Arc Welder Group Test

  1. malcolm

    malcolm & Clementine the Cat

    Bedford UK
    The test

    Which arc welders are usable and which are horrible? I met up yesterday with aero, snowcat, and GeorgeB to find out. Together we put a varied selection of welders to the test.

    This is very much a DIY test - My objective was to find out which machines would be easy to learn with and which might be difficult. Welds in the photos were not done by professionals, and we didn't try anything overhead up a ladder that might really have put the welders to the test.

    I've marked the photos with weld position:
    1G is horizontal
    2F is a fillet welded horizontally
    3F is a fillet welded vertically upwards.

    The welders

    Lorch 220T inverter (run on DC)
    Lorch H 150 inverter (DC only)
    Sealey inverter (ran out of rime - didn't try this)
    W0lf 75 Inverter (DC only)
    Oxford oil cooled (AC only)
    Cosmo 150 (AC only buzzbox).

    Oxford oil cooled vs Lorch 220T (AC vs DC)

    One difference between AC and DC became immediately clear before we started running beads (on 6mm plate with 3.2mm rods). It was much more tricky to start the arc on the AC Oxford which needed an accurate wiping motion where the Lorch could be started with a little tap. This is largely a difference between AC and DC. Once we were going the AC was noisier, but was smooth and controllable.

    The other advantages of the Lorch were the hot start function that gets rid of the cold bit of weld as you get going, and the crater fill function that gets rid of the depression in the end when you stop. So a lovely weld all the way along without worrying about starts and stops. You can see the difference in starts and stops in the photos below.



    Forgive the weld quality - that was one of mine. I'm very much at the beginner end of beginning, but look at the starts and stops for a beginner. :whistle:


    There was some question about whether vertical up would be quite so easy with the Oxford on AC. And I notice some shenanigans went on with the rods being switched from 3.2mm to 2.5mm and from 6013 to 7016. It seemed to manage vertical up quite well.

    oxford 3g.jpg

    Lorch 220T (Inverter run on DC)

    It was lovely to try out an all singing all dancing inverter. The Lorch was the welder I'd have gone home with if only snowcat hadn't been looking. Really this is a TIG machine, but couldn't be faulted on arc. Though we didn't do a lot of arc welding with it.

    Lorch H 150 (DC Inverter)

    I believe this one had other toys as well such as anti stick, anti-stall. Maybe snowcat can go through those. I managed a vertical up with it! Not a very good vertical up but one with good potential for improvement.

    I understand it is quite robust, and that Matt1978's party trick is dropping it off a ladder and then proving it still works. We weren't allowed to try that with snowcat's one.


    W0lf 75 (DC Inverters)

    The surprise of the test was the W0lf inverter actually worked well. This one was only a little one so we were restricted to 2.4mm rods, but it laid beads perfectly well and managed a perfectly respectable vertical up. It's easier to be neat with 2.4mm rods, but they weren't really up to the thickness we were welding.

    The W0lf even appeared to have some crater fill at the end of the welds. The main downside of this one was it's lack of output, a bigger one would probably be quite usable.


    Reliability was something we couldn't test in an afternoon, and again we weren't allowed to drop it, but there's plenty of feedback about reliability of cheap Chinese Inverters elsewhere on the forum. (I've still not forgiven W0lf for repeated attempts at spamming the forum).

    Cosmo 150 (AC Buzzbox)

    We didn't have much of a chance to try the Cosmo. It didn't have a cooling fan, and it turned out the thermal cutout was set to cut only after the garage filled with acrid smoke. That took aero less than 2 3.2mm rods at 90 amps.

    aero reported the arc seemed more harsh than the Oxford welder. Also the welds did seem low on amps, possibly due to the machine losing power with heat, or possibly an inaccurate amp reading. We weren't able to try a vertical up as we broke it too quickly. aero's fillet looked a bit messy (I don't know if you want to put that down to the machine aero? :whistle:).


    George reports it worked again after it had cooled down which is a relief.

