AC Stick welder why/why not?
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  1. #1

    AC Stick welder why/why not?

    22 years ago I welded in a fabrication shop. Mig and Stick. Went to school etc.

    I'm starting to do some small scale mild steel stuff. Making some bbq pits and the like. I've been borrowing a friends Lincoln 140 w/fluxcore and its done everything I need so far but it is borrowed.

    I was thinking I would get a buzz box to start and as I make some money on what I make, I'll buy a larger Mig, read 220v.

    Any reason an AC buzz box would be bad? Other than welding out of position ofcourse.

    Thanks for any thoughts.

  2. #2
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    They are the most bang for your buck.

    Out of position welds are a matter of technique. The machine will not limit out of position welds.
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    Pros:
    It's the cheapest way to start welding
    Welds thicker material than the little wire feed machine.

    Cons:
    Not as nice as a DC stick welder.
    Requires more skill than the wire feed.
    Requires post-weld cleanup of flux (as compared to gas shielded wire feed).
    Requires more post-weld grinding if the beads need to look as nice as mig (can get close with 7018 and just chipping the flux)
    Requires heavier electrical power than the little wire feed (not really a bad thing)

    You can do plenty of good work with one, and it's a lot of bang for the buck (in the $250 range new, $100 range for good used).
    I have a buzzbox sitting around as an emergency backup machine, but I'd never use it until all my other options have failed.

    Out of position is not any more of a problem than on DC. 6011, 7018AC or any other fast-freeze rod should get you there.

    Edit: another thought. The buzzbox may not turn down enough to weld thin stuff like the little wirefeed can. Using the smallest rod you can find will help.
    Last edited by AndyA; 05-03-2012 at 02:44 PM.

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    I have to say I like welding with my Lincoln 225 but it's not as fast as my wire welders. When I need to burn (really burn) some metal together I reach for my old AC buzz box. I can do everything with that old welder including out of position welding.

    By the way, I paid $15.00 for my buzz box at a garage sale and I've got my money out of it plus more.
    Last edited by kctgb; 05-03-2012 at 05:53 PM.

  5. #5
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    A AC/ DC should not cost much more and you will notice the difference in rod burning.. DC
    will be smoother . Depending on how much you want to invest, you could get a stick/ tig machine that will give you another option.

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    I'm NOT an expert or professional welder but........

    I agree with the first 5 posters here with my own opinion as a hobbiest welder. I really like what Tanglediver and AndyA have to say about the matter, again this is my "hobbiest" view point only.

    I personally LOVE mig welding. However, I LOOOOOVE stick welding! Even though I suck at it many times and would NEVER weld something critical with it, It's so much frick'n fun!!!!!

    I did make a BBQ, steel shooting targets, and a couple work benches to name only a few projects since I've owned one. I think it should be part of everyone's "tool box" for certain welding proceedures that can't be done with a mig or tig welder.

    For instance, welding in a really tight area where a mig or tig cup (torch) cant get into, the nice slim stick electrode fits just fine. Also, I'm a weird guy, because I've only met a handful of folks here on this forum that like me, prefer to weld with AC instead of DC. Don't ask me why, by my welds turn out much nicer with AC.

    I'll post a picture of some of my AC stick welds when i get home tonight and post them here so you can judge for yourself. I say, if you can afford a "buzz box," then get one. Yes, having the DC option is apprently "better," but that all depends on the "judge." I'm my own judge for my own welds. Do what makes you happy and also, learn from the pros and more experienced welders here on this forum.

    That's just my .02cents worth of opinion on the subject.
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    the newer 7018ac rods have gotten very good.I figure if you can burn a 1/8 7018 you can weld up the world,check craiglist for a good used one and weld away.

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    I chose to start with oxy-acetylene to build my skill and help me learn how the metal behaves during welding. After that was under my belt I did a pile of research on electric processes and settled on stick for the following reasons:

    1. I build and repair tractor implements more than anything else - lots of plate and often messy conditions. Stick excels at a quick repair on heavy steel.

