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Thread: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

  1. #1
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    Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Hey all,

    My Kemppi earth clamp died (lost spring tension, wire braid joining both jaws failed). I looked at the off the shelf replacements, but they were China junk. Thinner gauge steel pressings, hard corners and sharp edges. I have a few of these Vice grips so why not. Iím sure others have done same or similar. One thing is for sure, genuine Vicegrips are hard as F! Had to use a cobalt drill bit for the pilot hole.
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    I've done the same minus the pivoting pads. Instead of drilling I welded a bolt on in the same place and used it as a stud for the cable lug.

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Looks like that would do the trick. You could always rap fine braided copper wire around the pad on the wire side for better conductivity
    Lincoln, ESAB, Thermal Dynamics, Victor, Miller, Dewalt, Makita, Kalamzoo. Hand tools, power tools, welding and cutting tools.

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Back in the day when I built my first weld rig I used a pair of vise grips for a stinger (rod holder) it wasnt pretty and my hands got beat up pretty bad and i probly would have got a hefty fine had a mine inspector seen it. You had to watch where you laid the stinger down. one day my wife says to me why dont you get a real stinger I know they have them. I told her I just didnt have time to get one. Christmas comes along a few weeks later and I had a new stinger for a Christmas present

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Vice grip clamps work great. I had one for a long time. Run a jumper from one clamp to the other. If you get a poor ground in one side the jumper carries the current, not the vice grip. Vice grip always loses when that happens. Scorched mine when that happened. Oops!

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by husq2100 View Post
    I looked at the off the shelf replacements, but they were China junk. Thinner gauge steel pressings, hard corners and sharp edges..
    Shelves at at hardware store, or shelves at a real welding shop?
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    Shelves at at hardware store, or shelves at a real welding shop?
    Actually the brass ones at harbor freight are pretty decent quality.

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    Actually the brass ones at harbor freight are pretty decent quality.
    Well yes, but I don't think he has a HF in Australia. What I was wondering is if none of the real welding shops had any decent quality clamps?
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    Well yes, but I don't think he has a HF in Australia. What I was wondering is if none of the real welding shops had any decent quality clamps?
    I'm sure he could order one, 9.99$ and 99$ shipping. You would certainly think the welding supply would offer something. Lenco always were good quality and held up well. As for globally I don't know what's out there but every electric welding process uses one so they are out there

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Good solution!

    I've done this and the vice grips ground before in times of need, though I too used c-clamps without pads (I figure the swivel to the feet would be the weak link current wise).

    The right size copper pipe can be flattened and folded over to make a contact point, I leave enough of a tab on the copper pipe to bolt ground cable directly to the copper. If the copper pipe work hardens (copper does very easily) just heat to red and let air cool to anneal (soften).

    many times I will just clamp to vice grip or C-clamp jaws if I can't find a place for the spring loaded ground clamp.

    The advantage to a locking clamp rather than spring clamp type of ground include not falling off, and being able to clamp to larger material. Not falling off is a huge one in certain cases (hammering, needle scaler, etc.).

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    The clamp has pads that move
    I would put a wire to both side clamp or take out the spring. I would remove the swivel pads.
    I purchase a clamp for welding about 40 years ago it bend on at lest 3 welder today it is on my HF170.

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by husq2100 View Post
    Hey all,

    My Kemppi earth clamp died (lost spring tension, wire braid joining both jaws failed). I looked at the off the shelf replacements, but they were China junk. Thinner gauge steel pressings, hard corners and sharp edges. I have a few of these Vice grips so why not. Iím sure others have done same or similar. One thing is for sure, genuine Vicegrips are hard as F! Had to use a cobalt drill bit for the pilot hole.
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  16. #12
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    Shelves at at hardware store, or shelves at a real welding shop?
    Welding supplies.

    I’m sure I could have ordered in a branded clamp, but it would have been expensive and would have had to wait. So this cost me nothing but 10mins.

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  18. #13
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Try the Auto part store Fast too.

    Quote Originally Posted by husq2100 View Post
    Welding supplies.

    I’m sure I could have ordered in a branded clamp, but it would have been expensive and would have had to wait. So this cost me nothing but 10mins.

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by smithdoor View Post
    Try the Auto part store Fast too.
    Our auto parts store sell junk tools. Be lucky to have bugger all welding supplies in them . Then we have Bunnings (our version of HD) they have Boss brand China junk. Then we have trade tool suppliers for construction, again average quality, better than the others but still below specific welding supplies. Then the welding supplies, selling brands such as Miller, Kemppi, Fronius etc but the individual on the shelf clamps were not as good as the branded one supplied with my machine.

    So for free, 10 mins work, I’ve solved a problem and not taken a backward step that also would have cost time and money

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  21. #15
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    You got the vice grip for free? They are in the $25-$30 range here, and you can get a good quality ground/earth clamp for less money.

    https://www.vallen.ca/products/320-w...IEFHQzMwMA==-g

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    So funny everyone is a critic for doing something different. Considering I already had the vice grip (one of many) and it had already had its pads scorched and I didn’t have to leave my shed and it was in my hands no waiting time ….

