Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.
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  1. #1
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    Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    I am not a pipeliner. The only training Ive had welding pipe was for my certification. I do weld pipe just not to the standards that a pipeliner would. I have a SAE-300 on the truck that I use just because its smooth and I have twice the arc manipulating opinions as other machines. I find that the buttery arc helps most on small diameter pipe the most. I am not familar with pipeline procedures. I know they run downhill alot and every cap weld I make is uphill. BTW 99% of the time im using 3/32 7018. Can someone who is a pipeliner explain when is a soft arc desirable and when is a forceful arc desirable? Is my thinking off by saying a soft arc helps on smaller pipe? Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Turning the dig up works well on root passes, especially when your fitup is a bit on the tight side. I've run some root passes with newer Miller Synchrowaves where the arc came off the end of a 6010 like a laser. Backing it off to a "softer" arc can help flatten bead profiles and prevent undercut, especially as heat starts to build up in the pipe. This is why you may notice it beneficial on smaller diameters, where heat builds up more rapidly.

  3. #3

    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    A lot of it is personal preference, but this generally applies:

    The 200's/250's, by nature, give you more (drive, push, harsher arc, whatever you want to call it) when running the bead because you are lower on the fine adjustment dial, and on the fill they give you (soft arc, mellow, less harsh) because now you are set higher on the fine adjustment dial.

    There are a lot of modifications people do to these machines to make them weld the way the welder prefers but the bottom line in my opinion is this:
    1) You need to be able to put a bead in regardless of the fit, on a tie in you might have the bevels slammed shut at one place on the pipe, and have a quarter inch of space in another spot. You don't want it to break arc at low settings(wide space) and you need the drive to get a good bead in tight places.
    2) You want to be able to stack a lot of iron on the fill passes, while maintaining enough dig to maintain good sidewall fusion and not bury slag.
    3) You want it to cap as effortlessly as possible, you don't want to have to fight it at 3 o'clock, and you want to cap the bottom neatly without fighting external undercut.

    All of those characteristics plus you want the machine to weld fast, it doesn't matter how much you stack if the other hands in the firing line are beating you by half a rod per side. That means everyone is standing there waiting for you to finish.

    If you are not in a fast paced environment you can set the machine to suit you and happily weld away. If you are you really have to keep up, and you don't want to have to work yourself to death doing so, the machine can make a large difference in how hard the welder toils in the downhill world.
    Some welders like a stiffer arc, some like a nice mellow machine, if you get the end result (pass visual inspection and RT and are fast enough) then it's just whatever you like. But you have to meet those criteria first and foremost.

    If your 300 has the continuous control, and I think the SAE does, it might help to find the spot on the continuous control that lets you run your bead at 40 (plus or minus), hot pass at say around 70 - 80, and fill about 50 - 60 and cap at 40 - 50. That will have the machine behaving like a 200. If you don't like it, feel free to try something different but that should give you a very good starting point. And like you said, you might want to mellow it out on very small pipe and add a bit of umph on larger/heavier wall pipe.

    You might want to set the OCV (open curcuit voltage) to factory max as a starting place, and slow it down a bit to see if you like it mo better. Lowering the ocv will take some of the anger out of the arc. The arc control (on Lincolns) and the dig (on Miller PipePro's) serve this function. You might not want to mess with this, especially if your dials get you where you want to be.

    When all else fails, most guys drag the machine out into the swamp to have a voodoo mama throw a spell on it

    Probably just confusing to you, but I tried to help

    JTMcC.

  4. #4
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Thanks Supe and JTMcC. That information really helps out alot. JTMcC, you mentioned different ranges to try running the bead, hot and fill passes. On the SAE-300 they have the 4 current ranges instead of the 0,10,20 etc settings. Is it safe to say that the "60" position on a SA-200 would be equivalent to the same position on the SAE-300? I think the "60" position would be in the normal welding range on my SAE-300. Thanks again.

