Motorcycle Tech Tips
Wow, That’s Bright!
The Basics of Welding, Part 2
This is the next article in the welding series. First and foremost, the actual welder will either need to be purchased or borrowed. Respectable brands usually yield good results. A typical flux core mig welder can run from $200 to $500, while an argon shield mig welder can go from $400 to $2,000. Tig welders are quite expensive and can get into the thousands of dollars. Other things needed before welding include a welding helmet, gloves, a wire brush, an angle grinder, a hammer and pliers. Some welders come with helmets, but helmets are another item that can get expensive. One great feature some welding helmets have is an auto darkening feature. Early welders would have to flip the mask down as he welded and then flip it up to see what he had done. Auto darkening helmets have an electric shade that automatically comes on when welding and turns off when welding is finished. A foolish way to weld is with no shield at all. Some people think if they close their eyes they will be fine. That is not true and is very dangerous. Welding emits light brighter than looking into the sun. Professional welders tend to get flash burn, which is like sun burn on the eyes. A person closing one’s eyes is still at risk to this light, because it passes through the eyelids and burns the retina. For safety reasons, please wear a mask!
Two dissimilar metals cannot be welded to each other. This means metals such as aluminum and steel cannot be welded to each other because of their metallurgy. However, metals of different thicknesses can be welded to each other. The thickness of the metal determines how hot and fast the weld needs to be. Stick welding is used on very thick metals because it carries a lot of amps (measure of electric current). The amps are needed to penetrate the thick metal. Unfortunately, welding sheet metal with a stick welder is tricky because it tends to burn through. Mig and tig welders can weld varied thicknesses of metal. Sheet metal is measured in gauges like wire. A good start to practice welding thin metal is 20 to 18g sheet metal. Many manufactures make clamps and pliers to hold sheet metal in place. Welding pliers are generally known as vise grips with long reach. Some welders make jigs, which are essentially posi¬tion holders. The metal can be placed in a jig and welded the same, time after time. Jigs work very well when welding motorcycle frames.