Newbie Welding Question

Hi, I am very intrigued about the possibilities of building a gasifier. However, I have no welding experience. At what level do I have to be to have a very good chance of successfully completing a Keith gasifier? There are several classes at our local CC and other places. If I took a 3 month course could I be anywhere close to having the level required?

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I think that should be plenty to have a good idea on putting together a Keith gasifier. It’ll help you learn how to dial in a machine for different metal thickness and whatnot. The most important thing besides the strength of the weld in a gasifier is if it’s air-tight. Can’t have any leaks especially where the gas is still hot, oxygen will get sucked in and can ignite the gas making it weak.

I’m self/youtube taught but that’s a few years of trial and error.

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I would say if you can afford a decent welder, you would be fine takeing a cc class, thats what i did back in 1977 after high school, and learned more than enough too get all the basics, then you can spend some time practice welding in your home shop, i never had any luck with the cheap harbor frieght type mig welders, I ended up buying a used snap on mig welder, good duty cycle, its about 100 percent duty cycle at around 150 amps, I lucked out and got it for 800 bucks about 10 years ago, I got my eye on a eastwood mig welder, the bigger one,it was good priced, before coved ,caused inflation too skyrocket, prices. havent checked too prices in the last few years.

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Welcome aboard Tim, glad to have you hear!
A 3 month class will cover all the basics and with mig I absolutely think you that would be enough to build a WK

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Our community college has a virtual welding machine. You hold the torch and adjust everything, then at the end of the weld, you can look at the entire cross section of the weld for penetration. It was -really- cool, and you could do all sorts of welds and change thicknesses and wire, etc. and it did arc, mig, tig, etc. The machine was made by Lincoln.

HOWEVER, you MAY be disappointed. Our college require an industrial safety class, and the intro welding class which you can take concurrently. And you can get the lowest level of welding cert with 27 hours of classes in 5 classes so roughly $3k over 2 semesters. But talk to the instructor (not just the counselor types)… they may say you only need the safety class and one of the classes and sometimes they work with you, so you can build the thing as part of your class and get credit for it. You have to weld something in class, it might as well be a gasifier.

That being said, there are pdf’s of some of the books you can read, and there are other tutorials out and about the interwebs if you don’t want to take a class. It used to be a class that was taught in schools and our ‘community education’ classes had welding classes. where half the people were in the class to get access to the better equipment. 25 bucks and they had access to 20k in tools, but the school shop was taken out.

You might be better served to google for ‘hobby welding classes near me’ I pulled up a couple of hits, but there wasn’t much. Sometimes 'makers groups" offer them as well. It just depends on your location.

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Tim, Welcome to Drive On Wood. What part of the country are you from?

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What the others said BUT you will end up with a skill that can serve you well for the rest of your life.

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Welcome to the site Tim. I’m going a different way here. Get as good a welder as you can afford, but you should be able to find something in the 5 to 7 hundred dollar range that will be fine. Get some different thickness of scrap metal, watch some Youtube videos for the basics EG timwelds youtube - Google Search and https://shop.weld.com/ and just practice what you see. I will repeat again and again that making sure your metal is clean and rust free is paramount or you will struggle for no reason. Take the time to understand the amperage/ heat setting so that you are not too hot or cold and then just run beads until you develop some muscle memory. You do not need to take classes to learn basic welding skills. Welding the 18 to 20 ga metals in a WK is a bit of a challenge but not something you will get much instruction on in a basic college course. Practice is the only way to learn. Clean your metal. Find a way to work as comfortable as possible.

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Thanks for all your suggestions and comments. I definitely plan on talking to the instructor to see how much practical knowledge, particularly of MIG I will get, before I enroll. I wasn’t sure if I could learn well enough from web based tutorial vs hands on instructions but your experiences with the web based are encouraging. And I will also look around for “hobby” welding courses, as well as tapping into the veterans network around here. One of you asked where I was living. I am in Southern Idaho, and would love to see an operational gasifier if it’s within driving distance. Thank you all for the great responses and the warm welcome. It’s truly appreciated. I am sure I will be pestering you as I go through this, which admittedly will be a very slow start and stop process I am afraid.

