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  • New here, plenty of questions...

    Hello All...

    Interesting forum, seems to be a wide variety of experience here.

    First off, I want (need!) to weld, never have before.

    I am a long time bicycle mechanic, and a drummer. I want to produce some custom drum hardware systems, percussion items, etc - and eventually weld bicycle frames and repair stands, shop gear, furniture, etc.

    I have looked into the local community college, they have an AWS certification program, and have classe for every welding method, but the Spring 2004 semester filled up the morning of the first day of enrollment.

    Everyone I talk to says to wait till I can take classes, (6 months from now) then later purchase some equipment. Some are saying I will be way too frustrated trying to learn myself, but I think I do really well with self taught skills.

    Which leads to the first question, how many weldors here are primarily self taught? Is it possible to safely gain some profiency with no formal training? The local classes are VERY popular, and difficult to get into any if not all of them.

    I live in a converted shop/warehouse, so I have the space and the power for a single phase welder up to about 80 amps 230v primary. I have experience with electrical matters, I did quite a bit of generator and power distro work as a stage hand, so I already have a healthy respect and understanding of electrical power.

    Any/all suggestions on a good starting point and possible equipment choices would be greatly appreciated.

    So far, a small O/A torch setup and possibly a Maxstar 150 STL seem like a good starting point. Aluminum is something I'd eventually want to weld, but not at first. Mostly mild and maybe 4130 steel for starters.

    Sorry if this was long winded -

    Thank in advance!

  • #2
    Mig and/or tig is what you need for bicycle and furniture work. I doubt many professional welders are self-taught; most come up through the ranks in either a tech school or union training program. I am not a pro-am self-taught and there is a lot you don't learn when you have an uneducated teacher. I would recommend junior college or vo-tech school for training. You may well start out with O/A-this is good as it lets you really see the weld puddle and is good training for tig. You will probably also learn stick, which never hurt anybody. The 150 is an excellent little welder but it will max out on thinner material. Based on what you plan to build it will do the job, but a Synchrowave 180 will give you much more reserve. Good luck whichever way you go.

    Comment


    • #3
      roeder,

      I'm sure it's dissappointing to delay your formal training by six months! I have been welding a number of years with only a couple hours of "formal" training by a professional weldor. He taught me the basics of rod angle, heat, travel, position, etc. From there I practiced stick welding until I could certify on plate and pipe with 6010 and 7018. As for mig and tig I've had no formal training. Other than those 2 or 3 hours on the beginning I am self taught, but that has not hindered me in passing cert tests or making a living.

      Self taught is probably a rougher "row to hoe", but may make you a better weldor in the long run. If you have plans for Aluminum in the future and are serious about learning for the purposes you stated, then I believe the Dynasty 200 DX is the machine to have. The Maxstar is strictly a DC machine and limits you to chromemoly, mild steel, and stainless. Don't make the mistake of going "half way there" and having to loose money later trading up. Also a small plasma cutter like the 625 sounds like it would meet your needs well. The O/A will only cut steel. The plasma will cut anything electrically conductive.

      As for the Maxstar I have a Maxstar 200DX with all the pulse functions for sale. Why? Because I should have waited and bought the Dynasty. I am not advocating you purchase my Maxstar 200DX-even though it is a good deal- I just want you to know to get what you'll need down the road today if possible.

      My suggestion: If you can afford it: Buy a Dynasty 200DX tig/stick machine and a Spectrum 625 plasma cutter. I have experience with both of these machines and you won't be sorry. Miller has some great educational resources like VHS tapes and CD's, books, etc on their website millerwelds.com

      Both of the above mentioned machines are highly portable and don't take a lot of space or pull a lot of amps on single phase. You definitely have the power capacity to easily handle both machines.
      The Dynasty will need the contractors accessory kit including cables with electrode holder and ground clamp, air cooled tig torch, current control-either foot or hand control depending on the part number and your preference-I started with the foot control and have since purchases a rotary hand control-like it better, fittings, etc.
      GET THE 200DX MODEL WITH ALL THE OPTIONS-IT'S ONLY $200 MORE THAN THE PLAIN JANE DYNASTY SD MODEL.

      Well, what do you think? The Dynasty 200DX is approximately $2300, the 625 plasma approximately $1500, and the contractor's kit approximately $500.

      Good Luck

      Comment


      • #4
        self-taught

        Don't wait for the classes, unless you still have no idea what kind of machines will serve you best. YES, you will benefit greatly from the classes, but you will do so even more after you make all the mistakes they will talk about. You will improve some on your own, but especially after you see textbook WHY some of your first welds were crap. But, DO take the classes. Then again, I never took a class in my life, except for my engineering major, but my dad was one of the best weldors in the state, so I guess that counts as a good long class.

        Comment


        • #5
          By all means go on and start welding. The classes will help you with the questions you have after some trial and error. A good welding textbook will help with basics and just ruin a little scrap wth trial and error. The hardest thing is knowing what equipment you want withour trying some out. I took 3 years of vo-ag in high school doing stick and never used a good welder. In college I took one welding course with Miller welders. Miller was all I wanted after that. Like music, it is easier for a beginner to learn welding on good equipment.

