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  • butt welding tubing TIG

    Hey all,

    I recently purchased a Diversion 180 and prior to it have never tig welded before. I have experienced welders to call on the phone for help but one thing no one has really been able to explain is running beads around tubing.

    Im practicing on .0625 aluminum tubing cause I had old intercooler piping from a previous car and its scrap to practice on. I can run nice straight and consistent butt welds on flat surface but along with MIG I have a rally F'n hard time welding tubing either round filet welds or round butt welds.

    The major problem is that I can stay consistent in a straight line but when you need to change direction or maintain the same distance with your tungsten on irregular shapes I just can get it done.

    I was hoping some people could chime in with some helpful advise about welding round objects. I will never do pipe welding but I know the process is the same and people in motorsports respect the skill of a skilled pipe welder (walking the cup, full non stop butt welds) .

    Im not looking to do a non stop weld at this point. I want to do quadrants of the tube but even that is being problematic.

    If you think you can help and understand my problem please chime in as I need some help.

  • #2
    Start your pipe practice on thicker wall larger diameter pipe first, say 6" schedule 40. The smaller the diameter, the harder to weld and 1/16 wall is pretty thin once the tube heats up.

    But before you jump into pipe, do alot more practice on plate in all 3 positions (flat/horizontal, vertical and overhead) and both joint types (groove/butt and fillet/T). The Diversion 180 is brand spankin new on the market so if the only tig practice you have is with this machine, I know you haven't spent enough time practicing tig in general to be worrying about welding 16ga small dia tubing.
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    • #3
      Run the pedal to heat the weld bead or cool it... It's no differnt than doing flat... use the pedal to control the size of the bead you are laying down.
      Jonny

      Dynasty 300DX
      Esab PCM 1000

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      • #4
        It seems to be complicated to learn to roll ones hands while moving forward, I still have to consciously do it sometimes.

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        • #5
          I weld 18ga to 16ga, 1" to 3"dia. stainless and aluminum tubing quite a bit, and I would have to say the hardest thing is get your bench set up so you can support your hands comfortably and be able to control the torch precisely, move around the tube and keep the tube from rolling on you. I usually have several blocks of metal, wood, tile, etc, along with a variety of clamps. And it really becomes important when you start welding things that have several mandrel bends.

          Start off by getting your tubes on the bench, put on just your gloves, grab your torch with no power on, and make a few dry runs moving the torch. Can you make a clean pass without getting in a weird bind? Can you make the pass with your hand steady the whole time? Are the tubes moving around? If any of the above happens, make small adjustments to your fixtures and setup and try again. Only make the weld when you feel comfortable.

          Like what others have said, the actual weld is no more difficult than a flat weld. On light gage tubing tack and weld in 3 to 4 sections depending on the diameter, don't go for a continuous all-around weld, it'll warp the tube.
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          • #6
            thanks for the input guys, sounds like you all seem to have a feel for my problem. As far a tig is concerned, Im brand spankin new no doubt. That said I can lay smooth consistent aluminum beads on the same piece of tubing if I run em length wise. My brother who in another life was a welder was even impressed with the speed at which I am improving with my skills. Being said that doesnt mean I dont have a ways to go cause Im just getting my feet wet.

            I do have alot of MIG experience and even that has been problematic for me as I have the same problems with staying smooth and even around the radius.


            To better illustrate the problem is that I can get started fine and I can keep it even till it requires a completely new arm position, in other words as soon as my wrist cant make up for the change of angle I FK up. My brother said take the torch and just sit inside watch tv and run my torch over a mason jar or an old glass to get the muscle memory to keep moving over the round curve evenly.

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            • #7
              I have tigged dairy tube for years and its not difficult, just takes a bit of practice, the tough ones are up on a ladder in the corner by the celing with a bit of a blind spot where you need a mirror to finish it up, those were the tough ones for me.

              With the tube laying on the pipe vise I follow the contour of the tube with my welding hand and rotate it with the other, it just takes a bit of practice.

              All our welds were purged and we used 45 to 50 amps on .0625 tube depending on the machine.
              mike sr

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              • #8
                I think DR hit the nail on the head.

                To become proficient in tig, you not only have to understand the process, but you also have to develop the "motor skills". The motor skills only come with practice and "hood down" time.

                Starting out with thinwall aluminum is also adding to the difficulty. I'd reommend going to steel pipe (cheaper/more forgiving) to develop the motor skills.

                Most new tiggers tend keep their wrist rather fixed when running a bead on flat stock. This helps to develop consistency. When you go to tubing, the wrist needs more flex so as to maintain the arc length and angle of attack. You may be maintaining a consistent arc length as you proceed around the tubing, but my guess is you're changing the direction of the arc.

                If you're still having difficulties after several hundred hours of arc time, then it's time to get worried. (yea, I did say several hundred hours).

                Start practicing on larger diameter/thicker wall pipe and work your way down as proficiency builds. If it was as easy as you seem to think it should be, there'd be a lot more "good" tig welders out there.

