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Tag Archives: tools

  • How to Select a MIG Welder

    So you are ready to get serious about your metal work, and you want to add a wire feed welder to your shop’s arsenal. Good for you, a welder is one of the most useful pieces of shop equipment. Below, we take a look at the features and specifications you need to think about before deciding which one is right for you.

    Flux Core VS MIG

    Wire feed welders actually consist of 2 different welding types: Metal Inert Gas (MIG) and Flux Core. Flux core uses wire with a hollow core that releases a shielding gas as it melts. MIG uses a solid core wire and a tank of inert gas which shields the weld from contamination. Nearly every MIG machine can do flux core welding, but not every wire feed welder set up for flux core can be converted.

    Flux 90

     

    Eastwood Flux Core 90

    Besides the lower cost, flux core welding does have other advantages. The flux does a better job of shielding in windy or dirty environments, so it’s great for field work. No gas and no tank – That means one less consumable to buy, and a smaller lighter unit to carry around if you take it to the job site or race track. Plus, flux core actually burns hotter, so it is actually better for welding thicker material.

    There are several disadvantages of getting the lower cost, flux core only machine. First, flux core produces sloppy looking welds with lots of splatter, even in the hands of a pro. Second, because it burns hotter it is hard to weld thinner sheet metal without a lot of burn through.

    Wire feed chart

    So there's lots you can accomplish with just flux core wire, but, except for the lower initial purchase price, there is no reason to get just a flux core wire feed welder, when every MIG machine can do both. above you will see the suggested settings for the Eastwood MIG 135.  The bottom two lines of the top chart show the suggested settings if using Flux core wire.

    Choosing a MIG Welder

    MIG 175

    MIG welding (Metal Inert Gas) takes the basic method of wire fed flux core welding, and uses a solid wire instead, plus a tank of gas which provides the shielding. Many basic flux core welding set ups can be converted to do MIG welding with just a few parts. Typically, you need to add a gas solenoid, a regulator, and a tank of shielding gas, though some already come equipped with the solenoid.

    MIG works just like flux core: you pull the trigger, wire is fed, and gas comes out the tip to shield the weld. MIG welding produces cleaner, neater, more consistent welds, especially at lower heats on thinner metal. MIG is also the preferred way to weld aluminum, though you will need a special aluminum spool gun, and a tank of argon.

    110v VS 220v

    This choice may be dictated strictly by where you are planning on using it; if your shop isn’t wired for 220v, or you plan on using it on the go, 110v is the choice for you. But there are some welding units out there that run on either voltage, with just an adapter plug. This is a great compromise if you are planning on rewiring your shop in the future, or already have 220v in the shop, but want to be able to weld anywhere and everywhere.

    The Eastwood MIG 135 is our entry level MIG welder.  It is perfect for the home user that wants a shielded welder but only has 110V power source.  This welder is rated to 3/16" which is perfect for auto body and basic structural repair.

    Moving on to the next level is the Eastwood MIG 175.  This is a 220V only unit which means it will be able to weld thicker metal up to 5/16" steel.  You may think that there is not much difference between the two but the big difference is the duty cycle.  With the MIG 175 you will be able to weld on a higher setting for longer periods of time.

    Lastly we offer the Eastwood MIG 250, this is a dual voltage unit and is internally controlled.  This means that you don't need to change any settings when going from 110V to 220V, just simply plug it into the desired power source and the welder will adjust accordingly.  On 220V this welder is rated to 1/2" steel, making it great for heavy structural welding.

    But what are the advantages of the higher voltage? Obviously a higher voltage unit is more powerful than a lower voltage one; they typically can put out more heat and weld thicker materials. This is also important for welding aluminum, which requires more amperage compared to welding steel of the same thickness. If working with a lower amperage within the range of most 110v units, like 90 amps for instance, a 220v unit is going to have a much higher duty cycle. So, you’ll be able to get more done faster, with less down time.

    Duty Cycle

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    The duty cycle for a welder is usually expressed as a percentage at a given amperage, 20% at 90 amps for instance. That is a typical rating for a home use 110v MIG welder, it means with the power set to 90 amps, you should only be welding continuously for 2 out of every 10 minutes to avoid overloading the welder. You could see how that would be an issue if you were building a bridge, or a tube famed chassis. A 220v machine is often rated at 30% at 135 amps, and something like 60% at a lower 90 amp setting. That means you can weld much longer without overheating the machine and having to take a rest.

