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Thread: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

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    When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    I saw this topic mentioned a while back, but I can't find the thread now that it may be relevant and actually mean something to me.

    I'm on weekend #4 of learning to TIG weld. Weekend #2 was pretty good, weekend #3 was poor and today was downright lousy. My arc is spitting and snapping. My practice beads are terrible. I wouldn't even call them beads. I've tweaked a few settings on my Primeweld 225, but the results aren't any better.

    If I had no gas the electrode would be smoking/black, right? It isn't, but frequently when I get the filler close to weld pool it seems like it's jumping up to the electrode. At this point I'm wasting aluminum, consumables and electricity.

    My gauge says I have about 400 PSI left in the 60 cf tank. That should be good pressure, right? Is it possible the bottom of the cylinder is not as good as the top of the cylinder?
    Jim
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    What tungsten are you using and is it completely clean, is the aluminum clean, what gas flow are you using, do you have a good connection for the work clamp. Could be dirty gas but sounds like the high frequency may be jumping to the filler rod. Some pics would help as would all the parameters you're using. Lots of possible causes. Having the Tig torch cable partly wrapped up can cause problems with the high frequency too.

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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Tungsten: 3/32" 2% Lanthanated, all recently sharpened.
    Cup: #5 and #7 (I use a stick out gauge based on cup size)
    Argon CFH: Started out around 12, went up to 20, back down to about 15, depending on cup size
    Current: Between 75 and 90 amps
    Frequency: Between 75 and 120, but mostly at 120
    Balance: 30% cleaning
    Filler: 3/32" 4043 (Harris)
    Did I miss any settings?

    Tig cable was loose, not bound up. Part of it was laying over my leg to take tension off of my arm.

    Aluminum was cleaned with Acetone first, then wire brushed with a brass brush used only for cleaning aluminum, then wiped again with a dry cloth. The clamp is attached to the welding table, about 18" from the piece I'm working on, which is 1/8" angle aluminum (6061).

    When you asked about the tungsten being completely clean, are you referring to the tip or the entire length. I've contaminated the electrode with the filler in the past. When I notice that it happened I put that electrode aside for special attention. I sand it so the shaft of the electrode is clean, but there is sometimes some discoloration remaining. I'm not sure how far I have to go to get it "clean enough". The first couple of times that happened I cut off the discolored section with wire cutters. Unfortunately that caused my tungsten to fracture/split, so now I don't cut it off.
    Last edited by HRTKD; 03-20-2021 at 10:50 PM.
    Jim
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by HRTKD View Post
    Tungsten: 3/32" 2% Lanthanated, all recently sharpened.
    Cup: #5 and #7 (I use a stick out gauge based on cup size)
    Argon CFH: Started out around 12, went up to 20, back down to about 15, depending on cup size
    Current: Between 75 and 90 amps
    Frequency: Between 75 and 120, but mostly at 120
    Balance: 30% cleaning
    Filler: 3/32" 4043 (Harris)
    Did I miss any settings?

    Tig cable was loose, not bound up. Part of it was laying over my leg to take tension off of my arm.

    Aluminum was cleaned with Acetone first, then wire brushed with a brass brush used only for cleaning aluminum, then wiped again with a dry cloth. The clamp is attached to the welding table, about 18" from the piece I'm working on, which is 1/8" angle aluminum (6061).

    When you asked about the tungsten being completely clean, are you referring to the tip or the entire length. I've contaminated the electrode with the filler in the past. When I notice that it happened I put that electrode aside for special attention. I sand it so the shaft of the electrode is clean, but there is sometimes some discoloration remaining. I'm not sure how far I have to go to get it "clean enough". The first couple of times that happened I cut off the discolored section with wire cutters. Unfortunately that caused my tungsten to fracture/split, so now I don't cut it off.
    Settings seem fine, I'm leaning more towards a physical problem before I make the gas the culprit. Have you disassembled the torch since you first hooked up this tank? A lot of times people assemble things wrong, and don't know it. Or even if they did, there is something else they can't spot but someone else can.
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    Settings seem fine, I'm leaning more towards a physical problem before I make the gas the culprit. Have you disassembled the torch since you first hooked up this tank? A lot of times people assemble things wrong, and don't know it. Or even if they did, there is something else they can't spot but someone else can.
    Depends on what you mean by "disassembled". I've changed cups, removed the two copper pieces inside the torch and put them back together. The electrode is secure in the torch. I did all that the first weekend. The second weekend I had decent beads.

    I checked for gas leaks at the regulator, at the back of the welder and at the front of the welder. I didn't check for leaks at the torch. Other than at the electrode end and the cap end, I don't know where I would look for leaks on the torch. I haven't taken anything else in the torch apart.
    Jim
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by HRTKD View Post
    Depends on what you mean by "disassembled". I've changed cups, removed the two copper pieces inside the torch and put them back together. The electrode is secure in the torch. I did all that the first weekend. The second weekend I had decent beads.

