Is It Any Good - Or Do I just Suck

I've got a Miller 212. NOT an Autoset. Back then welders were hating on automatic setting welders pretty bad. I wish I had ignored all of that and
bought the autoset. Even if I would have had to adjust a little.
I'm not a welder. My good welds often look like the "bad" welds some of the guys on the welding videos do to teach us what is "good/bad."
The 212 was bought because of its aluminum capability with a spool gun, but I had hoped to MIG weld steel with it as well. I don't think I have ever gotten what I consider a good looking MIG weld for me with it. Never. I have burned a couple ten pound spools of flux core with it and made welds that won't break, but proper MIG welds seem to elude me. I've pushed enough flux core with it on a hot afternoon that it started to act flakey like it was overheating. Just like the little 110V Lincoln ProCore does after its been pushed to hard.
I'm running C25 gas. The gas is flowing. I've used the settings on the flip chart on the front of the welder, and settings all over the place besides that. I've tried varying the gas flow rate. Nothing seems to work. I've tried distances from dragging the gas shroud to way to far. Obviously I check polarity, but I tried it wrong too just to see if it would be better.
Now here is the thing. I am able to weld aluminum (100% argon) within its working range. 1/8-1/4 5052 and 6061 it does well. I can do down to .080 with what is a good (for me) weld if I take the time to use good practices, and have welded small beads super fast on pieces as thin as .043. Aluminum seems to like a little more wire feed than those listed on the chart, but its doable at chart settings. I even managed to weld some 3/8 with it with massive preheat.
Years ago in this group I discussed some of my failings as a welder, and you guys had solutions. Amazingly not all of them were just that I sucked as a welder. My big complaint back then with both my Harbor Freight wire feed and my AC Lincoln cracker box was that it would seem that I was welding along just fine, and then it would go to crap. No matter how much I tried t adjust they would just continue welding like crap. I think it was Gunner who suggested putting a cooling fan on my HF welder. It went from less than 1 inch of good weld to almost 3 inches if using .030 on 1/8 inch or thinner steel. I applied the same logic when I was welding some 6 inch well casing with the cracker box. I welded half way around and just stopped. Did something else for 20 minutes, and then welded the other half. Worked great.
Somewhere along the line a friend gifted me a cheap Harbor Freight autodark hood, and I was floored with how much it help improve what I was doing. With the HF wire feed or the cracker box.
I hesitate to suggest this, but getting back to the point, I wonder if there is something wrong with the 212. I don't know what exactly though I would suspect. It welds aluminum ok. It pushes flux core ok, although I think the little Lincoln ProCore does it better (within its power range). I just can't MIG weld steel with it worth a darn. I'll admit right up front I suck as a welder, but you would think in all this time I would have stumbled across something that works good once in a while. Just straight up DCEP MIG with C25 on mild steel. Not painted. No rust. Mill scale ground away. Comfortable setup. I'm at the point of just leaving a spool of flux core in it and saying the heck with it. Even that is a pain, because I can no longer just pick up the gun I need and and go. I have to remember to swap the polarity when I swap guns.
I considered trying some C10 to see if I could spray arc with more success, but flux core is about as short circuit as you can get and I can weld with that ok. Obviously I spray arc aluminum.
I'm actually at the point where I am considering selling the 212. I just hate to stick somebody else with it if its not just me that sucks. Either that or dedicating it to just aluminum and removing the regular mig gun entirely.
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Bob
I don't think you'll ever "spray" steel with a MIG set which plugs into the domestic mains lecky. Bottom of spray range with solid-wire GMAW / MIG has 7.2kW at the arc (240A, 30-ish volts). With a transformer welding set, that's got to be at least 11kW at the socket.
Could you get an experienced MIG/GMAW welder to drop by and try your welding set? It would be worth stocking up some top-rate coffee and some burgers, onions and bread-baps to get one to drop by :-)
An onlooker would see how hard you are working on this. You deserve some help now, surely.
My experience 15yrs ago in the US with a Lincoln MIG welder which looked about the same "type" as the Miller 212 was that it was absolutely excellent. The suggested-condition chart under the wire-feed door was very right. That bit of America is what we unconditionally admire - the practicality and go-do-it attitude. So you have good references there.
Solid-wire MIG should be likeable. There's something not right here for sure.
Hope the right help arrives.