    Transformer VS Inverter

    Years ago all MIG welders were transformer welders. They all used windings of wire to transform the 60hz AC voltage coming out of the wall into much higher voltage at the end of the welding torch, but still at 60hz. In the 21st century, there are now welders that use solid state inverters to step up the wave frequency of the electricity to much more than 60 cycles per second. Because of this, they can produce higher voltages with much smaller transformers. Since transformers are just windings of copper wire, the smaller they can be, the more portable the welding unit can be. The inverter technology also allows machines like the Eastwood 200 Amp MIG/Stick to exist because they can switch internally to the different electrical requirements of flux core, MIG welding and stick welding, and produce different shaped waves if need be.

    Inverter based units also need much less energy to run. If you are planning on running your welder off of a generator the inverter is the way to go. Transformer-based units require a much larger generator in order to work. The extra money you spend to move up to the inverter unit is money you will save by buying a smaller generator. The lower current draw of an inverter unit typically means you can run it on an extension cord for easier use around the shop. Your electric bill will be lower too.

    Adjustability

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    Some machines these days can practically set themselves up, while on the low end some just have “high” or “low” heat settings. Like all things, if you can’t adjust it to suit you, you are going to have to adjust to suit it. MIG machines usually have 2 important settings: wire feed speed and power. Most times the more power you use the faster you want the wire to be fed, but not always. The more basic machines usually have fewer settings, and typically are “stepped” or “notched” meaning you can’t choose a setting between 1 and 2. The better machines are infinitely adjustable; you can choose any setting between anywhere on the dial, not just the numbers 1-10. If you can’t find a setting that works with the speed you want to weld on the material you are working with, then you have the change your speed to suit the output you can get. This is where the fine adjustments can come in handy.

    Parts and Serviceability

    A welder ought to be a lasting investment, but buy a unit from a low cost generic brand that hasn’t been around for long, and you may find parts and consumables impossible to find in a few years. At Eastwood we have been here since the late 1970s and we plan on being here a long time, standing behind our products. Not only do we have quality welding units at an attractive price, but we also carry all the parts and supplies you will ever need for them, except for the gas, but if it was possible we would sell that as well. We sell replacement tips, wire, torches and more for our MIG welders. We also have technical support for you by phone and email.

    We are committed to providing professional quality welding machines at a price the home hobbyist can enjoy. You can buy more powerful welders from other brands, and you can buy less expensive welders, but we don’t think you will find a better welder for less.

  • Proper Garage Door Lubrication

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    Keeping your garage door in good working order is one of those things that can be easily overlooked.  While it may not see like an important task taking a few minutes every couple months to make sure all of the moving parts are functioning the way they should.  It'll save you from a large bill down the road if the entire door needs to be replaced.

     

    Lubricating the door rollers is by far the most important part of proper garage door maintenance but its not just simply spraying them down with WD-40.  Using that product will help in the short run but actually make the door worse over time.  Garage door rollers usually come packed with some sort of petroleum based grease.  Over time that grease will wear away and the door will start to make metal to metal noises.  If you spray the door with WD-40 it will lubricate the rollers for a little while but it will soon evaporate, additionally the WD-40 will act as a degrease and effectively remove any old grease that was originally there.  Any metal parts now exposed to the elements now have the potential to rust and possibly get stuck in place.

     

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    To properly lubricate your door rollers you must replace the grease with a similar product that wont evaporate over time.  CRC White Lithium Grease is a great lubricant for any moving parts with metal to metal contact.  White lithium grease will not wash off, melt or freeze so it is perfect for any door or garage that is exposed to the elements.  All it takes is a quick spray into each of the rollers and hinges and your door is good to go.

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    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

  • 5 Essential Items You May Be Missing in your Shop

    I've learned over the years that the better equipped and the more organized you are in your garage or workshop will reflect in your work. We decided to put together 5 items that are key in keeping your productivity and quality of work up.
  • Cleaning Drill Chuck Will Stop Bits From Slipping - Quick Tip

     

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    Any of your drill bits look like this?  If so, you'll want to keep reading.

