Lincoln 180C MIG Welder

Discussion in 'Metal Boat Building' started by cahudson42, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. cahudson42
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    cahudson42 Junior Member

    Anyone have any user experience and comments on this machine?

    In particular, with .08 aluminum?

    Or would I be kidding myself to try?

    Thanks for your thoughts and opinions!
    Chris
     
  2. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Typical sale listing on this machine at http://www.weldingmart.com/Qstore/p003439.htm and official specs sheet at http://content.lincolnelectric.com/pdfs/products/literature/e724.pdf
    I've never used one.
    From its specs it looks like a fairly portable, light duty unit. Max duty cycle is 30% at 130 A, nowhere near an industrial rating but probably more than sufficient for a home shop. Lincoln's data sheets claim it's suitable for aluminum from 22 gauge to 3/16" with their SuperGlaze 4043 0.035" wire.
    .08 Al, I've been told, is not exactly a piece of cake to weld.... what're you planning on building / how much welding training do you have?
     
  3. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    I'm surprised a MIG would be considered for aluminum, as the difference between MIG and TIG welds is so great. The MIG is super fast, yes, so canvas shops use MIGs to weld up awning frames. But MIGs do not make for pretty welds, especially on aluminum.

    A.
     
  4. cahudson42
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    cahudson42 Junior Member

    Thanks Matt and Alan.

    I probably should back up a bit.. I'm looking for a "reasonably priced' machine that I can learn on. If it were a Woodworking power tool - it would be Bosch - not a Festool, but not a Black & Decker either. A good tool for the job - not the ultimate, but not so poor its nothing but frustration to use.

    I'd like - ultimately - be be able to weld .125 Al for something like a 14' - 16' skiff. If I'm able to gain enough skill - .08 if possible.

    I'm a 'newbie' - and I had read that MIG would be OK for the job, and much easier to learn to get an 'acceptable' weld than trying to use TIG right off.

    I'd read Kevin Morin's opinion that Lincoln was good for MIG, Miller for TIG. So I went looking for what I thought might be a reasonable MIG 'starter set' - the Lincoln 180C - likely with the optional 100SG spool gun. Electronics have changed so much the last few years, I thought I'd ask

    I thought if I could - with practice - match the welds I see on my .08 material cheap Jon Boat - I would be OK to begin a project.

    I do not know if if the Jon was MIG or TIG welded just by looking at it - perhaps Alan can tell?

    Here are a couple photos of the Jon boat welds:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All suggestions, comments, etc. greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your help.

    Chris
     
  5. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    It looks like MIG, Chris. A TIG would look like a row of over-lapping discs. As seen on many bicycles. MIG is easy to learn, and it's indispensible for welding steel and stainless steel quickly---- and while TIG looks better on steels, it doesn't look THAT much better. It's aluminum that just doesn't look too nice MIG welded. Only MIG that's machine-welded looks neat on aluminum, though I'm sure a few pros could make halfway decent welds.
    However, you or I will never spend enough time welding (hopefully!) to ever MIG weld aluminum neatly.
    Yet, if you are satisfied with the kind of welds shown in the photo, by all means, buy a MIG. It's definately the most useful all-around welder.
    I've owned two Lincoln "mini" MIGs and one Miller. I now own a Lincoln 135T, 120 volt, and I love it. For what you're welding, the 135T is adaquate, and it can be had for $450.00 or even cheaper. Just don't buy a Liclon made for sale by Sears or Home Depot--- they aren't the same animal.

    Alan
     
  6. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    For allu welding TIG is the only option to do it properly. MIG is good for general iron welding ie trailers and so on but fine work like allu sheet (specialized metals Allu / SS) you shouldn't even consider a MIG. Allu welding is an art... you just do not sit and weld allu and it all comes together. I have both machines... you need an AC TIG welder for Allu as well, else the allu crust hardens (with DC), refuse to weld and cracks easy.

    Find a pro welder in your area, they will give you the right answers.
     