    I checked for gas leaks at the regulator, at the back of the welder and at the front of the welder. I didn't check for leaks at the torch. Other than at the electrode end and the cap end, I don't know where I would look for leaks on the torch. I haven't taken anything else in the torch apart.
    Exactly what you described is what I mean. There could be something that you're just not seeing, and someone else can spot. For example, I'm not saying you did this, but if you were to happen to forget to install the white teflon insulator, but totally forgot about it, and post a picture, someone would spot that in a jiffy. Same goes with the other parts. While there isn't too much to go wrong, you'd be surprised how many people have been corrected at what they thought was a correctly-assembled TIG torch.
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Pictures of my torch. I removed the tungsten when I was finished. I don't leave it in the torch, but it also needed to be sharpened. In the second picture I pulled the cap off and the copper piece came out with it.

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    Jim
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Your collet appears to be overheated, and if it was torqued down too hard while it was hot, it might have compromised it. I would switch it out to eliminate it as a possible culprit. Also, the collet body appears to be overheated, and if you adjusted the flexible neck during that time while it was hot, it could have partially collapsed the tube inside. Do you have another torch to try out?
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    Your collet appears to be overheated, and if it was torqued down too hard while it was hot, it might have compromised it. I would switch it out to eliminate it as a possible culprit. Also, the collet body appears to be overheated, and if you adjusted the flexible neck during that time while it was hot, it could have partially collapsed the tube inside. Do you have another torch to try out?
    This is the only torch I have. It's the one that came with the Primeweld. I rarely adjust the torch. I may have another collet and collet body from a stubby kit that I have yet to use.
    Jim
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    I'd say try it out. Won't hurt.

    As for the amperage you stated. 75-90A won't do that kind of heat damage to the torch especially not a CK IMO. Had you previously cranked the machine up to max through that same torch? Can you take the handle off and have a look at the tube/fitting as well as the fittings on the machine end? I take it you have checked those as well for any potential issues?
    Last edited by Oscar; 03-21-2021 at 12:29 AM.
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    I'd say try it out. Won't hurt.

    As for the amperage you stated. 75-90A won't do that kind of heat damage to the torch especially not a CK IMO. Had you previously cranked the machine up to max through that same torch?
    It's never been over 125 amps AC.

    Just for giggles, I switched over to DC today and made some beads in mild steel. These were coupons I had brought home from the class I took in December. I didn't have any filler rod, but I was able to make a puddle OK. I switched the settings according to the "recipe" in the Primeweld owner's manual. This was after all the atrocious attempts in aluminum.
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by HRTKD View Post
    It's never been over 125 amps AC.

    Just for giggles, I switched over to DC today and made some beads in mild steel. These were coupons I had brought home from the class I took in December. I didn't have any filler rod, but I was able to make a puddle OK. I switched the settings according to the "recipe" in the Primeweld owner's manual. This was after all the atrocious attempts in aluminum.
    Just what I was about to suggest. The times I've suspected bad gas when on aluminum I could still get decent beads on steel... getting a new tank fill solved the problem. Is it possible that the aluminum is anodized? If you got it a box store, it, probably, is. I assume you are using a pedal, so turn the amps all the way up, and control the puddle by pulsing the pedal, until the puddle appears.

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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by Weldordie View Post
    Just what I was about to suggest. The times I've suspected bad gas when on aluminum I could still get decent beads on steel... getting a new tank fill solved the problem. Is it possible that the aluminum is anodized? If you got it a box store, it, probably, is. I assume you are using a pedal, so turn the amps all the way up, and control the puddle by pulsing the pedal, until the puddle appears.
    No, the aluminum is not anodized. Some did come from the big box store, some came direct from a metal supply house and a coupon came from my class. Yes, I'm using a pedal.
    Jim
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    On my machine, for 30% cleaning you set the machine setting to 70%. For some other machines %30.
    If not for the fact that he had success initially I might suspect his balance is backwards but that should still not have the soot he is experiencing.
    Have you tried varying the gas flow recently? Regulators can be less accurate at low input pressures and you may need to move away from what was a perfect setting.
    If argon flow is still good then I'm with Oscar, some kind of mechanical issue with the torch/fittings/hose is drawing air into the gas flow or you're losing enough argon via a leak that your flow at the cup is too low. this is a case where the torch flow meter tells all.
    https://www.arc-zone.com/shield-gas-flow-tester-50020

