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Thread: 140 with spool gun aluminum woes

  1. #1

    140 with spool gun aluminum woes

    I bought a Longevity 140 and the spool gun n started practicing and fine tuning and got it pretty dialed in. Within an hour I was laying decent beads. Wasn't perfect but I was super impressed with the machine. Five months later (today) I tried again with it on the same settings--wire speed at about 75 and arc volts somewhere between 7 and 8. The argon pressure is hard to figure and that's my first question. The regulator that comes with the 140 is for argon/CO2 mix, and I'm not sure how the readings for that mix would differ when using straight argon for aluminum. Can anyone help?

    This was on 3/16 aluminum cleaned carefully with a wire brush, .035 wire included with the spool gun, new tip in and nozzle. No matter what adjustments I made nothing helped. When I started adjusting the gas , I noticed that after a half hour the pressure in the tank had not changed much (I'm not sure how much but I thought I started at 1200 and it was close to that when I threw in the towel). I was purging the gun to bring gas to the nozzle when I started and stopped and it sounded like it was getting gas. I started wondering if the regulator was stuck and was not getting the right flow of argon through it. I slowly opened and closed all of the the regulator valves to make sure they were working right and the regulator completely failed. I have to buy a new one.

    Any idea why they came out so badly when the last time I used the machine they were really solid?

    Also, the numbers on the 140 dials--the arc volts are labeled 1--10 and the wire speed is 10 to 100. What exactly do those values represent? The miller welding calculator for 3/16" aluminum gives me the following:

    Wire Size & Wire Feed Speed: .035" (0.9 mm) at 425-450 ipm
    Shielding Gas & Voltage Range: Argon (AL): 23-24 Volts
    Amperage Range: 140-150


    How does that translate over to what the Longevity 140 dials of 1--10 and 10--100?

    Finally, to just make it easy, I deal with 3/16" aluminum almost exclusively. With .035 wire, can someone recommend settings to start with?



    Thanks, Mike G


  2. #2
    Hi Mike and welcome to the forum. We like pictures here so please include some showing your work. Be sure to post a bit about yourself in the introduce yourself section so we can get to know you.
    I can't offer any advice on the 140 but I'm sure someone here can help you out.
    Dan
    Units owned Longevity PROmts 200

    Force Cut LP80 plasma cutter
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    Atlas 10x36" lathe
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    Home built aluminum foundry, HF 4x6 bandsaw

  3. #3

    more like warts than beads

    Name:  badwelds.JPG
Views: 168
Size:  42.7 KB Here's a pic of the "beads". Tried to upload them to the original post but it wouldn't take. Intro....started welding steel with using flux core for outdoor use and once I kind of figured it out I bought the Longevity 140 based on Kevin Caron's recommendation for an inexpensive welder for aluminum. The 140 is my dedicated aluminum welder and like I mentioned I spent about an hour dialing it in and practicing and was pleased with how easy it was to use. Figured my aluminum welding would improve as I went, and felt like I was ready for project work. I'm hoping someone can give me some insight into what happened here. I'm hoping it was the regulator. I am replacing it with a flow meter, though I'm still not sure what the flow should be. Would be nice to equate the values on the 140's dials with actual volts and inches per minute so I can use a welding calculator and at least set the dials to ballpark settings and make adjustments from there.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sling's Avatar
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    hey, Mike,
    first, i know it's frustrating to have this kind of problem, but i'm sure that collectively we can get it sorted out.

    first, your settings question: http://www.millerwelds.com/resources...calculator.php

    this link brings you to miller's weld settings calculator, which has separate options for mig, tig, and stick welding. someone more familiar with your machine can translate settings better than i, but your manual should also help.

    next, your regulator question: the ar/co2 reg works for pure ar, so i doubt the regulator is the problem. however, as dirty as those welds look, i would suspect poor shielding gas. if i can suggest, please look for leaks between the regulator and the torch.

    my next guess is polarity: mig is EP even for aluminum. in the course of the machine sitting for a while, did you take it apart or remove the leads, and might you have set it up for EN inadvertently?

    good luck, let us know how it goes!
    Victor o/a
    accumulating tools as projects demand

