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Using a gasless MIG for car body panel welding?


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#1 OFFLINE   vaughant

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 11:09 AM

Firstly, mods if this is in the wrong place please move it for me, thanks very much. Also I did check the FAQ's and I THINK this isn't a previously asked question.


I'm after some advice on gasless MIG welding.

I'm looking to fit a new set of rear arches on my Vito.

I've got the parts and I've done a bit of panel welding before but with a gas MIG.

I still have the gas MIG but it's a big old thing and isn't actually my welder but one I borrowed ten years ago!!!

My mate still knows about it and has no desire for it back right now but it needs a few bits and bobs which I could end up spending £100 on that I'd rather put towards my own welder.

I started looking at traditional MIGs which are great but I really fancy the look of these gasless types.

I can get a pretty decent Sealy one for under £150-200 with consumables which I think is fab, but speaking with someone I know the other day he claimed it would be the single worst possible thing to weld up car bodywork with. He gave me a number of reasons why but frankly although the guy is an excellent tig welder, I'm not confident he does or knows much about MIG and is perhaps looking at TIG principles instead.

Hence I thought I would ask on here.

I'll be joggling in and plug welding the panels on (something he recommended I didn't do, claiming I should butt weld the whole arch, hence I felt he may not have any experience in this field?).

I've done this before with a MIG and no gas (shoddy) with no real issues other than it's a bit of a crappy way of doing it and I want to start getting a bit more professional* about these things.

I'll never go much beyond car panels with it, I've got a small arc for heavier stuff.

All thoughts welcomed.

#2 OFFLINE   Tickman

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 11:27 AM

When I do car panels it is a tack and then move along for the next tack.
After that build on the last one to create a seam.
The problem I see with gasless is the need to clean the previous tack before you put the next one on it due to the flux in the wire.

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#3 OFFLINE   Skut

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 11:29 AM

Always difficult to get a good weld.   Higher power settings help a bit but if the metal your working with is even slightly thinned by corrosion the chance of blowing holes is very high.  Messy leaves slag and brown powder over the working area.  Welds are quite hard and can be brittle.  Porosity is a problem.  The machines are cheap which means components can fail like the spring loaded tensioner thingy for the wire feed which failed in mine.  The flux wire costs more. 

 

They are very much a case of adapting yourself to them and working round their quirks and shiteness to achieve anything passable.



#4 OFFLINE   Tamworthbay

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 11:37 AM

My mate did his Mk1 mx5 with nothing else. He did a good job but it seemed a lot harder work than a normal mig. The other thing is that a cheap mig is much harder work than a decent one with decent gas supply, so a cheap one that is gas less would not be great. But if it’s all that’s there go for it, it isn’t the biggest job in the world.

#5 ONLINE   Des

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 11:40 AM

Anything more than light work or small jobs needs gas, it's like riding a bike without a saddle, yeah it'll work but it's a massive pain in the hole. You're going to have to fix your pals machine before you give it back so do that, it's the honorable path, and you're rewarded with a far more pleasant welding experience. 


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#6 OFFLINE   Bren

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 11:42 AM

If gasless was that good BOC would not be in business.
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#7 OFFLINE   catsinthewelder

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 11:47 AM

Believe me I know it is nice to have something shiny and new but a cheap gasless mig will be crap.

Spend the money to fix the proper one and have money left over for a shiny new auto darkening helmet with the bonus that you won't be tripping over a dead welder.

Theoretically welded repairs are supposed to be continuously seam welded for the MOT so make sure it's well hidden if you plug weld it on.

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#8 OFFLINE   canis

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 11:56 AM

I can get a pretty decent Sealy one for under £150-200 with consumables which I think is fab, but speaking with someone I know the other day he claimed it would be the single worst possible thing to weld up car bodywork with.


No such thing exists. Those little shoebox Sealeys are bloody awful for welding, although as doorstops they're very good.

The amount of "inadequate repair" MOT failure jobs I've seen ... just don't, really. Your freind isn't lying.

#9 OFFLINE   PiperCub

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 12:47 PM

Gasless - don't bother, yes, it works but you need to be good in the first place. They are hard work to get a half reasonable result, normal MIG is just less hassle for a better result and quite easy to get the hang of if you are new to welding generally. 

 

You are better off with a MIG, as said above, the cheap ones are best avoided, spend a little more and get something like a GYS SmartMIG, plus a proper gas bottle regulator so you don't need to dick about with those convenient but small and expensive disposable DIY gas bottles. Also, spend another £50 on an auto darkening helmet (as CITW says), these are wonderful things! All this will probably be about £400-450.(This is the set up I have). 

