Well, I have been struggling for a year now trying to find/develop a technique for welding bicycle chainin a way that is refined and cleans up well. I have had little success, really. To give an idea, THIS is the direction that I see going in, please go to site and look around. http://postfiles7.naver.net/20111021...35.jpg?type=w2I have been able o simply 'tack' the pieces together, like this:but i can't seen to develop the artistry this korean artist has taken this to. how would any of you maestro's be doing this material?I have a Thermal Arc 181I, I currently use lift tig, 6-12 amps, with 1.6mm tungsten, and to tell the truth, it is a B!TCH to make clean welds that dont burn through the chain. some issues are contamination, and clamping, along with the arc just having too much power before I burn through (forget about filler material) at this point, I am just using the tig as a 'melting torch', a la Oxy/acetylene....Any thoughts on this, good pepole?
Reply:Where are you trying to weld the chain? On the flat side, or the edge?I would probably try to weld the edge on the back side, but I have never tried to weld chain.I am going to guess that you do not have a foot pedal. To my way of thinking, a foot pedal is essential for thin material. I would not enjoy trying that without a foot pedal.Let's see what the real experts say.RichardSculptures in copper and other metalshttp://www.fergusonsculpture.comSyncrowave 200 Millermatic 211Readywelder spoolgunHypertherm 600 plasma cutterThermal Arc GMS300 Victor OA torchHomemade Blacksmith propane forge
Reply:How about tacking through the inside of the link? Or maybe long arc low amperage, it's difficult but I've done 1/4 inch tubing tht way
Reply:I can't go any lower than 6-10 amps. a footpedal starts at the lowest amperage, which in this case is also my highest amperage, so the footpedal doesn't really offer anything, as far as I can tell. (the T.A. welder is lift only, sadly) I ordered some .5 mm tungsten, and I am trying to fabricate a sharpener, so it *might* help a bit. I have tried to weld it at every and all possible places, they all burn through or deform before I can add filler. sometimes I get them to melt and arc, but not with as much consistency as I need for selling my pieces.
Reply:What about welding the edges of the links where they overlap, near the rivets?Aren't those tie straps, or whatever they're called (the chain parts between the rivets) at least about 1/32" thick? I haven't looked at a bike chain lately but I'm having trouble imagining 6 or 10 amps blowing through the links.You mentioned O/A welding them...what about that?
Reply:I made some trophies for a series I sponsor that required welding some chain. Contamination will be a problem because there is just no way to get everything clean between the rollers and links. I let the chains soak in acetone for a good hour or two. There was still gunk that wouldn't come out. What I found to work the best was to weld the outer link plate to the inner link plate on the back side (non-show side) of the chain. You can get those surfaces pretty clean. If you are having trouble melting the edge away, place your filler rod against the pieces and light off on the rod. Then move the arc to the link plate and drag some filler along with it. I would think that 6-10 amps is low enough because mine only goes down to 12 amps and I was fine. You don't need much of a weld to hold the links together, so you can get in and out fast to prevent cooking that crud in the links as much as possible. Be sure to get as much ventilation as possible and wear a respirator. That smoke is nasty. SSCX Series Trophies by Zanconato Custom Cycles, on Flickr
Reply:What about using some type of backing strip. You could use a narrow strip of metal with holes and then plug weld the strip to both chains. The strip could be as thick as you want but narrow enough to be hidden from view from the front side.
Reply:would mig be better ?
Reply:What about silver braze ?
Reply:USE FILLER ROD, set the filler right about where you are starting the arc and feed it in quick, it will suck heat out of the puddle and bridge the gap between the pieces so you don't burn through as easily.
Reply:As has already been said, getting things clean is crucial, and difficult.Multiple dunkings in acetone or lacquer thinner followed by blow out with compressed air after each soak.I infer that uniform "grounding" can be an issue too. To that issue you might need/want to fabricate a dedicated clamping jig out of 1/4" (or so) plate that matches the shape of your finished design. The plate could be sized so that it only contacts the chain to one or the other side of the link pins, leaving the other side of the links exposed for welding. Because the exposed portion of the pins would make the chain try to "teeter-totter" when clamped down, you would have to make a base shim the same size as the heavier clamping plate for the bottom of the link plates to rest on so that the plates, and not the pins, are clamped tightly down.If you are going to make many identical frames, this might be something to consider. Attached Images
Reply:One way to get complicated things clean is to use an ultrasonic cleaner with degreaser.BTW, is everybody sure that it's welded? I'm not experience with tig but isn't it possible that it's brazed with O/A?
Reply:My thinking also is to sweat the plates at the pin w/ brass. Should need very little flux. MikeOl' Stonebreaker "Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes"Hobart G-213 portableMiller 175 migMiller thunderbolt ac/dc stick Victor O/A setupMakita chop saw
Reply:This took about 4 minutes. Machine set at 30 amps, but I used a pedal. No filler. I started my arc on the outer link and drew it down to the inner link making the connection. 3/32" 2% lanthanated tungsten.Last edited by zank; 03-27-2013 at 11:39 AM.
