Using TIG to weld 22 gage steel

I am trying to weld 22 guage cold rolled steel using the TIG process. I have a Miller Econo-tig. I was using 100% Argon and a 3/32" tungsten rod (the one with thorium). I did 5 tests today, I tried dial settings on the front of the welder from 30 amps to 0 amps. I can't really say that the dial setting changes were noticeable. The steel that I'm practicing on is .028" and I welded a but joint with no gaps. I'm practicing on 22 gage since that is what I have, but I plan to actually weld 18 gage steel for a car restoration. Is there a process that would be better for autobody welding?

First, I could not use any filler material. There is no time to form a puddle and place the wire into it. I was trying to use MIG wire. Most of the time I ended up putting a hole in the metal, although a few times I was able to get a bead of about 1/2". I finally ended up getting a nice looking 3" joint by connecting a lot of tacks but I had a few small pin holes in between tacks and usually a small dot in the center of each tack left when I released the pedal. But no light shined throug the joint. Is this kind of "continuous" tacking a valid weld for autobody work? Will 18 gage steel be a lot easier than

22 gage? How can I improve welding 22 gage other than practice more? Would a smaller diameter tungsten rod help, maybe with a different alloy? Does the dial on the front of the econotig really limit the current on the pedal?

Thanks for your help.

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Wilfred Johnson
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Wilfred, I have an old Craftsman AC/DC welder with a Tig setup for welding steels, using argon and a 3/32 tungsten. It has been used for 25 years as is, without even changing the cup on the rig, whenever I have something small or thin to weld, mostly small brackets or sheet steel. There is no control other than my technique, but I have been successful in welding spider webbed fatigue cracks in a Chevy truck door around the mounts of a West coast style mirror, for example. I run around 25 amps for thinner stuff, and before I scratch off the arc, I make sure the 1/16 filler rod is aligned with the crack, and touching the base metal at all times. This allows you to get the filler rod where you need it without dabbling at the puddle. The pausing to apply filler is where the holes are created. A straight push along the line of weld will provide needed filler. This will act as a heat sink for the arc, and with a little practice, you can actually control the intensity of the weld by partially "drowning" the area. You may end up with a higher crowned weld than with more precise controls, but at least you can make good welds in thinner metal this way. The welds can then be ground flush, being carefull to not overheat the area with the grinder, causing undue warpage. The real trick is hammer welding with a Tig!


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On the earlier model Econotigs the dial was not active in TIG mode. Dumb, huh? For this very reason I sold my brand new Econotig and got a Lincoln 175. Then I found the later model Econo's were modified to allow the dial to function in TIG mode.

Maybe Miller has a kit to upgrade the older machines?

Besides the fiasco with the dial, when I bought my machine Miller advertised they had an accessory to lower the max amps down from 20 (?) to something like 2 amps. Turned out that item never existed even though it was listed in the literature that came with my machine.

Yes, it will take a fair amount of practice to butt weld 22ga. 18ga will definitely be easier.

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3/32" tungsten is too large for 22 ga steel. Try using 1/16" 2% thor tungsten. (you'll have to replace the collet and body as well, but then you'll have them and the 3/32" set. I believe yours uses wp-17 parts) What type of joint are you welding? If it's a corner joint, and your going in from the inside to the corner (like a box) tacking is the only way to go. Most autobody guys I know mig weld panels and they tack so it doesn't warp the metal. 18ga or 16ga is alot easier to manage than 22ga. Good luck, walt
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