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Erratic arc

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Erratic arc

Postby Rick van winkle » Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:38 pm

Im hoping someone can help me figure out whats gone wrong. Ive been spending an hour or so a day for about a week trying to build some tig fundamentals. Ive never tried to tig before this. Ive got an ahp alphatig, using the footpedal. Things were progressing along to my satisfaction just welding mild steel coupons. I hung it up one night with no problems. the next day i went to practice some more but first i swapped in a fresh tungsten. When i took the back cap off the torch my collett was twisted up at the tail and seized into the collett body. I did get the torch too hot the night before. Since the collett and collett body were stuck together i decided to go ahead and put one of jody's gas lens kits on it. So now i have a new gas lens setup, and a fresh electrode. When i lit up the arc was all over the place with a huge arc plume and as soon as the metal starts to puddle ive got sparks and tons of porosity. The porosity reminds me of mig when you forget to turn the bottle on. So ive tried everything i can think of to figure it out and that leads me here. As of right now ive got a gas lens kit on my 17 torch with a brand new never used sharp tungsten, my mild steel coupon has all the mill scale ground off the surface. I checked for argon/air leaks by putting my thumb over the torch head rubber with only a back cap on it. Then i touch the pedal to open the gas valve and the line is holding argon pressure against my thumb for as long as i hold it there. I used soapy water to check for argon leaks at the bottle connection and the back of the machine. No bubbles. When i light up the arc walks all over the place and comes off the side of the electrode. Swap electrode same problem. As soon as you light up the tungsten is turning black and trying to ball up. Ive got it turned down to 10 amps right now just so its easier to watch what the arc is doing without melting the steel. Im getting a brownish white powdery deposit on the peice everwhere the arc goes too. With the amps turned up the arc behaves much like when ive got waaaaay to long of an arc length like if you push the pedal down before youre ready or pull out with the pedal still down. The arc is very loud, sooty, and sideways with a big plume.

Image Hopefully this pic doesnt end up being huge.
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Re: Erratic arc

Postby exnailpounder » Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:58 pm

Do you still have a standard collet body you can switch back to to see if it might be your machine? Never heard of a problem like that before. What cfh are you set at? 20cfh is a good starting point. Do you have your machine on the correct current for what you're welding? You might have accidentally switched it to AC? Based on the pics, thats at least a gas problem.
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Re: Erratic arc

Postby Rick van winkle » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:11 pm

I dont have a new collett and body to try right now but ill pick some up. I have tried using the damaged ones i have with the exact same result. I was at 20cfh and turned it up to 30 to see what would happen but i didnt notice any difference. I did check that i was still on dc becasue how its affecting the tungsten i thought maybe it was on ac.
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Re: Erratic arc

Postby Rupes » Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:37 am

Disassemble the torch would be my next step. Check the gas connection inside the torch and make sure its not damaged, in fact it only takes a few minutes I'd check the whole line. At least then you can rule that out. You may be able to block it off and get pressure, but It may not be flowing adequately to weld which is what it looks like, little to know gas.

Can't help but think you've ruled out everything but it being a gas problem. If it was an earth issue you'd still get an arc off the tip not the sides. If it was some unknown gunk on the new collet body etc you would have removed it when you changed back to your old stuff.
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Re: Erratic arc

Postby Rupes » Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:40 am

Rick van winkle wrote:my collett was twisted up at the tail and seized into the collett body.



You didn't put anti-seize on the threads of the new stuff did you?
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Re: Erratic arc

Postby Kevin_Holbrook » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:41 am

try a new collet , when they twist up like that the gas can be blocked


i'm guessing you don't have a flow meter ?
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Re: Erratic arc

Postby Rick van winkle » Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:01 pm

While I do identify myself as a mechanic and I'm always tempted to put stuff on threads I have not dne anything like that here. I'll take the torch apart more tonight to see what else I can look at. I'll also try a new standard colllet and body when I get them. The only flow meter I have is on the bottle is there a flow meter that goes in a different location or is used to troublshoot things?
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Re: Erratic arc

Postby Poland308 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:29 pm

You get a flowmeter but you hold over the end of your gas cap to see if you're getting the same flow rate at the end of the gun as you get at the tank. Mostly just used by people they don't have a flowmeter at the tank or who are troubleshooting a gas problem. There cheap to get.
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Re: Erratic arc

Postby raticus » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:58 pm

it looks and sounds like you're set on AC instead of DC. If it makes a bunch of crackling noise, it's probably on AC... You shouldn't hear anything if you're set to DC. Maybe your welder is wired up wrong, try switching to AC and see what happens.

how's your ground clamp? put the clamp directly on your piece that you're welding and see if there's an improvement.

how's your arc length? you should be almost touching the piece.

now this may be really far off, but what's the chance you're not actually using tungsten electrodes? could you possibly have accidentally put a piece of filler rod (or some other type of steel rod) in your torch thinking it was your tungsten?

and are you sure you're using 100% argon? could it be an argon/co2 mix that you were using when doing some MIG welding? or maybe something even more completely different?
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Re: Erratic arc

Postby Rick van winkle » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:10 pm

raticus wrote:it looks and sounds like you're set on AC instead of DC. If it makes a bunch of crackling noise, it's probably on AC... You shouldn't hear anything if you're set to DC. Maybe your welder is wired up wrong, try switching to AC and see what happens.

how's your ground clamp? put the clamp directly on your piece that you're welding and see if there's an improvement.

how's your arc length? you should be almost touching the piece.

now this may be really far off, but what's the chance you're not actually using tungsten electrodes? could you possibly have accidentally put a piece of filler rod (or some other type of steel rod) in your torch thinking it was your tungsten?

and are you sure you're using 100% argon? could it be an argon/co2 mix that you were using when doing some MIG welding? or maybe something even more completely different?


If its on ac its because something has gone haywire inside the machine. It was welding fine before and the switch is still in dc. Im positive im using tungstens it was welding fine one night and garbage the next day. The picture taken was with the ground clamp directly on the work piece. Im new so holding a tight arc is still a challenge but its not any longer than it was before this problem started. The bottle is labeled as 100% argon and since ive run several beads off this bottle without this problem.
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