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To weld or not to weld...

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x2wdtoyotax

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So... I recently stumbled across a super sweet craigslist deal. I found a guy parting with 3 legit (according to the seller) sanke kegs for 50 bucks! I couldn't believe it. I wasn't fully ready to make the plunge to a full on AG rig yet, but I couldn't pass up the deal... Here is my dilemma. https://cdn.homebrewtalk.com/images/smilies/drunk.gif

I own a Hobart Handler 140 and I am just learning the fine art of welding. I currently have a 75/25 tank and standard steel wire (.30). I have been reading a little bit about welding on stainless. I have read that for smaller jobs a 75/25 shielding gas setup isn't ideal, but it will work. Will my welder even handle the job? How do I "back gas" with this type of welder?

My question is... should I attempt to weld my fittings myself or go with the weld-less? How big of a difference am I really looking at? I need some opinions.

Also has anyone had any issues with using and standard 7/8" hole saw versus a step bit for the holes? I am trying to keep the cost down as much as possible; and step bits are pricey!

Expertise and experiences are greatly appreciated.
 

MrH

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Also has anyone had any issues with using and standard 7/8" hole saw versus a step bit for the holes? I am trying to keep the cost down as much as possible; and step bits are pricey!
I can't speak to the welding question, but I've been using these for quite a while and they're holding up pretty good. I'd recommend a step bit over a hole saw. You get a very, very clean hole with a step bit, just as good as a punch.

Oh, and they have a store in Dothan...
 

nbspindel

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get a step bit from harbor freight. not too expensive. I've read that a hole saw will distort your hole in the round shape of the keg into more of an oval.

i had one weld on my keg done by a welding grad student. he had done SS before, but we didnt do it just right and it works, but looks kinda crappy. i would do a bunch of test welds first to make it near perfect, or go weldless. i'm going weldless from now on just for ease of install.

just my $.02
 

mordantly

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i used a carbide .875 hole-saw... high feed rate (pressure) and cutting fluid. to weld, you need 100% argon, and a spool of ER304L or ER316L wire. like aluminum, it won't be as pretty as tig. if you get the wire and gas, practice on the lid cutout if you have it. the weldless bulkhead is only ~$40 to get all stainless except the locknut.

btw. nice machine. it appears to have aluminum windings. looks like the next gen peacemaker gun too.
Rated Output at 20% Duty: 90A @ 19VDC
i've had my handler 120 for about 4 years.
 

Dog House Brew

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To back gas just buy you a Y with sht-offs used for Oxy tank. Same threads. Run some cheap clear tubing to a small piece of refrige copper on the end. Use foil tape to make a pouch and tape around the copper. Thead a plug into coupling a few threads and go for it. Never had trouble using a hole saw.
 

Homercidal

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I've asked this question at work and the answer they gave me was that TIG welder will make a MUCH nicer weld than a MIG welder. Especially on something that is thin like a keg.

My 2 cents.
 

Dog House Brew

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No doubt TIG is best, but if all one has is MIG, it will work. The advantage of TIG is being able to put the heat where you want it.
 

lincoln

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want wire? i have two spools of .030 and ~.025 ish wire. don't need it now that i have a tig.

edit: looking at the specks for you machine .030 would be best. not enough feed to run .023
 
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x2wdtoyotax

x2wdtoyotax

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Wow... ask and ye' shall receive. Thanks for all the tips. I have learned, in the short time I have been welding, that the ugliest weld can be made beautiful with an angle grinder and some patience. I end up re-shaping all my welds anyway. I just don't want to blow a hole in my beautiful keg or get it all done and have a weak weld or a leak. I would love to buy a TIG welder... but lets be real. Its just not in the cards at this point. So... I am going to try a few welds out on the cut out with the MIG and see what happens. It will give me a chance to play around with the back gas concept too.

Has anyone posted anything video-wise regarding MIG welding stainless? Maybe I'll try a tutorial if all goes well.

Good call on the harbor frieght thing. I didn't even think about them. I just checked lowes the other day and saw a $40 pricetag. I will definately check it out.

lincoln.... heck yeah I would like some wire. PM me.
 

lincoln

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also depending on scrap availability in your area a few of the on line metal stores have selector/sample packs of different sheet for a few $. i live in the south sf bay, there is lots of junk yards and metal suppliers so it has never been a problem to get practice material.

mig is mostly like a glue gun, the trick is to do test pieces to dial your settings in before you do one for real. get the same thickens and position for your test pieces.


also get a new contact tip for sst.
 
