Hi, my name’s Graham I’m one of the Technical Advisors and founders of The Welders Warehouse
I started my working life back in 1977 as an Apprentice Sheet Metal Worker and welder in Chessington, Surrey before moving to Milton Keynes in the mid 80’s to buy a house I could afford with my lovely new Wife. In the late 80’s I jumped from engineering to a sales career, selling first Carbide Burrs, then specialised welding equipment and consumables, before helping found The Welders Warehouse in 1993.
In 1999 The Welders Warehouse entered the World of Cyberspace with our first e-commerce website.
When I’m not working I enjoy Photography, Walking, Travel and a bit of Golf (which I’m not very good at 🙂 )
My job here is to help you select the correct products for whatever it is you want to do and to help you get the best out of your purchase, once you have it. So please, get in touch, tell me what you’re working on and what you need and lets make your job more of a pleasure than a chore!
Gas vs Gasless Mig Welding, which is best? is a conversation I have with customers on the phone on an almost daily basis.
First and foremost, lets clarify “Gasless”, because there is no such thing as gasless mig welding because the weld pool has to be protected from the oxygen in the air that’s all around us and the way this is done is to replace the air with gas! So called “Gasless” Mig Wires are in fact “Self Shielding”. Self Shielding Mig Wires are a tube of metal with a flux core. As the welding arc melts the wire it also burns the flux, which produces a gas shield around the welding process. So NOT “Gasless”.
Secondly, I’m going to put my cards on the table! I’m not the Worlds biggest fan of Self Shielding Mig Wire, OK so it has some uses, but it produces a fierce arc that’s not much use on steel thinner than around 1.2mm and as for car body welding, well if a mig welder supplier tells you their machine can weld car body thickness steel without gas GET THEM TO DEMO IT!!! Self Shielding Mig Wires also produce a LOT of nasty smoke, so are best used in the open air. And that really is the only place I would advocate using self shielding wire, in the open air and even then, only when its too windy to use solid wire and gas.
A little bit of history about self shielding mig wire! These wires were first developed in the United States for use on the vast prairie farms of the mid west. A small hand held mig welder was developed that would operate off a deep cell, 24v Tractor battery. This welder was part of a tool kit carried by the farmer and used to carry out running repairs to gates etc out in the fields. Self shielding mig wires found their way into the DIY welder market in the 80’s, before disposable cylinders became available.
Bottom line, well in my opinion, is that if you have a Gas/No Gas Mig Welder to use with Gas unless you absolutely have to use self shielding wire. I would prefer to protect my workspace from wind with screens etc than use self shielding wire, but as I said earlier, I’m not a fan 🙂
So what’s the difference between Gas Only, No Gas Only and Gas/No Gas Mig Welders? Regular “With Gas” Mig Welders are wired with the Torch Positive (+). Welders that operate with Self Shielding Wire are wired torch Negative (-). Mig Welders that can operate with gas or with self shielding wire have the ability for the operator to change the polarity of the torch to suit the desired wire. Machines that can use either wire are a little more expensive and are usually supplied in “No Gas” mode and with self shielding wire, to use them with gas an optional upgrade kit has to be purchased.
If you’re not sure what type of Mig Welder would best suit your needs, get in touch, you can write via the “Contact Us” link above, or phone and ask for me!
I hope you found this useful.
Correct adjustment of Mig Welder Feed Rollers is essential for short and long term reliability of wire feeding and long term life of the
drive motor and gearbox. The most common problem we come accross with Mig Welders are wire feed issues that can often be traced back, directly or indirectly, to incorrectly adjusted feed roller tension.
For example, as a mig welder is used and wire is fed through the torch liner, one of two things happen, with plastic torch liners, the liner wears, with steel torch liners, tiny particles of the copper coating on mild steel welding wire get scraped off and this copper dust gradually build up in the torch liner.