  5. #5

    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    No, not different ranges, different settings on the fine current adjustment.
    On an SA the left hand knob is either a 4 or 5 position range selector. On your SAE, I believe, it's a continuous control that serves the same function. That knob rarely if ever is changed in the course of completing a weld from bead to cap.
    I was referring to the right hand knob, the fine current adjustment that I think? is the same on your SAE?? That knob on an SA runs from 10 to 100, those are the numbers I'm talking about that change from bead to hot pass to gill to cap.
    On the pipeline, that fine adjustment is in a remote control, that also carries the 120volt for grinders. So it's simple to make these changes as you progress thru the weld.
    I hope that makes sense to you. I'm working from memory and it's been quite a few years since I've laid eyes on a SAE-300 control panel.

    JTMcC.

  6. #6
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    JTMcC, On the SAE-300 the left dial is the "Job Selector" which has 4 colored sections that have different OCV ranges. White (large electrode, High OCV), Black (Normal Welding Range, Medium-high OCV), Red (Overhead and Vertical, Medium-low OCV), Aluminum (Special applictions, low OCV). The right dial is the "Current Control" which has 3 seperate color ranges that correspond with the white, black and red ranges of the "Job Selector" dial. (why it doesn't have a range to match the Aluminum (special applictions) range, I have no idea.) The interesting thing about the "Current Control" dial is that all 3 colored ranges run continuously from the minimum amps to the maximum amps- there is no overlapping. Without moving the dial, the differences in the 3 ranges are say 100 amps in the red range, might be 95 in the white and 85 in the black range. Sorry if this is sounds confusing but I did take this info right from the manual. Thanks for all the input.

  7. #7

    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    OK.......Thanks, that was a much needed update for me,
    If it was me, I'd put it in the Red, and see how I liked it. And adjust up or down, from there.
    Personally, and this is just my take, I like to run them as "low and slow" as possible, just as long as I get a smooth and (very)rapid tie in on the sides, and it burns a rod fast. I don't know if that makes sence but if you weld downhill much it will.
    Welding downhill, I hate to have to "work the sides", they should flow out and tie in to the pipe almost instantanious-like, to make me happy. So, for me, it's a simple matter of striking a ballance between mellow-stackability.... and REALLY quick wetting on the side of the puddle.
    I'm probably hurting more than I'm helping. But try it in the Red mode and don't be too skeered to dip into the Black or the Aluminum ranges just to see if it was a happy place for you.


    JTMcC.

  8. #8
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    JTMcC, Thanks for all the help! Not being a pipeliner, I hear bits and pieces of these techniques with these machines. It's nice having someone take the time to explain things in detail. Thanks again. Have a great new year.

  9. #9
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    To set the ocv on a lincoln sa 200, first all your ducks have to be in a row. Your high idle, low idle, high idle return time and rpms must be very close to perfect. Then you can set your big dial on the highest perameter in which you will be welding and your fine tune adjustment on 100. Then flip your machine on high idle, connect your volt meter at your cable ENDS, where you be welding. Set your voltmeter on DC volts. If everything is right, you should be sitting on about 90 to 93 volts.

    IS this correct? This is the way I have been checking mine for over 25 years. If it is not correct, please let me know.

  10. #10
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by randy.use View Post
    To set the ocv on a lincoln sa 200, first all your ducks have to be in a row. Your high idle, low idle, high idle return time and rpms must be very close to perfect. Then you can set your big dial on the highest perameter in which you will be welding and your fine tune adjustment on 100. Then flip your machine on high idle, connect your volt meter at your cable ENDS, where you be welding. Set your voltmeter on DC volts. If everything is right, you should be sitting on about 90 to 93 volts.

