New Guy on Atomic Zombie looking for Welding guidance

Joined
Jul 29, 2021
Messages
5
Hello AZiers

I am looking to build an electric trike in the next year, probably from old bike frames and square steel tubing. I have a garage to work in with 200 amp current. I want to know what the recommended gear would be for welding frames to get my project started. I am thinking MIG with rods? Any guidance most appreciated. I am new to welding and hope to teach myself the basics.

thank you
Dan
 
Joined
May 31, 2013
Messages
3,192
Location
South Benfleet, Essex, England, UK
Hi Dan,

Welcome.
Every AZ bike built by our founder "Brad" was done with a standard Stick Welder.

Most of us mere mortals use either MIG or TIG.

2 flavours of MIG Gas & Gasless. Gasless is very much like "Stick Welding on a roll of wire" as it has a fluxed wire and you must chip/scrape the flux off as you go.
Gassed MIG uses a shielding Gas, so it is cleaner and there is much less to do and it seems to be the weapon of choice around here mostly. I found it a bit too "spray & pray" for my liking.
A few of us have gone the TIG route and that's more like soldering as you add the filler metal to a molten pool created with the torch.

It does take a bit of time to get proficient with any from of welding, find a welding equipment store near you that will let you try all 3 variants.
 
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Ohio
I was in the same spot as you. I had no welding experience when I started, I choose MIG because it's often referred to as the most simple to learn and use, even heard it as basically like using a glue gun. The welder I bought was a vulcan from harbor freight, multi process, though i've only use it for MIG so far it does TIG and stick also. So far i've made a warrior and tomahawk and have two more warriors in process now and for as little training and experience I've had, so far it's worked out very well for me.
 
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Mig doesn't use rods.

Arc / stick welding uses rods and is the cheapest to buy. It's also the hardest to master on thin steel such as you'll be using. The only consumable is the rods and these are easily accessible.

Mig is easiest to learn and uses a reel of continuous wire. Like stick it is a one handed operation leaving one hand free to hold the work. If you use the traditional gasless you'll need a supply of co2 or co2 / argon mix. I get co2 from a hydroponics shop. Depending on where you are gas can be hard to get. The torch is also regarded as a consumable and you will need spare tips and shrouds as well as wire and gas.

Tig is a bit like gas welding but with an electric arc instead of a flame. It is a two handed operation meaning your work must be clamped. Again the torch is a consumable and again gas may be hard to find locally. If and when mastered it usually produces the best looking welds.

I always suggest mig for anyone new as the learning curve is the easiest to master but look into consumables supply in your area before you buy.
 
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Ohio
I used C02 to start with and was getting it at airgas. I have since changed over to c02 argon when i found a supplier locally, which was tractor supply.
 
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May 28, 2013
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Ottawa
If you go gasless MIG or FCAW, get some anti spatter spray too. It really helps knock the bb's off when you are done. There are a lot of really low cost units out there. If you get a multi-process machine, you pay more, but, you have a wider range operating environments.

I weld outside. I have no garage or shed so need dry, low wind days, but FCAW works really well - if you dial it in. Most of the low cost units handle 110 V 15 amp or 20 amp circuits. If you can put in 220 V, it gets smoother, and the bigger better machines become possible. If the unit does both voltages, you can always upgrade the power side later.

Depending where you are, Canadian Tire and Princess Auto offer good prices on super small inverter based units. Kicking Horse here in Canada is also getting a good rep apparently.

Then of course you have Miller and Lincoln Electric - stalwarts in North America. No idea what is popular on the other side of the pond.
 
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426
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Vilvoorde / Flanders / Belgium
Like I wrote a few times before, I prefer TIG. But it is not the ideal methode for a starter.
Unless that starter is willing to spend a lot of money to get the knack of it. I was lucky I could evolve from "noob" to pro on the expences of employers.
Now it's a no brainer for me. One TIG and pure argon are my prefered methode.

My advice. Get a MIG and a CO2 bottle (about any bar with a tap uses CO2, so they know the suppliers in the area). Later on you can advance to mixed gas MIG for steel or pure argon for stainless.

