Struggling with the basics

  1. CaptainBalrog New Member

    Belfast Northern Ireland

    So i have a few very old vehicles. My mechanicing is good enough to keep them alive but they've started to rot.

    So i thought i'd try to learn welding.

    I did some research and ordered a Clark 105 but i was sent a Clark 106. Not sure if it was a mistake to keep it at reduced cost.

    Anyway i've been practicing all week but I'm struggling desperately. I started off trying out test welds on .8 sheet mild steel. They were a disaster. I was using the hollow no gas flux that the welder came with and after a good bit of reading i realised it's maybe not the best way to go. There was blowing through and a few small mountains and lots of welds that looked like a bird had done them as it flew by.

    So i bought a bottle of argon/co2 and swtched to .6 wire and tip. And now, where before i was at least getting a steady wire speed, now the welder goes off like a machine gun!

    It's the inconsistency that makes it so difficult. I'll get it to do one very nice weld with good penetration and no porosity or blowing through. And then i'll do another one next to that one and the machine gun effect will kick off again! This didn't happen with the no gas setup, however all the welds were horrendous with it!

    I've the gas flow set to 10. Anything above that doesn't seem to make a difference. The gas does really help with being able to see what's going on though.

    Here's the way i was set up today (still with the same result)

    .6 wire and tip
    gas at 10
    .8 mild steel sheet scraps

    Here's a list of things i've tried:

    Loosening the wingnut that holds the wire spool
    Tightening and loosening the tension on the rollers
    Trying closer and further away from the surface with the tip
    Increasing the gas to 15
    Moving slower. Or faster.

    I don't know if it's a valid test but i pulled the trigger with no earth and watched the wire coming through and when not welding it's fine.

    Just as i'm typing this i'm wondering if the sheet metal has any kind of coating? I've seen in many a youtube tutorial that folk buff the work piece with a wire brush attachment before welding. Could it be that that's causing the wild swing from great to horrific?

    I'm wild frustrated with this. It's not that it's hard. It's that it's inconsistent which makes it really hard to figure out. It's actually a lot like trying to figure out why I'm rubbish at golf! Maybe they're connected.

    So apologies for all the waffle and in summary: I can do a decent weld, and with the exact same setup just moments later i can't produce a terrific shower of sparks and machine gun like hammering. It's like the abs comes on.

    Would really appreciate some wisdom here as i think i've more chance of driving 300 than producing consistent welds as things are.
  2. hotponyshoes Member

    Somerset. Uk
    Read the instructions.
    If you have changed from flux-cored wire to a solid wire & gas then you need to change the polarity setting of the welder.
    tom2207 likes this.
  3. slim_boy_fat

    slim_boy_fat Forum Supporter

    Welcome aboard Captain B :waving:

    Afaik, you need to swap connections inside the machine depending which process you're using. Have you checked which settings are currently inside your machine [i.e. for gas or gasless]? Did you get a manual with the welder? Pics of your efforts to date would help the professionals here [not me :ashamed:] to give advice too.

    Have a read of the forum MIG tutorial [green button at the top of the page] as it's helpful for those starting out.

    Consider starting another thread with details and pics of your cars, we like to see them here. :thumbup:
  4. CaptainBalrog New Member

    Belfast Northern Ireland

    Yes I should have mentioned I have swapped the leads over and reversed the roller so it should all be set up properly.

    I'll post pics of my vehicles but it may be tremendously disappointing!

    I've a Skoda Octavia MK1 which I love. A Renault trafic campervan(which is the primary welding recipient) and a BMW k1100lT which will prob run forever without any intervention on my part.
    slim_boy_fat likes this.
  5. CaptainBalrog New Member

    Belfast Northern Ireland

    So I've discovered.what the main problem was.

    It turns out it's possible to press the trigger on my torch enough to start an arc but not quite enough to get the gas flowing properly, or in some instances not at all!

    I'm sure someone with some experience would have noticed that sooner!

    Anyway with the machine on the lowest voltage setting and the wire speed set to 3 I can do some decent welds. I think the earth clamp might be a bit rubbish too. It seems to have gone a bit rusty already! So I cleaned it with a wire brush while is was cleaning the bits of metal I used for practice.

    The welder still spits every now and again but I reckon that's just down to me being a novice.

    Thanks for the help. Bit of a weird one I guess!
    tom2207, slim_boy_fat and DavidL like this.
  6. andyinv New Member

    That's strange - on my Clarke, the trigger was gas, then press harder and get wire.. sounds like yours was the other way round?
    Mr Roo likes this.
  7. Robert Weaver

    Robert Weaver Forum Supporter

    My Clarke had a simple trigger mechanism that included 2 bent metal strips to act as the switch. Depending on how they were bent, the gas valve could be made to open before or after the switch made.

    Manufacturing tolerances probably conspire to make the OPs gas open after.
  8. a111r Member

    The Captain's log stopped at day four. Hopefully he got used to the machine, which is not great.
    There again, the Machine Mart verbiage tries to portray it as the Canine's gonads with this load of tripe:

    "The Clarke MIG106 is a professional type torch with full on/off control combined with thermal overload protection for added safety. Turbo fan cooling adds greater efficiency and extra tough protective edging provides extra robustness. This unit is completed with fully variable electronic wire speed control, and multiple power settings for accurate welding power control".
  9. CaptainBalrog New Member

    Belfast Northern Ireland
    Hi All

    Meant to get back here sooner but been flat out working at my van every spare minute. I have got used to the welder but i think i'll replace the torch bit as it is rubbish.

    It's really awkward to use with a welding glove on due to the unpredictable release of the gas. But i've kind of got the hang of it now.

    Tried using it without a glove on the trigger hand but after getting some spatter on the hand i decided that was a little foolish!

    It's just a cheap welder. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone!
    a111r and tom2207 like this.
  10. tom2207 Member

    uk northern ireland
    good to hear your getting on , most folk would have a practice on some 2mm or 3mm plate first to get into the swing of it all , your starting at the very tough end of it , personally I would stick with .8 wire and it will be grand for all you want , but its really just patience and practice if it was that easy welders wouldnt do an apprenticeship, just keep the first few welds you did , hang them on the wall and in a few months you will look at them and giggle .
    BarrieJ, duncans and slim_boy_fat like this.
  11. duncans

    duncans Member

    that's a good idea to keep the 1st welds that you do and hang them up on the wall
  12. gt6s Member

    Newtownards Co Down Northern Ireland
    Knew from reading the first post. Norn Irn