     

    Circular wear marks on the bottom of drill bits are a key indication of the drill bit slipping inside the drill chuck.  The main reason for this problem is cutting fluid or lubricants used come in contact with the chuck,  when this happens tightening the chuck will only go so far.  When this happens the bit stops cutting the metal and starts spinning within the drill itself.  if this happens often the drill bits strength is reduced and could cause it to prematurely break.  In some cases this can be very dangerous because the bit may become lodged in the metal, if this happens and the chuck regains grip on the bit the metal you are drilling could be sent spinning or the drill could be ripped from your hands.

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    Keeping your drill chuck clean is the best way to ensure you will never have problems with your bits slipping.  This is a very simple process and will only take a couple minutes.

     

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    First adjust your chuck so it is about half way open so the jaws are exposed but there still some room between them.

     

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    Spray the edge of a rag with PRE Painting Prep and go over each of the jaws to remove any dirt, grease or lubricants that may be on them.  If you have cotton swabs they also work great.  Spray pre on the end of a swab to clean each of the jaws.

    Do not spray the chuck directly because it may remove the bearing grease further inside the chuck, causing it to lock up.

    Routinely cleaning your drill chuck will help prevent bit slippage and increase the life of your drill bits.

     

    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

     

  • Cracked Grill Repair - Eastwood Hot Stapler

    Many late model cars are made with plastic grills, bumpers, and interior trim.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this but the one area they lack is in their strength, even the slighest fender bender can cause them to crack or break off.  Not to mention that as plastic ages it can become weaker.  If you've ever tried, super glue will never hold the pieces together so repairing with that is out of the question.  Eastwood has a permanent way to repair your plastic interior and exterior parts and save you from having to buy new.  The Eastwood Hot Stapler allows you to re-attach the broken pieces by bridging the crack with a metal staple.  It doesn't just hold the two pieces together it fuses into the plastic by melting into both sides.

     

    Photo Oct 14, 2 28 08 PM

    The grill of this 2000 Silverado was damaged when a piece of mud was thrown off of another cars tire.  A new chrome grill for this truck costs around $100, this might not seem like much but depending on your car it may not be easy to locate replacement parts.

     

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    After removing the clips that hold the grill to the radiator support, I was able to take the grill off and bring it into the shop.  The damage was actually a little worse than I had originally thought because the lower black plastic was completely gone.

     

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    I removed the plastic tabs holding the two pieces of the grill together to reveal that the cracks along the inside were even worse yet.

     

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    In order to make a hidden repair I decided to continue to separate the two grill halves until I had enough room to get the stapler in and repair the front half.  I used a welding magnet wedged in between them to keep the two separated so I had an extra hand to work.

     

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    Using two needle nose locking pliers I was able to hold the two pieces together so they wouldn't move out of place, once I put the first staple in the position of the two pieces it is set in shape.

     

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    I placed three of the wide staples along the flat edge, these will provide the main support.  I've found that once you press the staple into the plastic, push it to the side to completely submerge the metal under the plastic.  Doing this will prevent the staple from pulling straight out of the plastic.

     

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    I removed the two clamps and put two of the narrower staples on each of the edges, placing them here will help prevent any twisting that might occur while driving down the road.

     

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    To remove the staple tails use a pair of heavy duty flush cutters.  Do not use wire cutters, the hardness of the staple will gouge the cutting surface.

     

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    While the two pieces were still separated I had to deal with the rest of the cracked plastic.  Since the majority of the black plastic will not be seen from the outside I was able to put staples on both sides of the cracks for extra support.

     

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    To reconnect the crack that was in the corner, the kit comes with a special staple that is angled to fit directly into a corner.  These are great because corners like this are very prone to cracking and these staples are a very straight forward solution.

     

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    Along the back side I followed the same procedure using both the wide and narrow depending on where each of the cracks were.

     

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    From the factory both pieces of the grill were melted together at each of these tabs.  While disassembling the grill I was forced to cut away the melted plastic to separate them.  To rejoin the two I was able to use one of the narrow staples to melt them back together.

     

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    The grill is now one solid piece again but Its not quite finished yet.  The crack along the plated piece caused the coating to peal off.  Look out for a future article where it will be sanded filled and repainted.

     

    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

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