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Thread: SportAir TIG Workshop

  1. #1
    Chris In Marshfield's Avatar
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    SportAir TIG Workshop

    Completed the first day of the EAA SportAir Workshop for TIG welding. A fella learns a lot about himself when stuck behind a darkened mask for eight hours. This course had previously been taught at Lincoln Electric in Griffin, GA, but has been moved to Oshkosh.

    Taught by Mr TIG himself, Wyatt Swaim, a wealth of information was distributed by the man who is probably the leading expert on the technology. Best thing is that heís approachable, loves to tell stories about his own welding experiences, and a joy to be around. If youíve watched the EAA TIG Welding video, or watched TIG Time on YouTube, thatís the guy.

    We did the usual stuff, like creating tacks, doing weld runs, etc. Then lap welds, butt welds, T joints, and the other routines that humble you in a hurry. Then had some fun with tubing.

    They plan to create an advanced class that centers more around fabrication, as this course is meant to cover the basics. That should be fun when it comes about. But I just took matters into my own hands toward the end of the day as I simulated a strap hinge and did some other fun things that Iíd learned from Earl Luce during gas welding workshops.

    Saturday was mild steel and chromoly tubing. Sunday will be aluminum and stainless.

    I can see why folks are fans of building with this technique. The amount of control is pretty spectacular. Now I just have to figure out the right combination of shade darkness and reading glass magnification to see well.














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    Christopher Owens (EAA #808438, VAA #723276)
    Germantown, WI
    Bearhawk Plans #991, Bearhawk Patrol Plans #P313

  2. #2
    robert l's Avatar
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    As far as the darkness of the welding lens, here's what I have found. Although I haven't welded in years and never did Tig, the ability to see what you're doing is the same. If you are welding in bright light, for example, outside in the bright sun shine, you will need a lighter shade lens. Perhaps as light as a #9. If you are in a dark spot, tucked away in some dark corner, you will need a darker lens, maybe as much as a # 12 because the arc will be much brighter the darker it is. This may or may not make sense to you but it always worked for me. I kept lens shades, 9, 10, 11 and 12 in my welding bucket.
    Bob

  3. #3
    Chris In Marshfield's Avatar
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    Fun with aluminum.



    Quick note: stainless and aluminum look a lot alike. No matter how hard you try, they wonít weld together worth a hoot


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    Christopher Owens (EAA #808438, VAA #723276)
    Germantown, WI
    Bearhawk Plans #991, Bearhawk Patrol Plans #P313

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    Mike Switzer's Avatar
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    I got several magnifying lens plates in different strengths to use in the goggles I use to torch weld, I can swap them out depending on how close I am to the work or as my reading prescription changes between eye dr visits. For arc welding I have an auto darkening hood & I have cheap Walmart readers from 1.00 to 3.00. I need trifocals but usually use single vision contacts when working as the trifocals irritate me, (fog over, get sweat on them, are upside down for what I am doing, etc) and I just change the strength of the readers as needed for whatever I am doing.

  5. #5
    Chris In Marshfield's Avatar
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    Stainless is painless. Sorta.




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    Christopher Owens (EAA #808438, VAA #723276)
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  6. #6
    Chris In Marshfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Switzer View Post
    I got several magnifying lens plates in different strengths to use in the goggles I use to torch weld, I can swap them out depending on how close I am to the work or as my reading prescription changes between eye dr visits. For arc welding I have an auto darkening hood & I have cheap Walmart readers from 1.00 to 3.00. I need trifocals but usually use single vision contacts when working as the trifocals irritate me, (fog over, get sweat on them, are upside down for what I am doing, etc) and I just change the strength of the readers as needed for whatever I am doing.
    I found I didnít care for the inserts as much as Iíd hoped. I brought three pairs of readers with me, and those feel right for me. Just change as needed.


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    Christopher Owens (EAA #808438, VAA #723276)
    Germantown, WI
    Bearhawk Plans #991, Bearhawk Patrol Plans #P313

  7. #7
    Mike Switzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris In Marshfield View Post
    I found I didn’t care for the inserts as much as I’d hoped. I brought three pairs of readers with me, and those feel right for me. Just change as needed.
    I tend to run warm, readers under the goggles fog over too easily for me. As long as I have the AC on in the shop they are usually OK under the welding hood, but occasionally it is still a problem. One of the pieces of equipment on my wish list is a supplied air system (which I really need anyway for sandblasting & painting) I am going to either get a welding hood with it or adapt what I have to keep cool air coming over my face.