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x2wdtoyotax

x2wdtoyotax

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Thats not a bad idea... there is almost as many junkyards as churches down here in lower Alabama.... Im sure I can find something acceptable.
 

nicksteck

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here are some pics of the TIG work i had done, from what i heard don't waste your time with MIG





 
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x2wdtoyotax

x2wdtoyotax

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Yeah... those are pretty:) Way too high speed for me. I have had maybe 2 of the 2,324 MIG welds I have done turn out that nice (on mild steel, of course). But it wouldn't be much of a DIY if I paid someone to do it for me. Half of the fun is the trial and error that occurs from "wingin' it" on my projects.
 

BrewBeemer

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want wire? i have two spools of .030 and ~.025 ish wire. don't need it now that i have a tig.

edit: looking at the specks for you machine .030 would be best. not enough feed to run .023
Why not just use your Mig wire for your Tig welding projects? I do it all the time with spools of almost empty wire given to me from a company vs them running out in the middle of a big welding job, this with solid not flux core.
 

GreenMonti

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nicksteck,

Why didn't the weldor or you clean off the discoloration?
 

Neunelfer

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I regret getting my keggle welded. The weldless hold great on my other pot and it was a lot cheaper. I have been welding for a year and there is no way I could have done the welds properly like the man I paid to do.

You are definitely going to want a step bit, a hole saw will not be sufficient... they are only like $30 for a good one.
 

diatonic

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I'd say weld if you can. I'm much happier with my welded connections than I was with the weldless. No leaks, easy to clean.
 

tomroeder

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Weldless is nice because no matter what, you are not married to whatever piece that you have welded in there. I realize that you may never have the need to change the part that is welded in there, but just in case you ever wanted to, or needed to (damaged threads, who knows). Granted, this is unlikely, but is one thing to consider.

Plus you have the ability to take everything apart for full sanitation if you had the desire.

May be a weak argument, but weldless is do-able by the average joe for free, welded may not be.
 

BA_from_GA

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a MIG welder won't weld kegs because they are stainless. I use your welder's big brother @ work on a daily basis, you can get a spool adapter for aluminum, but not Stainless Steel. Only way to do that is w/ a TIG. I may be wrong, but i'm pretty sure i'm not. If you do find a Stainless adapter, or stainless wire, lemme know cause that would be great news.

I'd say check bargainfittings for weldless fititngs, or check out his thread on here about soldering stainless steel. or find a shop near you that can weld stainless and try to bring their welder with some beer (even if it means buying him a case of BMC)

also, don't waste your time with a hole saw. Get a step bit (the best ones are Irwin's UNIBit). I drill through all types and thickeness of metal (from 22 ga to 1/4 in) every day, and those things last months and months. I've tried the hole saw and it just burns the teeth up after a couple holes, even on 18ga galvanized sheet metal.)
 

GreenMonti

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a MIG welder won't weld kegs because they are stainless. I use your welder's big brother @ work on a daily basis, you can get a spool adapter for aluminum, but not Stainless Steel. Only way to do that is w/ a TIG. I may be wrong, but i'm pretty sure i'm not. If you do find a Stainless adapter, or stainless wire, lemme know cause that would be great news.
Sorry but your just wrong.
Did you even go to the link he posted? There is absolutely no reason that machine can't, wont, or even come close to not pushing or welding SS. Sorry.

Would you like to see pics of a spool gun and a couple rolls of SS wire to go in it? I can't tell you how many times I have run SS and Alum through my spool gun. That is what I bought it for. I have also run the the large all the way down to the 2lb spools of SS wire.

Here is a link to a 25lb spool of MIG wire.
http://www.mylincolnelectric.com/Catalog/consumabledatasheet.aspx?p=6272

Edit:
Here is another link that shows the smaller spools.
http://www.southernwelding.com/browse/product.aspx?Msg=RecID&recIds=12633&WT.svl=12633
 

ThePig

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Please don't weld stainless unless you know, or have a reasonable idea about what you are doing. Pay someone to weld it or go weldless. Welding keg stainless is tough, it's not the highest quality and burn-throughs, warpage & back sugar from inadequate purging are only a few of the challenges that you need to be very familiar with before you even think about touching those kegs. I did all the welding on my keggles with my Miller 180 SD TIG - only because I had some experience welding stainless. For me, it was still extremely difficult to get it all right. It came out nice but it was painfully slow.

When I recently needed several new sets of tri-clamps, the first thing I did is to reach out to Swagman - not because I couldn't weld them myself but because Swagman is a heck of a lot better (and faster) at it than I am. I don't have cash coming out my ears, but there are times when you have to dig deep and get it done right the first time. Believe me - paying to have them welded is gonna be cheaper than replacing 3,4 or 5 kegs before you get it right.