Once the plastic liner becomes worn, or the copper dust in the steel liner has built up, the wire starts to partially jam in the liner, causing the feed rollers to intermittently slip. When this happens the operators cure for the feed problem is to tighten the tension on the rollers. This cures the problem, temporarily. After a few more rolls of wire and more wear/copper build up, the wire starts to jam again, so the operator tightens the feed roller tension further! As the roller pressure on the wire increases, so the wire and its copper coating start to become damaged by the rollers, this increases wear on plastic liners and increases the rate at which the copper is scraped off inside the steel liner. This cycle goes on until tightening the feed rollers no longer cures the problem and the operator is forced to seek a solution.
By now the roller tension is so great that the rollers are at risk of damage, the motor is working harder than it should and so is the motors gearbox, all of which will inevitably result in expensive repairs at some point in the future.
So how do your correctly adjust Mig Welder Feed Rollers? Here’s the method that’s served me well with Home and Professional welders for the last 20+ Years.
IMPORTANT, ensure the torch is completely cold before starting!
You should carry out this procedure every time you fit a new reel of welding wire.
If you have experienced the feed problems mentioned earlier you are going to need to replace your liner, this is something you should do from time to time anyway as torch liners are a consumable.
I hope you found this useful, if you more of a watcher than a reader I’ve produced a video showing how to adjust wire feed roller tension, you can find this in the Mig Welder Info section of our Knowledge Zone
Enjoy your Welding!
Technical Advisor The Welders Warehouse Ltd
Shielding Gas is necessary for Welding because it’s essential to keep Oxygen from the weld pool. Shielding gas does this by replacing the Oxygen containing air that’s all around the weld pool and, of course, all around us!
Shielding Gases for Mig Welders & Tig Welders fall into two basic categories “Inert” & “Active”.
The most commonly used Inert gas is Argon. Argon is the main shielding gas used for Tig Welding most metals and Mig Welding Aluminium or Mig Brazing.
The most common Active gases are 100% Co2 and a mixture of Argon+Co2. Active gases are primarily used for Mig Welding most metals (except Aluminium and Mig Brazing).
Co2 is the cheapest of the Active Gases, but is far from the best. Using Co2 produces a cooler, coarser, more spattery arc and a slightly harder weld deposit. Co2 is a particularly challenging gas to use on thin material and not all Mig Welders perform well on thicker material with 100% Co2 as a shielding gas! An Argon/Co2 mix produces far superior results as the arc is softer, and smoother and the resulting weld deposit is slightly softer and more malleable.
There are several different mixes of Argon/Co2 on the market, typically:
95% Argon + 5% Co2, which is ideal for Mig Welding up to 8mm Steel
90% Argon + 10% Co2, which is ideal for Mig Welding from 8-25mm Steel
80% Argon + 20% Co2, which is ideal for Mig Welding 20mm plus
So what’s the difference between “Inert” and “Active” gases?
An Inert gas, such as Argon, has no effect, or reaction, on or with the welding process, it simply performs the essential task of replacing Air/Oxygen from around the weld pool. Active gases do have an effect on the welding process. The effect of an active gas on Mig Welding is two fold. Firstly, the Co2 content in an Argon/Co2 mix makes the gas slightly electrically conductive, this in turn raises the arc voltage, which increases penetration. The second effect is the Co2 content breaks down the surface tension of the molten weld pool (this is the same type of surface tension that allows water to form a drip). Using Co2 to break the surface tension of the molten weld pool allows the weld to flow and flatten slightly for the correct weld deposit profile. The use of Active Gases for most Mig Welding applications means that most people are actually MAG welding (Metal Active Gas) rather than MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding, however, MIG has become the generic term, despite being inaccurate!
If an active gas is used for Tig Welding the raised arc voltage will increase hole blows and cause excessive burning of the Tungsten Electrode.
If an Inert gas is used for Mig Welding (except Aluminium and Mig Braze), higher machine power output will be needed to achieve penetration and the finished weld will look too tall because the surface tension has not been broken.
