Stick welding revelation

For years I have used a very basic SIP Merlin AC Arc welder (mostly repair work, sticking the mower deck back together, and the occasional bit of crude fabrication). Its a transformer based lump, pretty crude
with a ridiculously poor duty cycle (weld for 7 mins, let it cool down for half an hour - improved to weld[2] for 7 mins let it cool for 15 with the addition of a couple of large fans internally). However I put up with it on the grounds that I don't need to weld things that often.
[2] In fact never mind welding, just turn it on a wait for ten mins and it will overheat and cut out all by itself.
However the thought also occurred to me that one of the reasons I don't need to weld that often is because its such a PITA to use, one tends to find alternative ways of doing it! That and it might be quite nice to be able to do some proper fabrication work from time to time.
So earlier in the year when an excuse was presented[1] and I finally got round to upgrading to a decent inverter based MIG setup, which has been really nice. At the time I bought it I also got an electrode holder so that I could also stick weld with it if I wanted - but had never got around to trying it out until today.
[1] Daughter needed to do some welding for a college project, but could not go in due to lockdown.
I wanted to weld up some bits of rebar outside, and the wind was quite strong. So, ideal time to try it in MMA mode... and wow what a difference! You can strike an arc with ease, it runs quiet and smooth with a really nice stable DC arc, and makes it almost easy to get pretty decent results with relatively little skill or practice. No buzzing, spluttering, or sticking either.
So moral of the story, I wish I had gone for something like it years ago, and I now have a new found respect for IGBT inverter arc welders - they make the whole process quite civilised!
(anyone got a use for a 150A Merlin?)
--
Cheers,

John.
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On 29/07/2020 02:06, John Rumm wrote:

Tell me exactly what to buy. Seriously. The welder I bought for £50 in 1976 is beginning to get on my nerves a bit.
Bill
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williamwright has brought this to us :

I added a 240v cooling fan to the case of mine, plus a handy 13amp socket. The fan runs whether or not it has thermally tripped. It makes a lot of difference to the run time before tripping and to the recovery time after tripping.
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On 29/07/2020 09:03, Harry Bloomfield wrote:

Yup, I used a pair of either 6" or 8" mains fans - it was better certainly, but still far from good!
--
Cheers,

John.
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On Wed, 29 Jul 2020 12:12:22 +0100, John Rumm

I actually have two of the cheap Lidl / Alto stick welders (I just wanted to try them for the S&G's) and the 'better' of the two is fan cooled as you say.
I wasn't aware of any 'duty cycle' with my old SIP stick welder as it never cut out on me. ;-)
Cheers, T i m
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I have an old (very old) 140 amp AC/transformer stick welder and a fairly new (year or so old) 140 amp inverter based stick welder. The difference is huge! It's so much easier to strike with the new one and it makes neater welds as well. It actually makes stick welding almost a pleasure! :-)
--
Chris Green
·

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On 29/07/2020 02:29, williamwright wrote:

Well based on my limited experience, something inverter based with IGBTs in the electronics.
If all you need is stick, then something like:
https://www.r-techwelding.co.uk/arc-welder-r-tech-pro-arc135/
(and having now used a decent welder in stick / MMA mode, it has greatly expanded my concept of what kind of work I would be happy to tackle with it - I would still probably not want to try welding very thin sheet steel, but general fabrication with, bar, tube, angle, and square hollow etc would be fine)
The one I went for is:
https://www.r-techwelding.co.uk/mig-welder-r-tech-i-mig180/
(many of the reasons being similar to the other poster in this thread who got the same machine)
I also got a cart to stick it on, the stick electrode, and reels of both 0.8mm and 0.6mm wire, plus a few spare tips etc.
For shielding gas I found a local Mark One hire shop was also a Hobbyweld agent:
https://hobbyweld.co.uk/
They do bottles with no rental element, so well suited to intermittent users. The gas was £35 (plus you pay a £65 deposit with the first bottle, but then just swap it for a full one for the price of the gas). I went for the Hobbyweld 5 mix which is 93% Argon, 5% Carbon Dioxide, 2% Oxygen.

