I have experienced the same problem especially when the rod was fresh. I often scratch the rod around on a piece of scrap steel in a rather uncontrolled fashion to "get it going"; then it seems much better after that. Kind of silly but it works for me. Billh
Hi, Ive only been welding a short while and have very limited experience. I put in a post here some time back about repairing mild steel with baskets with E6013 rods and someone posted back that I might be better off using E7018 rods instead. I eventually got round to buying some and have tried using but I can't seem to get a spark going. I'm using 2.5mm rods and have tried from 60 amps up to 125 amps with no luck. Am I doing something obvious wrong or what? My welder is a Clarke 230TE.
7018 is a bit trickier to restrike an arc with. Once you start to use the electrode the flux will solidify over the end when you stop. Whenever I use 7018 I keep a small chunk of steel in my left hand. Before I try to restrike an arc I tap the end of the electrode against the steel to shatter off this flux coating.
Since they are all far more experienced than I am, I am on dangerous ground, but I respectfully disagree with all of the above replies ... maybe. Though it is certainly true that you will have trouble using regular 7018 on an AC machine (though 7018AC is fine), and certainly is true that it is hard to re-strike 7018 (and for that matter, it can be hard to strike 7018 without sticking), what you seemed to describe matches my first experience with 7018. Even with an experienced weldor at the controls, my first welder simply would not weld using 7018, though it would with 6013. The problem was the low OCV (open circuit voltage) of my first machine. I finally read the part of my instruction manual that said, in essence, "this machine requires low-OCV rods such as 6013 or 7014; it will not work with 7018 or
6011." Guess which two rods I had been trying to use, with absolutely no luck! Once I switched to 6013 and 7014, the machine worked fine (within its limitations).
I don't know what the specifications of the Clarke 230TE are, but I think the Clarke line might be a lower cost brand. If it is like other low-cost models (such as what Harbor Freight sells), it probably has a low OCV (say 50 volts or less). While I have read here that some inverters have special circuitry to allow them to run 7018 even with a low OCV, I doubt that your machine has that circuitry.
So ... you may be limited to 6013 and 7014, as I was until I upgraded my machine. On the other hand, I think I recall seeing something on Lincoln's site about a version of 7018 that they make specifically for use with low OCV machines. I don't know how easily available such a rod might be, but if my diagnosis is right, and you really, really want to run 7018, that might be worth checking out.