Hi, I am new to welding and have a Lincoln 175 MIG. I purchased an autodarkening helmet that adjusts from 9-14. It works well but when I am welding I only see the arc not the work. Is this normal or just me... do I need to be less than 9? Thanks.
"RJMiller" wrote: (clip) It works well but when I am welding I only see the arc not the work. (clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I had the same problem, and I solved it a little at a time by doing the following:
Clean every surface that you look through. 2. Stop wearing trifocals. I now wear a pair of dime-store reading glasses. I eliminated the diopter correction lenses in my helmet, thus getting rid of two glass surfaces. 3. I eventually bought one of those blue Harbor Freight auto-darkening helmets, and for some reason, that improved things a lot.
Every air-glass surface collects particles of dirt. Every dirt particle in or near your line of sight scatters light, reducing your ability to resolve the details around the arc. I treat my helmet with a lot more respect than I used to
All welding takes place in a small area ...... the puddle. The area around the puddle will be illuminated enough to see it so you can weave, etc. If you are set up correctly, and think about it ahead of time ............ okay ............ I'm ready ........ I'm going right to left and I am going to weave ........... There's nothing to see.
You should be welding with your MIG in the 9-10 range depending on the light around you. Don't lighten up much, or you will get harmful levels of light. You might try to block off some of the light that is coming in around your hood, as by turning off overhead lights, or fashioning a soft leather or nomex cover to block all light. But that might make it hotter inside the helmet.
A tip I got from this group several years back helped me with the same problem - Don't watch the arc even though your focus is drawn to it. Watch the puddle. Watch the freeze zone and watch the edge to monitor penetration. Even though the puddle is all within a few mm of the arc, the difference in what you can see by avoiding a direct focusof the arc itself is amazing.
When I tried it, I went from seeing nothing but the arc to seeing everything.
Also, bright light on the work pieces but not into the rear of your helmet (for reasons mentioned above) will help you. When I can work outside the garage in sunlight, I can see everything within about 20 seconds of flipping my hood down. That's with a #10 lense. But don't ;imit yourself by depending on bright light - try not watching the arc mostly.
I eliminated the diopter correction lenses in my helmet, thus getting rid of two glass surfaces.
helmets, and for some reason, that improved things a lot.
or near your line of sight scatters light, reducing your ability to resolve the details around the arc. I treat my helmet with a lot more respect than I used to--I don't just put it down anywhere, or leave it lying around while I'm grinding, etc.
This is often at odds with the limits of the helmet window, and you may not realize it while you are welding.
A guy who has forgotten more about welding than Ill ever know, told me to take the soapstone stick and draw a line along your weld path, and its far easier to follow. And it really works for me. So simple and now my poor welds are straight.
"At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child - miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosphy of sniveling brats." -- P.J. O'Rourke
"Boris Mohar" wrote: On my auto dimming helmet I removed the inner plastic window. I also replaced the outer plastic window with glass. Plastic widows acquire fine scratches from cleaning attempts. These scatter light. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I am sure that helped, but I would suggest replacing the inner plastic window with glass also, instead of simply REMOVING it. With no inner protective cover, the auto-darkening filter itself will get dirty, and eventually get scratched up from cleaning.
Instead of using glass, I bought a sheet of clear plastic, and cut it into replacement windows. Then I throw them away as soon as they get slightly scratched.
This sounds a neat trick. I undoubtedly am exposing more of my vast well of ignorance, but where does one acquire a soapstone stick? Is it made for welding guidance? I checked Enco and MSC and couldn't find one shown.
Peter, any welding supply store or Home Depot/Lowes/Sears that sell welders should have some type of soapstone markers with the welding supplies. Just in the last week I've noticed them in all the stores I mentioned. Some have the round type that go in a holder that is like a glorified mechanical pencil (round tube to hold the round soapstone stick) and some are more like flat sticks with a cross sectional shape like a rhombus and are about the same dimensions as a carpenters pencil. I've heard them referred to in the older days as "talc sticks".
Try lighting up your work with industrial high intensity lights. They are harmful to look at - uses sun-gun like bulbs - but they light the work to the level of the arc - so the eye can see the work when the lens is dark.
I think Northern Tool & Equipment and Tractor Supply both sell them and if you have a real hardware store in your area that still sells welding supplies you can probably find them there as well. The Harbor Freight site will show you pictures so you'll know what you're looking for.
Best Regards, Keith Marshall email@example.com
...probably the best advice that helped me when I was having the same problem. I now try and work outside during good sunlight which helps immensely and when I'm confined to the shop or in the evenings, I use halogen work lamps. The work lamps are only on as needed since they themselves can be the source of harmful UV. I've seen lamps that attach to the gun itself but I have no experience with them.
Something else I didn't think of when I replied above that relates to this topic: Even though I have trouble getting a good weld when I can't see what I'm doing (because I have wrong glasses on, glare from behind helmet, etc), I found that when I was tacking stuff with just my gloved free hand shielding the torch that not only did I get more attuned to listening to the arc, but that I got to where I could do really good accurate short welds by listening and visualizing what was going on under my glove and using the edge of that hand to help guide the gun tip along the visualized path of the weld. Usually these welds looked better than a lot of the ones I was looking at while welding. Especially filling holes in sheet metal for some reason. If I were trying to look at the same weld and couldn't see it well for some reason, I wouldn't get it right at all. I started translating some of what I was doing in the blind welds/tacks into what I was doing when watching the weld. It has helped me get better over time.
True this is not a great practice - something I saw people doing on TV shows back when the hot rod shows first hit big in the 90s. If you try this hand-shielding trick without a hood on, definitely have eye protection on at least in the form of safety glasses. And be aware the plam of that gloved hand shielding the work will get a very hot spot very suddenly if you try to run a longer bead. Be ready to sling it off your hand.
Probably the most important skill that transfers from this rambling is that listening to the arc tells you a lot even while you are watching the weld(puddle). And dabbling with tacking without looking may build some hand coordination skills along with the listening skills