First Weld

I mentioned previously that I’d gotten a welder, a little Hobart Handler 140. Today, I got it all set up and tried it out. I ran into a couple of problems along the way.

First, the manual said that I should make sure the wire feed mechanism was using the “proper groove.” now there was a narrow groove and a wide groove, and since I was putting in 0.025 wire, it seemed obvious that the narrow groove was the “proper” groove. However, the wire feeding mechanism and the point where the wire enters the welding gun both appeared to be made in such a way that they were situated exactly over the wide groove, and neither looked to be at all able to be moved, so clearly the wide groove must be the “proper” groove. Well, I was skeptical that the wide groove was correct, and sure enough, the wire didn’t feed. Ok, so I dug through the manual, and found a section talking about the grooves. I definitely needed the narrow one, but manual wasn’t very clear how to get there.

The grooves traverse the circumference of a metal cylinder. Imagine a soup can (only smaller, like a stack of quarters). Near the top of the soup can is a groove around the circumference, and near the bottom of the soup can is another groove.

The trick turned out that you press the soup can into the machine, rotate it 1/4 turn, and then it pops out of the machine. Then you turn it over, and put it into the machine backwards, by the same press and turn 1/4 turn method. After that, the narrow groove is where the wide groove used to be (where the wire is) and vice versa. This is not very well explained in the manual at all, but once you know how to do it it’s easy.

Next, I had some trouble with the gas regulator. It leaked. I tightened it up, and opened up the valve on the cylinder and gas is just venting. Hmm. that can’t be right, can it? No, surely not. This gas (75% argon, 25% CO2) ain’t cheap. So I head back to the local welding supply shop where I got the welder, and the guy there tests it out, says, “yep, it’s leaking” and gives me a new one — a very obviously much better, much more expensive one, with a very obviously much better and longer hose than what my original one had. Cool. Definitely glad I didn’t buy from Home Depot or the like as I know there’s no way I’d have gotten that kind of service, or even had anybody knowledgeable enough to answer any questions about the regulator.

So, with a new regulator, I’m finally ready to fire this thing up and see if it works. I got a piece of steel about an inch and a half wide and about 1/10th inch thick, and a couple feet long as a sacrifice. Sanded it and cleaned it, and finally hit it with the gun. I can’t really call this welding, it’s more like dribbling bits of melted welding wire onto a piece of steel, but at least I know the machine works. Here’s a pic, representing about 15 secs worth of “welding.”

As welds go, there’s so much wrong with the above picture that I’m not even going to talk about it. 🙂

I’m very happy so far with the auto-darkening helmet I got. It was sort of amazingly transparent. That is, when you started welding, it was almost like the brightness level of what you were looking at didn’t even change compared to when you weren’t welding, as if the shade so quickly and so perfectly adjusted for the blinding light of the welder, that is was almost like you just struck a match, and were looking at that, and I didn’t really even notice any kind of “hey, it’s suddenly darker.” it worked amazingly well. Now this is based on a single experience of about 15 secs, and I’ve never used any welding helmet at all, ever, prior to this, so my opinion is really worth nothing on this, and I may change my mind later, as 15 secs isn’t much to go by, and I was thnking about holding the welder, not burning myself, not electrocuting myself, etc., so it’s probably no wonder I didn’t notice the darkening effect happening. I did notice I could see, which I was sort of afraid everything would be either so murky and dark, or else so bright and washed out that I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. Happy to report, hey, welding helmets seem to do what they’re supposed to, improbable as that seems.

~ by scaryreasoner on May 2, 2009.

3 Responses to “First Weld”

  1. Looks good. Did you wear any specific safety materials to do that?

  2. ^^^Angie: Yes, I wore eyeglasses, a pretty decent Miller welding mask, welding gloves, leather apron, long sleeve shirt, buttoned all the way up (because of UV rays), rubber soled work boots. Had a fire extinguisher near by.

  3. Good Safety practice..keep it up!

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