I hope you found this useful
Technical Advisor – The Welders Warehouse
Mig Welder Settings
Wire Feed Roller Tension on a Mig Welder is how tightly the Rollers Grip the Mig Welding Wire as its fed through the Mig Welders feed mechanism and is one of the more important mig welder settings It is important to adjust this correctly because if the tension is too light the rollers can slip and wire will not be fed through at the correct speed, causing the wire to burn back on to the copper Tip at the end of the Mig Welders Torch. If the tension is too great you’ll be putting unecessary strain on the Mig Welders Wire Feed Motor and risk damaging the surface of the Mig Welding Wire. If the surface of the wire is damaged, this can in turn, damage the Mig Welder Torch Liner. If the roller tension is too great on softer Mig Welding Wires (e.g. Flux Cored & Aluminium), the wire can be slightly flattened, this means that instead of your welding wire being, say 1.0mm in diameter, it may become and oval 1.1 x 0.9mm, this will then increase the risk of jamming at the copper Tip.
To correctly adjust the tension:
If you would like a bit more explanation we do have a video demonstration of the above in the Mig Welder Info section of our website Knowledge Zone.
I hope you found this useful
Technical Advisor – The Welders Warehouse
“Duty Cycle” is probably the least understood of the specification data published for any type of Mig Welder, Tig Welder or Plasma Cutter. Essentially its a set of figures to demonstrate how long a welder will operate for before it gets too hot and the thermal overload mechanism shuts the machine off for some cool down time. However, as there are an impossible number of variables (ambient temperature and power setting for example), the Duty Cycle data is more notional. It is however, useful for judging if a machine is suitable for your application and comparison between machines.
The Duty Cycle is established by putting the machine in a controlled temperature environment and running it at a specific output until it overheats and shuts off. The time this takes is recorded and presented as a percentage of a work period. The European Union definition of a Work Period is 10 minutes.
A typical Duty Cycle will be shown as follows:
30% @ 200amps at 40°C
So what do the numbers mean?
30% is the percentage of the work period the machine will operate for. So in this example, the machine will operate for 30% of the 10 Minute work period, which is 3 minutes. There machine performed this with the output set at 200amps and the machine was in an environment of 40°C.
As mentioned earlier, this data is notional because of the variables, for example, in the UK you’re unlikely to ever be welding in a 40°C ambient temperature! (good luck if you are 🙂 ) If its Winter it may be below 10°C in your workshop, so the machine will be cooled by cooler air and so will run for longer than 3 minutes! If you set the machine to lower than 200amps it will weld for longer, set it higher and it will overheat sooner. So the Duty Cycle figure is a guide only. But as I said earlier great for comparison and making sure you get the right machine for the job!
If Duty Cycle is still a little vexing, we have a video on our website that you may find easier to absorb, you can find it on the following page:
Hope this helps
Technical Advisor at The Welders Warehouse
One of the most common Gas Welding related questions I get asked by customers on the phone is “Can I use Propane instead of Acetylene”, the answer is, “Yes” and “No”. Sorry its ambiguous, but it all depends what you want to do! Let me explain! Oxygen + Fuel Gas kits used to be simple, you had Oxygen + Acetylene! However, the waters are now muddied by a number of factors. Acetylene has become harder to obtain. Cylinder Rental for Oxygen and Acetylene Cylinders has shot up in price and Acetylene tends to ring alarm bells with Health & Safety conscious officials because of its combustibility and unstable nature!
Unfortunately, Acetylene is still the best all purpose gas, but there are viable alternatives, as long as you choose carefully and know what you want to be able to do.