If you realy have no acces gas bottles, and need to use old school arc, the only thing I can add, "practice, practice and practise some more". (on the other hand, that is for anything you wish to master)
 
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One other thing - it's always easier to weld on the flat rather than vertical regardless of method so once tacked, rotate your work to make life easier.
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2021
Messages
5
I was in the same spot as you. I had no welding experience when I started, I choose MIG because it's often referred to as the most simple to learn and use, even heard it as basically like using a glue gun. The welder I bought was a vulcan from harbor freight, multi process, though i've only use it for MIG so far it does TIG and stick also. So far i've made a warrior and tomahawk and have two more warriors in process now and for as little training and experience I've had, so far it's worked out very well for me.
Hi Thom

Thanks for the encouragement. Can you tell me what a warrior and tomahawk are? I will check out the Vulcan as a possible starter kit from Harbor.

thanks Dan
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2021
Messages
5
Hi Dan,

Welcome.
Every AZ bike built by our founder "Brad" was done with a standard Stick Welder.

Most of us mere mortals use either MIG or TIG.

2 flavours of MIG Gas & Gasless. Gasless is very much like "Stick Welding on a roll of wire" as it has a fluxed wire and you must chip/scrape the flux off as you go.
Gassed MIG uses a shielding Gas, so it is cleaner and there is much less to do and it seems to be the weapon of choice around here mostly. I found it a bit too "spray & pray" for my liking.
A few of us have gone the TIG route and that's more like soldering as you add the filler metal to a molten pool created with the torch.

It does take a bit of time to get proficient with any from of welding, find a welding equipment store near you that will let you try all 3 variants.
Thanks Danny for the clarification of types. I am leaning towards MIG. Please tell me more about "spray and Pray" Cheers Dan
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2021
Messages
5
Mig doesn't use rods.

Arc / stick welding uses rods and is the cheapest to buy. It's also the hardest to master on thin steel such as you'll be using. The only consumable is the rods and these are easily accessible.

Mig is easiest to learn and uses a reel of continuous wire. Like stick it is a one handed operation leaving one hand free to hold the work. If you use the traditional gasless you'll need a supply of co2 or co2 / argon mix. I get co2 from a hydroponics shop. Depending on where you are gas can be hard to get. The torch is also regarded as a consumable and you will need spare tips and shrouds as well as wire and gas.

Tig is a bit like gas welding but with an electric arc instead of a flame. It is a two handed operation meaning your work must be clamped. Again the torch is a consumable and again gas may be hard to find locally. If and when mastered it usually produces the best looking welds.

I always suggest mig for anyone new as the learning curve is the easiest to master but look into consumables supply in your area before you buy.
Thanks Popshot. I am still trying to understand better gas/gasless approaches to MIG welding which seems to be the recoommended method for beginners like me. Dan
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2021
Messages
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One other thing - it's always easier to weld on the flat rather than vertical regardless of method so once tacked, rotate your work to make life easier.
Also please let me know more about workbenches. My Dad used a wooden work bench for years, though a stainless table like you see in commercial kitchens might be better. Your thoughts? Dan
 
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Also please let me know more about workbenches. My Dad used a wooden work bench for years, though a stainless table like you see in commercial kitchens might be better. Your thoughts? Dan
I made myself a sturdy wooden bench with a thick plywood top. Then I put 4' x 2' of 6mm steel plate on top of it. It works OK but is a bit small (and so is my tiny little workshop).
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2020
Messages
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Location
Ohio
A warrior and tomahawk are the plans sold on this side for a 3 and 2 wheel recumbent.

I got the vulcan because it wasn't a started welder, i knew if i bought a starter welder i would want to upgrade to a better one and then buy the vulcan, so i just got it first. Also someone said you can lower the power on a stronger welder, but not increase it on a weak welder. Which made sense why to buy a good one that you can grow into instead of out of.

Masterforce™ 36" x 16" Steel Welding Table at Menards https://www.menards.com/main/p-1461275223992.htm

This is the welding table i started with and still use. I bought a vise at harbor freight and clamped it on the end. Its not perfect, but for 140 bucks it works great for me. I wanted to put more money in my welderin than the table.
 