    IS this correct? This is the way I have been checking mine for over 25 years. If it is not correct, please let me know.
    Hmmmm 25 yrs, If it works for you and your hand. works for me. The one thing I like about this board, is you get experienced guys willing to explain to less experienced people tricks nuances, the finer points of the trade. I wish I had this opportunity when I started welding eons ago.
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  11. #11

    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Is there another way to set your ocv other than with bumpin the rack,Iv always set my low rpm 1000to 1050 then my high rpm 1550 check the ocv and bump the rack to get a max ocv of 93 when machine is cold. Does this sound right to anyone my old red likes it and stacks with it. PS the high rpm is high IDLE NO LOAD!!!
    Last edited by 68redface; 02-02-2011 at 06:43 PM.

  12. #12
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Lets talk about this sa300.

    His sa300 has something very important that your sa200's doesn't have. The ability to "slide". Consider this and you will also understand what those color markings mean.

    A 200 can't slide. It has 50 amp ranges instead. Being locked in a 50 amp range means to adjust the amps by less than 50 amps at a time - one must do some pretty drastic modifying to the generator. These drastic mods include things like rolling the rack, installing larger or smaller brushes, installing different fields and fingerboards, installing the arc-force mod, adjusting the rpm, changing the exciter fields and/or armature, etc,etc,etc. Many attempts have been made to give the 200 the ability to change the amps output by less than those huge 50 amp clicks and all of these are simply an attempt to 'slide'. Since the 200 only has a fingerboard amp selector it will always have these problems when the amps output just doesn't match what the operator wants at the time because to fix it will mean the machine must be modified in some way to change it.

    This sa300 with its "ability to slide" does not suffer from this problem because it has a continuous adjustment on the big knob. You can change the amps by "1" if you want, so the operator should be able to get what he wants without modifying the generator in some way.

    Using the color markings and its numbers you can get an idea of where the heat will be by where the rheostat is setting. The rheostat is marked (not by numbers but) by hash marks. Each color bar having a center hash mark. When the rheostat is on that center mark you should be near what the corresponding number is on the big knob control. Say you set the rheostat to the center of the red, then you can read the red numbers on the big knob and figure out what your output should be. Move the rheostat to the center of the black then you can read the black numbers on the big knob. Move the rheostat to the bottom of the black (top of the red) then you are on the sum of the difference between the black and red numbers on the big knob (insert math here). The color markings on the big knob indicate what the output should be when the rheostat is inside that same color marking bar on its graph.

    When you consider how much the amp output changes by moving the rheostat inside a corresponding color bar you will understand that you can't move the rheostat as much as you would on say a sa200. 5 at a time on a machine like this is a lot especially when you have the big knob set to some higher value. When welding with these machines I usually only go 2 hash marks at a time, and if I were set to say "200 in the red" then I would consider 2 hash marks to mean about "7 to 10" on a normal 200 machine. This is a big reason why these rheostats doesn't have numbers. The higher the big knob is setting the more you get with each hash mark change. This also happens when you set a typical 200 to a higher amp range - each 5 on the rheostat gives you more heat than say it would if you were setting on a lower range. Understand?


    Its easy to adjust one of these machines when you remember these sayings I came up with many years ago. The rheostat is "arc characteristics and spray", and the big knob is "dig and travel speed". In other words - find a place on the rheostat where you like the way the machine welds (its own particular arc characteristics at that setting) then adjust (slide) the big knob to where the amps output (the dig and travel speed) is correct for the conditions you want. This might sound hard to do but if you remember these two things and look at the arc in that manner then it will make sense I promise.

    Years ago most pipeliners using these machines would find where they liked the rheostat to be then only move the big knob to adjust the heat on that pass. That way their "arc characteristics and spray" did not change but just the "dig and travel speed". Say if you need more heat then changing the volts (the rheostat) actually makes little sense because what you really need is more amps. Lets also say the voltage was right and you needed more heat - then why would you increase the voltage by moving the rheostat? We moved the slide control, the big knob, not the rheostat like you must do on a 50 amp locked in sa200 machine. On a sa200 you have no other choice but to move the voltage control (the rheostat) because you only have one knob. To change the amps output at that voltage (the slope) you had to modify the generator in some way. This guy can simply "slide" the big knob and get what he wants at any moment. By far a better way of adjusting the output in my opinion. I always loved to weld with these machines (and still do). lol

    Hope this helps
    Good luck
    Last edited by slowhand; 02-05-2011 at 09:17 AM.