  5. #5
    Senior Member Sling's Avatar
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    i read your first post more closely and saw that you're questioning the regulator's integrity. with the regulator connected to the cylinder, no connection to the welder, and cylinder valve turned on (turned counter clockwise like a garden hose), you should be able to get argon to flow if the cylinder is full.

    apologies for stream of consciousness suggestions. how about checking details in this order:
    1. polarity check is very quick
    2. check for argon in the tank: no regulator, quick on/off crack of the valve, and you should get a blast of argon
    3. regulator working test described above
    4. argon leaking test. this is more tedious and may involve "painting" various connections, including the machine's gas solenoid, with soapy water (bubbles/foam indicate leaks).
    Victor o/a
    accumulating tools as projects demand

  6. #6
    Thanks everyone for the quick replies. I appreciate the support! Here's what I can tell you in response:

    1. Straight argon tank is from local Praxair, filled about four months ago. Not sure of the shelf life of argon, 'cuz I was thinking bad gas but it worked well just a few months ago.
    2. Polarity is set up correctly. Checked that too first thing just in case. Like I mentioned this is dedicated for MIG welding aluminum so I won't change the polarity
    3. Will have to wait for new regulator to do the regulator test. In the course of checking the regulator by opening and closing all valves all the way it catastrophically failed so I'm waiting for Amazon to deliver one with a flow meter.
    4. Argon leak test. See above. Should have new regulator on Wednesday
    5. Also, wire looks good. It's been in the spool gun since last use and not exposed to air so no sign of annodization on the wire.
    6. Used the same electrical outlet as the time the welder worked well. I know at my home the performance varies depending on how much juice we're using. This was at my fire station so power to the unit was not the issue.

    Certainly seems like a gas issue, eh? Hope it's not a leak somewhere between regulator and gun tip. I removed all connections and stored them in a covered bin so I'm not sure how it would spring a leak.

    Thanks again for the input. Hope to send pics of a shiny row of dimes soon.

  7. #7
    I'm betting the new regulator will solve the problem. Start the flow at around 15CFH or 7.5Lpm depending on the way the flow meter is marked.
    Units owned Longevity PROmts 200

    Force Cut LP80 plasma cutter
    Longevity auto dark welding helmet

    Atlas 10x36" lathe
    Craftsman 5HP 30 Gal compressor
    Home made CNC router/plasma/hot wire foam cutting, 3D printing table powered by Longevity Force Cut LP80
    Home built aluminum foundry, HF 4x6 bandsaw

  8. #8
    Problem solved. I took the regulator from my Hobart I use for steel and tried it out. Still not getting gas to the nozzle. Started looking for leaks. Realized that the protective sheath covering the hose from the machine to the spool gun had slid down and was preventing the connection into the machine from seating correctly. Slid that down towards the spool gun and reseated it. Viola! Gas to nozzle. Played with gas and machine settings. Settled on 5.5 on volts dial, 7 on wire speed and 17-18 lpm. Not quite a row of dimes yet but maybe better looking results than flux core steel MIG welding. Next issue to deal with is the blowback that happens too much, and the significant black soot. Hoping that's from less than immaculate aluminum. Other than that I'm ready for project work. Will post pics. Thanks for your help!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Sling's Avatar
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    Cool, glad it worked out! DIY fixes like that are very gratifying, and makes a deposit in the "experience " bank that you can draw on next time.

    A wipe-down with acetone will do wonders. I have not MIG welded aluminum: do you have to remove the oxide layer before welding, or just burn through?
    Victor o/a
    accumulating tools as projects demand

  10. #10
    Jody over at Weldingtipsandtricks.com just put out a nice video on welding aluminum with a spool gun, he covered the black soot issue. It might be worth a look.
    Last edited by Gadget; 08-20-2015 at 07:34 AM.
    Units owned Longevity PROmts 200

    Force Cut LP80 plasma cutter
    Longevity auto dark welding helmet

    Atlas 10x36" lathe
    Craftsman 5HP 30 Gal compressor
    Home made CNC router/plasma/hot wire foam cutting, 3D printing table powered by Longevity Force Cut LP80
    Home built aluminum foundry, HF 4x6 bandsaw

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