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Old 10-25-2005, 11:45 PM   #1
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Default FCAW Q: can you really flux core weld thin sheet metal or not?

First, some background. Thanks to a hamfisted grease monkey at Sears, I found out that my 87 CRX Si has some rust in the floorpans, and by "some" I mean A LOT! What I thought was good metal turned out to be good paint and undercoating hiding vast quantities of rust. After a lot of debate I just can't bring myself to send another 1g to the crusher and I've decided to patch the holes myself rather than pay someone else outrageous sums of money to do it for me. It's also a great excuse to buy cool tools, which is always a good thing.

Sooo, I've been doing a lot of research lately about buying welding equipment and I've pretty much settles on buying a new mig welder in the 130-180 amp range. I don't foresee ever needing the whole 180 amps as I doubt I'll ever weld anything thicker than 3/16". If possible I'd like to keep the initial cost down by getting one that will do flux core welding for this repair, and then upgrading it a real mig by buying the regulators/tank/gas later. Yes, I know this isn't ideal but few things in life are, and right now spending ~$400 looks much more attractive than spending ~$800.

This brings up 2 or 3 vital questions.

1) Can ANY welder, even the best ones, weld 22-24ga. sheet metal with .030" flux core wire? I know that it is supposed to penetrate deeper than solid wire so is this really possible for me to do or is it something that only an uber skilled welder could do? Or do I absolutely have to use solid wire with gas mig to weld something that thin?

2) I already know that the cheapy low end welders can't do it because their lowest settings are too high, like 50-60 amps. What I'm wondering is... will units like the HH125/HH140 or Lincoln SP135/SP135T with 4 power settings be adequate if their lowest setting is ~30 amps? Or do I really need the infinite power settings like the Miller unit has?

3) I know that Miller is the king and that Hobart and Lincoln also make good stuff, but are there other brands that make decent units in this range that cost a bit less? How much does quality/reliability/usability suffer relative to the price difference? What about brands like Clarke, Century, Thermal Arc, Chicago Electric, Astro, HTP, etc? Are any of them ok or are they all total crap? I respect your opinions so if you say they're crap I'll avoid them like the plague.

One more Q and then I'll leave you guys alone: Although I've found a couple of good threads and links from searching, websites and companies do change over time and get both better and worse, and new one pop up all the time, so can you guys offer any current advice about who/where to buy from and why you prefer certain brands or models? Thanks in advance for any and all comments and advice. Click the image to open in full size.


Edit: I know it isn't likely, but by chance does anyone within 2-3 hours of Raleigh NC have a mig welder they'd be willing to rent me for a not too kingly sum? Click the image to open in full size.




Modified by tjbizzo at 4:14 AM 10/26/2005
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Old 10-26-2005, 08:36 AM   #2
 
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Default Re: FCAW Q: can you really flux core weld thin sheet metal or not? (tjbizzo)

You can tack weld sheet metal with 0.030" but it won't do anything more.
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Old 10-26-2005, 08:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: FCAW Q: can you really flux core weld thin sheet metal or not? (Jamez)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamez
You can tack weld sheet metal with 0.030" but it won't do anything more.
So is the only way to mig weld thin autobody sheet metal with .024" solid wire and C25 gas in a welder with a 25 amp setting? Will a 30 amp setting do it if it's a welder that has 4 or 6 "click" positions or does it have to be like a Miller with an infinite control ****? Am I doomed to blow holes thru it using .030" flux core with ANY machine or just with the crappier machines?

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Old 10-26-2005, 06:15 PM   #4
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Default Re: FCAW Q: can you really flux core weld thin sheet metal or not? (tjbizzo)

Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?
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Old 10-27-2005, 02:57 AM   #5
 
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Default Re: FCAW Q: can you really flux core weld thin sheet metal or not? (tjbizzo)

I can't tell you anything about MIG because I have never tried it but with my Lincoln Mig Pak 10 running on flux cored with 0.030" the thin stuff get's really tricky. It get's really unstable at low current, going back and forth from not even sparking at all to blowing a hole right through your piece. Just tacking sheet metal can be tricky. In fact, the settings guide on the back panel doesn't show you anything as thin as you could weld with gas. I think it stops at 16G but don't quote me on that.
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Old 10-27-2005, 07:50 AM   #6
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Default Re: FCAW Q: can you really flux core weld thin sheet metal or not? (Jamez)

Depending on how severe the rust is, you can always cut them out and rivet in new panels. Rust proof, insulate, and rubber coat. Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 10-29-2005, 04:43 PM   #7
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u can do it with flux wire, just get some .023 wire. The welder u were talkign about will do it no problem. The best smaller migs i've used so far has been some of the lincolns, i like them better than some of the smaller millers i've used. the lincoln 135 is a good entry level welder.
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Old 10-30-2005, 08:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sewell94
u can do it with flux wire, just get some .023 wire. The welder u were talkign about will do it no problem. The best smaller migs i've used so far has been some of the lincolns, i like them better than some of the smaller millers i've used. the lincoln 135 is a good entry level welder.
I wish I could do that, but they don't make .023" flux core wire, only solid wire comes in that size.
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Old 10-30-2005, 09:40 AM   #9
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They do make .023 flux. I had a 10 lbs roll in an old POS machine i had.
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Old 10-31-2005, 12:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
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They do make .023 flux. I had a 10 lbs roll in an old POS machine i had.
Any idea where I can buy some? I haven't found anyone locally or online who has it.
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