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Thread: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

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    good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    hi allitle about me. for years i been tinkering with 2-stroke dirtbikes engines in my spare time as a hobby. modifying them to go faster than they should be allowed lol. if i needed any welding done i would always just send the parts off and have someone else do it but its about time i learn to do the welding myself. mostly because i want to learn how to do it and i want to be more self sufficient, that way i can weld something how i want and when i want.

    anyways im looking for advice on what a good welding machine would be for home use so i could weld on aluminum 2stroke engines, mainly to increase the performance. like welding the exterior of the cylinder with filler so i can add extra intake and exhaust ports and stuff like that. i know these engines are cast aluminum but other than that im not sure what kind of aluminum. once in a while i may need to weld steel but mainly it will be alluminum.

    the very top of my budget would be $2000 but preferably lower, quit a bit lower would be even better. also i dont have much welding experience but i have a bunch of junk aluminum parts to practice on. do some types of welding put less heat into the base material ? reason i ask is because its probly best to use the lowest heat possible on these engines so i dont get a bunch of warpage on the gasket surfaces or atleast keep the warpage to a minimum. also it would be nice if the machine was able to weld in small spaces like the exhaust port if need be.

    so given all this info what do you guys think would be a good machine for me ?

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Specialty TIG welding isn't usually the first stepping stone into welding. You do realize TIG welding on aluminum takes A LOT of practice to get good results?

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    Specialty TIG welding isn't usually the first stepping stone into welding. You do realize TIG welding on aluminum takes A LOT of practice to get good results?
    What this guy said.... But if you're still going to do it just get an AHP Alpha Tig and call it a day.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Believe it or not, you can actually do alum brazing with oxy/fuel torch and proper fluxed alum rods...good for buildup and occasional crack repair.

    Either way, you wanna heat your cast engine parts up to 400-500 degrees before you try it.

    It's cheap, easy practice on some of that scrap you got before you shop tig welders....just make sure to practice on scrap alum castings to see what you in for.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    The guys already told you... you have never stroke an arc and you want to jump straight into dirty cast aluminum welding... I foresee a LOT of frustration! I don't even know what to suggest... You may look into taking some welding classes if available.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Alum is a great heat sink. As such the thicker the alum gets, the more power you need so that you can pump more heat into the material than the alum wants to pull away.

    Cheap and alum tig don't go well together. You pay for this one way or the other. You can find inexpensive dedicated AC/DC tig welders used. They are usually older industrial tig machines. Up side is most will have plenty of output power to go what you want. Down side is they are heavy and power hungry. An old Miller 330 A/BP would be a good choice in the budget game. Used I see them going for as low as $450. The rebadged Millers sold by Airco go sometimes for even less. They do weigh a bit over 900 lbs and want a 100-125 amp 230v service though.

    Inexpensive import machines sound like a great deal as they promise the world for almost nothing. Do your homework well. Many of these import companies have a very bad reputation for problems and customer service after the fact can be abysmal. Many of these companies have gone to extreme lengths to hide their problems in the past, making it hard for people to find out until it's too late. Some companies are quite good, but they usually aren't the cheapest on the market. A good browse thru the general sections here will give you and idea who does what with what machine, and that can give you a good idea what is or isn't worth spending money on.

    Name brand machines usually have a very good reputation, but cost of a new machine is high. Your budget of $2K is a bit low for a name brand new machine with enough power to do what you want, but you aren't all that far away price wise. Another $500-800 would cover the rest and get you started.
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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Welcome to the forum.

    The reality of the situation is that, in my opinion, you end to re-think how to reach your goals with your assets.
    I offer three choices: Good, Fast, & Cheap. You may pick two.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    I think some motorcycle cases are magnesium and filler is around 100$ per pound or more. Htp 221 is a machine to look into. Where are you gona build up the metal so you can open up the port more? Have you done it before?

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    I can't see doing enough welding to be worthwhile on a case or jug without causing enough distortion to require some remachining. Add another $2,000 for a Bridgeport, and another $2,000 for tooling. And I agree completely about you wanting to start with difficult welding. Cast aluminum is always highly variable, from porosity to trash in the metal to contamination from dirt and oil. And then you want to weld inside exhaust ports to boot?