ISTR the Merlin cost me about that in the late 80's, and yup, getting on nerves seems to be about what they are best at!
With hindsight, I bought it as a solution looking for a problem - I just thought it would be a handy thing to have. I remember telling a work mate who I knew was into welding, and his only question was "Why?" - the significance of the question dawned on me over the next few years, when as each problem presented, the solution turned out to not be that good.
--
Cheers,

John.
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John Rumm presented the following explanation :

I bought my transformer stick welder in the mid-80's second hand, complete with a pile of new angle iron. I learned stick welding working on a contract in Italy and fancied keeping my hand in. I had in mind to make lots of heavy duty shelves for my new garage. I ended up with two at each side, near the car door and they are still there, but over full now. It has come in useful many times since then for lots of jobs.
Since then, I bought a transformer MIG welder, but that has been much less useful or used.
Best welding accessory I bought was a auto-dimming welding helmet.
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On 29/07/2020 13:11, Harry Bloomfield wrote:

Yup :-)
(I am tempted to get one of the R-Tech XL ones - they have a bigger window so you get a better view of what you are doing)
--
Cheers,

John.
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On 29/07/2020 12:39, John Rumm wrote:

Thanks John. Very helpful.
Bill
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On 29/7/20 11:29 am, williamwright wrote:

I got one of these and it is the most amazing thing since sliced bread,
https://tinyurl.com/yxe2at3m it is tiny, weighs almost nothing and welds up to 3.2 electrodes with ease I was in the electrical game and back in the day of transformers none of us would have believed it possible what this little inverter does,dc is easier to weld with. I also have a bigger MIG with optional stick leads.Could carry it anywhere, up a pole hanging off your belt if you wished.
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wrote:

What sort of duty cycle OOI?
Cheers, T i m
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On 03/08/2020 11:39, T i m wrote:

It would be interesting to know how many amps it really delivers. There are youtube videos showing that some of the Chinese stuff doesn't meet the claims.
But welding 3.2 is impressive. My Lidl cheapy (£75 or so) won't go beyond 2. Or at least, not for me :-).
I agree that they are amazing, though.
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On 03/08/2020 11:39:30, T i m wrote:

The link contains a spec which says 60%.
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<snip>

Yeah, I saw that ... and where it was from so I was interested in the real world value. ;-)
Also, does '60%', even if valid, give you any idea of how long you can weld for before it might thermally trip? 6 minutes on, 4 minutes off ... 60 seconds on, 40 seconds off?
And if it's 60 seconds at 20A ... ? ;-)
Cheers, T i m
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On Mon, 03 Aug 2020 11:39:30 +0100, T i m wrote:

with

transformers

inverter

60% according to the page... and less than £40 from China (+ shipping, tax?). Only comes with matching connectors, no cables/clamps etc.
--
Cheers
Dave.
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On 3/8/20 9:25 pm, Dave Liquorice wrote:

I used the stick lead from my bigger MIG And made an earth from an old jumper lead I had,but you can buy a set of small light leads from bangood fairly cheap.
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On 3/8/20 8:39 pm, T i m wrote:

I use 2.4 rods and it seems to go forever,I don't build ships with continuous long welds and I do not suppose it would be suitable,but workshop or field work of weld a bit get another bit of metal and weld a bit more it works easily.
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On Mon, 3 Aug 2020 19:32:27 +0100 (GMT+01:00), Jimk

(Still) works fine here Jimmy, best ask a grown-up to help you?
Cheers, T i m
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On 29/07/2020 02:06, John Rumm wrote:

I did something similar a few months ago and wish I'd done it much earlier. I'd had a large'ish transformer-based MIG welder for a looong time, it worked well-enough but I used it so rarely that my welds were always a bit embarrassing, which meant I used it less. I took the plunge and bought a 180 inverter MIG/MMA from R-Tech and using it is a totally different experience to using the old welder, I also switched from using CO2 pub gas to an Argon mix. Welding is so much easier and gives excellent quality, plus the box is much smaller and lighter. There are cheaper units out there but R-Tech were helpful on the phone and have a long'ish warranty. They aren't cheap, but I sold the old welder so the upgrade cost was affordable and well worthwhile. I thoroughly recommend R-Tech and the 180 MIG welder.
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