    One other thing not mentioned yet is environmental. Tig is really sensitive to drafts in the welding area. Any chance you're sitting there with a forced air heater or fan pointed your way?
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by frieed View Post
    On my machine, for 30% cleaning you set the machine setting to 70%. For some other machines %30.
    If not for the fact that he had success initially I might suspect his balance is backwards but that should still not have the soot he is experiencing.
    Have you tried varying the gas flow recently? Regulators can be less accurate at low input pressures and you may need to move away from what was a perfect setting.
    If argon flow is still good then I'm with Oscar, some kind of mechanical issue with the torch/fittings/hose is drawing air into the gas flow or you're losing enough argon via a leak that your flow at the cup is too low. this is a case where the torch flow meter tells all.
    https://www.arc-zone.com/shield-gas-flow-tester-50020

    One other thing not mentioned yet is environmental. Tig is really sensitive to drafts in the welding area. Any chance you're sitting there with a forced air heater or fan pointed your way?
    Thanks for the link to the test flow meter. I'm going to order one of those. The graduations are finer than what I can see on my regulator.

    My garage door was open this weekend, but not last weekend (blizzard!). The airflow through the area was minimal this weekend and I'm welding in the back of the garage, well away from the big garage door. I am aware of the airflow issue. No fan or heater.
    Jim
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    If everything checks out then it is possible the tank may have some residual moisture that rears its ugly head at lower tank pressures.
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    I have a tank of Helium that was given to me. It's mostly full I think. I haven't tried using it since I don't have a T or Y adapter. I could try it out, but I'm not sure what TIG welding aluminum with 100% Helium would look like.
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    I've never seen a reference for using a brass brush to clean aluminum. It's always use a clean stainless brush. It's all I use and don't have the issues you are describing.

    As far as argon pressure in a small tank, I never let my 42cf tanks get below 200psi. I have two tanks that size and switch out when I find one that low. I don't trust my gauge enough to chance burning up my tungsten and I know I would only have a couple minutes of gas anyways.

    Aluminum was the reason I bought my Weldpro Tig and is the only material I have welded with it. I'm using the same type and size of tungsten you are with a number 5 standard cup and have had similar problems with contamination, or having the material jump and attach to the tungsten. I've been welding on boats and rivets practically explode when heated. I've had aluminum half an inch up my tungsten in a big glob. It grinds off just fine you don't have to break off your tungsten. I tried that once and mine split. Lost 3/4" of that tungsten. Just grind off the contamination 90 from how the tip is normally ground and smooth the grind marks with a wire wheel. Works good for me.

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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by bplayer405 View Post
    I've never seen a reference for using a brass brush to clean aluminum. It's always use a clean stainless brush. It's all I use and don't have the issues you are describing.

    As far as argon pressure in a small tank, I never let my 42cf tanks get below 200psi. I have two tanks that size and switch out when I find one that low. I don't trust my gauge enough to chance burning up my tungsten and I know I would only have a couple minutes of gas anyways.

    Aluminum was the reason I bought my Weldpro Tig and is the only material I have welded with it. I'm using the same type and size of tungsten you are with a number 5 standard cup and have had similar problems with contamination, or having the material jump and attach to the tungsten. I've been welding on boats and rivets practically explode when heated. I've had aluminum half an inch up my tungsten in a big glob. It grinds off just fine you don't have to break off your tungsten. I tried that once and mine split. Lost 3/4" of that tungsten. Just grind off the contamination 90 from how the tip is normally ground and smooth the grind marks with a wire wheel. Works good for me.
    Any idea why the filler jumps onto the electrode so readily?
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    You my be simply too close to the puddle when you dip causing the puddle to touch the tungsten, or the tungsten is too close to the filler when you're trying to add filler. The arc will jump to the filler instead of the puddle.

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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Picture of the beads I produced a couple weeks ago.
    Attachment 1726109
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    No pictures of yesterday's "beads". They were horrible. I was so disgusted that I really, really didn't want to post any pictures of them.

    Today, before trying anything, I replaced the overheated collet and collet body with a brand new collet and collet body from a stubby gas lens kit I had yet to use. Same back cap. Results were totally different. Was it just the new collet and collet body?

    Picture of the today's beads with settings noted below each picture. This is all 1/8" square tube aluminum 6061.
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    Amps: 90 (all)
    Freq: 60 (all)
    Balance: 40% (4-2 and 4-3) 60% (4-4)
    Preflow: ~1s (all)
    Postflow: ~6s (all)
    Electrode: 3/32" 2% Lanthanated (all)
    Filler: 3/32" 4043 (all)
    Cup: #7 stubby lens (all)
    Argon: ~ 20 CFH (all)

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    Balance: 30% (4-5 and all the rest)
    New Tungsten for 4-6

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    No changes to setup. It seems like the warmer the aluminum is, the easier it is for me to get a weld pool started.

