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What do you weld with, and why?

Discussion in 'BIKE TALK' started by jackdaw, Jun 19, 2012.

  1. jackdaw

    jackdaw

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    Birthday welder

    I'm going to get welding equipment for my birthday, I'm leaning toward oxy/acetylene because you can braze and weld and heat as well as light your BBQ with it. So, excluding TIG because of cost, what do you think?

    I'm thinking around $200-300. I took welding in college about twenty years ago but I was good at it, and I think I could pick it up again. I might even ask some one to tune me up a little. :shock:

    Thanks for your opinions!
  2. deven_science

    deven_science

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    Re: Birthday welder

    That's what I have. My oxy/acetylene setup was around $900, but if you get the smaller tanks, and go with something like a Harbor Freight setup, then it might be as low as $200-300.

    I've since added the Cobra torch, so mine is up to about $1200, actually. But hey, it needs no power, doesn't take up much space, and can weld, braze, solder, cut, scarf, heat, forge, etc. I'm really happy with mine.
  3. jackdaw

    jackdaw

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    Re: Birthday welder

    Thanks devon, what are the benefits of the higher end oxy/acet equipment? Or, rather, what will I be giving up getting a cheapo outfit?

    The Hood Rat is rockin' by the way. I think you can have fun within those confines. It provides creative challenge, to have impact and flow with a regular frame.
  4. deven_science

    deven_science

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    Birthday welder

    Thanks for the compliment on the bike!

    Well, larger tanks means that in the year plus of owning them, I've only refilled them once (refill was only $60 for both, too). Plus I've got the nice Victor regulator setup, so it's been nice with good flow, and it came with lots of tip choices. The Cobra torch that I bought allows you to weld with the gases regulated down to only 4psi, so while the torch is expensive, you're using a tenth of the oxygen, which will save in the long run.

    If you have an actual welding supply store in your area, what I did was go in there, and told them what I want to do. They gave me a written estimate of what I might need, then I looked to see where I should or shouldn't cut corners. I didn't get the largest tanks, but close.
  5. jackdaw

    jackdaw

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    My wife is getting me welding gear for my birthday!!! Yaa! But I don't know what I want to get. I don't want to spend more than $200 or $300, it seems like that is a pretty limiting number. So show me what a good stick weld looks like. Or a flux wire. You guys know what I'm trying to figure out, that balance between money and the potential quality of the finished product. I took welding in college, 20 years ago, I'll get a tune up from someone.

    Thanks for your help, I hope to join you guys in this section of RRB soon!
  6. jerrykr

    jerrykr

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    I bought my O-A rig long time ago when my wife worked for a welding supply co. (employee discount).
    I bought medium size bottles, and for the amount of work I do, that's big enough.

    If you plan to do any cutting at all with it, don't get the little bottles, you will run out of Ox very quickly.

    I have not priced them lately, but you should be able to get a decent rig for $300 (could be wrong) and rent the bottles.
    While I was at the store, I saw a rig like mine, looked new, for $850 - I assume that included owning the bottles.
    I was not in the market, so did not ask details.
    Long term owning the bottles saves you a lot of money.

    Owning the bottles, means you have to pay for the inspections.
    I just bought Acy - medium bottle, $28 and change for the gas, my inspection was out, so $24 for getting an exchange bottle good for 12 more years.
    This is in Texas, not sure of your state.

    +1 on going to a local welding supply and shopping prices.

    Hope this helps.
  7. deven_science

    deven_science

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    I own my bottles, which did cost more up front, as I've mentioned above. But refilling is cheap! Also, when I go to have them refilled from the place where I bought them, they simply do a swap out. They are responsible for the inspections, because they can't swap me for a bad bottle. That's how it works here in CA.
  8. Uncle Stretch

    Uncle Stretch Moderator

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    Got to stay on top of them. They sometimes swap you bottles that are real
    close on the inspection date and then try to charge you the $65 fee when you
    get them filled the next time. They are known to be a little unscrupulous. I had
    mine and then always told them to fill mine instead of swapping.
  9. Voyager Al

    Voyager Al

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    I have a stick welder, and only use it to repair truck frames. I have a gas MIG, borrowed. I just bought a used flux mig, and it rocks. takes a bit of practice to get nice clean welds, but its doable. Cheap wise, id go to harbor Freight and buy the 129 dollar mig..Cant go wrong.
  10. Carbon

    Carbon

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    I had a Cambell H. Flux cored mig welder for around 6 years and used it a ton, it recently quit on me and I picked one up from my local Tractor Supply for around 130 bucks, fan cooled, works awesome, I've welded 1/4" steel with it with very good results, no gas to refill is what I like best. I've done quite a few custom frame jobs with it, definately worth concidering for the weekend warrior.
  11. jackdaw

    jackdaw

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    JEEZUM!!! This is NOT making it any easier!! :lol: I like the idea of getting a very inexpensive rig, until I know how much I'm going to use it. I can always upgrade. A MIG seems like a good idea, I'd thought of them before, then I thought the versatility of an O/A gas rig would be better. But I am less confidant about gas welding, and there's the bottles.

    Maybe I'll just make my wife decide!! HaHaHa!!