  13. #13
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by randy.use View Post
    To set the ocv on a lincoln sa 200, first all your ducks have to be in a row. Your high idle, low idle, high idle return time and rpms must be very close to perfect. Then you can set your big dial on the highest perameter in which you will be welding and your fine tune adjustment on 100. Then flip your machine on high idle, connect your volt meter at your cable ENDS, where you be welding. Set your voltmeter on DC volts. If everything is right, you should be sitting on about 90 to 93 volts.

    IS this correct? This is the way I have been checking mine for over 25 years. If it is not correct, please let me know.
    The OCV is a reference IMO and nothing more. It can help indicate that something might be wrong with your machine or that it should be welding normally. IMO it doesn't mean much else.

    Granted - its supposed to represent where the slope is set.

    Checking it often is a good idea but also you must consider if the machine is cold, warmed up, what the weather is at that time, the condition of your welding cables, condition of your remote control cord, condition of your rheostat, condition of the armature/fields/etc, etc, because these (and other) factors will make it give different readings. (IMO)

    These factors are some of the reasons why some machines weld better with different OCV settings than others.

    Lets say my engine was so warn that it didn't have enough power to keep up with my output when I was on a high setting and couldn't hold its rpms. Or lets say my governor wasn't working properly and wasn't holding the rpms while welding. Without knowing what was actually happening in there I might just say "my machine welds better at a high OCV setting". Which to get that higher OCV I was turning up the rpms on high-idle. Doing so I was trying to give it a higher rpm while welding.

    Understand why I might say it's only a reference IMO.
    Last edited by slowhand; 02-05-2011 at 10:02 AM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Before engine drives came out with the CV option it was always easier to set a wire feed up with a Lincoln SAE than anything Miller had out at the time. In time Lincoln came out with the SAM, and Miller with the original Trailblazer. The older Miller engine drives put out more OCV than the LN-22s could take, sometimes we would back off the RPMs in the Millers just so the wire would feed when you pulled the trigger.
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  15. #15
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    wow, slowhand you sound like you know your sh** around lincolns! With that explaination about the SAE 300, makes me wanna go fire mine up and practice a little in the downhill world. No one has ever explained how to use the continuous control on that machine. One thing I like about mine is it has AC 120 and 220. At idle it provides AC 120 current and if you pin the engine to high idle it provides AC 220. It also has 2 DC 110 outlets. The drawbacks to my machine are: its long, heavy and loves gas. I got it mounted on a military generator trailer right now. Its a damn good machine thanks again for school'n us !

  16. #16
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Thanks lincweld for the comp.

    I've laid many miles of pipe using these machines in my years. They were all mounted on dozer's - running of belt drives from its PTO, and usually 4 of them on what we call tackrigs. Most of these, especially in the old days, didn't have remote controls so we used a heat turner. That was a welder helper who's job was to man the controls and turn heat when you motioned for it. He could be watching up to 4 welders so his job could be a fairly busy one on a bad lineup.

    Like I said - years ago we mostly wanted the big knob turned when we motioned up or down and usually we wanted about 10 to 15 amps at a time. But over the years those controls did show wear from this so in the later years you'll find most now days turn the rheostat instead and leave the big knob set. Parts for these machines I guess are very hard to find anymore.

    A heat turner moving the big knob is a simple up or down one hand motion from the welder, but moving the rheostat which has no numbers is a little harder. Let me explain.