    Today's welds aren't pretty but they're a heck of a lot better than yesterday's. I still had some hissing and spitting from the arc, most of which went away when I went pedal to the metal.

    My Argon cylinder was down to about 200 PSI so I called it a day. I have replacement regular sized collet and collet body sets ordered.
    Jim
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    I don't have the same machine as yours, but I have a couple suggestions to try. Try running your max amps using the 1 amp per .001" thickness rule, try 35% balance to get good cleaning and a clean weld, and try using a flow rate only double your cup size. Full throttle tig welding can get out of control pretty quickly, takes a bit of practice. I'm not there yet myself, I use pulse to control it better for now. I've only had mine less than 2 weeks, but use it quite a bit, already through a tank and a half. It'll come... I tell myself that after every weld...

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    Last edited by bplayer405; 03-21-2021 at 09:07 PM.

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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Looks like a couple of things going on. You're not using enough amps, so it's taking too long to get the puddle going, and that puts too much heat into the work. Set your amperage at least to 125 so you can get the puddle started in a second or two, then ease off as necessary.

    Your AC balance is off quite a bit on some of those. The Primeweld references the percentage of positive, so you don't really want more than about 40% for anything, and usually much less. Try varying from 20% up to 40%....you'll probably find something like 25-30% works well. You only want/need the cleaning action to be slightly wider than the bead, so those with wide, white strips extending away from the bead simply had too much cleaning.

    Something else that happens is running bead after bead puts heat into the piece, which you don't want in this situation. Yes, it makes it easier to get a puddle started, because you don't have enough amps, but it prevents the puddle from freezing quickly when you dip filler, which is what you want for a smooth, shiny bead. A frosty bead cooled too slowly.

    If the filler is jumping to the tungsten it's likely that you're keeping it in the heat zone, which you don't want....move it farther away between dabs, but still in the area generally covered by the gas (a lot wider area than the heat from the arc).

    Aluminum is all about getting things balanced, and keeping moving....puddle, dab, move, dab, move, dab, move, etc.
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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    Looks like a couple of things going on. You're not using enough amps, so it's taking too long to get the puddle going, and that puts too much heat into the work. Set your amperage at least to 125 so you can get the puddle started in a second or two, then ease off as necessary.

    Your AC balance is off quite a bit on some of those. The Primeweld references the percentage of positive, so you don't really want more than about 40% for anything, and usually much less. Try varying from 20% up to 40%....you'll probably find something like 25-30% works well. You only want/need the cleaning action to be slightly wider than the bead, so those with wide, white strips extending away from the bead simply had too much cleaning.

    Something else that happens is running bead after bead puts heat into the piece, which you don't want in this situation. Yes, it makes it easier to get a puddle started, because you don't have enough amps, but it prevents the puddle from freezing quickly when you dip filler, which is what you want for a smooth, shiny bead. A frosty bead cooled too slowly.

    If the filler is jumping to the tungsten it's likely that you're keeping it in the heat zone, which you don't want....move it farther away between dabs, but still in the area generally covered by the gas (a lot wider area than the heat from the arc).

    Aluminum is all about getting things balanced, and keeping moving....puddle, dab, move, dab, move, dab, move, etc.
    You're right, I've had issues getting the puddle going. I watched one of the The Fabrication Series videos today that hammered home that very point. I thought 90 amps was my sweet spot, but maybe more amps are needed. I'll give that a try.

    Given your comment on frosty beads, I looked back and my pictures and sure enough, it's right there in picture #4. Top bead is shiny, bottom bead is frosty. I did those three beads pretty much one right after the other. I was on a roll!

    I sure appreciate the feedback. I'm learning every time I turn the machine on.
    Jim
    PrimeWeld TIG225X
    2017 F-350 CCLB 6.7L
    2013 Polaris Ranger 900 XP in 2006 Fleetwood Gearbox 220FB using 3" Andersen WDH
    I don't always tow heavy, but when I do, I use my Superduty.
    Here fishy, fishy... .`.`..`. >< ((( >

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    Re: When To Change Argon Cylinder?

    Most times contamination is gas flow or gas coverage issue. First thing I do is check the flow at the torch, not the flowmeter to make sure the gas is getting where it is supposed to be. This one from ebay works well. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Welding-Arg...53.m1438.l2649

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    The other problem is newbies don't keep a tight arc and cram the rod into the puddle from the side. They tend to lift the torch and lose gas coverage, and when adding rod to the puddle they introduce it to the arc gap and dribble it into the puddle. No, slide the rod in from the side directly into the puddle keeping a tight arc.
    Last edited by shovelon; 03-21-2021 at 10:57 PM.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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