    Sections and die pen tests

    Snowcat has sectioned a few of the fillet welds. Scroll down to post 8 to see them.


    Snowcat is an excellent teacher. A common fault for the rest of us were holding the rod too far from the work (too much arc length), and running too hot.

    Fillets seem much better for practising than flat sheets and joins as there's more scope for things to go wrong. I'd start off pulling the rod, then it would get ahead of me and slag would run ahead and stall the arc. On a butt weld I'd just end up with slag inclusions.

    Fillets seem easier for vertical up too. Watching snowcat weld I was surprised to see the slag drip down the weld. That dripping had been putting me off when I tried it, but sure enough once the slag had been chipped off the weld underneath was good.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
  2. malcolm

    malcolm & Clementine the Cat

    Bedford UK
    That's my limited write-up so far. Plenty of holes in it that need filling. What did everyone else pick up about the welders and different rods?
  3. aero Member

    Nice work there!

    I enjoyed the day, great to actually meet up. I'm keen now to have a close look at your chassis jig!

    The two things that I was surprised about where how well the Oxford stood up to the Lorch. The Oxford is an industrial quality welder that would have cost £750 when it was new back in the 80's, so no hobby tool. Listening to all the talk on the forums about how poor AC welders are I was very surprised at just how much of a good show it made. It doesn't have all the nice features, but its current is adjustable in around 5 amp increments and with the right skill on the operator's part its every bit as useable. It can be a pain to start, but again with experience this becomes second nature (warm rods help too)

    You couldn't fault the Lorch, light and portable, professional with lower power consumption then the big oil filled set. But I doubt you'd pick one up for the £75 I paid for the Oxford. The Lorch was undeniably good though, less drama when welding and all the settings you could want. Very very nice. I like the little Lorch MMA inverter as well, that would make a nice addition to the set.

    The next surprise was the baby Wolf inverter, that ran perfectly and produced really nice welds. Again it was easier to start then the AC with a smoother sound when welding. It handled vertically up perfectly. It had a few rods put through it at the higher range of its output and didn't cut out. For light work and ocassional use this would be a little gem.

    The magnet welder (as in 'as much use as a'....) of the day was the Cosmo buzz box. Sorry George, I'm glad its OK though. I was determined I was going to get a decent weld out of it, being the AC machine supporter of the team. The welding in the picture was partly me not used to the machine and partly not enough heat. It was tricky to start and keep the 'ball in the air' but I got there. I ran off one rod at approx 90 amps, and having seen how the machine worked had started to get the technique down. I changed rods and carried on, determined to lay a decent run, when half way through the second rod the machine started smoking and then 30 seconds later it cut out.

    For all intents and purposes I'd say the Cosmo was limited to about 75 amps and 2.5mm rods, then only one rod every ten mins, despite it being a 140 amp welder. For me I couldn't live with such a low duty cycle, I usuallly weld 2-6mm material. For a few extra quid you could have the little Wolf Inverter which was a much better machine, easy to use and control and seemed to run off several rods with no bother.

    We didn't use the Sealy, but I notice it seemed to live an 'industrial' lifestyle, rather then being a coseted garge dwelling machine, so I'm guessing its a good all rounder that can handle being used professionally.

    I found a half a box of 5mm 6013s skulking by the door....who's are those?
  4. malcolm

    malcolm & Clementine the Cat

    Bedford UK
    Oh dear - I suspect Snowcat might be missing some 5mm rods. They wouldn't be George's or mine. I could probably run that sort of thing on the Syncro, but my house would catch fire.

    I gather the Sealey is what's used on site when the tool stealing monkeys are about. We'll have to rely on snowcat for a comparison for that. It was a shame about the Cosmo as I'd been keen to have a go with that. I'm not sure I tried the Lorch 150T either.

