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Thread: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

  1. #1
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    Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Hey, it's been a long while! Hope everyone is doing well.

    After ages without welding anything, I took the dust out of my Flux Core machine to try some body work on my car after being scammed on a repair I paid for.

    Before I took that long hiatus, I had made some tests with maybe a 16 or 18 gauge sheet, where I cut a square out and welded it back in place, and it went kind of smooth back then. Might have some picture in an old post here, it was not perfect but for sure decent. Right now though, I'm working on my car and the welds are being difficult as hell. It's hard to make consistent welds, it will often burn through, sometimes it will splatter and sometimes it will do OK. At first I thought the reason was me not having practiced in so long, but then I started noticing some things that could be making my life harder:

    1. The Flux Core wire rusted a little from the time it was kept in storage. It was maybe stucking into the gun contact tip sometimes and not feeding reliably
    2. I noticed just today that the grounding cable was very damaged on its connection with the clamp (picture below)


    Right now I removed the exposed wire, using the one that was lower in the roll thus less exposed and rusty. Still not ideal for sure but honestly, if I were to replace the wire completely I'd probably want to clean the gun liner as well since small pieces of rust might be trapped in there. So I'm trying to troubleshoot with the wire I got first before I buy new wire and have to do all that work. I also cleaned the internal parts of the welding machine feeder (without using any oil on parts that touch the wire ofc) and replaced the gun contact tip leaving the one I was using before soaked in kerosene to clean it up so I can use it in the future.

    After doing that I was still having some trouble today finding the right settings and reliably spot welding the butt joint, and found out that my grounding cable was very damaged where it connects to the clamp:

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    I bought a 35mm eyelet terminal (went for a bigger one because it's not labelled 80amps like the eyelet I have on the clamp) and am planning to cut the wire short and remake the connection, maybe even filling the eyelet with tin/lead soldering after crimping.

    Does it sound like that ground clamp is the cause of all this difficulty with the welding? Is it fine using regular 35mm steel eyelet terminals for connecting the cable to the clamp?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Ground and ground connection is a good start. Check internal connections by removing and sanding.

    Your rusty wire flux could be compromised from moisture. There could be grabbing. Happening in the liner too.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    Ground and ground connection is a good start. Check internal connections by removing and sanding.

    Your rusty wire flux could be compromised from moisture. There could be grabbing. Happening in the liner too.
    Yeah, the humidity is really high where I live, guessing that helped getting the corrosion started on the wire. Still hoping that fixing the ground clamp will be enough to make at least decent welds, been busting my head on this car repair for a while now and am looking forward to just finishing it. Having to replace the wire and clean/replace the liner will cost me quite some time

  5. #4
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Hi 18 gauge with fluxcore wire is very challenging I could never get it to work. It would be a whole lot easier
    and a tidier job if you could switch to mig wire and C /25 gas.

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  7. #5
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Josey View Post
    Hi 18 gauge with fluxcore wire is very challenging I could never get it to work. It would be a whole lot easier
    and a tidier job if you could switch to mig wire and C /25 gas.
    I know it makes it much harder but I can't invest in a cylinder right now, so it's what I have. I know it's possible, just need to figure it out! Even though I also know it's possible to weld two razor blades together with stick welding but don't expect to do it myself haha

    I'm thinking about using a piece support below the butt weld when I can to make it harder to blow through. It won't be possible on all welds though cause I'm fixing the edge of the roof of my car, so at some point I won't reach the under side of the parts being welded.

  8. #6
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    I can't see well, but to me it looks like there are easily less than 10 strands of cable left at the break. That would definitely cause problems.

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  10. #7
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Weldalittle View Post
    I can't see well, but to me it looks like there are easily less than 10 strands of cable left at the break. That would definitely cause problems.
    And if you notice... All the broken strands are right at the end of the solder.

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  12. #8
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Paintball CO2 tank with valve on top, some rubber hose, and a small spool of solid mig wire. Should be able to all for less than $50 on Amazon.

    Spot and stitch it back together. If need be, feed in some extra wire by hand to help build up welds. Don't try to weld it all back at once. Use an aluminum, or copper backer whenever possible.

    Good Luck

    If you were stuck somewhere with only a swiss army knife, and you had to finish the weld. Just cut off the rest of the cable , strip it back 2". Then use the ground clamp to press the exposed conductor to the work. Have had to do it a few times myself.
    Last edited by albrightree; 10-27-2021 at 10:32 PM.
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  14. #9
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Weldalittle View Post
    I can't see well, but to me it looks like there are easily less than 10 strands of cable left at the break. That would definitely cause problems.
    True, I redid the connection. Just didn't add the tin/lead solder inside the terminal, but it looks very tight. It rained today, so I didn't get to try welding the new parts, but I should be doing it tomorrow and I'll post here if I feel it got easier.

    Quote Originally Posted by albrightree
    Paintball CO2 tank with valve on top, some rubber hose, and a small spool of solid mig wire. Should be able to all for less than $50 on Amazon.

    Spot and stitch it back together. If need be, feed in some extra wire by hand to help build up welds. Don't try to weld it all back at once. Use an aluminum, or copper backer whenever possible.

    Good Luck

    If you were stuck somewhere with only a swiss army knife, and you had to finish the weld. Just cut off the rest of the cable , strip it back 2". Then use the ground clamp to press the exposed conductor to the work. Have had to do it a few times myself.
    It's more expensive where I live unfortunately, didn't know people used Paintball CO2 tanks though. Wouldn't they empty too fast?

    The ground clamp trick sounds sketchy but useful, I'll keep it in mind as a last resort

  15. #10
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Josey View Post
    Hi 18 gauge with fluxcore wire is very challenging I could never get it to work. It would be a whole lot easier
    and a tidier job if you could switch to mig wire and C /25 gas.
    I can't do anything below 16ga with flux core. And, I generally limit the 16ga welds to small welds for attaching sheet metal to thicker material. Put the heat in the thicker stuff,, and let the metal flow into the 16ga.

  16. #11
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    Re: Flux Core 18 gauge - Troubleshooting

    Well, I got back to welding some parts on the repair today. It went better than before, but still hard af. Lots of spatter, constant battle between closing the gaps and burning holes. After burning holes there was also the desperation of trying to close it, added to the issue of not overheating the sheet which sometimes was not even possible due to how many spot welds I needed to close the opened holes.

    The welds from today look crappy, but at least they look more sealed than the previous ones. Thankfully there's bondo

    Can releasing the trigger too quickly on the spot welds actually help burning through? I mean, I know I need to do quick spot welds, but could it be I'm trying to be too quick and it's burning without feeding new material? Might also try lowering the amperage next time to see if it helps with the spatter, though it might be the normal amount of spatter for flux core.

    Quote Originally Posted by farmersammm
    I can't do anything below 16ga with flux core.
    From everyone's experience it seems that I'm going to have a hard time anyways, so maybe I should just try doing the best I can and finish this hell of a job ASAP. The other side of the repair had bad looking welds but I managed to make it look kinda nice after applying bondo and primer.

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