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  • Exhaust Pipe Stick Welding

    I've seen quite a few discussions that exhaust pipe and other thin gauge metal work is best left to a MIG welder. Most, if not all of the muffler shops have MIG welders. This is not just a post about my recent success with the stick welder, I want to go a little deeper into the usage and abilities of both types of processes.

    I learned how to weld in high school shop class, brazing and stick. Out on the construction site, it was always stick because there was steel pipe on these jobs and that is the welder that was used for it. I never got certified but it wouldn't be a problem, most of the work I did was temporary or tack up for the certified welders but I laid a lot of bead in my time. So, of course, the first welder I bought for home use was a Lincoln Marquette Auto Pro 140 MIG welder, something I had no experience with. It worked fine, I built an air compressor, fixed a chain link fence and did a few other projects with it. But it just seemed like a hassle having to deal with wire feed, always having to cut the wire to a 1/4", changing it out for different sizes, having it bouncing against the work. I would just jam the gun head into the joint and hope for the best.

    So then I saw a Craftsman/ Century Infinite Amp Adjustable 230/140 AC/DC stick welder on Craigslist for $150. I brought it home, cleaned it out, welded with it and sold the Lincoln for $400. Shortly after that, I spotted a Miller Thunderbolt XL 225/150, almost brand new, the newest model, for $300. I offered him $270, he accepted, I brought it home and sold the Craftsman for $250.

    Which leads into the exhaust pipe welding. I have dual exhausts and the tailpipes were corroded at the muffler outlet. From the muffler to the engine it is all Flowmaster, solid as a rock. From the muffler to the tips, crush bent stock tubing of who knows what quality that the installer must have used to save money. I figured no problem, I'll just cut out the bad sections of pipe and weld in new. The rest of it would be wire brushed with a grinder and painted to get a few more years out of it (muffler shop recently quoted $700 for a replacement.) What I wasn't ready for was all of the holes that had completely rusted through, on the backside of the first bend, that was hidden from view while on the truck. No big deal, I had some 18 gauge sheet and formed a piece to cover the worst area. I used Lincoln Fleetweld 3/32" 6013 and set the machine at the lowest amps that Lincoln recommends, which was 70 DCEP. That was no good at all, blew a big hole in the old pipe in the first inch of weld, eventually settled in at 55 amps, I kept the rod angled so that the heat of the arc was focused on the new 18 gauge, using a quick whip to flow the deposited metal onto the old pipe. Weld an inch, stop and let the red glo get out of the bead, weld another inch.

    Here is where the truly surprising part comes in, after covering the bad rusted out area with the sheet, I still had a half a dozen or so dime size or smaller isolated holes. Understand, my previous experiences have been with 1/4" wall pipe or 1/2" and bigger plate, 7018 all day. I said what the heck, let's see if we can fill them in. I turned the Thunderbolt down to 45 amps and using a spot or tack welding technique, I would hit the edge of the hole with just a touch, let it cool, no more red glo, hit it again, on the edge of the previous weld deposit. If the metal of the old pipe was no good, it would just blow out, making the hole larger. If the metal was good, I had a base to start working across the hole. You have to have the patience of a sphynx, if the new deposit was even the slightest bit red, it would blow out. When I got to the other side of the hole, same thing, bad metal would blow through, good metal you could see it temper from the heat. Then you fill it all the way in. Did I mention this was done with a stick welder?

    Here is my Miller plug, this Thunderbolt is the finest, sweetest thing I've ever had the chance to work with. It would start the 6013 like it was a lift start TIG torch. I could have never did this with a MIG welder, I would have went insane. With the Miller, just get close to the work and there is your arc.

