Welder Recommendation

Submitted: Thursday, Oct 21, 2021 at 18:35
ThreadID: 142743 Views:4350 Replies:8 FollowUps:10
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I need to do a wheel alignment on my old Golf caravan which has tandem axles with independent load-sharing suspension. The toe-in adjustment is locked by a short stitch weld. The cam is 3mm thick and it is welded to a suspension component which is 6mm in thickness.

Now I have not done welding for 50 plus years so I would appreciate advice on which welder to buy. I only have 10A power-points so will that be sufficient? Bunnings have a 140A stick welder that costs $219 and also a gasless MIG wire-fed welder for $299 both suitable for a 10A power-point. Of course they have others but I am looking at the bottom end of the price range. For someone who is totally inexperienced with welding is a gasless MIG advantageous over a stick welder?

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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Oct 21, 2021 at 19:22

Thursday, Oct 21, 2021 at 19:22
There would probably be 6 professional welders within 20km of where you live.
Get a pro to do it and keep most of your money in the bank.
OKA196 motorhome
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Follow Up By: Paul W43 - Friday, Oct 22, 2021 at 18:55

Friday, Oct 22, 2021 at 18:55
I totally agree with Peter, get a professional to do it.
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Reply By: RMD - Thursday, Oct 21, 2021 at 19:32

Thursday, Oct 21, 2021 at 19:32
They weld them because it is CHEAP. Properly made systems have adjustability. Forget the welder. Unglue the cams and if possible drill a series of radial holes in the cam and the base 6mm material so a hole lines up when adjustment is correct. All the small bolt 6 mm dia has to do is hold the cam there. There is no stress on those capture adjustment bolts. You may have to create threads in one the components., Ie, cam or base.
Having adjusted a similar setup I used a digital level and laser Level line to adjust camber and toe it with relation to the centre line of the van. Previously scrubbing tyres, now many thousands of km and tyre wear proper.

Edit. If you must resort to welding cams, a gasless Mig is a splattery crappy thing in comparison to the stick welder. If the alignment isn't doing the job after welding the cams again, THEN what. I bet the cams aren't going to be in any good shape after one time let alone two! 3mm isn't very substantial.
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Reply By: Member - nickb boab - Thursday, Oct 21, 2021 at 20:18

Thursday, Oct 21, 2021 at 20:18
In reply to your questions your best option would probably be a inverter welder runs fine on 10 Amps ..I have a boc inverter welder.. great little machine
Cheers Nick b

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Reply By: tonysmc - Thursday, Oct 21, 2021 at 20:46

Thursday, Oct 21, 2021 at 20:46
Once you use a MIG you'll never want to go back to a stick again. MIG is much easier to use and I would recommend a MIG over a stick, however for such a small job your talking about I'd consider having someone else do it.
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Reply By: Chris J16 - Friday, Oct 22, 2021 at 07:04

Friday, Oct 22, 2021 at 07:04

My two cents worth, gasless MIG'S are crap. But MIG's running inert gas are great and easy to use but cost money to set-up.

Inverter stick welders are a lot better than the old transformer types, if you can stretch the budget I have used a WIA 140i inverter stick welder, easy to use, strikes an arc easily but about $318.00 on the net delivered.

If you have welded previously I think you will pick things up quickly on some scrap metal of the same thickness and you never know might find yourself a new hobby.

As others have posted, would be cheaper as a one of to get someone to do the welding job or retain it with other methods, but maybe like me you get satisfaction from doing the job yourself or stuffing it up.
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Reply By: Sacred Cow - Friday, Oct 22, 2021 at 08:02

Friday, Oct 22, 2021 at 08:02
Thanks everyone for taking the time and effort to respond. A special thanks to Chris J16 who is very perspective and hit the nail on the head. Thanks for resolving whether a gasless MIG had advantages over a stick arc welder. I have always got in professional welders but they are not cheap and I would have saved a lot of money if I had purchased my own welder at the outset (15 years ago). You are also at the mercy of professional welders as to when they will arrive and if they will arrive. They are complications with access especially on a sloping driveway.

I had considered drilling and bolting and certainly haven't ruled that out.

Thanks again
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Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021 at 09:34

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021 at 09:34
Using flux core requires a polarity change on the unit and a tune up of the feed and then they go fine. We use them all the time in the field. They will never be as good as a mig or a good DC stick in a workshop, but they blow through galv like it's not there (yes in fresh air...).
I cannot suggest strongly enough if you are going to start DIY welding, get a sparky to install a 15a outlet and buy a 15a machine. Until you have seen the difference good clean current makes, you wouldn't be able to fathom it, and being a beginner it will drive you mental trying to do general fab at low amps no matter which unit you go for. Personally I'd recommend flux core for general stuffing about, then DC stick for thicker steel - BUT they need a lot of current to do so. If you start on a gasless machine you'll pick it up easy.
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Reply By: Rangiephil - Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 16:34

Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 16:34
Speaking as one who started welding at about 65 , it takes some time to become familiar with stick welding.
The quality and dryness of the stick is important.
They don't call them stick welders for nothing because at first you will have the stick, stick to every piece of metal over and over.
I now heat my stick with a gas torch before using it to dry out the flux, and i have found that to be effective, unless the stick is brand new in a sealed container.
You will also need an automatic welding helmet.
It helps to see the job if you have a bright light shining on it once the weld starts.
I envy my friend with his MIG as he can do lovely neat welds, however the grinder can hide many sins.
For occasional use I am happy with my stick welder (ALDI special.)
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 17:48

Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 17:48
I too have an Aldi stick welder and fully support the "stick" nomenclature 100% . It came with a hand-held mask that guarantees I do not strike the arc where I should. I have also found that I can run an excellent bead down one side of the join. I can also produce copious amounts of what my Belgian engineer friend describes as "cocky shit". What would a Belgian engineer know about that? Enough, apparently, for he is not wrong. LOL

I have had a couple of successes though.