    2. I don't do production work, I can't afford a high duty cycle machine so the argument that MIG lets you run uninterrupted for long periods isn't relevant, swapping electrodes doesn't hurt my productivity.

    3. Consumables for stick are as cheap as it gets for the weekend welder. No gas, buy the rods in 5lb boxes at less than $15 each, no cups, tips, etc. to worry about.

    4. Access for the electrode - I can bend the rod and get it into corners that no other process can reach. Really nice when you need to repair an awkward join on a box grader without tearing the whole thing apart.

    I use DC almost exclusively - just like the way it works but the list above is still relevant if you are using AC.

    The only weakness I have found with stick is that I have a hard time making clean joints on this sheet metal - but the OA torch works magic in those cases so I can still get the job done just fine.

    I don't see myself ever getting a wire welder - I just haven't found anything that I can't do with the SMAW or OA gear that I already have. I am not saying that GMAW isn't more efficient - the guys who do this for a living seem to like it and that's fine - for my occasional welding needs I just don't see a fit for the MIG machine.
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    My first welder was an o/a and an ac thunderbolt. I owned/operated a residential construction business that I welded up everything I needed with that thunderbolt. 6011, 6013, and 7018, were the three goto rods and I saved alot of money fixing dump bodies, trailers, scafolding and other equipment I had. It also allowed me to do rails and steps as well. I can tell you that with practice you can make ac work for you. i also welded up a bunch of farm and ranch implements and fences.

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    AC/DC Buzz boxes are probably the most used units out there

    Almost every farm-ranch-home shop has one for repair work because of there versatility and ease of use
    and low maintenance cost and purchase price

    And a verity of rods are available for all types of welding at a low cost
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by killdozerd11 View Post
    AC/DC Buzz boxes are probably the most used units out there

    Almost every farm-ranch-home shop has one for repair work
    Most used or just the most common unit? There is a difference.

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    And that difference would be ???

    They are very common and used more than any other welders

    Not everybody has a portable welder for doing repair work
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by killdozerd11 View Post
    And that difference would be ???

    They are very common and used more than any other welders

    Not everybody has a portable welder for doing repair work
    You don't understand the obvious difference between something being common but rarely used?

    Sure, I'll agree that many farms have them, but probably average using them once or twice a year. Compare that to weld shops that use MIG units every day, for several hours each day? Or commercial production facilities that use MIG or TIG every day, all day long?

    I would expect that MIG is the most commonly USED and that AC stick welders and O/A setups are the most common dust collectors.

    Nothing wrong with that, it just speaks to that idea that those who use a machine for hours every day are more likely to buy something more expensive than a low cost AC stick welder.

    Ken

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by k45 View Post
    You don't understand the obvious difference between something being common but rarely used?

    Sure, I'll agree that many farms have them, but probably average using them once or twice a year. Compare that to weld shops that use MIG units every day, for several hours each day? Or commercial production facilities that use MIG or TIG every day, all day long?

    I would expect that MIG is the most commonly USED and that AC stick welders and O/A setups are the most common dust collectors.

    Nothing wrong with that, it just speaks to that idea that those who use a machine for hours every day are more likely to buy something more expensive than a low cost AC stick welder.

    Ken
    You haven't been on a farm much have ya? They may be dust collectors cause everything is covered in dust, but they are used regularly due to the harsh environments. It is far easier to drag a set of leads out, over and under than it is to be tethered to a mig unit with a limited reach.

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    Il probably get yelled at, but here it goes anyway....

    Would it be safe to maybe assume that for farms, a stick machine is the more common type of welder in use for "occassional" repair? Yet for the professional weld shop, mig has replaced the stick machines as the most commonly used piece of equipment for "daily" projects?
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Young View Post
    You haven't been on a farm much have ya?
    I live on a farm.

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    I think it's pretty silly to try to compare what is most common in an automated production shop, e.g. an auto factory with its robotic equipment, or even a full time large welding shop, with what is used as maintenance equipment in small auto repair places, in home shops or on farms.

