I've subjected to destructive testing proved that the welds hold just fine.

As for welding environment, I wouldn't want to weld outside with a TIG.  I'd much rather be sitting in a chair working over a bench.  My "bench" consists of a pair of saw horses, a piece of plywood and a small sheet of 16 ga steel.  I ground the steel, then set the part I'm working on right on the steel. 

The other things is, get a set of gas lenses.  They are invaluable if your needing to weld in tight spaces, I had to stick the tungsten out at least 3/4" for some of the tight spots on my chassis, and with the gas lens I had no issues what so ever.

And, I hate to admit it, but I might look into getting a cheater lens.  I'm no where near old enough to require it, but some days I find myself getting really close to the piece I'm welding.


Rod
« Last Edit: Monday,March 20, 2017, 01:03:48 PM by RoddyMac »

Offline andy harwood

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #11 on: Monday,March 20, 2017, 01:01:15 PM »
Europa TC & Roddy Mac -Thank you for the cheater lens tip - I've not heard of that, will look into it!

Offline BDA

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #12 on: Monday,March 20, 2017, 01:08:39 PM »
Well, I'm a bit back where I started. I can't weld in my garage. My wife got tired of my "working" garage with my 8' long workbench so I now have about a 4' work bench. The nice thing is that a lot of junk is in cabinets. The other thing my wife decided is that the cement garage floor looked crappy (it really did) and we covered the entire garage floor in rubber tiles. Not the kind of thing you want a hot spark or piece of metal to land on.


I appreciate all the advice everybody has given. One day I'll be set up.

Offline Rosco5000

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #13 on: Monday,March 20, 2017, 01:26:27 PM »
Don't give up BDA, TIG welding is really clean as in there is basically no sparks or spatter if you are doing it right.  Nothing like the cracking and popping of a MIG with sparks all over.  It may still be an option if you can do all your grinding outside.
1969 Europa S2 - 54/1869 I still can't believe I own one.
1978 Austin Mini - 1275, big brakes
1991 Ford Explorer - Lifted on 33s, custom lift and radius arms
2005 Chrysler 300C - chipped, lowered 22s
2003 GMC Yukon - chipped, lowered
You could say the stable is diverse

Offline BDA

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Re: Old Dogs.... new tricks
« Reply #14 on: Monday,March 20, 2017, 03:26:45 PM »
I checked and the MG club has a MIG welder so unless I find a friend with a TIG welder, I'll probably have to start on MIG. There is the possibility that I might buy my own welder - if I can find a place to store it! A friend told me to get the highest amperage welder I can afford, but that's not much help for me. I don't think I'm likely to weld anything as thick as 1/4". What amperage would you recommend?