Welding Rant

I started answering a question for a fellow on allexperts.com and it grew into a full fledged rant that I ended up sending to Miller via
their comment window on their website.
The last time I sent a long letter to Miller I ended up in phone discussions with 5 major players at Miller about my suggestions for new machines.
The machines I suspect I influenced were the Miller passport, the DVI wire feed and the ability to hook up a push pull gun to a Millermatic 252.
We'll see if I get any response to this one.
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I have 3 big gripes with all the welding manufacturers. 1. The criminal misrepresentation of output amperages on 110 volt MIG machines. 2. The complete lack of any useful information on Pulsers, while wanting everybody to buy one. 3. The misrepresentation of aluminum MIG on 110 volt MIG machines.
1. The criminal misrepresentation of output amperages on 110 volt MIG machines.
According to Miller's product literature a Millermatic 140 machine has an output range of 30 to 140 amps. Simply put that is a flat out lie.
What has happened was that many years ago the product number on a welding machine referred to it's output amperage. The number was based on the machines output at a 100% duty cycle. Duty cycle is how you state how long a machine can weld before having to rest so it doesn't overheat. A 100% duty cycle means the machine can weld continuously without having to stop to cool down. A lower duty cycle means you can get more amps out for a hotter weld, but the machine will need to cool down occasionally. A 60% duty cycle means for every 6 minutes of welding the machine should cool off for 4 minutes. A 20% duty cycle means 2 minutes of welding and 8 minutes to cool down.
Machines from the era of 100% duty cycle would be a Hobart Betamig 200 or Millermatic 200.
After many happy years of this, the manufacturers wanted to use bigger numbers to name the newer machines, but the new machines have the same over-all power output as the old machines, so to justify calling the new machine a Betamig 250 rather than 200 they just changed which duty cycle they used as a basis for the number. The new choice was the 60% duty cycle number. Examples of this are still around with the Millermatic 252, and Lincoln Powermig 255. So a Betamig 200 and Betamig 250 have the same output amperage range.
With the larger machines they have stayed, for the most part, with this 60% duty cycle, but with the 110 volt and 220 volt baby MIGs they just couldn't leave well enough alone.
On these smaller machines they decided to use a 20% duty cycle. This means they can get a bigger number for the model number. I own a Hobart Handler 120. It is a great machine, but it is NOT a 120 amp machine. They claim a 120 amp max amperage based on a 20% duty cycle, and a 20 amp 110 volt circuit.. A few years after they made the Handler 120 the marketing guys decided they needed a bigger number again. Since you can't actually get more output from the same input they just changed the math. Instead of using a 20 amp 110 volt circuit for the max output amps calculation, they used a 25 amp circuit. This justified calling the newer machine a Handler 130. A few years later they went to the Handler 135, and now the Handler 140. They claim the 140 amp max output based on a 40 amp 110 volt input circuit. A 40 amp 110 volt circuit doesn't even exist.
To sum up, ALL 110 volt MIG machines are actually 90 amp machines. It doesn't matter what model number the marketing buffoons want to put on the machine.
What they need to do is stop using the same number system. Just because Lincoln calls their machine a 140 doesn't mean Miller has to call their's a 140. It is a stupid vicious cycle, and it is horribly misleading to the general public, and any attempt to justify the number with some ass-backwards math is just insulting.
Just come up with some other system of model numbers. Hypertherm has bitten that bullet by getting out of the same kind of model number escalation with their plasma cutters.
2. The complete lack of any useful information on Pulsers, while wanting everybody to buy one.
Of all welding processes my biggest strength is TIG. I love pulsers and sequencers, but I find the welding manufacturers attitude towards pulsers completely infuriating. Pulsers allow some amazing affects on a TIG weld, but the complete lack of published information on how to use a pulser is absurd. I have tried for years to find a any welding instruction book that explains how to use a pulser. I even contacted the Welding Engineering program at Ohio State University, and none of the faculty there could think of a publication either.
I have been teaching people how to use a pulser for many years. It isn't hard to explain it is plain english. For an example just read any of my posts on pulser use on the sci.engr.joining.welding newsgroup or the allexperts.com website.
Or just google my name "ernie leimkuhler" and pulser.
I would be more than happy to write up a manual for pulser usage to be included with your machines. I can go into any welding store and flummox any sales agent by simply asking how to use a pulser. It would be wonderful if there was a simple brochure that could be handed out to sales agents and customers that explained pulsers and sequencers.
3. The misrepresentation of aluminum MIG on 110 volt MIG machines.
I feel that all the welding manufacturers are guilty of fraud here. Selling people on aluminum MIG from a 110 volt MIG machine is just not honest. I know few people who have ever had satisfactory results. The spoolgun helps, but still the output is seriously limited. You just can't get the voltage to make aluminum happy. The only 110 volt MIG that may be able to be useful for this is a Miller Passport, because it is inverter based and gets you more "output amps" per "input amps" compared to small transformer machines, but the Passport is almost twice the price of a transformer based machine.
Please just stop selling this to customers. All it accomplishes is making people feel incompetent because they just can't get it to work.
220 volt baby MIGs are more practical for small aluminum projects.
Ernie Leimkuhler CWI//CWE Topside Welding/NDT Instructor Divers Institute of Technology Seattle, WA
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Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

