Why do I suck at welding?

I have a small 80E Clarke arc welder I use for making metal yard art. I'll admit I'm fairly new at it but I have put in enough hours so you'd think I'd start to improve. Not yet. My
main problem is the rod sticking to the metal time after time. When I do get a good weld, the metal core is burnt back into the rod so I'm left with just flux. I have to either cut the rod back or tap it on the table to bust back the flux. I'm using general all- purpose 5/64 rods I get at either Menards or Lowes. Any pointers are appreciated.
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The Clarke 80E is a 120 volt welder. These are notorious for their low open circuit voltage. Low OCV and sticking the rod go together. Someone with a lot of experience can get it to work correctly, they are not at all forgiving for a newbie.
The general purpose rod you have doesn't help. Check to see what grade it might be (if it even has a grade number on the package!!). I'd stop at my local welding shop and see if they have some 3/32" 6013 rod. Your welder specs don't say you can run that large a rod but 90 amps is more than enough to get nice welds on that rod.
The real answer is to get a 240 volt welder. Check on the local www.craigslist.com listings to see what might be around. You should be able to get something decent for less than $100 (I've gotten an old Airco with a couple of minor problems for $5)Downside of the 240 volt welder is the need for 240 volts, you can run it off an electric dryer plug (reduced top amperage) and an extension cord.
Keep at it!
rbmcrafter wrote:

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Buy a decent welding machine, get some good rod, and take some lessons. A "decent" machine can be something as simple as a Lincoln "Tombstone", and used, those can be had for $50. Last one I got was free. They last forever. Get a DC machine.
Get some 3/32" rod at minimum. 1/8" if you are going to do something thick. Keep them dry. $100 should get you going, as you already probably have a hood and gloves.
Warning: welding is addictive!
You've been warned!
Steve (weldor since 1974)
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rbmcrafter wrote:

This is a buzz-box? I think it goes with the way the machines work. Maybe an auto-dark hood would help, I was essentially blind until I got a proper arc lit when I used the plain filters. I have never done stick with an auto hood, but it would seem like it would help. I converted to an auto hood at the same time I got a TIG machine, and I will never go back (on either technology)!
If you do a lot of welding, you might want to look at TIG. Maybe hook up with somebody who has one, or see if the local welding store has somebody who can demo one. I think you will get hooked real fast. When I

This is standard practice. I did all my stick work on the driveway due to the fumes, and just tapped the rod on the pavement.
Jon
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RB, I agree. It's your machine. I have a Miller Maxstar 140 welder that is (was) reasonably high end. It's an inverter welder and can be plugged into 120 or 240v without distinction. It welds like blue blazes on 240v but sucks on 120. Like the others say, just plunk down and buy something better. Way bigger is way better. The tombstone machines are fine. But you may soon outgrow those, too. One of my favorites is the old round top "IdealArc" lincoln 250 amp ac/dc welders. They're out there to be had for a few $100s if you look. They're a welder you'll never outgrow. As to lessons, they're a fine idea. But you can teach yourself with the help of the lads in this group. I know because I did. V
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Thats poor equipment. Find your local community college and take a welding class. See if the instructor will include Oxy-fuel training. It's much more versatile for "hobby" type metal work.
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On Thu, 23 Oct 2008 16:09:32 -0700 (PDT), rbmcrafter

Probably not ever with that machine. After 30 year of amateur welding experience I might be able to make a decent weld with one of those things, but I'd rather skip that challenge.
A wirefeed machine, even a 120-volt import, might be much more satisfactory for your purposes. Understand that the cheap imports should regarded as disposable. A Miller, Lincoln or Hobart will work noticably better and can be maintained, but may cost more than you care to invest just now.
The only thing those 120-volt stick welders are good for is use with a carbon arc torch. With that you can actually do some decent brazing. Back in the 60's my roommate had one of those things, bought from J.C. Whitney. Neither of us could make it weld worth crap but I had good results brazing with the carbon arc torch.
Oxy-acetylene is much better for brazing, but the kit costs more and has recurring cost of gas.
As others have noted, you can get a used 220-volt buzzbox for a song in many areas. Those work just fine. Welding steel much thinner than 1/8" is a bit tricky but can be done with practice. If your interest is metal 1/8" and thinner, a wirefeed machine is the better choice. A 120-volt wirefeed box works really well on steel from autobody sheetmetal up thru 1/8".
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I infer that you are funds-limited. In that case, here is the cheapest way: get a box of 5/64 or 3/32 6013 rod. 6013 rod is basically a contact rod & sticking is not nearly as bad as 6010, 6011. I run 3/32 at 70 or 75 amp, so your machine should handle that. You could even use 1/16 rod for yard art. But it is kind of a specialty item & more expensive.
Also, sticking is less of a problem after the rod is hot. So, off to side, where you don't have to hit the joint, start the arc, pull it back, & let it burn a second. Then go to your joint.
If you're already using 6013 & having sticking problems with it, it's hopeless with your machine & you're going to need something heavier. The cheapest acceptable replacement will be a used Lincoln or Miller buzz box (240v). Around here (NW of Boston) they are around $175.
Bob
BTW - 6013 does not have to be kept dry like 7018 does.
--
Nota for President

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What worked for me....
Get a DC inverter welder, there pretty cheap, weigh only a few pounds, but go real well. Stick to the same brand of rods, maybe the experts can switch easily, but it takes me ages to get used to a new one. It is suggested here use type 6013. Whatever brand turns you on. Buy an LCD helmet - again, pretty cheap. And practice practice practice - start with a steel plate/bar/ whatever, just lay down straight welds until you can do a nice, complete one - you will know when your getting there when the slag just falls off in 1 (or 2,3) pieces with a gentle tap. Don't worry if it takes 2 or 3 packets of rods - whats the urgency?
And, one day, you will find, miraculously, that you can weld. You can be taught the theory, but in the end its just endless hours of practice.
And take note of what others have said about voltage drop - even here, with 240v AC as standard, I have a dedicated circuit for the welder, and use 30amp extension cords to the machine itself. The DC inverter welder helped a lot here - its got some form of regulation on the arc. (Stuffed if I know how its done..)
Andrew VK3BFA.
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I'm guessing this is an AC welder. Just getting into a DC welder will improve your results immensely.
Wes
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