          Comment


          • #6
            I am a welding instructor at The Hobart Intitute of Welding Technology. We are located in Troy Ohio. We offer full programs as well as individual courses. Sounds like the GTAW-Basic and the GMAW-Basic would be a good start for you. These are both two week classes.You can check out our web site at www.welding.org. These classes are designed for those who have never welded before and start with the very basics. Classes start evry two to three weeks so scheduling one should not be an issue. Hope this helps you out a little and good luck.

            Comment


            • #7
              Cope

              I see you are in Houston as I am. Years ago I took a basic welding course at one of the tech centers that one of the school districts provided. Do you know of any type of course like that now being offered in the Houston area?

              Thanks
              John

              Comment


              • #8
                I learned to weld in the navy .We had about 3 weeks of arc welding and then it was learn by trial and error. Had a 2week course of mig and tig and didn't use it until I got into the real world. Have been mig and tig welding alum. in a pontoon boat shop since 1996 and love it .It almost becomes 2nd nature .But to learn the basics,try a vo tec school and I'm sure you could start on your own.
                Good Luck

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Cope

                  Originally posted by johns6
                  I see you are in Houston as I am. Years ago I took a basic welding course at one of the tech centers that one of the school districts provided. Do you know of any type of course like that now being offered in the Houston area?

                  Thanks
                  John
                  John, I don't think HCC offers welding, but I might be wrong. As far as I know welding classes are still available at San Jac. USed to be a full time welding school, I think it was called Piping Industry Welding or something like that. I believe I mentioned it on another board and someone told me they were still around.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi
                    in another post MOWJUNK suggested buying the Miller student pack.. my guess is that would help you a lot... I have been welding for many years.. and the field is moving very fast... just ordered the pack for myself.. the reference books and calculators will save me time and aggravation much more than the $25 cost... we are all learning something new every day (some of us are forgetting stuff every day).. hope this helps
                    good luck in your quest
                    this is a good field to be in
                    thanks
                    Heiti
                    .

                    *******************************************
                    The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

                    “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

                    Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

                    My Blue Stuff:
                    Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
                    Dynasty 200DX
                    Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
                    Millermatic 200

                    TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      you had mentioned that you "eventually" wanted to weld aluminum... please understand that aluminum is not that tough to weld... it is just VERY different from the ferrous metals... AL must be cleaned immediatly..mechanically just before you weld... it is a great conductor of heat.. thus .. it requires more amps to make it puddle... and the gotcha is... that since it is such a good conductor of heat... when the weld area is puddling.. especially on thinner materials.. the surrounding area is also there... or about to collapse... so the welder fella must be nimble and he must be quick...
                      just play with it... and practice... practice...practice...
                      plus some tech references to keep ya near the mark would not hurt..
                      Heiti
                      .

                      *******************************************
                      The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

                      “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

                      Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

                      My Blue Stuff:
                      Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
                      Dynasty 200DX
                      Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
                      Millermatic 200

                      TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Heiti
                        Regarding the student pack, you get the GMAW book and the GTAW book plus others. But if you bought just those two individually, they would run you $25 apiece. Better to get the Student pack!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by H80N
                          you had mentioned that you "eventually" wanted to weld aluminum... please understand that aluminum is not that tough to weld... it is just VERY different from the ferrous metals...

                          ... so the welder fella must be nimble and he must be quick...
                          just play with it... and practice... practice...practice...
                          plus some tech references to keep ya near the mark would not hurt..
                          Heiti
                          Thanks, so I have read.

                          The aplications I mentioned above, drum hardware, etc are almost all exlusively steel - but who knows, maybe I can change all that.

                          Cheers.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Mowjunk
                            ordered it several days ago(student pack)... am not ashamed to admit that i might need to look something up... have been welding for a long time..heck... any of us ... beginner or oldtimer can use a reference... there is no shame in having a book to look at... better that than a weld that is unsound or just unsavory looking.. that will look you in the eye till the end of time...
                            recent research has told me that the field has evolved ...
                            I agonized about going mobile... my lady insisted that i buy new...
                            i balked... well she was right... i do all metals.. primarily tig by experience.. and mig then stick... the only machine that i could find that would do all of that was the Trailblazer 301g... got it and a 30A spoolgun... and rccs-14 tig controller... hooked to a new 200amp tig torch... TOO TOO COOL... this machine does more than what 5 machines in in my shop can do............... and... when the power goes out..
                            well i can plug my house into it..10kw....
                            was not cheap... but this machine will do... any process that i can do in xray quality...rather than some of the others... that can be adapted..."for noncritical applications".... worlds above the bobcat or some of the also rans... they are good for what they are designed for... but the Trailblazer was worth the extra money for what i do.. was skeptical... but the darned thing does do all of the stuff that it promises in the literature... SCARY...(have lots of high buck stuff in the shop.. each designed and optimized.. this thing is as good or better}
                            thanks
                            Heiti
                            .

                            *******************************************
                            The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

                            “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

                            Buy the best tools you can afford.. Learn to use them to the best of your ability.. and take care of them...

                            My Blue Stuff:
                            Dynasty 350DX Tigrunner
                            Dynasty 200DX
                            Millermatic 350P w/25ft Alumapro & 30A
                            Millermatic 200

                            TONS of Non-Blue Equip, plus CNC Mill, Lathes & a Plasmacam w/ PowerMax-1000

                            Comment

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