    An analogy would be you just started exercising yesterday, and you want to fly to Boston to run the marathon on April 20.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    thnx for the replies. heres my thoughts. ive looked into a welding class at night from the local community college. certainly i would benefit from it. on that same note im not looking or wanting to start a welding business or change careers and get into welding. this welding adventure is only as a hobby in my free time at home

    nearly all of the stuff i would be welding wouldnt be structural. chassis fabrication isnt my interest. ill leave that to the experts. there for, nobodys life would be on the line if my amatuer welds broke. in a nut shell most of what i would be doing is just material buildup of the cylinder, perhaps weld up a waterjacket crack, add filler to the combustion chamber so it can be remachined to a specific shape or compression ratio, etc.

    ive used the low temp aluminum brazing rod (durafix, hts2000, alumaweld, etc) and it works great in some situations. even on these cast aluminum engines ive had good luck with it. infact i have a few pounds of it in the garage but heres the problem i ran into. if you need to add filler to two or more areas in very close proximaty, it was very difficult because the first area of filler would try to melt while i was heating the second area, then of course i had a big mess. but if your only building up one area, the brazing rod works real well, atleast it did for me. so this is what brings me to this welding forum, i need to build up several areas in very close proximaty to each other. but besides that i would like to learn atleast the very basics of welding

    im not wanting to run a 200mile marathon tomorow but i cant imagine i need a genious IQ to learn how to put down some filler material on old motorcycle engine parts. did i mention i have plenty of junk parts to practice on ?

    what about a spool gun ? would it not be an acceptable welding method for what im trying to do ? would it not get into small areas as well as TIG ? is it more complicated than the TIG process ? whats the pros and cons of each welding method ? like i said earlier, low heat probly isnt a bad thing when welding near machine surfaces, but if i have to remachine the surfaces afterwards then so be it. ive talked to a few welders that specialize in engine related welding and they claim if its done properly then youll end up with very little distortion of the parts being welded. of course they have years of experience so im sure that makes all the difference in the world, but you have to learn to walk before you can run.

    so whats everyones thoughts for the direction i should go ?
    Last edited by cornchip; 03-25-2015 at 09:17 PM.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    i'd buy an AHP tig from home depot when they get back in stock and get their extended warranty.

    I started off my welding learning doing thin wall Aluminum a few years ago, you can pick up the basics in a month and it's fun to learn.

    I've only tried welding cast aluminum a few times, it can have porosity issues, and is highly irregular.

    I've never used a spool gun, but they tend to be huge and bulky,
    Tig is deffintely going to give you the smallest torch options, they have micro torches by ck that are not much bigger than a pencil.
    good luck.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Quote Originally Posted by cornchip View Post
    thnx for the replies. heres my thoughts. ive looked into a welding class at night from the local community college. certainly i would benefit from it. on that same note im not looking or wanting to start a welding business or change careers and get into welding. this welding adventure is only as a hobby in my free time at home

    nearly all of the stuff i would be welding wouldnt be structural. chassis fabrication isnt my interest. ill leave that to the experts. there for, nobodys life would be on the line if my amatuer welds broke. in a nut shell most of what i would be doing is just material buildup of the cylinder, perhaps weld up a waterjacket crack, add filler to the combustion chamber so it can be remachined to a specific shape or compression ratio, etc.

    ive used the low temp aluminum brazing rod (durafix, hts2000, alumaweld, etc) and it works great in some situations. even on these cast aluminum engines ive had good luck with it. infact i have a few pounds of it in the garage but heres the problem i ran into. if you need to add filler to two or more areas in very close proximaty, it was very difficult because the first area of filler would try to melt while i was heating the second area, then of course i had a big mess. but if your only building up one area, the brazing rod works real well, atleast it did for me. so this is what brings me to this welding forum, i need to build up several areas in very close proximaty to each other. but besides that i would like to learn atleast the very basics of welding

    im not wanting to run a 200mile marathon tomorow but i cant imagine i need a genious IQ to learn how to put down some filler material on old motorcycle engine parts. did i mention i have plenty of junk parts to practice on ?

    what about a spool gun ? would it not be an acceptable welding method for what im trying to do ? would it not get into small areas as well as TIG ? is it more complicated than the TIG process ? whats the pros and cons of each welding method ? like i said earlier, low heat probly isnt a bad thing when welding near machine surfaces, but if i have to remachine the surfaces afterwards then so be it. ive talked to a few welders that specialize in engine related welding and they claim if its done properly then youll end up with very little distortion of the parts being welded. of course they have years of experience so im sure that makes all the difference in the world, but you have to learn to walk before you can run.

    so whats everyones thoughts for the direction i should go ?
    I'd say go for it and jump into tig with both feet....from there, the only place to go is master it....There is NO reason why a guy can't leap in the middle of the evolution of a centuries' old process and NOT catch up if he applies himself. Perhaps your best motivation will be to invest some bucks in proper equipment, then put in some time behind the hood to finger it out....In the end, you can thump your chest soundly or sell it.

