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Old 22-08-2012, 05:55   #16
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Re: Learning to Weld

I think what the general gest of the above is : Lots of us do welding, and if you find it fun then it is fun to learn, but I wouldn't plan on making millions from it from the yacht crowd.
BTW- I was heating it, that is why it was taking so long. It would cool off before I got much work done
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Old 22-08-2012, 06:50   #17
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Re: Learning to Weld

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The equipment can be expensive and it's not just the welding equipment. The rest of the fabrication equipment needs to be considered as well. Pipe benders, cutters etc.
Yep. The thing that surprised me when I got into welding was that 3/4ths of the time for any "welding" project is actually spent cutting and shaping the metal. The amount of time spent looking through the welding helmet is minimal.
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Old 22-08-2012, 08:49   #18
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Re: Learning to Weld

So.....I can weld 316 with my stick welder? What do I need?
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Old 22-08-2012, 15:37   #19
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So.....I can weld 316 with my stick welder? What do I need?
Cheap dc inverter is fine. One with dc tig features even better.
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Old 22-08-2012, 15:47   #20
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Re: Learning to Weld

So..I can't weld 316 with my stick welder?
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Old 22-08-2012, 15:52   #21
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Re: Learning to Weld

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So..I can't weld 316 with my stick welder?
Yes you can if your welder is dc , 308 wire. will run on ac but not great just buy from the weld shop 316lL 3/32 SS STICK WIRE Be warned staniless stick is dam hard to weld well If you can keep your piece to be welded flat you will do much better wear safty glasses when cleaning your weld
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Old 22-08-2012, 16:55   #22
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Re: Learning to Weld

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So..I can't weld 316 with my stick welder?
DC inverter welders are pretty cheap these days. I persevered with my old light dimming sticky arcing AC hunk of junk for way more years then I should have. Purchased an inverter a couple of years ago and it even makes me look good when I weld!
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Old 22-08-2012, 16:57   #23
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Re: Learning to Weld

I hate doing this, and I'm not sure how to do it without ruffling feathers: I beg to differ from motion30's advice ; 316L electrodes CAN run well on a basic AC welder (aka 'buzz box')

Better beads than mild steel electrodes from the same machine, in my experience and that of a number of my friends.

Possibly if your buzz box has a low open circuit voltage, (the potential diff between electrode and workpiece when it's sitting there, before you establish the arc) you may have trouble, and perhaps that's what motion30 has experienced.
St st rods tend to need more volts to get the arc started, and I seem to remember 308 and 309 being more forgiving than 316 in that respect.

I've got a DC TIG machine which is fantastic for fine and fiddly work, but I don't hesitate to break out the buzz box and get the box of 316L electrodes out of the fridge if I have to run long beads in thicker material.

The faster you can weld (for a given size of bead), the less distortion you get, and TIG is not fast.


If you're at the lower margin for OCV, you can get by with a heavy block of scrap st steel which you can fiddle about striking at to get the arc started (the heaviness helps you break the rod off with a quick flick if you get the rod stuck, alternatively just clamp it down), then move to the actual work while the rod is still hot. Helps to grind or file a bright patch at the end of each new rod, too...
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Old 22-08-2012, 17:22   #24
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Re: Learning to Weld

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
I hate doing this, and I'm not sure how to do it without ruffling feathers: I beg to differ from motion30's advice ; 316L electrodes CAN run well on a basic AC welder (aka 'buzz box')

Better beads than mild steel electrodes from the same machine, in my experience and that of a number of my friends.

Possibly if your buzz box has a low open circuit voltage, (the potential diff between electrode and workpiece when it's sitting there, before you establish the arc) you may have trouble, and perhaps that's what motion30 has experienced.
St st rods tend to need more volts to get the arc started, and I seem to remember 308 and 309 being more forgiving than 316 in that respect.

I've got a DC TIG machine which is fantastic for fine and fiddly work, but I don't hesitate to break out the buzz box and get the box of 316L electrodes out of the fridge if I have to run long beads in thicker material.

The faster you can weld (for a given size of bead), the less distortion you get, and TIG is not fast.


