I have been playing with this thing some more, and I think I may be ready to buy some sheet and plate to start on my first project a lot quicker than I originally planned. I've been welding a variety of junk for simple corner, and t joints and once you set the machine up right for each size stock it actually does a pretty darn good job. I still need a lot more practice with stock at the lower limit, but still... wow. this is a lot easier than I was lead to believe. I'm no expert or anything, probably never will be, but I'm betting I can setup and do basic jobs pretty quick.
After my results last night with the thin wall stuff I was really disappointed with my results on thicker materials when I first started playing today. Then I realized I was reading the chart for steel.
I had a problem for a while with using the Miller chart exactly for material thickness, but when I dropped power one setting and increased wire speed a little above what the chart says I got some pretty darn good looking welds.
Is that normal? To have to fine tune and find what works best for each machine?
I'm still getting a bit of sooty residue, which if I recall means I've got the gun angle wrong, but when I cut the welds apart on the saw I don't see any voids or seems in the material. I still have to move a lot faster than I am used to or I'll sag through, but dang. My best looking welds were on3/16 or larger. I made T and corner joints with it, and I even filled in drilled holes upto about 3/16. I get a little cratering on that, but not enough that it cracks. I've got an idea though that if I fill them in two passes I'll not have that problem at all. It is going to take some practice to get gun speed just right, and keep my distance just right, but I think if I do a practice run or two before tackling each new project or material thickness for a while I'll be alright.
I suspect setup is going to be a trick when I start welding different size sheet and plate together, but I figured I'ld just start with my adjusted settings for the thinner material and go from there.
I've been using up my spool of .030 4043 for all this practice. Now is when you guys will tell me that my all my hard won lessons go right out the window when I switch to 5000 alloys for the marine stuff right?