Would roasting the sticks in a kitchen oven for an hour or so at 250 dry them out, do you think?

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Follow Up By: Hoyks - Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 18:31

Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 18:31
Drying them in an oven definitely works, doesn't need to be a super hot oven either, 80 degrees C is more than enough. There are warming ovens for the professionals as some rods just work better when hot and the cellulose fluxes suck the moisture out of the air and become painful to use.

I store mine in a plastic zip lock bag when the factory packaging gets a bit beaten up, but they tend to punch holes in the bag easily.

I've left them wrapped in alfoil in the oven for a week so they get a couple of heat cycles before using them on a weekend. They don't let out fumes at normal cooking temperatures (not that I could taste anyway), but you may struggle to convince the wife that you're all not going to die from heavy metal poisoning.

Best welder though? A well set up MIG is pretty much point and shoot, but if there is any breeze the gas shielding can blow away.
Gasless is messy, but a bit more wind resistant.
Stick takes some practice, but is pretty reliable and can be used outdoors. Used stick welders are dirt cheap and very low maintenance.
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Follow Up By: RMD - Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 21:54

Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 21:54
At previous employment long ago as apprentice mechanic, after a year in the machining shop, welding/fabrication shop was next for almost a year. It had a dedicated warm oven, not to warm the rods but make sure they were dry when beginning welding. If you dropped one out in the field, ie, wetted, we simply held the rod short circuited until it heated and steamed off. Same in the workshop if not near the oven. Dry is good. hot not needed, they get hot quick enough.
With modern inverter welders and auto dark mask makes my welding better and usually ok. My old mig sometimes made a good weld on one section but only surface glued/laminated to the other. Migs do that more easily. Most people jab a weld rod to start when slight striking like a match allows contact and production of desired arc length.
PS. I have always used welding rods, says it on the packet. although most know what you mean if called a stick. With a Honda Eu2 and a small inverter welder you can easily weld at lower amps. My Eu2 runs both my Rohm tig/stick welder or the cheap chinese inverter welder. Often carry both genny and welder when going to stations.
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Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 21:59

Saturday, Oct 23, 2021 at 21:59
I prefer to refer to it as " tack welding " rather than cock sh-t Frank. :)
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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Sunday, Oct 24, 2021 at 08:33

Sunday, Oct 24, 2021 at 08:33
I have never been game enough for the oven trick, but thought that a light going over with the MAP gas torch should suffice. I don't get it too hot, but find it enables an immediate strike on a new rod.

I was given hundreds of rods by my MIG mate so I don't try to use old 3/4 gone rods either. New one every job.
I am getting better in that I am now able to do a continuous weld for at least 40MM.

BTW be careful with the helmet and buy a flip up with automatic darkening.
53 years ago when I was 19 , I attempted to weld a crossmember using wrong amps with a manual helmet.

In the course of striking, striking, striking I managed to get serious flash burns to my eyes, 6 days before my wedding. I was not popular but luckily recovered somewhat for the photos.
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Follow Up By: GarryR - Sunday, Oct 24, 2021 at 11:02

Sunday, Oct 24, 2021 at 11:02
on the other hand, there are some welders like myself who used to throw our rods into a bucket of water to get wet.
yep cellulose rods for first root pass, once they dry out I stop and throw it out and change to a new wet one.
I used to weld a lot of pressure plate.
Now mig and submerged arc has changed everything.
location - Warragul -Victoria
life is too short, so out and about enjoy

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Follow Up By: Member - FSH00 - Sunday, Oct 24, 2021 at 11:13

Sunday, Oct 24, 2021 at 11:13
Welding is like painting the more preparation you do the better the end result, thoroughly clean the weld areas & a bit beyond, remove ALL contamination, you can warm the job & the rods if you like, the actual welding doesn’t take to long,
Work to live don’t live to work

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Reply By: Graeme W - Tuesday, Nov 09, 2021 at 12:34

Tuesday, Nov 09, 2021 at 12:34
Hi. I am a retired TAFE teacher of 32 yrs in welding and boilermaking. My recommendation is the mig welder as it accomodates thin metals readily, where the stick welder will burn holes in thin metals (say 1.5mm and thinner). The gasless mig works well but it will be even better if you use gas as that makes a cleaner weld and it is easier to see the arc and metal. That is an issue for us oldies. Bit concerned about welding those critical suspension parts cold. Warm them to "hot to touch" before welding. Then you will be fine. Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Sacred Cow - Thursday, Nov 11, 2021 at 07:57

Thursday, Nov 11, 2021 at 07:57
Hi Graeme,
Thanks for your advice and comments. I have concerns about your advice to heat the joint before welding given that there are plastic bushes in the tubular section. Some members have said that there is too much splatter from gasless mig welding; so I am interested in your comments.

By the way I did get in a professional welder but that was expensive for a 5 minute job. Of course you are paying for his travel time, cost of equipment, etc. I fully understand that.

I would still like to get my own welder and practice before I need to some serious welding. So should I be looking at a 10A or a 15A mig welder?
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