Rich Smith
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"Richard Smith" wrote in message
Bob
I don't think you'll ever "spray" steel with a MIG set which plugs into the domestic mains lecky. Bottom of spray range with solid-wire GMAW / MIG has 7.2kW at the arc (240A, 30-ish volts). With a transformer welding set, that's got to be at least 11kW at the socket.
***** 11kw is only about 50 amps. 11000 / 220 = 50. My mains is actually closer to 235V. The 212 requires up to 65A (I'd have to go look to be sure) although its plugged into a 50 amp outlet. I've never tripped a breaker with it, but I've never really cranked it up either. I knew it was only on the edge of possible though. I'll take your word that it may not be a good answer to chase.
Could you get an experienced MIG/GMAW welder to drop by and try your welding set? It would be worth stocking up some top-rate coffee and some burgers, onions and bread-baps to get one to drop by :-)
***** Yeah, that would be a good option. I'll throw some ribeyes on the grill if somebody wants to stop by and help me determine definitively if the problem is the welder or me. I have had this nagging thought growing for several days that I may be getting air gas contamination somewhere. Maybe a pinhole since day one drawing ambient air in by venturi or something like that. I don't think it?s a power issue since it MIG welds aluminum (with the other gun), and it burns flux core adequately. The one thing that isn't common between the two guns is gas. Each has its own gas line and solenoid valve from the bottle to the gun. They both tie to the same lugs. Hmmmm... I did just have another thought about power. When I run flux core with the machine I disconnect the spool gun since I have to swap to DCEN for FCAW. I wonder if somehow having the spool gun connected is causing a problem. It shouldn't but something isn't right.
An onlooker would see how hard you are working on this. You deserve some help now, surely.
My experience 15yrs ago in the US with a Lincoln MIG welder which looked about the same "type" as the Miller 212 was that it was absolutely excellent. The suggested-condition chart under the wire-feed door was very right. That bit of America is what we unconditionally admire - the practicality and go-do-it attitude. So you have good references there.
Solid-wire MIG should be likeable.
***** That's the whole idea. Folks say, don't start with MIG because its to easy and you won't learn anything else. Well I didn't start with MIG, not by choice, but by expedience. An old farm mechanic taught me to weld with O/A and a clothes hanger in a pinch. I learned a little stick from my grandfather who had me welding fence posts for his grape vineyards arbors. I don't know what kind of rod it was, but it would burn through everything. Paint, dirt, rust. Even I as a kid knew that was pretty amazing. My dad had an AC cracker box similar to the one I have now, and I could sorta stick things together with it. Later on my dad picked up a Hobart DC generator welder, that was one of the easiest things to use I ever tried. Still, I could do work that held with a torch, and do poor looking work with a stick welder but it stuck. My first MIG welder was a huge disappointment. It was one of "those" welders. LOL. I finally relegated it to an unshielded flux core machine suitable for 1-3 inches of bead at a time. (I've since replaced it with a Lincoln version that will weld 3-4 inches at a time.) I actually got to be ok (in my mind) with FCAW. The utility trailer I use for most work (including hauling my scissor lift) was converted from a boat trailer to a flat bed trailer with it. Then some years ago I decided I needed to learn to weld aluminum when I tore the back end out of a boat. I would have just hired it out, but the welding shops I tried for other projects would never get to my jobs. Being told, "It will be done in two weeks, two weeks, two weeks, two weeks..." for 3-4 months was the norm. (I've been fishing out of the boat for a while now). That's when I bought the 212. I've used it to repair three boats now. I figured a proper small commercial MIG welder set up with dual guns would eliminate any possibility of welder limitations. It would have to be all me if I had issues.
There's something not right here for sure.
***** I hope so. I feel a little inadequate that I've owned it for years and have to fall back on flux core or stick for steel welding. It would be nice to actually use this welder for its primary purpose. I can do the work I need to do with other methods (FCAW, O/A, AC Stick,) but its frustrating as all heck. I'd like to know if its just me since MIG welding is supposed to be so easy. I spent a fair amount of money on the 212, and I'd like to be able to use more of its claimed capability.
Hope the right help arrives.
***** Thanks. Me too.
Rich Smith
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Bob - I did "dip" and "spray", and had a model in my mind of how each worked, in order to arrive at good conditions, and all was good. However, as you would if you are a technical mind, you wonder how correct that model is...