If you're at the lower margin for OCV, you can get by with a heavy block of scrap st steel which you can fiddle about striking at to get the arc started (the heaviness helps you break the rod off with a quick flick if you get the rod stuck, alternatively just clamp it down), then move to the actual work while the rod is still hot. Helps to grind or file a bright patch at the end of each new rod, too...
I don't think that is good advice for a novice welder.

Unless the manufacturer of the electrode specifically recommends the electrode for AC then it is really not suitable. Not saying it can't be done, just that you are making things difficult for yourself. A 50Hz AC supply sees the arc go out 100 times per second and in a 60Hz supply, its 120 times per second whenever the AC voltage passes thru 0 volts. Unless the flux of the electrode produces ionising gasses to allow the arc to re-establish "easily" after passing through the zero crossing then the job becomes even more difficult.

Stainless steel is more prone to distortion due to it's lower conductivity and higher thermal expansion co-efficient when compared to carbon steel, but in the context of welding typical boat bracketry and tubing I don't really think that it is a major issue. Having said that, yes, stick welding results in less heat distortion compared to TIG - and less carbide precipitation as well - on thicker materials due to lower heat input but the typically approach to reducing these issues is to use sequence welding techniques which basically means welding the component as a series of small welds spaced and timed in such a way as to prevent excessive heat concentration and distortion.
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Old 22-08-2012, 21:09   #25
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Re: Learning to Weld

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I don't think that is good advice for a novice welder.

Unless the manufacturer of the electrode specifically recommends the electrode for AC then it is really not suitable. .....

Not sure how you read my advice - it seems you think I'm recommending using DC rods on an AC machine.

I'm not, and I wouldn't. I've never tried DC rods on AC and I'm not sure why anyone would, unless desperate.

To be clear: I'm suggesting the minimal equipment requirement for welding stainless steel (which is what I took the OP to be asking for) is an AC welder with SUITABLE (ie AC) electrodes.

In some situations, it will do a good job, certainly better than the same machine on mild steel with SUITABLE electrodes.
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Old 22-08-2012, 21:40   #26
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Re: Learning to Weld

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Not sure how you read my advice - it seems you think I'm recommending using DC rods on an AC machine.

I'm not, and I wouldn't. I've never tried DC rods on AC and I'm not sure why anyone would, unless desperate.

To be clear: I'm suggesting the minimal equipment requirement for welding stainless steel (which is what I took the OP to be asking for) is an AC welder with SUITABLE (ie AC) electrodes.

In some situations, it will do a good job, certainly better than the same machine on mild steel with SUITABLE electrodes.
OK, point taken. It's my experience that S/Steel rods don't run the best on AC, especially on low OCV single phase handyman welding equipment. I confess I haven't tried it for around 15 years or thereabouts, so maybe the rods have gotten better over time. In this day and age though I'd still recommend a DC inverter for anyone, especially a novice, wanting to fabricate stainless steel items.
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Old 23-08-2012, 06:28   #27
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Re: Learning to Weld

Thanks for feedback guys. Looks like a class would be in order when I start thinking about my next boat. I'd be learning to weld for my own personal needs. Not intending to weld for hire.
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Old 23-08-2012, 06:38   #28
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Re: Learning to Weld

By Andrew Troup
"You'd be struggling to do even Chevvy class welds on material as thin as the usual bimini and even bow/sternrail tubing, with a stick welder. It's also quite a lot trickier welding around cylindrical things than rectangular ones, especially when they meet another piece at an angle"

I was a welder for about 5 years, steel not aluminum, the above quote is very true!
Steve W
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Old 23-08-2012, 12:31   #29
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Re: Learning to Weld

OK, I'll bite: Why do you keep 316L electrodes in the fridge?
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Old 23-08-2012, 12:49   #30
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Re: Learning to Weld

As someone who can weld but not an expert, I would recommend you take the class, try it and see if you enjoy it at all. When I started later in life I tried with a standard welder's hood. Could not see what I was doing and didn't like it. I bought the new kind of hood with the auto dimming lens and I liked it a little better.
I did some steel work for engine mounts and pump mounts and tried stainless with my buzz box which worked but not well. I became proficient at grinding but not too at welding.
Now in my later years I think I'd rather just take the jobs to an expert and not have to worry about all the equipment required or doing a sloppy job on something critical.
kind regards,
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