I bought a new Power Mig 255XT Lincoln Electric Welder in February as my non-aluminum welder. (I do aluminum welding so regularly, my Power Mig 300 with the Cobra push-pull gun is dedicated to aluminum – too tedious to switch wire back and forth twice a day.)
Problems with the Power Mig 255XT
I have had a lot of trouble with this Lincoln Electric Welder since I bought it. Sometimes the welder would work great and sometimes it wouldn’t. Yesterday, using .030 L56 wire, it would do a little bead, then burn back to the tip, then another little bead and melt to the tip. Then it would feed out slow, hit the metal briefly and melt, then burn back to the tip. Each time, I had to try to grab the ball of melted steel and pull it away from the tip, or – and more often, remove the nozzle, unscrew the tip and free up the melted ball. Sometimes I would have to replace the tip. I had learned that I had to stop right away and grab that melted-to-the-tip bead or bird nesting ensues. I kept putting off calling Lincoln Eelectric tech support because I thought I could fix it myself.
Lincoln Electric Tech Support and the Power Mig 255XT
But finally I throw in the towel and call LE tech support. I have a Lincoln Electric welder for Tig welding too (I took their welding class in Cleveland in 2000) and I have had to call their tech support many times. Maybe it”s like talking to a psychoanalyst – they rarely give me good advice, but by talking it through with someone who seems to care, I can often brainstorm my way to a solution. The first guy thinks the liner may be too large, causing my feed problems and then tries to send me on to someone else – I land in his voice mail after several tries and then miss his callback when I leave my desk. The next guy tells me that I am using the wrong-sized drive roll – which is totally bogus – then hangs up on me because it’s 4:00 pm and his shift just ended. The fourth guy said take the Lincoln Electric Welder back to the dealer and let them trouble-shoot the problem. I said that won’t work, they would take a month and I need it today.
Lincoln Electric Welder: Problem Solved
Well, everyone was missing the obvious, myself included. I had spent an extra $600 to buy the bigger Power Mig 255XT welder (rather than the Power Mig 216) because this Lincoln Electric welder came with three extra controls – Spot Weld, Run-In and Burn-back. And since I had the controls, I figured I should use them. What could that hurt? These are not sophisticated controls like on the Power Mig 300, which has digital readouts and you can tell exactly what you are setting. These are dial controls. The Spot control goes from 0 – 25 seconds. (25 seconds sounds like a bead, not a spot weld.) Run In goes from 0 – 150 (not very useful). Burnback goes from 0 – .25 seconds (normally I would never use more than .03 seconds).
I checked these controls on my Power Mig 255XT. Somehow they were all on. The Spot was on 1 second, the Run In was on maximum and so was the Burnback. What a mess. I turned them all off – problem solved! I wonder if I will ever need them at all. Probably not. No burn back now. Don’t need run-in. I can do spot welding by hand.
Maybe it’s a boy thing – boys like to play with the controls, they say. I had an assistant when I got this Power Mig 255XT. I set it up to run perfectly, then left him to talk with a customer. I come back an hour later and he’s surrounded by balls of wire. Apparently he didn’t like my settings and ‘tweaked’ all the controls as soon as I left the room, then spent the next hour bird-nesting the wire. He blamed the Power Mig 255XT of course.
I had a lot of trouble with my other Lincoln Electric welder, the Power Mig 300, when I first got it. Way too many controls and options. I’ll write about that another day.
General guidelines for Mig welding: 1) if the wire is burning back to the tip, the volts are too high and/or the wire feed speed is too slow 2) if your beads are too tall and you are grinding too much, lower the WFS 3) if the beads are too flat, raise the WFS 4) if you are burning through the metal, your volts are too high 5) listen for that frying bacon sound – you want a nice fast crackle for short-circuit welding 6) if the wire is beading up at the end of the weld, your volts are too high 7) otherwise, get your volts up as high as possible without causing balling, melting back to tip or burn through – courtesy of Ron Covell’s Mig Welding Made Easy.
Also, here are a lot of mig welding tips from Ed Craig at www.weldreality.com.
Lincoln Electric Welder vs Miller’s? Red vs. Blue? That’s always the big debate. I talked recently with a steel worker at US Steel in Gary, IN. He said they had bought 20 Millers last year and now they were all in the shop. They said they preferred Lincolns – more reliable. Are the Millers made in Asia now? I think the Lincolns are still made in Cleveland.
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