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Gasless MIG welding

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Robin Graham28/03/2022 00:31:09
957 forum posts
297 photos

I have an stick (MMA) welder which I'm OK with down to 1/8th inch stock, but now I have a job which involves making a frame from 5/8th x 18g (1.2mm) steel box section. I like a challenge, but I'm near to giving up on this!

Probably I'd be better off with MIG but I don't want to invest in gas as I don't do a lot of welding. I had read that gasless MIG was pretty rubbish, then recently saw a review of the SIP 130 Synergic machine by doubleboost which made me think again. It's ~ £300 which is doable but a bit much for a machine which I won't use that often. But there are gasless welders on amazon for less than £100 - maybe they're OK, maybe they're not. They get some good reviews, but you know what Amazon reviews for are like! So I'm seeking some more informed opinion.

Any advice?



Edited By Robin Graham on 28/03/2022 00:34:54

Edited By Robin Graham on 28/03/2022 00:35:19

Paul Lousick28/03/2022 03:23:13
2079 forum posts
728 photos

My Lincoln MIG welder stopped working after many years of operation and I had to replace it.

There are lots of inexpensive welders advertised and I purchased one that had lots of good reviews. A 300Amp MIG and stick DC inverter welder made by Gantz in the New Year sales. (half price)

It was a lemon, I tried to resolve the problems with the supplier for 3 months and only got my money back after threatening to take my complaint to the Government Department of Consumer affairs and post bad reviews on the internet.

If you do decide to buy one of the welders, do it thru a known company that can offer backup service and spare parts, even if it costs a bit more than the cheaper ones advertised.

Gasless is not as good as using gas models but can produce a decent weld, especially outside in windy conditions.

I would also recommend that you buy one that can also use a shielding gas, should you want to upgrade in the future.

Hopper28/03/2022 06:24:32
6725 forum posts
348 photos

Like most tools and equipment, you get what you pay for. Better quality welder can be expected to do a better job.

Same applies to the gasless flux-cored welding wire you use. Better more expensive wire gives a better weld. This applies to stick welder rods too. Get the good brand names.

Michael Gilligan28/03/2022 09:04:01
20289 forum posts
1064 photos

I am more interested in the metallurgical microscopy than the practice of welding, but thought this worth sharing here:


Registration is a very simple process yes




Edited By Michael Gilligan on 28/03/2022 09:08:33

Clive Foster28/03/2022 09:04:23
3173 forum posts
113 photos


A good inverter MMA welder will go down to 1 mm or a bit less with a decent small rod and a steady hand. Needs some practice and the self control to keep the welds short so as not to overheat the metal before the arc joins it. Tack together first then extend. If you go too long the metal suddenly disappears at an amazing rate!

Mine is an older industrial standard Fronius Transpocket which does a good job of kidding folk that I can actually weld! As I understand it the affordable breed have pretty much caught up in capability.

With lower cost MIG the main issue is wire feed drive and weld current stability. Gassless being much more demanding on both than plain wire. Back in the day affordable SIP won an unenviable reputation for being less than good at both whilst the Clarke wire feed system was justly considered very effective. Reliable wire feed gives the power supply a much easier ride.

I tried MIG a time or two with basic boxes and got nowhere fast. Finally picked up an ESAB synergic at a £££ very reasonable and am now doing just fine. Although MMA habits still sometimes creep in. Am convinced that the lower end MIG work just fine for someone who can do MIG but if things don't click quite quickly a neophyte is basically stuffed.

If you do go MIG best to bite the bullet, get a half decent one and proper gas. Mine came with the Air Liquide Albee cylinder so I didn't need to get a regulator.


jann west28/03/2022 09:23:43
99 forum posts

For a single job your best bet would probably be to fit up the work and take it to someone who has the gear and does it regularly. It'll be cheaper than buying a poor setup, quicker than learning a new process, and better quality overall.

Alternatively - you can purchase a cheap oxy acetylene setup with small consumer bottles - but the learning curve is steep. Tig or mig both require you to have a shielding gas and a new rig. Gasless mig isn't really a fit here for various reasons. MMA with small electrodes and a steady hand might be possible (but I've never tried it and probably will look a little rough)

If you're in London you could sign up for a welding course at CNWL, and bring the work with you to do in addition to the course - they used to be fine with that within reason, and the instructors would advise/help on personal projects. Other technical colleges might do similar. The gear is good, and you learn a new process.

noel shelley28/03/2022 09:40:20
1451 forum posts
23 photos

Clive has it ! I've had mig for almost 50 years and MMA for longer. I have 2 cheap MIGs both given to me and though I have reasonable skill I cannot get what I would call good welds from either. There is no such thing as GASLESS MIG ! It is MMA with the filler rod on a reel. If you want to avoid gas rent Etc then speak to a publican about a bottler of Co2, now your in the realms of MAG. A good MMA machine and 1.6 rods should do your job with a bit of practice, turning the power down if blowing holes is often the wrong move, it may need turning UP.

