Step 16: Staying on the joint line
I made a small discovery that helps me keep the arc on the joint. Debate rages whether to push or to pull the gun when welding with a wire feed welder. I generally pull it. I noticed I can look under the gun ahead of where it is welding and there is enough light from the arc that I can see a little of the unwelded joint to use as a guide for moving the gun. That works unless the sun is coming from over my shoulder. In that case the inside of the helmet is bright and I have great difficulty seeing even the arc. See the smaller of the two text boxes in the photo.
Welding helmets come with clear lenses over the tinted lenses. These become dirty and pitted, even discolored. All of those things affect visibility. Periodically clean or replace the clear lenses. I use a Lincoln auto-darkening hood I bought in 2004. Although most auto-darkening hoods use solar cells and contain lithium-ion batteries, mine uses two AAA batteries. My helmet has never failed to darken as it should, but a family member told me I need to replace my helmet because (he believes) auto helmets darken their lenses excessively after a few years. As a last effort before replacing my trusty helmet, I replaced the AAA batteries, even though the old batteries still appear to work just fine. To my surprise, new batteries cause my helmet to darken my non-adjustable lens less and I can see the weld joint fairly well when using my wire feed welder. In the future I will check my clear lenses and replace the batteries regularly. Lithium-ion batteries no longer take a full charge after about four years of use. Those whose helmets use solar cells and rechargeable batteries should look into replacing the batteries and see if that helps visibility while welding.
And, some clamp down a guide for their hand to follow. This might be a piece of board about 1 inch thick. The heel of one hand can ride against it to give a straight line guide for following the seam to be welded. See the larger of the two text boxes in the photo.