  7. cahudson42
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    cahudson42 Junior Member

    Thanks Alan,

    May I ask if there is a strength/fatigue difference between MIG and TIG in something like the Jon boat 08 application? - not just the looks? (Newbie again - sorry!)

    And thanks for the Lincoln 135T info!

    Chris
     
  8. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    If you google for a welding course, there are a few nice ones online that describes each process's usage and app's.
     
  9. cahudson42
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    cahudson42 Junior Member

    Hi Fanie,

    Sorry I just missed seeing your post(s) before .. Thank you very much for your suggestions.

    Is there a reasonable TIG system - 'starter system' that you would suggest for .125 AL?

    And/or an on-line welding course you could recommend that is not stick-steel but focussed on TIG and AL?

    Thanks!
    Chris
     
  10. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    There are a couple of manuf for similar machines than the one I have (Modweld 200ACDC) , some are available all over the world. If you google for them you should find some. Miller is in the US... www.millerwelds.com... they have some articles as well. Do a search for TIG Handbook

    I must warn you though, allu welding is a pest... I cannot dare to show you what my first few attempts looked like :D for fear of getting kicked off this forum. I fortunately know a pro welder (welds unbelievable) who gives me advice here and there.
     
  11. Guest625101138

    Guest625101138 Previous Member

    Chris
    I am in a very similar position to you only I have done the courses recently. The MIG welder is nice to use compared with a stick for mild steel. It is ideal for high duty cycle welding but probably not so good for low duty home welders as you need to stop anyhow. At least with a stick wedler inserting a new rod gives the welder time to recover.

    TIG takes real skill and more knowledge but is the only method that my tech course recommended for light guage aluminium. The welders are considerably more complex because of the polarities and waveforms to get best results. A low duty cycle TIG welder for home use, with most of the goodies, is about 5X the price of a basic MIG welder based on the figures given by my instructor. (I have not priced them yet)

    I could not imagine anyone new to welding using TIG without a light sensitive mask. This has been one of my most appreciated "tools" - hands are not as steady as they used to be. You can get ones with variable shading and these are recommended. With TIG both hands are fully involved in the process.

    The welding on the boat in the photo looks like TIG to me. You can see the ovelapping weld metal pools. It is not real good but even to do this standard on thin sheet will take some knowledge and skill.

    So I am with Fanie in recommending the TIG. After a few hours practice I can do a horizontal weld as good as some of the so-called professional welds I have seen. I am still a long way off being able to weld up aluminium drink cans - which my young nephew can do.

    Aluminium is wonderful material to work with and I want to get more proficient with it. It has not skyrocketed as much in price yet as other construction materials but as China becomes more advanced you could expect to see big price rises.

    Rick W.
     
  12. dick stave
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    dick stave Senior Member

    This welder would be considered a home hobbyist machine. The gun it comes with is a push unit which can drive aluminum wire as long as you keep the whip short (10 ft.) Generally a 1 lb.spool gun is used ( Lincoln's economy gun is called a "Prince spool gun". The problem with pushing aluminum wire is its tendency to birds-nest in the drive rolls. Thus you are limited to larger diameters .047" being considered as small as you can go (you might get away with .035"). Thin gauge .080" aluminum would generally be welded with .030" or even .023" wire and pulsed Mig process ( lower average amperage ) to control distortion. Tig could also be employed although it is a common misconception that aluminum boats are Tig welded ( the travel speeds are simply too slow and heat input ( read distortion) too great to be practical.
     
  13. kmorin
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    kmorin Senior Member

    Lincoln 180 for Aluminum Wire

    cahudson42,
    The Lincoln 180 is intended for hard steel wire and not aluminum welding. As dick_stave notes, push only guns like the 180 are not going to be very useful for MIG aluminum.

    The push only motor might allow 0.045" Al 5356 wire to feed, but even if it would feed, the wire would surge and slow making a decent bead on 0.187" plate very frustrating. It would be best to consider that 'it can't be done' with that model rather than to tie your money up and not have consistent results.