 

In my opinion (probably not in that of others) you'll save money overall by getting a decent set-up in the first place and save time and your sanity when it comes to welding if you have proper kit. I know it is alot of money but I think it's worth it as you'll avoid buying twice. It's like any skill, like playing a guitar, you can learn and get good eventually on a PoS instrument but it's way easier if you start with something halfway decent in the first place!



#10 OFFLINE   SiC

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 01:00 PM

I believe gas-less welding is really for stuff like repairing gates and fences in the middle of a field where carrying a gas bottle would be a massive PIA. Which a lot of the smaller welding units aren't good enough for either anyway.
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#11 OFFLINE   SiC

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 01:12 PM

I bought a cheap MIG (Cosmos) to repair and fix the design flaws. Got fed up of that and bought a second hand GYS Pearl 200-2 instead. They don't come up often, but there are other good brands available often from Kemmpi/Esab/others. I wanted an inverter based one as they're a fair bit smaller+lighter and you can run them off a long extension lead. Also they can come as a Synergic/smart mode which I also wanted to save me learning how to setup the machine when I started to learn. It adapts the power settings as you weld to adjust for your style. But you do pay a premium for that.

These were my very first welds using 1mm material:
http://autoshite.com...-7#entry1576717

Those GYS Smart-MIG look pretty good. It does seem that anything that is half decent has a chart for welding settings to start with - just the Smart-MIG print them on the front to make it easier.

My rig cost a fair bit but like most professional tools, you can get most of your money back if you ever come to sell it. I bought the machine second hand for £450, gloves x2 £15, Esab regulator £35, fire resistant welding overalls £15, welding hood £8, helmet £80, 0.6mm wire £15, welding cart £28 and gas+deposit ~£120 (refills are £45). Probably could have gone cheaper with some stuff like the helmet & regulator and not everyone cares about having fire resistant overalls.

I spent a fair bit on my setup (far less than if bought new), but I currently have no regrets in doing so. I'm also hoping/expecting I'll never need to buy anything again apart from consumables (i.e. torch/wire/gas/helmet glass).
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#12 OFFLINE   Talbot

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 01:37 PM

No-gas welding is fairly terrible for thin section steel. The first welder I ever owned was a no-gas MIG that needed flux-cored wire. It was utterly pants at doing car body repairs, and I used to struggle like hell with it, either creating a weld that hadn't melted the parent material, or blowing a hole in the panel bigger than I was trying to repair in the first place. Flux-cored welding only really works on thicker heavier section welds.

Got a "real" gas-shielded MIG and the difference is night and day. Could actually weld stuff up. I now have a fairly elderly Cebora unit that weighs about thirty tonnes and is AAAALLLLL transformer. Short of a modern inverter unit, a rough rule of thumb is the bigger the transformer is, the better the unit will run when turned right down trying to do thin sheet.

The cheaper purchase price of a no-gas should not be an incentive. You'll cost yourself more in the swear box within about 48hrs of buying it.
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#13 OFFLINE   dieselnutjob

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 02:37 PM

Would buying a Clarke 135TE Turbo be a mistake? I will need something to start working on the 604 soon.

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#14 OFFLINE   dieselnutjob

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 02:46 PM

Google suggested that this is better though
https://www.weldequi...martmig-162.htm

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#15 OFFLINE   catsinthewelder

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 02:48 PM

Would buying a Clarke 135TE Turbo be a mistake? I will need something to start working on the 604 soon.

 

They aren't bad and in the right hands are all you need for cars.  It won't be as easy to get good results as SIC's setup but he has a car that needs an awful lot of welding so it's worth him spending the extra money.  Does the 604 need a lot of work?


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#16 OFFLINE   catsinthewelder

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 02:52 PM

Google suggested that this is better though
https://www.weldequi...martmig-162.htm

 

I've promised myself a Portamig when I've built myself a garage.  I would imagine that you could get a good used Clarke for £100-£150.  If you were planning to buy a new Clarke for £300-£350 then get the Portamig instead.


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#17 OFFLINE   PiperCub

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 03:07 PM

Many of the decent modern MIG's can be turned over to 'gasless' use by reversing the polarity of the torch/return and using fluxed wire. My GYS162 will do this, can't personally imagine why I'd ever want to do it but the option is there! 