Get some scrap stainless and practice, practice and practice. You can MIG weld stainless but it's not going to be pretty. With some practice you can make that not-so-pretty weld look half good, but it's gonna take some time behind the gun.
 
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x2wdtoyotax

x2wdtoyotax

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A fellow homebrewer has been kind enough to ship me a roll of stainless MIG wire. So I am going to pickup a few fittings and practice on some scrap. I won't mess with the real deal until I am 100% confident. To be perfectly honest.... all the negative feedback about attempting to MIG weld stainless makes me want to experiment that much more. MIG welding on mild steel is nearly idiot proof. Now I feel obligated to at least try it out. I'll take some pictures when I am done.
 

lincoln

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weld prep is critical, just like aluminum there is an oxide layer that will build up on sst. this needs to be removed for a good weld (sst is not anywhere as picky as al but its not like stick welding through paint) get your self some of thesis 7092T14 from mcmaster or your lws. mark one sst and only use it for such. sorry if this is a repeat. watch your cold starts.

link
 

diatonic

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A fellow homebrewer has been kind enough to ship me a roll of stainless MIG wire. So I am going to pickup a few fittings and practice on some scrap. I won't mess with the real deal until I am 100% confident. To be perfectly honest.... all the negative feedback about attempting to MIG weld stainless makes me want to experiment that much more. MIG welding on mild steel is nearly idiot proof. Now I feel obligated to at least try it out. I'll take some pictures when I am done.
MIG will likely be more prone to leak since MIG welds tend to 'splatter' as opposed to the pooling you get with TIG, but I wish you luck! Anxious to see how it turns out. :ban:
 

Cliff897

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weld it.

You can weld, Hobart machines are great m welders, so weld it.
If you worry about porosity & piping in welds there are two solutions:
Take a propane torch to the suspect welds on the day you plan to start the ferment. Heat 'em to about 300F & that'll do it every time. OR use a high flow rate high silver content ( zink & lead free) solder over the welds.
http://www.ecrater.com/product.php?pid=6984201
Or get a silver with the least tin you can.
Silver with Zink will melt and flow easier but Zink is not the best in a food app.

Gold would be better but it's pricey stuff for the small amoutn you'll need .

Seriously the propane torch trick is the easiest and most direct.
If you will be using threaded fittings instead of sanitary you'll be taking them apart for cleaning on every brew day anyway. Clean the threads and heat the thing up and poof you are golden. If you use sanitary trt clover fittings you'll have 'em clean and ready for the torch anyway.
 
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x2wdtoyotax

x2wdtoyotax

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I received a mysterious package yesterday. A fellow homebrewer, graciously sent me a 2lb roll of 316 MIG wire, no charge. What a guy!

Hopefully I can begin the experimentation soon. I am tracking down some local plumbing supply shops and an argon tank. As soon as I find a few fittings and some gas... its game on. Pictures to follow. Thanks for all the insight.
 

BrewBeemer

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I received a mysterious package yesterday. A fellow homebrewer, graciously sent me a 2lb roll of 316 MIG wire, no charge. What a guy!

Hopefully I can begin the experimentation soon. I am tracking down some local plumbing supply shops and an argon tank. As soon as I find a few fittings and some gas... its game on. Pictures to follow. Thanks for all the insight.
That's what I call the brotherhood of welders which there are many including those on the www.millerwelds.com forum.
Call me a cheap bastard I have split 25 pound spools of SS plus spools of alumimum 3 ways with my share as half for my time and labor with refilling the one pound spools on the lathe. The cost savings are well worth the effort and time for us.
 

BrewBeemer

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i refilled a 2# spool off my 11# once. what a nightmare!
It's a piece of cake with the lathe, set the speed than have a friend keep drag on the big spool mounted in the vice across the shop from the lathe on a scratch built ball bearing arbor. With a new clean leather glove i'm tracking like the factory fills. This goes rather quickly less than 2 minutes a one pound spool refill.
 
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x2wdtoyotax

x2wdtoyotax

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That's what I call the brotherhood of welders which there are many including those on the www.millerwelds.com forum.
Call me a cheap bastard I have split 25 pound spools of SS plus spools of alumimum 3 ways with my share as half for my time and labor with refilling the one pound spools on the lathe. The cost savings are well worth the effort and time for us.
Cheap or not... You do what you gotta do sometimes. I don't blame you... welding wire isn't cheap. I hate doing it... but I often end up with cheap tools or cheap materials to get the job done. It is what it is.
 
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