    Throwing another into the mix: I wasn't able to fit my Syncrowave into the Renault, but AC and DC seem to be much the same on that for laying beads (apart from the noise). The arc starting on AC is the same as DC for that machine, so I'd imagine it's down to all the other extra electrics more than the AC DC thing. I've got start current on that (that doesn't work) but I think my crater fill is TIG only.
  5. This is good, i like this a comparison of machines. Rather alot of slag inclusion in the cosmo welds, but it is sort of what i would expect.
    The difference between the lorch and the oxford is quite apparent, as the oxford leaves a large crater, a potential weak spot in any weld. The oxford weld looks more proud that the lorch, but that would be the difference between an AC machine and a DC one.
    It would be lovely to expand on this to include a much wider range of machines.
    Nice work Malcolm & Co
  6. aero Member

    The crater may be down to me. Snowcat showed me how to reduce this defect by stalling the arc. Again with the Oxford operator skill is critical if you want good welds.

    A pre planned schedule of tests would be a good idea for any future testing I think.
  7. There are plenty of members on this forum all with assorted equipment. My own choice or Arc welding incluudes Dc petrol 140A, AC petrol 200amp, 140 pico, 180amp IFL. It would be nice to do it on a much larger scale. Everyone rating there favourite machine down to least favourite. See what comes out tops. Get comments from all who attended about the various machines, and publish all here.
    But that requires some organisation and a venue capable of doing it.
  8. ]Ahhh Malcolm Im glad you noticed my mistake, and told you G instead of F, I twiged on the way home......:ashamed:

    well heres the fascinating bit well to me any way, heres some cut and etches of the profiles, ever one achieved far better results with a 3.2mm, note really all these coupons should have had the saw marks polished, and I was a bit handy on the dye on some......

    the first IL start with a near perfect coupon, the 2F multirun (stringer technique), leg lengths were slightly uneven, but were a good 70% over plate thickness, and a good throat profile, etch reveled no inclusion,



    next is the 3F 3.2mm 6013 single run, which again reveled a good leg length and throat profile, with no inclusion an the coupon, negligible undercut....done with the H150



    next is the 3F done with wolf, as the 2.5 was the biggest rod i could run it was done with that, note the bead profile the leg length was also too short undercut on one wall,


    finally its a run aero did with the oxford, I picked this weld just because it showed undercut perfectly (sorry aero, not a dig at all just thought it was good as an ex ampler) its a single run in 2F... with a 7016

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
  9. malcolm

    malcolm & Clementine the Cat

    Bedford UK
    That's another good one for learning. We wondered over lunch whether something other than running beads might be good for evaluating different welders, and straight after lunch Snowy had us doing three pass fillet welds. The first one normal in the middle of the fillet, the second between that and one side of the fillet, and the third between the second and the other side of the fillet. If the first went wrong the rest would mess up too. :whistle: Those (first 2 photos) were on the Lorch 220T weren't they?

    I might have mis-titled my photos. Sounds like the vertical up in my shot was the Lorch 150H not the 220T.

    It's a pity we had to use 2.4mm rods on the littler welders. The beads looked very rounded, almost folding in on themselves at the edges. Could the undercut be a lack of amps and rods too small for the sheet (apart from that last one where there is a bit of undercut)? Did you spot any other interesting faults?

    Your last pic is a 2F by my reckoning :laughing:
  10. scarecrow

    scarecrow Outstanding in his field

    Fantastic guys there is lots of information there :clapping:
  11. matt1978


    UK, Cannock
    You've all had a good day by the sounds of it guys......some nice photos too.

    Sooooo, the first official forum mini meet has now took place huh ;)
  12. madkayaker

    madkayaker Pro sparkey Pro Welder

    just need to have the big one now
  13. matt1978


    UK, Cannock
    Yeah, thats planned at my place around April time........keep an eye on the specific thread 'Meet at Matts place' because I should be posting some potential dates soon enough.
  14. madkayaker

    madkayaker Pro sparkey Pro Welder

    great i wonder if i can get my birthday money early :whistle:
  15. I think Malcolm, the 1G was done with 220T I forget now:laughing: Im fairly sure everything else was with the 150, tho don't quote me....and you probably have more idea than me.....

