Stick vs Wire for Welding Hull Plates?

Discussion in 'Metal Boat Building' started by stonedpirate, Apr 11, 2015.

  1. stonedpirate
    Joined: Nov 2009
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    stonedpirate Senior Member

    Hi all

    Sorry if this has been asked a million times.

    I want to buy a welder and start practicing asap but not sure whether to buy a stick or mig welder.

    The ultimate goal is to be able to weld 3mm steel plates for a hull.

    Thanks for any advice or opinions.
     
  2. TeddyDiver
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    For 3mm a MIG welder.. Thou you need only one cable to convert MIG welder for electrodes..
    ps. Be sure to get enough amperage, at least up to 140A. And stay away from cheap Chinese ****..
     
  3. CDK
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    CDK retired engineer

    MIG is the better option, but only if you're willing to invest money in a serious welder. The critical part is the wire transport mechanism. Cheap Chinese ones lack the proper materials for reliably feeding the wire through the nozzle and you'll spend more time cleaning the pistol than actually welding.
     
  4. Keelboater
    Joined: Apr 2015
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    Keelboater Junior Member

    Yes, go with a nice MIG welder. Do not buy junk. If you plan to do any aluminum the MIG will handle it as well if you have the right machine. Stick welding is slow and takes more skill to master. Plus you have to chip slag all the time and the rod must be stored in a very dry environment. MIG is much easier once you get the machine dialed in. The only way to get a nice looking bead is to practice, practice, practice! Good luck.
     
  5. pdwiley
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    Buy a MIG. I have MIG, TIG and stick. All have their place but for general welding of mild steel, MIG is fastest and cleanest.

    As others have said, buy a *good* MIG. I bought mine off of Magnum Welders on eBay - a 250A at 60% duty cycle unit with a good Binzel 24 copy Euro pattern gun. I've put over 20 15kg spools through that unit and all I've done is replace consumable items like tips, shield nozzles and one liner. The welder cost me $1200 or so with the gasless wire kit, which I almost never use due to the smoke. I can also use this welder as a quite nice DC stick welder and have done on occasion.

    Be aware that gas bottle rental is running about $20/week and you need an enclosed area to weld in - no wind.

    If you think you can get a decent welder suitable for building a boat for $500 or so - you'll be disappointed, I guarantee.

    PDW
     
  6. stonedpirate
    Joined: Nov 2009
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    stonedpirate Senior Member

    Thanks guys

    Looks like mig is the one:)

    Cheers
     
  7. yofish

    yofish Previous Member

    You seem to want to do things on the cheap. One can get an excellent used stick machine for peanuts. It is worth paying the price for quality electrodes like Esaab, however. A caveat is for Lincoln 5P.

    Here's a Miller DialArc. I'll bet more steel boats have been built in Alabama with this machine than any other. Until I gave it away, I had one for 35 years. If you pay over 500 bucks you've been screwed.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Miller-Dial...033?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item41941f7601
     
  8. whitepointer23

    whitepointer23 Previous Member

    As much as I think migs are for girls I have to admit they are clean and fast. I grew up with stick welders so thats my preference for most work. The newer inverter type stick welders are excellent. But to weld up a hull a mig is way ahead.
     
  9. pdwiley
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    I like stick welders too, I use E4111 rods for all my structural work. But - welding 3mm plate with long runs is asking for something looking like a potato crisp if you use a stick welder, even with 1.5mm electrodes. Dead slow, too. I've done it, then I bought a MIG. Anything under 6mm plate gets welded on the MIG, over 10mm it's usually stick with 50% iron powder electrodes.

    Then there's tacking up out of position which is dead simple with a MIG and a right PITA with a stick. Lots of out of position work on a boat hull.....

    However you need to get a decent MIG and the OP is trying to cheap out in lots of ways, so he probably won't, then will curse the toy machine. The little shoe box sized inverter DC stick/TIG rigs are dirt cheap and work really well. I have 2 of them these days.

    PDW
     
  10. AndySGray
    Joined: Jun 2014
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    AndySGray Senior Member

    Maybe worth considering a basic stick unit and then using a wire feeder.
    The old 'built like a battleship' units are cheap as chips (mainly 'cos they weigh as much as a small SUV) - but they will power a remote wire feed mig unit nicely.

    mig torches tend to be fairly short - lots of distance puts strain on the feed rollers, some of the longer torches require push-pull with a second motor in the torch to compensate for the distance the wire is being fed.

    A wire feed unit with a 6' torch and a couple of 25' power/earth cables will get you massive flexibility compared to a basic all in one mig.

    It's also possible to run the wire feeder from a diesel welder unit.

    [​IMG]

    Add a brute of a stick unit and you're sorted for under a grand - plus you can push 150 to 200A all day long - a basic mig will surrender after half an hour of that sort of 'abuse'

    You can also go with the 'spool on gun' units - great for welding ally but only hold a pound of wire - the wire feed units hold the 25 to 40 pound spools which on a pound for pound cost are well under half the price of the 'hobby' spools.
     
  11. AndySGray
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    AndySGray Senior Member

    You can also run CO2 as the welding gas - in the UK it is also known as 'beergas' and is a fraction of the cost of Argon, especially if you're on good terms with the local pub landlord ;)

    More spatter but less cost and certainly way ahead of the gasless flux core - you don't mind pumping up the flow rate when welding outside.
     
  12. stonedpirate
    Joined: Nov 2009
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    stonedpirate Senior Member

    Thanks all

    I actually did further research after this post and decided to go with a 3 in 1 arc/tig/plasma cutter inverter off ebay for $450

    Seems to have good reviews and no complaints on the metalwork forums.

    If it turns out to be a useless toy, it will do as a practice unit and for basic home maintenance and will upgrade if needed.

    Will weld up some saw horses and a table after some practice welds next week :p

    Cheers
     
  13. AndySGray
    Joined: Jun 2014
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    AndySGray Senior Member

    I would suggest finding a friend who's an experienced welder to help you get started.

    Once someone else has got the machine dialed in to its 'sweet spot' then you stand a chance to tune your own technique and learn valuable lessons on how to weld.

    The danger with machines of this type, is that something which is no more than a characteristic or inconvenience - easily compensated for by an experienced welder, is more like a limit or barrier to a novice.

    Get good gloves and a full face mask so that you can actually see the weld pool and feel confident getting close to the work.
     
  14. yofish

    yofish Previous Member

    So you bought a Chinese machine? Which brand?
     

  15. whitepointer23

    whitepointer23 Previous Member

    Dungfongluvulongtime. Mk 11
     
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