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Arc Welding Advice? Answered

My father-in-law just gave me this 295 amp arc welding rig (he's forbidden to use it anymore--pacemaker.) It's complete with mask, rods, etc. I've never welded before, and have a couple questions:

-- Any good books or tutorials to recommend?

-- I live in an older home (1930s), which has bus fuses and certainly can't supply 295 amps without burning out (or down.)

Should I get a separate service installed for the garage? Is it expensive? I've looked on the power company website, and it's typical superficial information for the average customer...



4 years ago

nice machine. It it a montgomery wards item? I personally wear a lot of flannel or a carhartt jacket. their ouoter shell is pretty durable but the insides are all poly something or other burst into molten goo stuff.

i added a leather throat protector to my hood to kee stuff out of my shirt and beard.

most important part of getting a good weld is a good ground connection. if i am forced to run beads on ugly metal i will put my first bead (root) down using either 6010, 6011, or 6013 rod. my fave is 6011 also referred to as farmer or dirt rod because its make up allows for a lot of forgiveness in prep.

if you are wanting to get good deep penetration bevel the edges of your work and leave a gap between the edges on a butt joint. the width of the gap is eaiest determined by using the non-fluxed end of the piece of rod you are welding with. clamp your work pieces down hard so they do not move about.

heat will cause them to walk apart so tack in the midddle and on each end to prevent thisif at all possible a 'strip' of steel at either end will allow you to start and end you arc off of the work piece. this helps to get a good stable arc going. it also helps to prevent blow out at the end of the weld. looks do count

where are you located at?

. You'll probably never need 290 amps, unless you're welding 2" steel. . You can't learn how to weld out of a book - it takes lots of practice. Try to find an experienced welder to look over your shoulder. . The welder will only pull a fraction of the 290 amps from the mains. IIRC, welding is done at about 30V (but it's been a long time since I did any welding).

. Not that reading about it won't do you any good. It's kind of like playing the piano. It helps to know some theory, but there's no substitute for getting hands-on.

Thanks for the amperage info. That fits perfectly. Until now, I really didn't know anything about the actual voltages used in these puppies. Yeah, I'm just hoping to learn some basics before the hands-on. And safety practices, too--so as not to fry either the welder or myself....

> safety practices
. Cotton fibers burns very well. Denim is great to wear when welding, but don't wear anything with frayed cuffs. Trust me, it gets hot.
. If you can afford leather (or modern equiv) gauntlets, sleeves, chaps, &c it will help.
. Make sure you use a dark enough lens. If your eyes start bothering you at all, it's not dark enough.
. When another welder hollers "Watch the arc!" they don't mean look at the arc. :)
. Don't breathe the fumes. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation and the the flow doesn't pull the smoke into your helmet.
. Do keep an eye on the wiring. It won't pull anything close to 290A, but may overtax old wiring when when you stick the rod to the metal.

  • safety practices: Cotton fibers burns very well. Denim is great to wear when welding, but don't wear anything with frayed cuffs. Trust me, it gets hot.

On the other hand, avoid (conventional) synthetic fabrics. Having your cotton shirt catch on fire is much preferred to having your polyester catch on fire, melt, and stick to you skin. Leather, Cotton, Wool. (also Kevlar and Nomex are good, but generally expensive.)

Don't wear metal jewelery, either...

Amen to that! You can just put the cotton out. Poly-whatever melting to your skin is not pleasant. I like to go to a thrift store and buy a ratty old leather jacket. They do a world of good!

Great advice, Nacho, West and Skunk...

The gear does include a nice pair of leather gauntlets. And I'm aware of the synthetics issue, but it needs to be said (sometimes you just don't make those connections.)

I'm sure there's a "sunburn" effect, too (I've worked with arc-lamp platemakers, so I know about the UV component.) Which should be obvious when you put on the helmet / visor (but again, you gotta make those connections...)

. Unless you're welding in shorts, a t-shirt and goggles, "sunburn" is not a big problem. If you're like most welders, you'll have on thick pants and shirt to protect yourself from the sparks and a full hood. These will block most (if not all) of the UV.

Thanks. I'll dress appropriately.

Are you saying this thing sucks 295 amps from your outlet??? That is a heck a lot of power!

Or do you mean it gives out 295 amps?

Looks like it uses only a fraction of 295 amps on the 220V side (read the other responses.) Welding is low-voltage, so the welder is a big step-down transformer...

ok, I only have done a bit of arc welding in school, but here's how it's done: get a scrap piece of steel, attach the ground to it. attach a new stick to the positive scrap the rod against the scrap steel until it stops sticking, this is like rpiming the rod. attach the ground to what your working on. turn on power put the rod like 1 inch to what your welding, flip down your maks and start welding in a circular motion. You can't see a darn thing with the mask on, so put the rod close to the piece so you won't totall miss. make sure to check your joint afterwards.

What westfw said. It only takes about 20 amps at 220 Practice

Yeah, it's 220. That's a very manageable amount of current. I wired in a dedicated breaker for our drier awhile back. I can probably run some conduit and line outside from the same box...


9 years ago

A 295 amp welder doesn't take 295 amps from the wall outlet; it's a big setdown transformer that converts "standard" 20A 110V or 50A 220V circuits to 295A at a much lower voltage (unlike a jacob's ladder, a welding arc doesn't require high voltage, cause it has a lot of metal vapor making the arc nice and conductive. It should be marked somewhere with the input power requirements...

Ah, sweet. I'm clueless about welding tech, but that makes perfect sense--especially after reading Tim's low-voltage welding 'ibles. Thanks!