Using a toy car motor for wire feed was never going to work well though that's what some used. IF you can find a BOC AUTOLYNX buy it, you will have one of the best 160A migs ever made. Good luck Noel.

Mark Rand28/03/2022 09:51:34
1315 forum posts
38 photos

Where are you?

I've got a battered SIP set that I no longer need. As Clive says, the wire feed on them was somewhat suboptimal. That's why I replaced the wire feed mechanism and the replaced the power supply to it (original was a dumb circuit, fed from the output side of the welding transformer. So feed speed varied wildly when welding)

I was going to put it on, but aren't at all bothered about price, just passing it to another home.

I think i've got two or three of the disposable CO2 bottles to go with it.

I'm in Rugby.

Ady128/03/2022 10:11:54
5180 forum posts
738 photos

Plenty of stuff on youtube about welding thin materials

The only "easy" route seems to be a good TIG unit with a bottle

Any other cheapy route will need a lot of practice and experimentation, I tried with stick for quite a while and the level of concentration needed was too much for an old guy, and there were just too many variables

I haven't tried thin sheets with gasless MIG yet but if you do get one get a decent unit for a nice steady arc, I dumped my £100 lidl unit and got a Vevor type one for 200+, the electrics are far better and the welding much easier, a better machine will always give you a better chance of doing a decent job

Youtube is your pal here, spend an evening filtering through the garbage to find the more useful videos

Edited By Ady1 on 28/03/2022 10:13:44

Ady128/03/2022 10:29:53
5180 forum posts
738 photos

Had a look at your youtube link and that MIG unit looks like the biz for an amateur who has to do all sorts of rubbish jobs

130 max is your only limit here, so thinner materials only, but the big stuff is a doddle with stick anyway, it's the thin stuff thats fussy

I think the advantage MIG gets for thin work is the "pushing in" of material as it works


Edited By Ady1 on 28/03/2022 10:53:05

Adrian R228/03/2022 11:30:56
166 forum posts
5 photos

The main advantage of MIG for me is that when I mess up and blow a hole I can pulse the trigger and blob enough weld in to fill it up and then try again. Never got the hang of doing this with arc, have been trying to learn TIG but have probably left it too late as dexterity and eyesight aren't up to it, and it's slow going compared to the others.

I use a SIP unit bought in late eighties, looks very similar to Clarke units still sold by Machine Mart & others now. I have had refillable bottles in the past when doing car work but for odd jobs now the disposables are OK, note there are different fill capacities for the same size bottle (390g vs 600g) so read description carefully before buying.

David Noble28/03/2022 13:23:13
328 forum posts
18 photos

If you're not too far away, you are welcome to come & play with my gasless MIG before you make a decision. I'm based inLancashire.


Robin Graham28/03/2022 23:38:41
957 forum posts
297 photos

Thanks for suggestions. Encouraged by Clive's response (it should be possible to weld down to 1mm with MMA) I had another go today. I realised that when I strike an arc I instinctively withdraw the electrode a bit then move it back in to correct the arc length before starting to lay the weld. This takes only a fraction of a second and isn't a problem with thicker stock, but it seems to be too long for such thin stuff. I worked on improving this aspect of my technique and had some success, though I had to cut the sticks down to about 4 inches to get the necessary control .

I have now made some ugly but sound welds by laying sort of extended tacks, cleaning up, then joining them. This seems to work - I'm trying to make T joints and it's harder to do the fillets than the sides, but for this project (it's a lightweight frame for a prop horse) I probably don't even need an all-round weld.

I took on board Noel's suggestion that it might be better to up the amps rather than reduce them and that seems to have helped too. I am using 1.6mm 6013 rods and was running at 15A. The recommended amperage on the box is 20-40A, but some guy on youtube told me it was OK to 'run cold' for thin stuff. It seems to work better at around 20-25A. I could lay test beads OK at 15A, but not so good for actual joints. I'm not sure why yet.

The upshot is that I now think I can do this without investing in new equipment , which is good in one way but bad in another - everyone likes a new toy! But as I have now sort of mentally budgeted for this sort of money for welding I think I might have a go with TIG - my MMA machine (Parweld 163) has a lift TIG setting and I can buy a torch and gas bottle/regulator for about £200.

Thanks for the suggestion of the Albee gas Clive - I was thinking Hobbyweld, but the small Albee cylinders are actually cheaper for the gas (because they charge them to 200 bar rather than 137 bar from Hobbyweld)

Mark and David - many thanks for your generous offers of help with this. I'm in Derbyshire, near Matlock, so a bit too far away. Much appreciated though.