I don't think the duty cycle issue just applies to 110V migs, in the UK the standard mains is 230V and 13A although 30A is available for cookers which is what I feed my welders off, and IIRC 60A for electric showers, IIRC most houses have at least 230V 100A supply. I have an Eland MIG 160 (UK brand I think) that is rated as 40% duty cycle at 160A which does me fine. Recently when looking at a welder for someone I looked at the duty cycle chart for this 170A welder and it didn't give one for the max current but listed something like 10% at 140A, I dread to think what the 170A duty cycle was < 5%.
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Well said Ernie! I've watched the Lincoln line of home welders for a number of years and I've compared parts listing for several models and many are exactly the same except for the model number placard.
A few years ago I picked up an SP-170T at an auction. My neighbor, who always has to have the "best" of everything had a MIG-PAK 15 and felt that his was a better machine. I compared the parts listings and all parts were the same. That also goes for the Weld-Pak 155 except that it didn't include the gas setup so you had to buy it as an add-on.
Later they rebadged the same welder as the SP-175T and I believe Home Depot had a version that was something like 5000HD or something along those lines.
I've seen the 110V tapped machine badged as the SP-125T, SP-135T and the Home Depot version is the 3200HD. I believe Lowes sold it as the SP-135T or Pro or something like that. I think the main reason for the different part numbers for Lowes vs. Home Depot is that each will match the other's price on an identical item but if it has a different model name they don't have to even though it's really the same machine. :-(
At one auction I ran across an old SP-100 and thought was the cheaper one they used to sell until I realized that it actually had variable voltage and seemed to be what later became known as the SP-125+ and SP-135+.
As for the duty cycle, I haven't really followed them long enough to know when it all started but I inherited an old Lincoln AC-225 tombstone from my father-in-law and I'm pretty sure he bought it in the 1970's or maybe early 1980's and it had a circle around the 75amp mark on the front panel to designate that it's 100% duty cycle at that setting.
Best Regards, Keith Marshall snipped-for-privacy@progressivelogic.com
"I'm not grown up enough to be so old!"

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Good for you Ernie. Years ago I bought a SP 100 Lincoln and I thought about upgrading to the 135 but my welding salesman said don't bother it is the same machine with a brand new sticker. I have since moved up to a Panasonic 260 welder and never looked back.
Please do post the reply. Steve
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Up North wrote:

snippage of jThe Rant , and other comments

I paid too much for my WeldPak 100 , used from the pawn shop . But it does what I require , and it does it very well indeed . 90 amps at 20% duty cycle , with the optional gas shield attachment . I'm sure glad I didn't buy into the hype and pay even more for a newer machine that does the same job ... Thank you , Ernie , for your many contributions to this newsgroup !
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Wow you own a Gunslinger 260? The repair guys I know all raved about how well the Gunslingers were built, but also how terrible Panasonic was at parts distribution.
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Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

Based on my extensive experience with a long list of other Panasonic (MatsuSHITa) products, I wouldn't touch one of their welders with a 100' pole.
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wrote:

Most of their welders are industrial models. The 260 I have is the smallest they make as far as I know. I got it in 2003 and haven't had one problem with it. Steve
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Up North wrote:

Well, I hope your good luck holds up. My Panasonic / MatsuSHITa experience is mostly with their industrial products (mostly video and phone stuff, a few other odds and ends) and has been nothing but problems.
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The division of Panasonic that makes the Gunslinger 260 has nothing to do with any consumer product. It is the division that builds assembly lines for General Motors. The Gunslinger is a tiny machine for them, and I have never understood why they bothered.
The Gunslinger is way overbuilt. Even the on off switch is a massive SquareD disconnect switch.
The Gunslinger 260 was the first dedicated MIG machine to have stick welding lugs on the front.
They offered 2 variations on the Gunslinger. The 260T was capable of DC TIG welding, and the 260P came with a 50 amp Plasma cutter built in.
<http://industrial.panasonic.com/ww/i_e/29865/fa-awm_e/fa-awm_e/gunsling er_e.html>
They also make some freaky sci-fi futuristic TIG machines
<http://industrial.panasonic.com/ww/i_e/29865/fa-awm_e/fa-awm_e/tig_e.ht ml>
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Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

The Panasonic / MatsuSHITa products I've had constant problems with have mostly been from industrial lines, not consumer.

That must be why the clutch on my K3500 has been a constant problem since new. I just bought a new F350 Monday...

Oh no! I hope the Panasonic / MatsuSHITa funk doesn't find it's way into the good SquareD products I use.

I wonder what percentage of users use them. I have stick setup on my Syncrowave, but I think I've used it once.

Yes, that follows typical Panasonic / MatsuSHITa style, load the product up with all kinds of bells and whistles and then sell it without any testing, so that most of those bells and whistles don't work properly.

They look purty, like most Panasonic / MatsuSHITa products and have glossy brochures, but I'll stick to my reliable Syncrowave 250.
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wrote:

I imagine there are a few "torpedo welders" kicking around out there, still working away, proving the point that a good design is better than bells and whistles. Any time.
Steve
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The reason for the square D switch - Safety rules pushed on the.
Just like the machines I helped train the engineers - into Oregon - The local fire marshal forced panic buttons that shut all power supplies off - even when pressed on the wall at the power pack. Power rules and safety rules.
It takes only one site to have an issue that forces all vendors to any site to comply.
Martin
Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

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wrote:

Apparently you can order parts online from here: https://order.panasonicfa.com/scripts/wgate/zw20 /!?~language=en I think I am going to sign up to see what is available. From what I understand some of the problems with the Panasonic Gunslinger are caused by switching modes (stick/mig/ tig) with the unit powered up. Steve
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good stuff snipped
I had a Millermatic 200 for about ten years and didn't even have to change contactor points in it. Used it HEAVY. Fast forward twelve years, and went down and bought a Lincoln 175SP+ just because it was 220, and I knew it would do what I wanted. I was amazed at all the "little" 110v. machines, and tho they looked very similar (exact in some cases), the amp ratings were all over the map. So, I just go the big one.
I never had much luck with aluminum MIG, and I think the 110 versions are good only for the companies and salesmen. I don't see any in heavy use, or in shops.
Steve
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SteveB wrote:

I see a lot of the 110v machines in body shops ... but damn few of them running flux core .
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Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

-- snip --

Sounds like it's time for the welding suppliers to accept the fact that they've run out of superlatives, bite the bullet, and start selling the "sorta-good 2-1/2".
--

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
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That is an awesome rant. If I had read that 10-15 years ago I would have saved myself a lot of money and headaches over the years, and I probably wouldn't even own a 110V welder today. Then again maybe not. I have used my little 110V Mig with flux wire from the top of scissor lifts for custom mounting hardware, out on back fields to fix gates, and from the bed of my truck to glob a piece of equipment back together so we could pull it out of the sand in one piece instead of in pieces.
I do have to admit, that not one welder I have ever owned has lived up to the manufacturers brag including my current Miller 212. I still like the 212 as it is so much better than anything I have ever used in the past except maybe my dad's old gas driven Hobart DC stick welder.
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    --Now that you mention this I'll add that when I was at WESTEC I buttonholed them about this exact thing. A guy there said they'd look into doing a video or some such, to be posted to their webpage. The sooner the better! :-)
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