Propane is the easiest Acetylene alternative to obtain and is normally supplied in cylinders on a Deposit basis, rather than rented (as is the case with Acetylene). This usually means Propane works out cheaper, especially for infrequent users of Oxygen + Fuel kits. The only real downside to using Oxygen and Propane is that it can’t be used for actual Welding. Oxygen and Propane fuelled kits are however, ideal for Silver Solder, Brazing, Cutting and Heating, so as long as you don’t want to Weld, Oxygen and Propane is a great way to go! The Welders Warehouse offers a number of Oxygen + Propane Kits, visit our Gas Equipment Page to see the range!
Propylene is a blend of gases and available in a number of Brands, Gasex, Mapp & Turbo Gas to name but three. An Oxygen and Propylene mix burns quite a bit hotter than Oxygen and Propane and therefore can be used for Welding, as well as Silver Solder, Brazing, Cutting & Heating. However, the most common way of obtaining Propylene is via small throwaway canisters. Whilst great for Welding, Brazing, Silver Solder and Light Heating, throwaway canisters are not really suitable for Heating large items or Cutting as they’re not able to deliver the volume of gas needed. Larger, refillable cylinders of Propylene are starting to come on to the market, but finding a supplier is not easy as the cylinders can’t be shipped by courier. The Welders Warehouse offers a number of throwaway canister type kits, some with a refillable Oxygen cylinder. Visit our Gas Welding Kits with Gas page to see the range!
If after all, Oxygen + Acetylene is still the way to go for you, The Welders Warehouse has a range of Oxygen + Acetylene Kits to choose from. Visit our Gas Welding Kits page to see the range!
I hope you’ve found this useful, any feedback is welcome.
Technical Advisor – The Welders Warehouse Ltd
Your Eyes are, arguably, your most important and most vulnerable sense, so you need to look after them. Arc Welding processes (Tig Welding, Mig Welding, Stick Welding etc) emit a range of light wave lengths that are hazardous to the eyes, the most dangerous being Ultra Violet (UV). Arc Eye is a common hazard for Welders and is essentially the Sun Burning of the back of the eye. A mild dose of Arc Eye will feel like sand in the eyes, a large dose is extremely painful and can lead to temporary or even permanent blindness. Arc Eye also increases the risk of cancer in the eye in the same way that sun burning the skin can lead to skin cancer. So it is essential that the eyes are well protected.
Traditional welding helmets used a piece of shaded glass. The darkness of this glass could vary, typically from 9EV to 13EV (13 being the darker). Helmets fitted with this glass are great for protecting the eyes from UV, but they’re so dark that the operator can see nothing until an arc is struck. In the early 1990’s automatic welding helmets came on the scene, these helmets have a “Light Mode” and a “Dark Mode”. In Light Mode the glass is a shade 3 or 4EV, which is akin to Sunglasses, this affords the wearer good vision of the job and welding torch, prior to welding. When an arc is struck the glass changes to Dark Mode, this is usually user adjustable between shades 9EV and 13EV. When welding is finished, the helmet goes back to the Light Mode. This all happens VERY quickly! For example, our Speedshield V goes Dark in less than 1/10,000 of a second and comes back to Light Mode in between 0.2 and 1.0 second (user adjustable).
But what happens if the helmet does NOT darken when I strike an arc I hear you cry! Well that’s where it gets a bit clever, all The Welders Warehouse Auto Welding Helmets have a special coating that filters out UV to the equivalent of a shade 16 glass. This coating is permanent, meaning you get shade 16 protection from UV even when the helmet is in the Light Mode. All this means that, provided you have the helmet down, there is ZERO risk of Arc Eye. The lightening and darkening of the Lens also means you do not have to lift the helmet between welds or tacks to see where the next weld needs to go.
Bottom line? Auto Helmets, ours at least, are easy to use, hugely convenient and productive to use and above all 100% SAFE for YOUR Eyes!
You can see our full range of super safe, fully CE approved Auto Welding helmets on our website, Welding Helmets to go directly to the correct page.
Hope this helps you weld safer!
Technical Advisor – The Welders Warehouse