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Miller Thunderbolt and thin material

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  • Miller Thunderbolt and thin material

    I have difficulty starting the arc and maintaining it when using 3/32" 6011 rods on thin materials. Typically they seem to need around 60-70 A to weld properly - when I can get an arc started. At 100 A they start easily but burn through the material. I've tried these with both DC and AC, and AC seems a little easier. Is it just me and lack of experience, or are the Thunderbolts known not to have good performance at lower amps?

    Any hints on how to weld thin material (typically 1/16" to 1/8")


  • #2
    Perhaps this doesnt speak completely to your problem little son has a Lincoln ac/dc buzzbox which I suspect isnt terribly diff than your Thunderbolt. He was just recently welding 12 or 10 gauge sheet and light gauge angle using 3/32 6011s and not having any problems. He could est the arc easily enough and didnt burn thru. He said his amps were set around 65. Other than setting amps down a bit he wasnt using any special technique. Oh, he was using DCEP.


    • #3
      Back in college I tried to weld two 50 gallon drums together (actually one drum sliced down the sides to make a trough - or beginnings of a bar-b-q). I don't remember the rod we tried to use but I do remember that it took nearly 90 Amps to get a good start without sticking, and at that point it would pretty much burn through the material.

      A friend of mine who did work for his father's welding shop, not only could run a bead (I think 70 Amps) but welded the two halves together in one pass... filling my holes as he went. Humble but talented guy all around.

      This was on a Lincoln buzz box from the auto shop.

      So, in short, yes, skill makes a difference - getting the arc to start without sticking and knowing how to manipulate the rod so as not to put too much heat into too small of an area.

      For scale, 1/16 is roughly 16 gauge. 1/8 is 11 gauge.

      Consider trying 6013 instead (won't penetrate as much). Smaller rod will start with less amps. Might be able to find some 5/64 rod as well (Home depot?)
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      • #4
        I've welded 1/8" or slightly less at times with a Lincoln Idealarc 250. I used 1/16" 7018 and ran about 50 - 60 amps as I recall. I did not have any problems starting or sticking. Depending on your fit up, you have to run as fast as possible and still maintain a puddle, or you will burn through. This was DCEN, never tried it on DCEP. If it matters, I found running a stringer bead and backstepping worked best for me. You might have to use a different technique depending on what you are trying to do. Good luck, I hope you find an answer that works.
        Sometimes there's no second chances.


        • #5
          i have one, its the ac/dc model, about 10 years old, i have to watch the arc strike and make sure its burning before i start the weld, try holding a longer arc just when you strike it, i love 3/32 6011, its small enough to fit any where and dig into the root, you are better off running a smaller rod hot than a larger rod cold, i use mine for sheet metal down to 16 ga, i have 2 other far superior stick welders, for the small un emportant stuff i use the buzz box, i find that it keeps me in good welding shape, ditch the ac, go to dc, much better, to actually answer your post, YES, they seem to start hard until you get the knack on how it operates, keep playing with it and when the time comes when you get on a larger welder, you will be surprised how your work will turn out.. kevin


          • #6
            6011 works great on straight polarity, that way you dont dig as much. This should help with the burn thru and easier start.


            • #7
              Use 6013 electrode negative. I think this is the best you can do for thin material with a stick welder.
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