    Butt Joint Weld exhaust pipe with a stick welder. My first joint was a slip, the old pipe inside of the new. Real easy drag weld, exaggerated rod angle leaned way out so that you aren't directing the heat from the arc straight into the old pipe but digging at it along it's "top." Weld an inch, let it cool, weld another inch. My second joint was a butt weld, totally unprepared for, I had planned on sliding it into the old pipe and doing another fillet weld but the outlet from the muffler was double walled pipe. Bad news, this is being done under the truck, the gas tank is in the way from accessing the other side of the weld, there are two exhaust supports right in the way. Oh well, what can you do but deal with it? Fitted the joint up as best I could, tight all the way around except for an 1/8" gap on the closest side and a 3/16" gap on the bottom. I turned the T-Bolt up to 55 amps and went back to the spot/tack weld technique to fill the gaps, couldn't hardly see what I was doing because of the obstructions and lack of sunlight. Overhead welding a 3/16" gap in thin wall exhaust pipe with a stick welder. Laying on my back, holding the shield straight with my other hand. My head and the shield wedged in between the driveshaft and the gas tank. The touch start arc of the Thunderbolt made it all possible.

    In conclusion, I can't see why anybody would want a MIG welder. Don't get me wrong, the 110V plug in is way more convenient and the ability to weld continuously without having to change out rods is nice but I can switch to aluminum, cast or stainless welding of various thicknesses by just pushing the clamp on the stinger and inserting the proper rod. And now that I know thin gauge sheet metal is not only possible but very easy, I'll never look back.




  • #2
    Me no speaky stick..............

    The vast majority of exhaust tube that I weld is stainless steel............... and it sees a TIG machine...........
    .

    *******************************************
    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


    • #3
      What I did today, I could barely get one hand in, how would you ever get two in there and watch the puddle at the same time? Are you welding on a bench?

      Comment


      • #4
        Hey you learned something and are good at it. Most people aren't. I sell those tiny stick rods in 7014 and 7018 and thought they are cute and I have a stick welder also. But I will stick with the mig. Ops can't stick with a mig But they have a purpose...Bob
        Bob Wright

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Andyman1 View Post
          What I did today, I could barely get one hand in, how would you ever get two in there and watch the puddle at the same time? Are you welding on a bench?
          laid out... fitted and tacked on the car..............then removed and finish weld on the bench..... one off stuff typically.....

          and it has to be real purdy....
          .

          *******************************************
          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


          • #6
            This job, the pipes are bent up to go over the axle, come back down and then curve to the left to exit the rear bumper equidistance to the right pipe. I would have had to drop the drive shaft and rear axle to remove all the pieces that were fitted together and I would have never had time to write the original post that started this thread. I'd still be at it, probably with a light stand up under the truck (-:. That **** Thunderbolt paid it's way today, I'm thoroughly impressed with it.

            Comment


            • #7
              H80N...do you worry about back purge when you tig stainless exhaust pipe? I've done both, but was wonder what your thoughts are. <br />
              <br />
              Welding something on the vehicle isn't the best practice. I know, it's done all the time, but you run the risk of arching through a bearing or who knows what. And with the fancy schmancy confusers in cars these days, who knows. If you can take it off, you probably should. I've done it both ways myself though. <br />
              <br />
              That's pretty cool you got it all done up with a stick welder...all old school and stuff.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ryanjones2150 View Post
                H80N...do you worry about back purge when you tig stainless exhaust pipe? I've done both, but was wonder what your thoughts are. <br />
                <br />
                .
                I should.... BUT usually don't

                been meaning to try a nitrogen backpurge..... have heard a lot of folk are happy with it for stainless...

                reduces the sugaring.... and the gas is cheap
                Last edited by H80N; 08-30-2016, 09:29 PM.
                .

                *******************************************
                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


                • #9
                  How much cheaper is it really?
                  HTP Invertig221 D.V. Water-cooled
                  HTP Pro Pulse 300 MIG
                  HTP Pro Pulse 200 MIG x2
                  HTP Pro Pulse 220 MTS
                  HTP Inverarc 200 TLP water cooled
                  HTP Microcut 875SC

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by OscarJr View Post
                    How much cheaper is it really?
                    125 cu ft argon $26.50
                    125 cu ft Nitrogen $16.20 In my store...Bob
                    Bob Wright

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hey Andyman you have learned something great that work for you and you are good at where most people aren't.


                      JK Welding

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Welding something on the vehicle isn't the best practice. I know, it's done all the time, but you run the risk of arching through a bearing or who knows what. And with the fancy schmancy confusers in cars these days, who knows. If you can take it off, you probably should. I've done it both ways myself though.