    The pistol grip style or '1 lb.' gun types have the drive rolls a few inches from the small wire roll in the handle case and the contact tip is at the end of the gun. So the wire only travels a few inches off the roll into the weld instead of through a conduit where it can flex.

    To solve this with aluminum wire there are push/pull systems that more or less combine the cabinet push motor and roll storage with the pistol grip or motorized feeder gun. This combination allows the gun motor to take the feed surges out of the problem so the wire feed is smooth enough to weld uniformly.

    The cost of the push pull systems are twice the push only or 1lb systems because they have twice the motors and controls.

    If you want to start out go with a 1lb gun and a 250 amp machine like the Magnum 250 gun on a power MIG 255 or something in this line. I realize I'm "spending your money" freely but this is the minimum. If you go to the 215 then you'll need to stay away from 1/4" material or preheat it to get decent one pass fusion.

    The seam in your formed sheet hull was done with a very "cold" TIG bead. The very low heat setting relative to puddle cross section, resulted in the huge out-of-scale bead but it allowed the weld to be done with a controlled 'droop' or penetration in a single pass from one side. [ I didn't see the inside to know if there was back-weld but would guess there wasn't a need for one.] This technique trades the speed of the weld for the single pass labor investment and attains controlled full fusion at the cost of appearance.

    0.080" 5052 can be welded with conventional MI -non pulsed or pulse-on-pulse in the 0.035" and 0.045" wire sizes by a method called globular transfer. This method is touchy, tedious and tentative and takes lots of practice to make acceptable welds. Most manufactures prefer to say that this combination can't be welded- it can but it takes lots of practice. This means that a Lincoln 180 push only would be completely frustrating for that thickness as the wire feed speed must be very steady to weld 0.080" with the sizes listed.

    Pulsed MIG makes the DC weld current into an AC-like wave where the power goes up and down in the weld. What happens is the fast cooling aluminum has a chance to cool and 'freeze' before getting hot enough to fuse in the next part of a second. So these machines, again as dick_stave explained, end up with a 'cooler' weld than standard MIG as they spend half the time with a lower arc wattage. The more pulse and welding current wave forms your machine can provide- the more it costs.

    I don't think you'd be kidding yourself to weld 0.080"; but don't spend much time trying with that particular model.

    Cheers,
    kmorin
     
  14. cahudson42
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    cahudson42 Junior Member

    Great info everyone - I think I've learned a lot!

    Just so maybe I can start to understand more on TIG - Kevin, would you think that for the cheap Jon boat welds - they are TIG with a filler rod used? (giant bead, low A process you mentioned). Can you get a bead like that with 08 without filler? And you are correct - there is no additional weld behind it inside the boat.

    Based on all the comments so far, and given that my use will be .125 AL mostly and perhaps a little 3/16 - I'm starting to look at something like the Miller Syncrowave 200 package.

    Perhaps the square wave stuff is a marketing gimmick, but it says it has pluse. But it does not have variable frequency.

    For what I plan to do, would variable frequency make it substantially more attractive? Quality? Or more precisely, ease of use/getting quality? Or is that more a benefit for heavier stuff?

    Thanks again everyone for your great help.
    Chris

    Rick - thanks for the tip on the variable mask! Another thing learned.
     

  15. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    You can get a download user guide on modweld.co.za 's web site. The higher the freq the more penetration and narrower weld you get. Adjustable freq is a must is my opinion.

    The square wave is not just a square wave... that is changing the DC's polarity to prevent the allu to become glass hard on the surface. You must also be able to adjust the duty cycle. One polarity does cleaning while the other polarity does the welding, so you can adjust the amount of cleaning as well.

    If I can give advice, buy a decent machine. If you start compromising you limit yourself a lot. I went out on a limb buying mine for more than what I could afford at the time, but I'm really glad I got this one and not a smaller one at a cheaper price. It's becomming more and more worth my while ;)

    You have to use a filler material for allu.
     
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