 

The only reason I'd buy a gasless MIG is if it was stupid, really stupidly-cheap because someone wanted rid of it (presumably after getting pissed off with the poor results), then I may just to see if I can master it.



#18 OFFLINE   Mally

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 03:21 PM

Anything more than light work or small jobs needs gas, it's like riding a bike without a saddle, yeah it'll work but it's a massive pain in the hole. You're going to have to fix your pals machine before you give it back so do that, it's the honorable path, and you're rewarded with a far more pleasant welding experience. 

 

Liked for all it's content, but mainly because it followed Tamworth and had reference to 'no saddle'.



#19 ONLINE   New POD

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 03:33 PM

I have a cheap and nasty gasless mig ans have used it with adequate results on an mx5.

#20 ONLINE   DodgeRover

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 08:51 PM

I have used gasless on RSJs it was ok but made the same amount of mess as arc welding without getting as good a penetration.

#21 OFFLINE   Talbot

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Posted 20 August 2018 - 08:58 PM

Would buying a Clarke 135TE Turbo be a mistake? I will need something to start working on the 604 soon.


As long as it's cheap enough. I used a Clarke 150Turbo for several years, and it worked OK. The hobby-type torch is a bit short and can overheat badly on longer runs. If you can extend to something with a Euro-type-torch then do so, as they are far more versatile, and you can get longer ones for access to difficult-to-get places.
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#22 OFFLINE   vaughant

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 08:57 AM

Thanks for the replies guys. Sounds like no gas isn't the way to go really.
I'll fix up the telwin and take it from there, it was a pretty awesome welder to be fair just a big bulky thing to lug about. It was also broken when I had it but I fixed it up pretty easily (rebuilt the trigger mechanism) and have used it since.

As for plug welding afaik is always been an acceptable alternative to originally spot welded panels? I've not read any different anywhere. Obviously structural is a continuous weld etc.

Everything will be seam sealed and either filled/painted etc anyway so it would never be seen.

Buy cheap buy twice it seems or "seams" if you pardon the pun*.

I'll go now.

#23 OFFLINE   vaughant

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 09:02 AM

Gasless - don't bother, yes, it works but you need to be good in the first place. They are hard work to get a half reasonable result, normal MIG is just less hassle for a better result and quite easy to get the hang of if you are new to welding generally.

You are better off with a MIG, as said above, the cheap ones are best avoided, spend a little more and get something like a GYS SmartMIG, plus a proper gas bottle regulator so you don't need to dick about with those convenient but small and expensive disposable DIY gas bottles. Also, spend another £50 on an auto darkening helmet (as CITW says), these are wonderful things! All this will probably be about £400-450.(This is the set up I have).

In my opinion (probably not in that of others) you'll save money overall by getting a decent set-up in the first place and save time and your sanity when it comes to welding if you have proper kit. I know it is alot of money but I think it's worth it as you'll avoid buying twice. It's like any skill, like playing a guitar, you can learn and get good eventually on a PoS instrument but it's way easier if you start with something halfway decent in the first place!


Only bit of that I don't agree with is the guitar reference, if your good, your good on any instrument, if your crap, it doesn't matter if you borrow Stevie Vai's set up, you'll always be crap !!!

I can still remember my disappointment when I finally got to play a Gibson Les Paul, nothing like what I thought it would be yet a real strat was a lovely thing.

Horses for courses.

#24 OFFLINE   Talbot

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 10:16 AM

Also, spend another £50 on an auto darkening helmet (as CITW says), these are wonderful things!


Missed this before. They are no longer £50. Not even £25. I just bought one off the bay of snot for a massive £10.85. It works really well, clearer than the last Nederman one I had, and the shade number (adjustable) seems about spot on.

For £21.70, buy two and have a spare.
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#25 OFFLINE   PiperCub

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 11:13 AM

^^ Fair enough! Didn't know they were that cheap these days, I bought mine some years ago now. 

 

They are great things to have, I'd almost use the word 'essential', recall seeing one many, many years ago when they were strictly pro-only kit status with a price to match (in the £100's) and being amazed - what a fantastic idea, must get one....... one day - I thought to myself at the time.



#26 OFFLINE   fordperv

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 01:13 PM

You won't go wrong with a 135te mine is now around 12 years old and had some abuse in that time (I'm currently restoring the mrs car with it) the only part ive had to replace in that time (other than consumables) is the swan neck, I will say change the crappy earth clamp they come with though it was the best thing I ever did oh and don't use those crappy little disposable c02 bottles you may as well chuck your money away
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