    Thanks for your input guys, keep it coming. I've got two weeks to make up my mind.
  12. jerrykr

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    I have to agree with what devin-science and uncle stretch are saying about swapping bottles, and this is as far as I know, which means I could be wrong about the current rules.

    I had to pay for the inspection because the bottle I had was out of inspection date.
    I have probably had it sitting out in my shed for well over 10 years, so I brought an out of date bottle to the store.

    I agree that if you swap a bottle, ask what the inspection date is on the one you are getting, and don't accept one about to expire.

    I know I could paint my bottles purple or something and keep them forever, and just get them filled instead of swapping.
    I was under the impression that if my own bottle's inspection expired, I would have to pay for inspection before they could have it filled again.
    Right? Wrong? I've never done it this way, so I don't know.

    If you don't swap, you have to go back and get your bottle after it was filled. If you swap, you are out of there until you need gas again.

    Personally, I wish I could afford a decent, but not expensive wire welder in addition to my gas rig.

    I had a stick welder and used it a bunch for heavier metals, but I could not imagine welding thin bike tubing with it. Probably a lack of skill on my part. :D

    I got rid of it when we moved and I no longer had a shop with 240 to plug it into. :(
    .
  13. ozzmonaut

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    I have a flux-core wire welder. Mine only has high and low heat settings. Respectively they are 60A/90A. At 60A you have to be careful welding bicycle frames. It took a lot of practice and even then you will still end up repairing holes you've blown through the tubing. I'm looking at getting the harbor freight inverter arc welder. You still run on a 120V outlet, but the heat is adjustable from like 10A-85A. I feel I'd like it because at lower settings it could be great for welding in fender stays or temporary welds. You could turn it to about 40A for bicycle frames and worry less about going back touching things up, and the 85A max should still be fine for 1/4" steel just in case. I know the 90A setting on my wire welder will weld 7/8" rebar if you bevel the ends that are going together to get decent penetration. I don't know about the quality of the inverter arc welder in question, but the price is good and $6 flat rate shipping means I don't spend $20 in gas going to HF and back. If I don't get that one I'll probably get the 70A arc. It runs on 120 and output is 40-70A so it basically will do just what is needed for bikes, and the price is a little nicer. http://www.harborfreight.com/80-amp-inverter-arc-welder-91110.htmlhttp://www.harborfreight.com/70-amp-arc-welder-68888.html
  14. ozzmonaut

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    Went back and checked the reviews. Looks like all pretty good reviews on the inverter arc, not so much on the 70A, that probably made my decision.
  15. Voyager Al

    Voyager Al

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    oz, at low , turn the speed feed UP, and work a tad faster.. Even on my Miller at work,I was welding 1/16" diamond plate down on a floor, and had the heat set darn near on the highest., Ya just increase your speed of the wire, and get cracking! JMHO
  16. jackdaw

    jackdaw

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    Alright, I have narrowed it down to either an arc welder or a flux core wire welder. I have decided to go with a cheap rig 'cause I don't know how much I'm going to be using it.

    I know you can get nice welds with either, I think getting a nice looking weld with a stick welder is more difficult. But I saw a tutorial at Atomic Zombie and that guy got some nice welds with an arc welder.


    So, what are the advantages of arc versus wire feed?

    Thanks
  17. Uncle Stretch

    Uncle Stretch Moderator

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    This question comes up all the time. Buy a cheap wire welder , practice enough to get decent
    with it and build you some stuff. If its not what you want , you only have a couple hundred
    invested and you can sell it on Cl and try something else. Welding machines are cheap and there are probably several on your local Craigslist at any given time. They come in steps with the price.....junk....fair.....good ...and real dang expensive. All will let you learn how to weld. If you get good with practice you can weld good with even a junk machine. :lol:
  18. outskirtscustoms

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    I weld with a harbor freight wire feed flux core welder, it's okay for the money but get the extended warranty!!! The wire feed system can wear out then you're stuck. As far as welding with it I haven't had too much trouble at all but I have had to replace it once already due to the wire feed mechanism slipping. My advice would be find a used wire feed welder like a Miller or Lincoln on craigslist and have at it.
  19. ozzmonaut

    ozzmonaut

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    Speed is up to 10. 60A is still a tad high for bike frames. I think 40A would be better. That's what my old arc welder worked best at. It works fine for 1/16" when it is flat pieces that fit together nicely, but a lot of bike parts don't go together as well so that is part of the problem. I just like the idea of having better heat control.
  20. ozzmonaut

    ozzmonaut

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    As far as jackdaws last question, keep this in mind. With a wire-feed, you get your speed and heat right, and just zip along with the tip of the controller. With an arc, you account for the speed since you move the rod into the weld, but you have to constantly account for the loss of material from the welding rod, giving you a shorter tip as the job progresses. My friend has the harbor freight wire welder. He got it a few years ago on sale for $97, and he has used it quite a bit with no issues. But an extended warranty is never a bad thing to have. I think mine is a Century brand wire-feed, and I've had it for 3 years and burned over 80 lbs of wire in it so far with no issues. I've only hit the duty cycle once. It was 95 dgs out and I was welding 7/8" rebar for a long time.

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