                For us oldtimers, it is laughable to read the comments from some of the new tig welders. "Got my tig last week. Laid down some great dimes today. Next week I'm going to build my alum/SS intake manifold." Yea, right. Go for it.
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                • #9
                  NO NO NO I dont expect to be proficient overnight. Im completely self taught for the most part and I have always had a hard time around circular objects.

                  The material thickness isnt the problem, Im not blowing through and I can tell how fast I need to move when the metal starts getting hot (move faster and throttle down a bit). Its the way to get my arm moving around the tubing correctly.

                  Ill walk you through how I start.

                  First Im lefty so Ill start at 9 o'clock on the tube. As soon as I hit about 11 oclock things are already going south. Sundown!!! got it right, I lock my wrist. Im starting to wonder if I should start the weld in an otherwise uncofortable position in order to get over the hump is a much more comfortable and consistent position. Cosidering Im only gonna do a quarter of the pipe at a time I guess it wouldnt be horrible to try this.

                  Im just hoping someone found a technique when they were learning that helped them to keep the torch even as they went around the tube.

                  The suggestion regarding keeping the torch hand riding on the tube is a good one although it might be hard to do that with smaller tubing which is the only size tubing I will EVER deal with. Rollcages, headers ect are all under 2" for the most part. Only one thats large is intakes that are typically 3-4.5".

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                  • #10
                    I always gripped the torch as near the nozzle as practical, rest your welding hand on the tube, using the other hand to steady it, then work your way around the tube in increments, I usually run about 30% then reposition.

                    The main thing is the practice.

                    Keep at it, you will get it eventually.

                    An evening welding class would be very helpful.
                    mike sr

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                    • #11
                      Well I dont have any pics but I figured out a few things and made a tool to help me out.

                      1. I held the torch like a pencil instead of holding it on the handle. This may not be a good habit to get into for doing tubing but oh well it worked.

                      2. I cut my filler into shorter pieces. This allows me to keep my filler rod flat to the weld without it hitting anything on the long end (the end not going in the puddle)

                      3. I made an elbow rest. I took an old surround sound speaker stand (more or less a pretty looking microphone stand) and made an adjustable 4x4" table that pinches onto the tube for my elbow to rest on.

                      These things have helped out a ton. Im no longer having to float my arm over the tube and I have a better control over the torch by holding the torch differently.

                      All in all Im doing pretty **** well at these tubes now as far as butt welds are concerned.

                      Now I gotta figure out doing filet welds on round objects as thats even harder for me..

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                      • #12
                        This is exactly what I'm trying to do. Glad you already started this thread!

                        What do you think of the Diversion 180? Overall, is it pretty good for welding aluminum? Have you tried welding steel with it?

                        I am considering buying one so that I can re-route the intake & intercooler piping on my car. (Using .0625" 6061 tubing and some plate, up to maybe 3/8".) After that I'll probably make a new cat-back exhaust (stainless steel tubing and plate) and then probably a turbo manifold and downpipe.

                        I'm also considering MIG, like the Millermatic 211. Does anyone have opinions on which (MIG - Millermatic 211 or TIG - Diversion 180) is better for these applications and whether they're adequate for the job? I'm mostly looking for functionality, not aesthetics, and not doing any structural stuff like frames or roll cages. "Ugly" welds are OK.
                        Last edited by Noobasaurus; 06-15-2010, 01:34 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Noobasaurus View Post
                          What do you think of the Diversion 180? Overall, is it pretty good for welding aluminum? Have you tried welding steel with it?

                          I am considering buying one so that I can re-route the intake & intercooler piping on my car. (Using .0625" 6061 tubing and some plate, up to maybe 3/8".) After that I'll probably make a new cat-back exhaust (stainless steel tubing and plate) and then probably a turbo manifold and downpipe.

                          I'm also considering MIG, like the Millermatic 211. Does anyone have opinions on which (MIG - Millermatic 211 or TIG - Diversion 180) is better for these applications and whether they're adequate for the job? I'm mostly looking for functionality, not aesthetics, and not doing any structural stuff like frames or roll cages. "Ugly" welds are OK.
                          ok, I feel the need to chime in, as I'm another noob with same kind of projects and Diversion (but 165). You can see my stainless subaru manifold pics in welding projects, intercooler piping is next thing todo. IMHO, for the given applications (materials and thickness) you'll love the TIG, even if it's harder to do than MIG (never did MIG personally, can't compare ). Machine is nice, the only thing I'm not comfortable with are input voltage sensitivity (arc goes off when voltage is like 215-218V).

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                          • #14
                            I saw those! Great pics; definitely caught my attention. How much welding had you done previously?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Noobasaurus View Post
                              I saw those! Great pics; definitely caught my attention. How much welding had you done previously?
                              Not much. To start, I spent 2 filler rods laying beads on scrap sheetmetal then to get more familiar with tube welding, cut like 2feet of same stainless tube into few small pieces and welded them back into 1piece

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