Alternatives to Gas Welding?

As an avid watcher of ScrapHeap Challenge (I know, I'm sad), I'm always impressed at how useful welding is. I want to start a hobby building devices such as a water pump for an allotment or a generator for small amounts of electricity, using wind or pedal power. I was hoping to use old bicycle/car parts but face the problem of joining metal to metal. I suppose I could use rivets or bolts, but is there a kind of welding that doesn't require too much outlay in money or learning. I realise that the kind of welding they do on ScrapHeap Challenge would be ideal, so I suppose I have two questions.
1) How much money/time would be involved in being able to do their kind of welding.
2) Is there a cheaper alternative? (using electricity maybe)
Thanks,
Peter C
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Peter C wrote:

MIG is ideal for this. I don't know what I'd do without mine.
You can pick up a good hobby mig ~150A for around 250. I have a Clarke 150 which is about 6 years old, gets regular use, and is still performing very well.
Alternatively you can get a low end pro MIG from around ~450 (e.g. Cebora - that's what my next welder will be).
There are two ways of MIG welding - gas and gasless. Google for the difference. Unless you intend to do much of your work outside in high winds, go for gas. The hobby machines all come with awful disposable gas cylinders which give about 15 minutes of use. Get yourself a propers cylinder and strap it to the back of the machine. It will work out much cheaper.
Having purchased your welder, you will need to learn to weld. This is best done by getting someone who can weld to spend a couple of hours with you. If not, then schools/colleges often run evening courses.
--
Grunff


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for all the advice - just what I wanted. All I've got to do now is hope Father Christmas is generous this year :-)
I had thought about a course, but missed the start of the introductory one at the local college.
Peter C
Get rid of slugs for email
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

A basic MIG welder isn't incredibly expensive, prices for the smallest ones hover around the 100 mark. I recently bought a SIP 130 amp MIG welder and have found it excellent. It's one that can be used with gas or without gas (using 'gasless' wire).
The disposable CO2 bottles (or argon/CO2) that you need for gas welding are the major running cost. If you find you're using a *lot* of CO2 then there are cheaper alternatives.
I had to practice a bit before I got the hang of it (having previously used a basic electric 'stick' welder). Once I'd realised how close you need to hold the feed to what you're welding I got on a lot better.
With a 130 amp welder like mine you can weld anything from very thin sheet (I've managed down to 1mm or so) up to, maybe, 5mm or so.
One extra I would recommend is an 'automatic' helmet, I got a bargain one for 70 and it's brilliant, makes welding a whole lot easier.
--
Chris Green ( snipped-for-privacy@x-1.net)

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 31 Oct 2003 09:53:08 +0000 (UTC), Peter C

All of the Scrapheap welding I've seen has been MIG. Even when they were building the pulsejet and welding stainless, I didn't see a TIG set in use (and there were plenty of people on that show who could TIG)
You can get a S/H hobbyist MIG for 50. These are expensive to run, because of the small wire reels and the disposable gas cylinders. But it's cheap to buy and you'll get to make some stuff while you learn your way around things.
150 gets you a new hobbyist MIG. They're rubbish (I wouldn't touch an SIP at any price).
300 gets you a better MIG, maybe a Cebora (which is the first decent machine I'd buy new, rather than S/H).
500 gets you a Murex with a removable torch (if you keep your eyes open for offers), and then you can stop worrying about upgrading your machine.
Don't use CO2 gas, get some proper welding mixture (Argon and a little CO2). You'll get much better welds. Gas is basically free and you just pay bottle rental (which isn't cheap 8-( ). With two people doing fairly large quantities of hobbyist welding, we still can't remember when we last replaced bottle or wire reel, it's that infrequent.

Stick welders are dirt cheap, but not much use under 1/4" plate. Maybe 1/8" if you're careful, but you're not going to do thin sheet with them.
Gas welding is also pretty cheap to get the equipment, but bottle rental is another expensive cost. A "Portapak" with tall skinny cylinders will fit in a car when full-size cylinders are a "delivery only" option. Gas welding is a wonderfully restful process, but it's not a quick way to build things. OTOH, it's also a good way of getting things hot, which is a whole new world of fun techniques.
TIG is about a grand for reasonable entry kit.
If you're doing any electric welding, get an automatic hat. Wonderful things. You'll also need to budget for stuff like an angle grinder, flap disks, wire brushes, a leather welder's jacket (cheap ! worth getting), earmuffs, etc..
New steel is cheap and nicer to weld than rusty scrap. But you should still collect useful scrap when you find it - but avoid galvanised and stainless.
Gibson's "Practical Welding" is a good book. (Amazon.com product link shortened) />/
You can also do some Googling. I've posted a few rants on "How do I begin MIG welding" to various ng's, and there's also sci.engr.joining.welding
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Andy Dingley wrote:

While I've had several bad encounters with SIPs, I have to defend my Clarke - which also falls firmly in the hobby mig range.
It takes 5kg reels, and has a pretty good wire feed which hasn't given any trouble in 6 years. I get through a 5kg reel every year, so usage isn't very heavy, but not too light either.
Machine Mart supply all the consumable parts (tips/shrouds/necks/liners/complete torches/rollers), so I've never had trouble getting bits.
--
Grunff


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Well that's a good recommendation then - it's the wire feed that is the weakest link on the cheapies.
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Andy Dingley wrote:

Definitely - both the SIPs (a 130 and a 150) I've used had wire feeds which bounced all over the place. Getting a constant feed was nigh on impossible.
--
Grunff


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Wonder why Practical Classics made the SIP 150 there best buy out of all similarly priced machines?
--
*Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dave Plowman wrote:

Yeah I know - I also know that you have one with which you're happy (or at least were last time we discussed).
It is quite possible that they have changed the wire feed. It's also possible that both the machines I used were faulty. There were a couple of other things wrong with one of the two machines - a crappy gas valve in the torch, and a very poor non-rigid umbilical between the machine and the torch.
--
Grunff


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm not an expert - still practising. But I bought it on the strength of the PC tests which I've found pretty good for other things.

I don't have the experience to comment. But there's nothing worse for a novice than discovering his difficulties are down to crappy equipment. ;-)
--
*I believe five out of four people have trouble with fractions. *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not my experience with my SIP 130, maybe they've improved them as it is quite new.
--
Chris Green ( snipped-for-privacy@x-1.net)

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My new[ish] SIP 130 is OK.

The SIP takes 5kg reels and converts from gas to gasless if required. The wire feed has been trouble free so far.
--
Chris Green ( snipped-for-privacy@x-1.net)

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 31 Oct 2003 18:09:18 +0000, Andy Dingley

Actually, on the safety day I did get one of Scrapheap's resident engineers to tidy up some of the MIG welds using a TIG torch -- so we didn't get any catastrophic and potentially dangerous failures on race-day.
Bruce Simpson Expert for The Destroyers in the Jet Racers episode. -- you can contact me via http://aardvark.co.nz/contact /
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bruce Simpson wrote:

Nice to see you here Bruce. Nice site too.
--
Grunff


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

1) Do a course. Your local evening college will provide.
2) Basic AC arc welding (aka "stick") is dead cheap. < 75 for a welder, but don't expect to be able to weld anything much thinner than railway lines.
3) Basic MIG is quite cheap, but the bottles don't last long.
4) Did I mention doing a course?
5) Gas is dead good, but you have to give BOC your firstborn.
6) About that course ...
--
"The road to Paradise is through Intercourse."
The uk.transport FAQ; http://www.huge.org.uk/transport/FAQ.html
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Car body filler. Amazingly strong, at normal temperatures.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.