    Stick welding is the most versatile of the electrical systems; I'm not sure if it or OA would be the Number 1 of all methods. Another couple tasks that stick welders can do are hard facing, cutting and gouging, and heat treating. Almost forgot...cooking hot dogs better than MIG and with less prior modification or afterward cleanup needed if done with TIG!

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    A buzz box and 7018AC rods make for some damn good welds. Plus they're built like tanks, and are so simple to fix, a caveman could do it.

    Pros: Tough, Easy to use, Capable of thick welds, easy to fix, cheap.

    cons: Hard to weld thin metal, heavy, not very portable, slow process.

    Just go for it, you won 't be disappointed. A Lincoln ac-225 runs $250 new. For something like $400 they sell an AC/DC model, but it's not as popular.
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by k45 View Post
    I live on a farm.
    How did I know that was coming? I get to foot in mouth disease quite abit. I still contend from being around farms, doing the welding, helping, and watching that the buzz box is used more than many of the mig unit out there. That is not to say there are mig units out there and being used, I can only say from my experiences stick is still king.

    The more there are concrete shops and barns with slabs in them I would think there would be more mig units but even then I don't think they will ever be king.


    ANVIL, Yes mig reigns in a shop environment. Stick is king out in the field.

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by k45 View Post
    You don't understand the obvious difference between something being common but rarely used?

    Sure, I'll agree that many farms have them, but probably average using them once or twice a year. Compare that to weld shops that use MIG units every day, for several hours each day? Or commercial production facilities that use MIG or TIG every day, all day long?

    I would expect that MIG is the most commonly USED and that AC stick welders and O/A setups are the most common dust collectors.

    Nothing wrong with that, it just speaks to that idea that those who use a machine for hours every day are more likely to buy something more expensive than a low cost AC stick welder.

    Ken
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    In my younger years small migs were not available like they are now and i don't see them as having the versatility that is needed for general repair work

    When most of the welding i was doing consisted of broken tractor hitches/implements and off road trailers and trucks were the material is going to be 1/4" to 1" thick a 110 mig/fcaw is to small to the job right

    And the next thing i might get to weld maybe cast iron or ss or doing a hard facing job and back to mild steel

    The only people who had 220 mig/fcaw machines were shops that did production work mostly

    And a tig on the farm ha ha the only people who had tig machines were machine shops and specialty shops that charged high rates for there services back then....

    Maybe on your farm you might have a big enough mig/fcaw machine but there are those who don't

    And a lot of them didn't have a portable welder either and that's how i made money because i had an old 180 amp hand crank Lincoln welder and i could to work in the field on a broken machine that could not be moved until fixed

    And i really hate to tell you this but stick is still the king when it comes to versatility

    This is based on my 40 + years of experience doing repair welding
    Maybe i'm wrong but i doubt it
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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    when you gotta get in the honey spreader to patch a pissrusted gusset, its nice to use tig because that pointy thing in the torch is good for scraping off dried cowturds to expose the metal...just kidding, do they make 6011 in a tig rod?

  23. #23

    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    I have to say I like welding with my Lincoln 225 but it's not as fast as my wire welders

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    For a LONG time AC stick welding was a big deal because the only way to get DC was a motor-generator welder (more expensive than a transformer) or an engine drive.

    You can still find some LARGE, serious AC industrial transformer machines for sale now and then. Many are single phase so be alert for that.

    Just grab an old Thunderbolt or Lincoln buzzbox and have at it.

    The most critical part of a welding system is the "nut holding the stinger".

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    Re: AC Stick welder why/why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by farmall View Post

    You can still find some LARGE, serious AC industrial transformer machines for sale now and then. Many are single phase so be alert for that.

    Just grab an old Thunderbolt or Lincoln buzzbox and have at it.

    Get an older Blue or Red machine with copper windings and it will probably outlive it's owner.

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