best way to learn mig welding?

Hi All, I'm working in a medium sized engineering firm (around 40 full time staff) and produce mainly agricultural products; grain silos, feeding systems, rock rakes and so on. I spend about half my time in the workshop and about the other half on site. In the shop we use mostly bigger 3 phase MIG units with .9mm solid core and argon welding mild steel in all sizes, on site we use smaller portable Lincolns with either .9mm flux core for welding galvanised steel or .8mm solid core and stainshield gas for welding stainless sheet in 2mm thickness. Most welding on site is done in a vertical position.

So here's the question; how do I take my welding from passable to exceptional? I've been doing stick for a few years, but only started on MIG early this year. My welding is ok, but I'd like to improve it. While practice does make perfect, I think you also need to throw in the element of experimentation or learning from others. Since we are driven by deadlines with most work and wastage of materials is expensive, we have a tendency to just do it as its always been done.

While its hard to really quantify what I'd like to gain, if I had to bring it down to one thing then it would be more consistency. About

80% of our welding is on sheet in the range of 1.6~2mm both mild steel and stainless. The stainless is a real pain for me. It's all lap joints, and the welds need to be cosmetically much better. As it is now, the bead shape changes too much (bad torch technique?), the HAZ varies all over the place (inconsistent speed?) and I have just a little too much spatter. The vertical welding is where I really have my trouble. I think the settings I'm going with are ok, but feel that my torch technique could do with some improvement.

Are there good books or videos that I can buy to help me out here? I dont really have the time to take classes, and there arent that many available near me. I'm working in New Zealand.

The rec.crafts.metalworking faq recommends the tape "Learning MIG Welding" by SIP. Has anyone got this tape? Is it worth getting? Would it be too basic for what I am trying to learn?

Any thoughts greatly appreciated~

Shaun Van Poecke New Zealand

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