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I went through several cheap* MIGs before buying a secondhand Cebora for similar money. The Cebora has outlasted every cheap* one put together with nothing more than consumables being needed.

* Cheap being a relative term as MIGs with a decent size CO2 bottle start expensive and then go upwards from that.

I believe Danny means that MIGs spatter a lot landing little ball-bearing like globules of steel on the work which they do. Most can be swept off but some will require a kiss with a wire brush or flap disc as they'll stick. You can get anti-spatter spray to help with it though I've never bothered as I never find it any problem that the grinder with the flap disc won't solve in seconds. Using poor steel or incorrectly setting the welder will produce more spatter. The slag on rods keeps the spatter down and TIG doesn't spatter.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
South Benfleet, Essex, England, UK
I went through several cheap* MIGs before buying a secondhand Cebora for similar money. The Cebora has outlasted every cheap* one put together with nothing more than consumables being needed.

* Cheap being a relative term as MIGs with a decent size CO2 bottle start expensive and then go upwards from that.

I believe Danny means that MIGs spatter a lot landing little ball-bearing like globules of steel on the work which they do. Most can be swept off but some will require a kiss with a wire brush or flap disc as they'll stick. You can get anti-spatter spray to help with it though I've never bothered as I never find it any problem that the grinder with the flap disc won't solve in seconds. Using poor steel or incorrectly setting the welder will produce more spatter. The slag on rods keeps the spatter down and TIG doesn't spatter.
Popshot has got it mostly right re spatter etc. But for me it was more that MIG was effectively a "water-pistol" that fired liquid metal instead; and I found it a bit like trying to aim an angry cat.
Probably just me (I have been living with Amblyopia all my life), and I only recently found out that it means 3-D viewing for me is impossible, and depth perception is a "best-guess" process performed by my brain and it is far from perfect. So TIG (slower and more controlled) seems to suit my abilities. We work with what we have got don't we?
 
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Messages
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Popshot has got it mostly right re spatter etc. But for me it was more that MIG was effectively a "water-pistol" that fired liquid metal instead; and I found it a bit like trying to aim an angry cat.
Probably just me (I have been living with Amblyopia all my life), and I only recently found out that it means 3-D viewing for me is impossible, and depth perception is a "best-guess" process performed by my brain and it is far from perfect. So TIG (slower and more controlled) seems to suit my abilities. We work with what we have got don't we?
Have you ever tried seeing a movie in 3d, with the glasses? I read that one person had the same thing and after seeing a movie in 3d his brain figured out what to do and it fixed it for him, i always thought that was awesome the brain could fix itself like that.
 
Joined
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Messages
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South Benfleet, Essex, England, UK
Have you ever tried seeing a movie in 3d, with the glasses? I read that one person had the same thing and after seeing a movie in 3d his brain figured out what to do and it fixed it for him, i always thought that was awesome the brain could fix itself like that.
Yup, tried all that. As my ophthalmologist says "spend your money on pop-corn instead of 3-D glasses, 3-D will never work for you", and he is right.
He agrees my brain does a decent job of "simulating" the 3-D films but he says I am only seeing about 60% of what people without amblyopia see with the 3-D films and glasses.
An interesting test for it shows that people without amblyopia get to see 3 dots on the screen in the test, I can only determine 2.
It is NEVER going to "fix" itself, it can't;my left eye is underdeveloped and cannot perform the required function.
Hey-Ho. I'm still alive and life is otherwise pretty blooming good. :)
 
Joined
Apr 26, 2021
Messages
104
Hello AZiers

I am looking to build an electric trike in the next year, probably from old bike frames and square steel tubing. I have a garage to work in with 200 amp current. I want to know what the recommended gear would be for welding frames to get my project started. I am thinking MIG with rods? Any guidance most appreciated. I am new to welding and hope to teach myself the basics.

thank you
Dan
If you've got the cash, go with TIG. If you do it right, it looks pretty.

I went the budget route with stick welding. Took a little bit of time for the learning curve, welds are getting better cosmetically. Still end up doing loads of grinding and touch up work.
 
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