2011 - I stumbled on the ability to diagnose that. On my website:
"dip" http://www.weldsmith.co.uk/tech/welding/datalog/GMAW_dip_170612.html
"spray" http://www.weldsmith.co.uk/tech/welding/datalog/GMAW_spray_170612.html
(top page on datalogging http://www.weldsmith.co.uk/tech/welding/datalog/datalog_weldproc.html )
The models in my mind seemed to be exactly correct, given the 10thousand-times-a-second log of the V and I profile.
It was a very big moment for me, when technology had evolved to allow me to see this, for the first time.
Please don't be deterred. It does all happen according to well-understood logic. What isn't happening to requirement to contribute to easy good welds should be possible to identify. But yes, in the moment, it can be exasperating!
Best wishes, Rich Smith
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On 9/30/2018 1:10 AM, Richard Smith wrote:

Well, It wasn't just me. Saturday I decided to tear the machine apart and find out what the problem was. I actually didn't get very far. I started at the gun and couldn't really see where the gas was supposed to fill the nozzle. So, I turned it one put the nozzle on, and pulled the trigger with my fingers across the nozzle. I could feel the gas, but only on one side. I pulled the nozzle back off, and pulled the trigger again. No gas at all as I ran my fingers up the sides to the tip. Huh? Then I put my fingers up next to the wire coming out and could feel the gas coming out the tip around the wire.
Now that just didn't make any sense at all to me. Why have a gas nozzle if the gas comes out at the end of it? Since I'm not really a welder I admit I didn't know what I was looking at, but it just didn't make sense to me. I decided to look for MIG gun parts break down images on the Internet. Most were amazingly poor, but I ran across a YouTube video that identified the parts fairly well.
I realized what I needed to look at was the "gas diffuser." The videographer in the YouTube video showed several types including the same type as in my gun. Suddenly it dawned on me. My gas diffuser didn't have any holes in it. All the ones identified in the video clearly had holes well behind where the tip screws in, but mine didn't.
I posted "What's Wrong With This Picture" several places. Here in this group. In the Facebook group Maker's and Builders. On the Home Shop Machinist forum, and Miller's own welding forum. On Maker's and Builders one person eventually identified the problem. On Home Shop Machinist one person critique the quality of my photo, one said I had a diffuser for flux core, and one correctly identified the problem pretty quickly. Here nobody responded. This group has few followers these days, but still I was surprised. On the Miller Welding forums nobody got it at all, but after I pointed out the problem somebody at Miller sent me a message letting me know they would be sending a "correctly machined" gas diffuser right away. LOL.
Well, I didn't want to wait until the end of the week or early next week for it to arrive so I popped over to the local Praxair store, (great guys in that shop) and showed my gas diffuser to the guy on the counter. I asked what was wrong with my gas diffuser. He didn't get it until I told him. No holes. He then went right over to the wall where he had both Miller brand and their store brand replacements. I bought the store brand for less than $4 including tax and headed back to my shop.
I just did the nicest and prettiest weld joining a couple pieces of 1/8" wall mild steel tube that I have ever done with that machine. Oh its an ugly weld, but its not covering in slag, the tube isn't covered in spatter, and the penetration is good. Its the prettiest steel weld I have ever done with that machine. I just ran straight settings off the flip card. Actually the wire speed might be a hair fast, but now that it welds properly I can learn to adjust and get the best welds my abilities will allow.
So in answer to my own question. No I don't just suck!
I'm a little embarrassed, and I feel a little stupid I never tackled the welder as the problem before, but mostly I'm absolutely ecstatic that I can actually "MIG" weld with it finally.
FYI: No its not a flux core diffuser. LOL. The part number on my old diffuser and on the replacement is the same.
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Nice job figuring that out! Wow, what a thing to get bit with. Thanks for sharing that as well.
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"Bob" wrote in message wrote:

Nice job figuring that out! Wow, what a thing to get bit with. Thanks for sharing that as well.
************************
Thanks Bob. Once I realized what the problem was I felt pretty stupid. Somehow I thought I should have just "seen it" ages ago. Its not like I never took the gas nozzle off before. I had to take it off many times over the years if only clean off spatter from running flux core, and of course to change burnt or fused tips.
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On 10/10/2018 2:24 PM, Jim Wilkins wrote:

Yep, that's what the guns on my other welders use for flux core. A tight nozzle that covers the holes.
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LOL!
Glad you found it.
Best wishes, Rich
PS - I just started a new job, far from home - so forgive me for not sharing in the pictures thing.
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