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Tim, I think just about any new-ish MIG machine will be great for you.

Definitely find one that you can change the polarity on so you can use Flux Core wire. Flux core doesn’t need gas and you can keep a reserve of it for when you run out of gas in your tank.

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@Bobmac might be the closest to you? A few hours drive to Wenatchee where he lives. If nothing else I do plan a road trip in my dodge at some point to my brothers place in east central idaho which his wife was saying there is a small woodgas group on facebook over there?? I cant verify as I dont participate in that social media but may be something to look into if we dont have a member closeby that can take you for a ride along in a woodgas truck

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This welder will do what you need. There are many others as well. This is on sale right now and there is an additional 15 percent off, code on their site. You will need a gas bottle as well and a welding helmet. Pay for a decent auto-darkening helmet, not an HF. I bought one and then relegated it to the back shelf. If you are going to do this, get your equipment ASAP. All these machines are coming from China. Maybe.

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You can also order full bottles of Argon and Argon CO2 mix gas on Amazon. MIG you can run 75% Argon 25% CO2, some guys use 100% CO2 but the penetration is deeper so bear that in mind.

Once you have a bottle it’s cheaper when refilling. Even if you buy an old one they will swap you out for a new one full of gas. I recently got an 80 cubic feet sized bottle which brand new would cost me probably 300 bucks if I got one pre-filled. My welding supply store swaps out your bottle for a full one, so they can certify your old tanks and refill them and not take up your time. Not sure how others do it.
I paid 200 dollars for a used welder with the bottle, and paid an additional 40 dollars to get it swapped out. Guy told me it would only be 30 dollars next time. Prices probably vary depending on the area.

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been watching that guy for sometime, he is a Oregon local and a real nice fella and can learn a lot watching him work

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Hi TimS,
Welcome to the DOW.
Important questions you are asking. All of the info put up will now be searchable by others in the future.
Here is a link to show your we are recommending good brands; but not necessarily the specific model that would be best for you to consider:

The Hobart is made in USA. The Forney’s are made in Italy. The other made in mainland China.
I went with a closeout Forney model. 3-in-One capable displayed stocked at a local regional large Hardwares chain store.
The USA/European brands you will pay a bit more for, with a bit less packaged supplied accessories. The mainline China one’s the suppled accessories are sometimes non-standard. So when needing replacement consumables, difficult to find.
The best brands to buy will have manufacturers use support videos and users support groups.

A member Tom Collins recently put up an excellent verbal outline of setting up for thin barrles steels welding:

The actual using woodgasers I know of in Idaho are farther north of you.
Keep talking. Be reasonable. Discrete. And they may individually contact you.
Regards
Steve Unruh

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Forney is carried by Blain’s Farm and Fleet here. I don’t know if they are a national chain. As proven by my recent purchase of a Echo chainsaw that was a dud, it’s good to buy local if you can. I took that saw back and exchanged it and the new one was fine. If I would have bought it off Amazon, which I normally would have, It would have been a huge hassle getting it sorted out.

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Forney is sold at Johnson’s hardware store here in Washington, along with tractor supply. Think I saw some of their product at bimart as well

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On their welding suppies they are sold in a lot of places. My welder is not their top of the line, but it welds really good. It will weld everything you need to do to weld up a gasifier.
Bob

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HI bob are you welding with a yes mig welder, that 3 in 1 machine welder price, looks too cheap, have you had any trouble with those welders. can you get 0.35 rollers for that machine.

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I just exchanged my c02 tank here in michigan, it was 30 bucks, for regular size tall tank,about 5 feet tall, not sure what size they call that one. some tanks are slittly bigger than mine, but not much.AND like you said ,a mig welder that will weld flux core and gas mig would be nice, and i think the flux core wire works better outside welding, as the gas dont blow away from the weld like mig with gas.

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