  8. #8
    Chris In Marshfield's Avatar
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    I haven’t yet welded when it was hot and humid. Pretty much just a couple of times when it was cooler, like this weekend. Sounds like I’ll have to adapt for the seasons.
    Christopher Owens (EAA #808438, VAA #723276)
    Germantown, WI
    Bearhawk Plans #991, Bearhawk Patrol Plans #P313

  9. #9
    Chris In Marshfield's Avatar
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    As closing comments for this weekend's workshop, I'm pretty sure that I am, indeed, addicted. I first touched a TIG at AirVenture a couple of years ago. Shortly afterward, I went over to the Lincoln tent and bought the Square Wave 200 (same unit we used at the workshop and in class this weekend). I really wanted to go to Georgia to take the 2-day TIG workshop held at Lincoln. I was very pleasantly surprised when I found out they moved it to Oshkosh. I had signed up for September, but it was overbooked, and they had another one this past weekend. They're having a third in a few weeks. So it must have been a success.

    I was really looking forward to aluminum welding. The 120Hz that I scratched into the surface in one of the images above was so I could take a look at the difference between a 60Hz weld and a 120Hz weld. For the uninitiated, the Lincoln 200 is an inverter machine, which means a computer manages the output (gross oversimplification). It also means that when welding aluminum with AC, you can adjust the frequency of the energy used for welding, in addition to the balance of the waveform (more or less positive versus negative portion of the AC energy). Anyway, I found I like 120Hz early on because the cleaning action seemed to be more aggressive (higher frequency, cleaned more often), allowing me to move at a more comfortable speed. But I need more practice to find the sweet spot for me.

    When I finished that aluminum weld, I cleaned it off with a stainless brush, and I saw an interesting edge formation that a fellow Bearhawk builder noted. He mentioned that it was a result of the unique heat characteristics of aluminum, and that my weld probably needed to be a bit hotter. He noted (paraphrased) that in the middle of the bead one can see the area where the lateral edge of the puddle meets the work, and that there is a broken edge look to it. If compared that same area but on the right end, there is no saw-blade look there. They call that the "toe" of the weld. If you see it looking like a saw blade you need a bit more heat. That pattern is a sign that the edge didn't intermingle with the base completely. Aluminum is such a heat sucker its easy to get too cool. I realize that this was an intro class and we probably weren't going to get far into the chemistry and what-not of welds and some of the finesse options. I'm sure the goal of this weekend was just to make sure we could get two pieces of metal to stick together. I appreciated my building colleague's description of the nuances of these kinds of welds. It will certainly help me become a better welder as time goes on. We also received a book from Lincoln specifically about welding aluminum. I'll have to give it a look and see if it points out some of the same.

    The stainless welded with a small puddle, very slow, but clean. The tiny pieces we were welding heated up pretty quickly, so you could get booking in a hurry, and would have to back off on the foot pedal to reduce the amperage and slow things down a bit. But I do like the way it welds.

    Welding plate was fairly straightforward. It wasn't too difficult all said, although it did take some practice to figure out how to aim the heat in various joint configurations. Tubing joints were another thing altogether. I chased a lot of holes over the weekend. I'm quite sure I completely destroyed the metallurgy attempting to "fix" things (if that's possible). But damn it all if I was going to let a hole stare me in the face! When I have some more time, I'm going to have to work the heck out of some tubing joints, and practice with different current selections. The problem with this particular class is we didn't have anything much in the way of tooling or blocks and the link for jigging up these kinds of structures. So I was rigging up all kinds of material that I had previously welded in an attempt to hold something steady so I could get a tack on it, run a weld around it, or whatever.

    The advanced version of this course, which will hopefully be soon (if not this year yet) will focus on structures and fabrication. Things like fuselage construction, stainless exhaust systems, and other things more pertinent to homebuilding (or motorsports, or anything else of the sort). I think that if they make the first course a prerequisite, or some amount of TIG experience beforehand, it would be beneficial to all. Otherwise I suspect it's going to knock some folks for a loop. Throw somebody a couple pieces of stainless tubing and tell them to join them without having touched a torch might be a bit much.

    Long winded reply, I know. But glad to share this experience with others who may be considering the same. There are several experienced welders in this group, so always happy to discuss the topic!

    ~Chris

    P.S. - One side note, I think that the SportAir Gas Welding Workshop really, really, REALLY helped prepare me for this. I already had a picture in my mind of what welds are supposed to look like. So I had a decent frame of reference where to apply heat and such. Being taught by Earl Luce really helped, too.
    Last edited by Chris In Marshfield; 11-13-2017 at 09:20 AM.
    Christopher Owens (EAA #808438, VAA #723276)
    Germantown, WI
    Bearhawk Plans #991, Bearhawk Patrol Plans #P313

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