    Oh and it also works as a clamp, imagine that

    Btw, not sure why it needs the extra earth strap etc, surely the circuit is complete even by running through the one jaw with the main cable attached…

    Btw, it ALWAYS seems like it’s hard for the Americans to understand price and availability is different the world over. But then again it’s hilarious seeing how many say support American jobs and products, are extremely anti Chinese and their way of life, yet love to tell you about the cracking deal they got on some HF or HD Chinese junk…

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    I'm all for using what's on hand when a trip to a store would interrupt a job or when the stores are closed.

    However, on a Sunday when the real welding shops are shut and given the opportunity, I would use the Bunnings Earth clamp at $12 compared to a Vice-Grip at $30. The Bossweld (Bunnings) clamp appears to be made with solid brass contact sections which are joined with braid and connect directly to the Earth lead.

    If I were busy and the job important, I would not hesitate to sacrifice even a genuine Vice-Grip.

    Jack
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by husq2100 View Post
    So funny everyone is a critic for doing something different. Considering I already had the vice grip (one of many) and it had already had its pads scorched and I didn’t have to leave my shed and it was in my hands no waiting time ….

    Oh and it also works as a clamp, imagine that

    Btw, not sure why it needs the extra earth strap etc, surely the circuit is complete even by running through the one jaw with the main cable attached…

    Btw, it ALWAYS seems like it’s hard for the Americans to understand price and availability is different the world over. But then again it’s hilarious seeing how many say support American jobs and products, are extremely anti Chinese and their way of life, yet love to tell you about the cracking deal they got on some HF or HD Chinese junk…
    I thought it was a great idea! I had one for 2 years. Worked nice. What scorched mine was when i was welding on a B&E 59R drill mast. I didn't clean the paint from the mast. For some reason the juice decided to go thru the spring. Whenthat burnt, it arced/welded/scorched it solid. Don't ask me how or why. Electricity is weird. Next one i make will have a ground strap from jaw to jaw, just like thr factory clamps do. Just sayin....

  26. #19
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by husq2100 View Post
    So funny everyone is a critic for doing something different. Considering I already had the vice grip (one of many) and it had already had its pads scorched and I didn’t have to leave my shed and it was in my hands no waiting time ….

    Oh and it also works as a clamp, imagine that

    Btw, not sure why it needs the extra earth strap etc, surely the circuit is complete even by running through the one jaw with the main cable attached…

    Btw, it ALWAYS seems like it’s hard for the Americans to understand price and availability is different the world over. But then again it’s hilarious seeing how many say support American jobs and products, are extremely anti Chinese and their way of life, yet love to tell you about the cracking deal they got on some HF or HD Chinese junk…
    Save your global political BS for somewhere else. It's cool you made something work.

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    I too think it's a good idea, I just found it hard to believe that a real welding supply store would not have quality clamps on the regular shelves. I mean that's what they welding supply store is for, literally to have good welding supplies. I'm not dogging your work, I'd have done the same and sacrificed something to make it work. It's just the whole welding supply store thing that totally caught me off-guard.
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Ryan View Post
    My Syncrowave 250 came from Miller with a ground clamp like that, except mine had solid bars of copper at the tips of the "jaws" and the copper bars had "teeth" ground into them, and then those two bars were joined by a braid of copper. It was a badass clamp and worked well...until the spring broke.

    Tried to find another one like it, without much luck, so I went with another style.

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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    Well yes, but I don't think he has a HF in Australia. What I was wondering is if none of the real welding shops had any decent quality clamps?
    Chinese vise grips are my go tos for welding. Why, theyíre plenty Strong enough for clamping and I donít care how burnt up they get. For anything serious though I wouldnít touch them for those well known reasons we all know.


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  31. #23
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    I'm not knocking the execution of the idea, but those steel swivels will give you more resistance, and the lack of copper in the joints means even more resistance again. Not that much of a problem on stick or TIG, just use a couple more amps, but on MIG, this translates into poor arc starts, and dropped voltage/more spatter.

    I'm currently a fan of the solid brass clamps - better conductivity than steel, self cleaning, and no copper braid to chew up. It works well on my pulse MIG set, which is very hard on earth clamps - if it's not quite right, you just get a load of spatter, and it's even more obvious than it is on regular MIG.
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by husq2100 View Post

    Btw, not sure why it needs the extra earth strap etc, surely the circuit is complete even by running through the one jaw with the main cable attachedÖ
    The amperage will ALWAYS follow the path of least resistance.
    In the case of your original clamp, the braided cable failed from use (normal) ,,
    THEN, the amperage traveled through the spring, to the opposite jaw.

    The amperage heated the spring, and the spring tension was eliminated,, no more clamping force.

    If the braided cable jumper had not failed, this thread would never have been started,
    you would still be using the original clamp.

    Oh, by the way, if you use the new Vise-Grip ground clamp long enough, the same thing will happen.
    The side you clamp the clamp to will have dirt/paint/rust etc,, on the part to be grounded.
    The amperage will travel through the clamp, to the other side,,

    At some point the spring in the clamp will become the current path,, and that spring will become annealed.

    As well as the braided cable from jaw to jaw, really good clamps use insulators on the spring,,
    the insulators help keep the spring from becoming the current path,, and the spring will last longer.

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  34. #25
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    Re: Earth clamp died, modded a new one.

    I have at times resorted to clamping a strip of sheet copper to a workpiece, then attaching the ground cable to that. Use any clamp you like, no need to modify it.

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