    This white headed old man did the same last year.....I got jealous of seeing guys produce them pretty rainbow colored tig welds and didn't hesitate to drop over 3k on HTP-221, all the different tungstens. tungsten grinder, stubby lens kit, superflex hose and torch, filler rods, big gas bottle, foot pedal and everything needed to challenge me to learn to master it.

    As soon as I unpacked it, I had to do the old man surgery stuff and never really got a chance to do anything more than a few fillerless runs and some awesome stick welds with it.......But now a buddy needs me to build him an alum air intake for his mudtruck, and I'ma gonna sit down and get comfy and get at it.

    Go fer it!
    Last edited by wornoutoldwelder; 03-25-2015 at 10:01 PM.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    TIG is what you want for motorcycle parts but you would be miles ahead if you took a course specifically on TIG welding aluminum. You need sufficient heat to get proper penetration and likely preheat on heavier pieces. What you're wanting to do takes most people years to master. Aluminum is a lot trickier than steel for a beginner. It doesn't turn red when it's molten either, it just glows when it's melted.
    Last edited by Welder Dave; 03-25-2015 at 10:01 PM.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    figured i would update this. after alot of research i finally bought a new tig machine a few days ago. originally i thought about a chinese machine (against my better judgement) but the more i thought about it, it just seemed like a huge roll of the dice. ended up going with a invertig221. couldnt find a single person that had a bad thing to say about them in the research i did. all the accesories are top qaulity usa stuff. customer service is about as good as it gets. the only downside is theyre still a very expensive machine. not much cheaper than miller really. anyways enough about that. yesterday was the first time ive ever welded aluminum or used a tig machine for that matter. the results probly dont look great but what can you expect with 1 day of experience.

    i have one question, the tungsten keeps turning black. does that meen the tungsten is overheating and i have something set wrong ? pretty much no matter what ive done, the tungsten keep going black. honestly i didnt know if that was normal or not. what if the tungsten turns rainbow colors ? that got me thinking it was getting to hot. any pointers would be appreciated

    heres what im using and what ive done so far. ive just been practicing on pieces of clean 6061. briefly i tried to weld on some old cast aluminum but quickly realized thats going to take some practice before im ready for that stuff

    ck 17 aircooled torch with 3/32 tungsten. the end appears to be grey but maybe its actually blue ?
    3/32 4043 rod
    100% argon set at about 18 cfh
    varied the amps between 70-140
    varied the frequency between 100-170
    varied the balance between 65-90
    pre flow .1
    varied post flow between 5sec and 1sec
    stick out about 2-3 times the tungsten diameter
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    Last edited by cornchip; 05-16-2015 at 01:24 AM.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    You need more post flow. Your tungsten is getting exposed to the air while it's still hot. I'd also increase your preflow.


    If you are trying to weld 1/8" alum, you also need more amps. Try 150 amps and up.
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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    black tungsten means you are exposing tungsten to air and it's oxidizing/burning.
    OR
    it means you touched the aluminum with it.

    it will turn purple if you get just a tiny bit of air on it, like moving it too much at the end of a weld instead of holding it still for a few seconds.

    i typically use about 180 amsp on 1/8", makes for a quick puddle and faster travel IMHO.
    Last edited by AluminumWelder; 05-16-2015 at 09:33 AM.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    have a watch of this it will give you lots of help getting going then its up
    to your two hands and a foot to do the rest!!!! good luck.

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DSW View Post
    You need more post flow. Your tungsten is getting exposed to the air while it's still hot. I'd also increase your preflow.


    If you are trying to weld 1/8" alum, you also need more amps. Try 150 amps and up.
    that makes sense. it seemed like the tungsten got blacker as i decreased the post flow but i didnt realize what was happening at the time. ill turn it back up to around 5sec or so and adjust from there. ill try alittle more pre flow as well. while im thinking of it, is the blackened tungsten damaged now and is it best to grind the rod down until i get back to the shiny stuff ?

