If you have one of these 80/90 AMP Flux Core Wire Welders you know how versatile they can be when tweaked just right.
There are dozens of mods/ improvements that can be done to these welders to improve performance. In this instructable we will be upgrading the ground cable.
I don't have to tell you that the OE ground cable just sucks and the clamp is the best part of worthless. Well we are going to change that.
Step 1: Opening the Unit and Inspection
I am hoping I don't have to tell you to unplug the unit before opening it. With that said; is it unplugged?
Good now lets remove the 5 screws on the left side of the unit. Set the side plate aside and make an internal inspection. This is the time when you want to catch those stressed parts and repair them. As you can see I had my wire jam up a few years back and I thought I got it all. Look at what was hiding in the welder. Could this have caused a fire? Possibly... There was about 5ft of wire bound up in there.
Now clean the unit out with pressurized air.
Step 2: Release the Ground Cable
Let's remove the ground cable.
Inside the unit you will find a big connection that is held together with a small bolt. It is covered with a large section of heat sleeve. Remove the zip tie and slide the tube aside to expose the connection and remove the bolt.
IMPORTANT: Because the wire coming from the transformer is soft you will need to use a pair of pliers to hold the bolt still while you remove the 1/2" nut.
To release the cable grommet from the front plate twist it 90 degrees and then remove it by slipping it out.
Step 3: Making the New Ground Cable
The cable I selected was 0 gauge power wire from an old car amp install that I removed. Buying this cable can be expensive; not sure about the cost per foot but I am certain you can buy it from your local hardware store. Meanwhile this was in my junk bin.
First let's install the terminal lug on one end that will go in the welder. Strip the wire back so that you have about 1/8" that sticks out of the front of the terminal when the cable is fully inserted.
Now let's crimp it. I used my vise to crush the first part and then finished with a single strike with a small hammer using a wide dull chisel in the middle. When crimping make sure your crimp is solid.
Now match the length of the new cable to the old. I added 12" extra; why? because I can. Longer ground cables will not help you. As a matter of fact they hamper performance. Because mine was so long I took this time to trim it to the desired length.
Now lets get rid of that yellow plastic insulator on the other new terminal. I used a wire wheel on a bench grinder while holding it with a pair of pliers and let the wire wheel at it until the plastic came off. Took only a few seconds for it to come off.
Now before installing the new clamp add a layer of shrink tube to the cable where the clamp will rub at the handle. I doubled my shrink tube up for added durability. You could also use a piece of stiff hose here. Check the photos for details. You can see that I mock fit it before shrinking the tube.
Now slip two sections of shrink tube on the cable; we will need this to complete the terminal install. Remember to do this before crimping the connector or your shrink tube will not fit over the final terminal ring assembly.
With this external terminal part you could solder it but I did not want to subject the new cable to that kind of focused heat. Crimped this connection the same way I did the internal one. After crimping slip the shrink tube over the connector terminal body and shrink it and then repeat with the second piece.
Now bolt up to the clamp. Make sure the washer goes on top of the cable terminal. Now tighten down the terminal to the new clamp. While doing so make sure the cable has a straight line through the clamp so it does not incur unnecessary wear later, plus it just looks professional.
Step 4: Install the New Cable in the Unit
First connect the cable to the terminal assembly we took apart in the beginning. Orientate the cable so the heat sleeve will slip over the completed connection and the cable will have a proper exit out the front of the unit and tighten.
For my grommet I used a rubber bumper from a shower caddy... What!? I told you I don't throw away anything. Anyway I trimmed it down and forced it in with a pair of pliers. As an alternative you could use a piece of rubber hose slit down one side and slip it into the location as a grommet.
After gently forcing the cable into the grommet I installed the side panel All that was left was to test it.
I gave my vise jaws a quick zap. Normally I would be able to knock this BB off with a hammer and chisel. It was solid into the jaw. If I want it flat again I will have to grind it.
With any luck this will greatly improve the performance of your welder.