MikeK29/03/2022 01:58:14
226 forum posts
17 photos

I have a small gasless MIG (we call it fluxcore) that I think is similar to doubleboost's machine. I love it. I have done 16g and 18g and I'm sure it could even go thinner. It's an inverter machine. Lightweight too. Very popular over here in the US. I can't comment on the Amazon brands that may be similar. I paid $100US a couple years ago...I think it's up to $200 now. Titanium Flux 125.


noel shelley29/03/2022 09:52:58
1451 forum posts
23 photos

Glad to have been of service Robin! The reason the increase of amps works if holes appear IS ! There are 2 reasons holes may appear in thin material, A, The current is way to high - obvious ! the second is the current is to low, you dwell on the spot to get the metal to flow, way to long and plop - it's gone ! Increasing the current to the right value will cause almost instant joining (flow) and your away - more heat but for less time at that spot. Good luck. Noel.

Mark Rand29/03/2022 09:55:51
1315 forum posts
38 photos

If you have the muscle control for MMA, then learning TIG is much easier than if you have no other processes or just MIG under your belt.

The only gotchas are that as we get older, a cheater lens in the helmet can help you to get closer to the weld pool to see what's going on and that it's easier to get good results when sitting rather than standing.

not done it yet29/03/2022 10:11:57
6891 forum posts
20 photos

A copper heatsink, behind thin metals, is a good ploy to avoid blowing holes quite so quickly.

Robin Graham30/03/2022 02:00:56
957 forum posts
297 photos
Posted by noel shelley on 29/03/2022 09:52:58:

... the second is the current is to low, you dwell on the spot to get the metal to flow, way to long and plop - it's gone ! Increasing the current to the right value will cause almost instant joining (flow) and your away - more heat but for less time at that spot. Good luck. Noel.

That's the explanation I (tentatively) came up with myself Noel - thanks for confirmation. Coupled with my poor starting technique it was taking too long to get a very localised area of metal hot quickly. It's a fine line to tread though! I'm not sure why the low amperage works with laying a trial bead on the surface of the box section, but not when making end-to-surface joins. Maybe something to do with the sharp corner of the end 'attracting' the arc - it is always the end which melts away from the joint, not a hole though the 'surface'. Hmm, just thinking out loud...

I have improved things somewhat by clamping the box section to piece of scrap and striking the arc on the scrap rather than the work - that way when I move to the work with the hot electrode the arc starts more readily so I am less prone to be taken by surprise and dither. Speed is of the essence with this it seems.

I'm pretty sure that I'm going to get some TIG gear and try that for future projects. I talked this over with my daughter tonight (she's a psychologist for some reason) and after describing the MMA, MIG and TIG processes to her in detail she said that TIG was clearly best suited to my personality type. So I have a professional opinion to present to the Chancellor in my case for support. I may have exaggerated the difficulty of MMA a little bit ( 'It's like holding an exploding firework six inches from your face and keeping a steady hand'  )  but I think her judgement sound.

Anyhow, thanks to all for the comments. they have been very helpful.


(edited to remove unintended emoticons - this site is really bad in the way it interprets standard punctuation)

Edited By Robin Graham on 30/03/2022 02:02:29

Edited By Robin Graham on 30/03/2022 02:06:21

pgk pgk30/03/2022 04:54:11
2605 forum posts
293 photos

"she's a psychologist for some reason "

That has to be quote of the day ...laugh


John Olsen30/03/2022 07:15:59
1256 forum posts
94 photos
1 articles

My vote for us amateurs would be to always get the most capable setup you can. Not to get fancy features that you may never use, but to get really helpful ones that make things easier. As an example, when I was first looking into TIG so I could do stainless steel tanks, I was tempted by the lower cost lift start, but then was shown a much more capable machine with RF start, and a few other features like pulse. It is not a top of the line machine, but quite good enough for a single phase machine. The RF start is much easier for a learner than lift start, the later being a good way of contaminating your tungsten unless you have the knack of it. It also came with features like AC. I didn't know when I was first looking just how useful the ability to weld aluminium was going to be. The main nice to have that it lacks is the ability to vary the frequency when AC welding. Since it is an inverter, I don't know why they didn't include that, but so far it has not mattered.

Of course the above is not very relevant to the choice of MIG machine, since my machine does not do that. If I was going to get a MIG machine, my inclination would be to get one that does use gas, get the hang of things with that first, then try the gasless when I felt I had the need for it. This is because I have a feeling that the learning curve might go better that way, but since I don't do MIG, only MMA and TIG, I am ready to be corrected if anyone knows better. Incidently, DC MMA welding has done a lot to improve my basic stick welding too, every time over the years that I have upgraded my equipment for MMA my welding has mysteriously improved.


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