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Quote Originally Posted by cornchip View Post
    that makes sense. it seemed like the tungsten got blacker as i decreased the post flow but i didnt realize what was happening at the time. ill turn it back up to around 5sec or so and adjust from there. ill try alittle more pre flow as well. while im thinking of it, is the blackened tungsten damaged now and is it best to grind the rod down until i get back to the shiny stuff ?
    At the amperage you're running I'd go with at least 10 seconds as minimum on the post flow.
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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    I usually give enought post flow so the tungsten stays pretty gray. Just play with it. Turn it down till the tungsten gets purple then raise it up a sec or 2. And brush the AL. Then acetone again. Acetone the rods also, they can be nasty!!

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Quote Originally Posted by cornchip View Post
    that makes sense. it seemed like the tungsten got blacker as i decreased the post flow but i didnt realize what was happening at the time. ill turn it back up to around 5sec or so and adjust from there. ill try alittle more pre flow as well. while im thinking of it, is the blackened tungsten damaged now and is it best to grind the rod down until i get back to the shiny stuff ?
    Just grind the point and polish off the rest of the oxidation with scotch-brite and it will be good as new.
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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    hey guys i have more questions and some comments. i spent last 2 days welding on some cast aluminum engine parts. it was kind of a pain in the *** at first but as time went on i started to get the hang of it. what i did was put the argon at 20 cfh and set the post flow to just under 1sec for every 1 amp. was hardly any black on the tungsten. from here on out ill probly preheat the part though, atleast to somewhere around 200f-400f and that should really speed up the process. with a cold part i had to floor board the petal at 150amps and even then it took a minute before it had enough heat that i could weld

    the question is, i have the ck 17 aircooled torch. the ck website says this torch is 150 amps ACHF or DCSP @ 100%. does this meen i cant turn the machine up higher than 150 amps with this torch ?

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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Good luck! Welcome to the forum! Maybe you can teach me how to weld aluminum with that fine machine you have!
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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    Quote Originally Posted by cornchip View Post
    hey guys i have more questions and some comments. i spent last 2 days welding on some cast aluminum engine parts. it was kind of a pain in the *** at first but as time went on i started to get the hang of it. what i did was put the argon at 20 cfh and set the post flow to just under 1sec for every 1 amp. was hardly any black on the tungsten. from here on out ill probly preheat the part though, atleast to somewhere around 200f-400f and that should really speed up the process. with a cold part i had to floor board the petal at 150amps and even then it took a minute before it had enough heat that i could weld

    the question is, i have the ck 17 aircooled torch. the ck website says this torch is 150 amps ACHF or DCSP @ 100%. does this meen i cant turn the machine up higher than 150 amps with this torch ?
    You can weld with more amperage for a short amount of time, but you risk over-heating the copper cable inside the hose, as well as damaging the hose if you go wreckless on it. Looks like the TIG IQ is still in need of increasing, eh?
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    Re: good welding machine for home use by a new guy ?

    I have fixed plenty of motorcycle cases with a millermatic 140+ spool gun & old school powr kraft 250 amp tig setup. Your setup is more then capable so keep practicing!
    Keep in mind you can't always lay stack of dime welds especially when you have a corner that needs to be built up so you pretty much have to what I like to call "recast weld".
    I would try to explain but I don't want to get a welding web a$s raping but I am sure you will get it once you put in enough hours. It also helps to have a milling machine and lathe when welding on cylinders or cases as pre-heat will warp castings unless torqued to a very thick flat plate.

    I repaired a 01 CR250 case for a customer who was racing a zx6 which put the connecting rod thru the case Guy couldn't afford new cases so I rebuilt them for him on a chicken scratch plan. What a pain in the As$! 10 minutes of welding , 1 hour of machining, 5 hours of setup to machine followed by an hour to assemble everything back. The engine got all new everything except for gears and still runs to this day despite what some say about 110v machines.

    Attachment 1114121
    Attachment 1114131
    Case Prior to machining, No pores in the weld and if you know your engines you might see a modification on the picture, comes standard on polaris atv cases
    Last edited by NinjaRay; 05-20-2015 at 06:03 AM.

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