    You can clearly see what I was talking on weld profiles, important to have enough material on a partially, non prepped fillet, to achieve the strength, everyone did better using a 3.2 in 3F, just down to the deposit on the size of material, and where the welds were sound, there was perfect fusion in the HAZ zone.... a pretty weld is not always the best and a bit of destructive testing speaks volumes....

    My passing comment on the wolf would be to up the size if you were buying, we were not in any ways pushing the boundaries (6mm), and 75amps and 2.5 is just a bit on the small side, another 40-50 amps would give you the Capacity to power a 3.2MM rod.....
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
  16. Snowy my own personal opinion on arc welding is if you can get 140amps you can weld anything. I have never been that good with 2.5mm rods (i seem to get the occasional slag inclusion), I always get better results with 3.2mm. 140amps is enough to run a 3.2mm 7018, which means you can multi run it to death if need be.
  17. we would use 150 amp inverters on the railways, with J preps upto an inch, the inverters could produce a perfectly sound weld, useing stringers.....
  18. GeorgeB pre-moderated

    London, UK
    My conclusions of this most useful and enjoyable meeting are as follows:

    We started by laying simple beads on flat steel. The Lorch inverter was impressive, of course, and perhaps it should be at a cost (I understand) of about £2500. Aero's Oxford welder didn't seem much different to my untrained eye, in terms of the weld beads produced on the flat. So I'd say the Oxford (£75 if you're lucky) produced something like 80% of the quality for 3% of the cost of the Lorch. In my opinion, the Oxford should last longer simply because there's almost nothing to go wrong. That's just on simple welds though. The Oxford is certainly not portable and it can't do TIG and produce all the other magic said to be within the Lorch. We didn't try any of the other welders on simple beads.

    The next test covered by Malcolm's write up was the vertical joint thing. The results are clear to see from the photos. I was amazed at how well my Wolf inverter managed, especially in the capable hands of Snowcat. That Wolf inverter is only 75 amps and I bought it to try welding 0.8mm steel; not 6mm thick steel. I was a lot more interested in the minimum amps it could go down to, when I bought it. If I'd wanted to weld 6mm steel, I would have bought a 150A or 200A inverter. I was amazed that it didn't cut out when used on maximum for a lot longer than the Cosmo lasted.

    Ah...the Cosmo. The smoke was unfortunate and that's wholly my fault for meddling with it inside. Nevertheless, the cut out after 2 or 3 minutes on a high-ish setting was about what I'd experienced before. I can live with that, as I'm not a professional welder and wouldn't tend to use it for long runs and/or on a high setting. On lower settings, it wouldn't be such a problem, especially if I fit a cooling fan. I feel that comparisons of the Cosmo bead with the others are not entirely fair because some of the earlier beads were done by Snowcat, with all his professional expertise. He never tried the Cosmo because we couldn't trust it after it started smoking. Aero did great but it's not comparing like with like. As for slag inclusion and splatter, I'm not getting too much of that, e.g. on butt joints with 0.8mm steel, so I don't know.
  19. Benji Member

    Hi George,
    was following a previous thread with interest but it seems to have dryed up so I'll ask on this one and it can be shifted if necesary.
    Did you make any further progress with your spot welding conversion?. Last I saw, you were going to sort out a better clamping arrangement and some decent tips, if so, how did it go?
    regards, Benji
  20. GeorgeB pre-moderated

    London, UK
    Good question! I tried my 'mark 2' version of my DIY spot welder yesterday for the first time at our meeting. I was very disappointed that the far greater pressure delivered by my orange press (!) adaption did not actually lead to a better spot. With 2 x 0.8mm sheet steel, it did join the metal and it took quite a tug with pliers to pull it apart, but the destructive test did not leave a hole as I understand it should if the spot weld is really strong. I need to try again at home, when I have more time. The others were really worried about health and safety, as perhaps they were right to be!