    Say I was using a simple rheostat with numbers on it like a SA200 has. I can only motion using one hand since my other hand is either welding or is holding my stinger (busy). I will try to keep my heat request as simple as I can especially if there are more than only one welder so my signals are simple up and down quick point, and if I were to look at the space first or for some reason want it set to a specific point I would hold up that many fingers on my free hand. Since I only have 5 fingers I can only motion up to 50 without causing some confusion. Maybe 55 with the right heat turner.

    If 50 is all I can get with a single simple signal then 50 should a fairly hot number. In such a case my usual heat would probably be around 30 or 40 on the dial. If you think of this you can see how hard it might be, and also how confusing it could be, to motion 60 or 70. Using such a rheostat (one with numbers) 55 is about all one can expect in this motioning situation.

    Using a rheostat that has no number, but only hash marks, makes for different hand signals all together but in reality makes it so you can get about any heat you want even using only one hand to signal.

    Yea you have your usual up and downs which for me generally mean 2 marks and that is usually because I've got the big knob setup fairly high and I'm welding low on the rheostat. Say I wanted him to put the rheostat in the middle of the red I would simply pull my free hand across my stomach indicating "the middle", and he already knew "the red" because thats where I generally weld in. Lets say I want the bottom of the red, then I would signal a zero with that hand. Two fingers up means the second hash mark up from the bottom of the red. 4 finders up - 4 marks up from the bottom of the red. 2 fingers down (or even up to my 5 fingers down) means that many hash marks below the bottom of the red.

    To get the rheostat above the middle of the red you simply pull your hand across your stomach then hold up how many fingers you want to be above the middle hash mark. With 5 fingers you can get that many marks up.

    Getting in the black is also easy to do. Draw your hand up in front of your face and you mean up the rheostat straight up. Draw up your hand then raise 2 fingers and you'll get straight up plus 2 marks. Get the picture. You can get the heat set quickly and by only motioning with one hand and without saying a word, and its actually easier to do on such a machine.

    I know this might sound confusing but in real life, and after a couple welds, it becomes so easy that anyone can quickly pick it up, and getting the heat set properly before you start is important, and it also saves even more confusion because when you start without having your heat right then its needed right now.

    Later guys.

  17. #17
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    I can't imagine welding on pipe with no remote! Those hand signals sound pretty sweet tho. On the little downhill pipe welding experience I have, ive had to have one hand on remote and one hand welding. No helper, but actually it was probably better that way. That way I would have no one to blame but me if i busted an xray. Slowhand, you mentioned that you would always want the big knob adjusted on the SAE 300. On my machine it says to not adjust the big knob while welding. Were those machines modified to be able to do this? Thanks for all your explainations.

  18. #18
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Yea they all said that too, but we didn't care.

    If you look at those continuous controls - they are made somewhat like a rheostat. They have big round disks in there that turn in series I think. Pretty complicated looking deal and they are made heavy. Believe me - those controls took a lot of "turning while welding" but on almost every twin-arc tackrig I've been on in recent years all the controls were in pretty bad shape. Some would even squeak when you turn them and most are very hard to even move anymore. Getting physically hot is another deal I won't even mention.

    I haven't even worked with a welder who remembers that we used them instead of using the rheostat to get heat in quite a few years now, so yea, its been awhile I guess.

    Back then, "Men were men, the money was good, and all that stuff was brand new", so none of that was a problem.

  19. #19
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    i think i was born 50 years too late. i would be nice to see that good money again. i would've never have thought guys treated those amp controls as rheostats. A testiment to the American made equipment. Even tho it was never intended to be used that way, it still worked and was durable. Thanks for all the cool info slowhand. All your experience is appreciated.

  20. #20
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    Re: Fine tuning on pipe with SA200 250 300 etc.

    Finally figured out how to resize pictures. Here's my sae300 on a military trailer. Bought it in 2008 for $875. All ive done is add a Cable's remote. It was once a local union machine so it was lightly used.
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