                        I disconnected the negative battery cable, and with the vehicle being on rubber tires/ jack stands resting on concrete, there is no path to ground through the electronics. Clamp the exhaust pipe with vice grips, inches away from the weld area, and attach the ground clamp to the vice grips. I didn't sweat it at all.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Andyman1 View Post
                          Here is my Miller plug, this Thunderbolt is the finest, sweetest thing I've ever had the chance to work with. It would start the 6013 like it was a lift start TIG torch. I could have never did this with a MIG welder, I would have went insane. With the Miller, just get close to the work and there is your arc.
                          . . .
                          In conclusion, I can't see why anybody would want a MIG welder. Don't get me wrong, the 110V plug in is way more convenient and the ability to weld continuously without having to change out rods is nice but I can switch to aluminum, cast or stainless welding of various thicknesses by just pushing the clamp on the stinger and inserting the proper rod. And now that I know thin gauge sheet metal is not only possible but very easy, I'll never look back.
                          Andyman1: My MIG welder is a 220 350P and I friggin' love it. Although I am just a hobby welder and still trying to get good at setting it up right for the material thickness, for the particular joint, and actually using it. But I am getting better the more I use it.

                          Anyway it "broke" a while ago (dried out dielectric grease in a computer connection which I found, clean and fixed with the direction from the Miller technicians who responded to my email off this website -- major kudos/thanks) , so I pulled out my Miller Thunderbolt XL AC/DC which I bought for a good price on craigslist. It was manufactured in July 2000 and is "Style: LA27."

                          I practiced with 1/8" and 3/32" rods in 6010 and 7018. And then did some work with the 7018 because the 6010 is just to hard for me to start consistently and half the time I am so surprised that I got the arc started that I immediately got the stick stuck on the weld!

                          But here's the deal: I am really intrigued by stick welding. I welded some inside angle joints with the stick which I never could have gotten to with the mig gun. I don't have a "shop" big enough to always weld indoors. I can weld outdoors with stick.

                          I just spent $41 for a medium size tank of 75/25 gas for my 350P. I don't need gas for the Thunderbolt.

                          It takes different gas and either a $1200 spool gun and different wire rollers or a $1600 push/pull gun and different wire rollers to weld with my 350P.

                          I really want to learn to weld aluminum. I can start with 1/4" bar stock. Can you really weld aluminum with stick? If so, please describe. If you can, I want to start practicing.

                          On steel, I found that I couldn't even start 6010 stick unless I bumped up the amps higher than recommended. You say you can start 6010 just by holding it close to the work. I wonder if it is different machine since yours is newer or if it is just your more experienced/better technique?

                          I don't know if there are subforums for different processes here, but if there is one for stick I want to subscribe to it. Regardless, I would appreciate it if you would add to this thread when you start welding aluminum and stainless.

                          I want to get better with the Thunderbolt XL AC/DC.
                          Last edited by E350; 08-31-2016, 09:37 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by E350 View Post

                            I would appreciate it if you would add to this thread when you start welding aluminum and stainless.

                            I want to get better with the Thunderbolt XL AC/DC.
                            Years ago i stick welded aluminum. It can be done but my Miller 185 and Spool gun is so much better. I loved stick welding SS back in the day as it was almost a daily job for 8 years. And here is a tip don't talk while waiting for the slag to cool because it pops when its ready not from chipping it when i am ready. I sell SS electrodes but the Gas Shielded Mig wires outsell it 5-1 mostly because all you need is Co2 and not costly hard to get Tri Mix. PS i sell the aluminum electrodes also if anyone wants to practice. 6010, 6011, 6013 were non exastant in most shops i worked in over the last 38 years as it was all 7018 or SS or cast iron electrodes or Migs with many flavors of wires...Bob
                            Bob Wright

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              aametalmaster: What aluminum rod would you suggest I practice with on the Thunderbolt XL AC/DC?

                              And for stainless when you say Gas Shielded Mig wires you mean solid wire with a gas tank to shield or a flux cored wire without gas for shielding for SS?

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