First Time, can't get a bead

aliusa

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I've never welded before, so I picked up Harbor Freight 125 Welder. I used the wire that came with it and set the speed to 5 and to Max. When I weld, I only get splitter, no bead what so ever. I'm obviously doing something wrong. I made sure my wire wasn't too long tried to go slow too but without much avail. Any tips?

Thanks,
A
 

mckutzy

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Off hand.. If able, Id ditch that stock wire they sell with it.. its usually crap... get Lincoln or miller wire... much better...

Make sure the base metal are ground clean.. no paint, galv or rust ect...
If the Gun is poping up and not making the weld arc start.. you need to hold firmly the gun and alow it to...

Its kinda hard to tell whats going on with out visually seeing.... Welding its a art that hard to tell than show and replicate...
 

aliusa

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That video was helpful! My other thought was maybe it's an amp issue. 20 vs 15A

I'm gonna take break this afternoon from WFH and then do some practice beads and share the pictures. I suspect the metal wasn't clean as I thought it was. So last night I spent time just grinding as much as I could to prep the metal.

Maybe I'm confusing the initial flare as the "molten" metal.
 

mckutzy

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Typically you want to have a dedicated circuit without anything else on the line. Don't use an extension cord as best as you can..
Double check on the current use of that machine...
 

aliusa

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I tried again. It's pretty ugly but it'll hold. I believe my hand isn't as steady and I'm using the handheld mask that came with the welder so I only have one hand.

One thing im noticing the weld is really dark. What could cause this?

Thanks,
A
 

aliusa

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It's Flux. It's the cheap $99 habor freight welder. It must be too hot. Does that mean switch to min or lower the speed of am I moving too slowly?
 

Kartorbust

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I've never used a HF welder before, use to Lincolns and the like. Inside the machine's door to get to the wire spool, does it have a placard on it at all? Usually wire feed welders will have that on the inside of the door, it's basically a cheat sheet to tell you what settings to put the machine at for what thickness metal and whether its gas-less flux cored wire or solid wire with gas. Sometimes they'll tell you what the recommended gas to use and what flow rate to use.
 

Karts of Kaos

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I have heard that hf flux core is junk wire but the welder is ok. ( i would not know because I use a stick welder)
 

anickode

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The new Harbor Freight flux 125 welder isn't a great machine, but it's a significant improvement over the previous model because it has rectified output. No wire feed process is meant to run on AC output.

Harbor Freight's flux core wire is junk. Flux core wire, while not as susceptible to moisture contamination as welding rods (flux being inside and all), can still be harmed from long term exposure to moisture. Months spent in shipping containers, warehouses, and store shelves, combined with the crappy packaging and poor quality to start with is everything you DON"T want in a welding wire.

Get a roll of Lincoln .030 flux core wire and start there.

Boiled down to the basics, it works like this:

Wire feed welding is unique in that it uses two separate controls that each affect the arc in their own way. Unlike stick or TIG welding, the output amperage is a factor of BOTH settings. Wire feed is a CONSTANT VOLTAGE process. When you set the "power" on the machine, you are setting an output voltage. This output voltage will result in a particular arc length between the tip of the wire and the metal. As you dial up the wire speed, you're forcing the AMPERAGE higher as the machine has to burn off more wire to maintain that arc length. If your wire speed is too slow, it will burn the wire back faster than it's coming out. If your wire speed is too high, the machine cannot supply enough amperage to continue burning the wire off, and you end up with the spattery piles of burned wire. It's about finding the balance. There will be a wire feed speed range in which it runs quite well at a particular setting. You'll be able to go a little faster or slower, but that range is fairly definite and will depend upon your power setting.

It takes some getting used to. Odds are, you will NOT be using the full output speed of the machine, even with the power set on max. Harbor freight uses the same feed mechanism in many of their cheaper machines, so if you were using say the 180a machine at full-tilt with .023 wire, you'd need the full speed, but not with thicker wire on a smaller machine.
 

MikeInOhio

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Spend a couple bucks on a flux core tip, makes a big difference. You can see what you are doing a bit better

Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk
 

mckutzy

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Mike-What is this "fluxcore tip" you speak of, in relation to how it differs from any other tip for that type of machine???
 

anickode

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Mike-What is this "fluxcore tip" you speak of, in relation to how it differs from any other tip for that type of machine???

A flux core tip is just a tapered cone, usually made of a heat resistant plastic or ceramic. Goes on in place of the copper gas nozzle. Makes the end of the gun more pointy and easier to fit in corners and see around.
 

aliusa

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Thanks for advice, everyone! I will be using the HF wire just for practice based on the comments here.

As far as the visibility, I did end up removing the large copper gas shield so I only have the tip exposed. But I will try the fluxcore tip next time.

Curious, when welding a thicker metal to a thinner metal do I default to the settings for the thinner metal?

Thanks,
A
 

anickode

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Thanks for advice, everyone! I will be using the HF wire just for practice based on the comments here.

As far as the visibility, I did end up removing the large copper gas shield so I only have the tip exposed. But I will try the fluxcore tip next time.

Curious, when welding a thicker metal to a thinner metal do I default to the settings for the thinner metal?

Thanks,
A

No, you typically don't as you won't get fusion to the thicker metal. You can turn it down some, but not to where you would be for welding thin to thin. Rather, what you'll do is focus the arc on the thicker metal and "wash" the puddle over to the thinner.
 

aliusa

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I'd like to thank everyone, you guys have been very helpful. What I gained just from this thread I would not have gotten from watching hours of YouTube videos!
 

chrisfogarty

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Try switching to another outlet. I have a couple of 120v wire feed welders. One is a nice high end mig and the other is the HF 90amp (flux core). There is one outlet in my garage that neither will do anything but spatter. My guess is the wiring to the outlet is too small and too long a run. Just an idea.
 
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