Reply:Thanks for all of the suggestions, guys! Just for background info, I owned a shop for 15 years, worked in them as a wrench for ten before that. So the PITA of getting things clean is well known to me! I have a little company called BicyclArt, so all the pieces I make have to be very clean (I do some kitchen stuff, too). I have tried any and all methods, from various solvents including hexanes, varnish remover, etc, and nothing is very effective for the volume I am hoping to do. I even brought a few hundred pounds of chain to a local machine shop to dunk in their 500 gallon hot tank....and all it did was contaminate all of their cleaning solution. I have heated them to 1000 degrees, etc...nothing 'quick' gets all of the grit out between the chain rollers and plates, except one by one elbow grease, and that is simply not cost effective. I would love to hear more suggestions, I have been wrestling with this for over a year (trying to prep for welding). As to other things, all I have currently is the Thermal Arc mig/Tig/stick unit. I have my welding area set up in my workshop, which is indoors, finished, hardwood hickory floors, heated, etc, so I really want to figure out Tig due to how clean it is, if that makes sense...but I am open to other methods. Oxy/acetylene burned through as well, but I would be interested in getting a 'micro' torch setup (jewel ers?) in order to mess around, but for now, the TA unit has to pay for itself.More thoughts on the way, thanks again so much for helping. Btw, OUTSTANDING trophies, I do a good bit of trophies as well!www.BicyclArt.com(Many more pics here on FB, website needs a total revamp)Search BicyclArt on Facebook)Cheers, guys, we WILL get this figured ou!
Reply:Thanks, Zank, that is getting close to what I am hoping for. I am thinking this is certainly possible with my lift start(trigger) , but do you guys agree that it is making things much, much more difficult?Do you think the tungsten alloy composition is making any difference? Part of this could also be that I am a total beginner welder, of course!Last edited by rideit; 03-27-2013 at 12:16 PM.
Reply:No need for a micro torch. I did the above with a 9 series torch, 3/32" tungsten, gas lens and #7 cup. That was a spare piece of shortened chain that I dunked in acetone and gave a quick scrub.
Reply:Originally Posted by rideitThanks, Zank, that is getting close to what I am hoping for. I am thinking this is certainly possible with my lift start(trigger) , but do you guys agree that it is making things much, much more difficult?Do you think the tungsten alloy composition is making any difference? Part of this could also be that I am a total beginner welder, of course!
Reply:That I definitely what I am trying to do, but by the time I get a puddle going, I have usually burned through. I m also having these same problems with welding rear cogs....I have seen some folks use DT or WS SS spokes as filler as well, I haven't been able to...yet....
Reply:Have you thought about making a machine to clean chain? I could imagine a series of rotating brushes, and a system that feeds the chain through the brushes slowly. Or various spray nozzles blasting in different directions. If it can be cleaned by hand it can be cleaned by machine, I would think.What about using brand new chain? Or at least practicing on new chain, getting your technique down there, before you try on old chain. If you can't weld new chain you surely are not going to be able to weld old chain.I notice that Zank, who has successfully welded chain, reports using 30 amps with a pedal, while you report burning through on 6 amps. Something is fishy there. I might try to actually measure the short circuit current and see if it really is close to the 6 amps you think it is. You could use fuses to test it, if it blows a 20 amp fuse then you know that you are not getting 6 amps on the low setting.I take it that you do not have any welding friends nearby. I would sure take my chain to a friend's place and see if he can weld it on his machine. Or have him visit your place and use your machine. I am a member of the local blacksmith's group, and if I need help I put out a request on their email server. I gave somebody a 12 pack of good beer as his compensation for his help earlier this year, more than worth it. Not only solved my problem but learned also.RichardSculptures in copper and other metalshttp://www.fergusonsculpture.comSyncrowave 200 Millermatic 211Readywelder spoolgunHypertherm 600 plasma cutterThermal Arc GMS300 Victor OA torchHomemade Blacksmith propane forge
Reply:What are your gas settings?
Reply:Thanks for the suggestions. New chain is just as bad as used chain, as it is packaged with grease. I tried to find out about ordering new chain without grease, but my contacts in the industry basically said no way under about 15k worth. The welder is brand spankin' new, outside of possible poor grounding, I have no reason to believe that it isn't putting out the amps it displays, but that is an interesting thing to look into. When I get time next week, I'll try and set up a little video of what I am doing wrong (and right?)Yeah, living here in Jackson, Wy, not too many welders I can call favors on right now!
Reply:Gas is argon, 10 or so PSI.
o you mean CFH? I was running about 15 CFH. Try lighting up on a shiny clean piece of steel and get a puddle going. Back off and extinguish the arc. Keep your gas on it until the post flow shuts off. The resulting bead should be bright and shiny.
Reply:Yup, CFH. I am never sure about when I have enough Sheild gas, or when I can move the cup. I guess that is where practice comes in. But yeah, my welds are currently super dirty.Motorboating...in the Cleavage of the TetonsEven on clean steel? Something else is going on then.
Reply:To clean the chain I can think of a couple things I'd try. 1st thing that comes to mind is using the crank and sprocket assembly from a defunct bike to cycle the chain thru the solvent. Sort of like when you used to flip the bike on it's handle bars as a kid and pump the pedal like crazy before you jammed on the coaster brakes.2nd thought would be to build some sort of tumbler using a sealed drum or bucket. For parts they work best if they have fins to help agitate the pieces in the solution. I've seen some guys use old concrete mixers on occasion. A buddy of mine built one with an old 15 gal drum, some idler rollers and a drive roller propelled by a gear motor. Since you have access to bike parts, I'd be tempted to do a chain drive to cut costs. He used to just toss the parts in the tumbler with a cleaning solution and he'd often toss in some sort of "grit" to help polish the parts and help with the cleaning action. He used different "grits" depending on what he was cleaning. HE had some 3/16" alum oxide chips, some small glass beads and some ceramic cylinders for different uses. He's even used rocks or coarse sand on occasion. Toss the stuff in the tumbler and let it just churn away in the back ground. Simple green and similar products are safe nonflammable cleaning agents for oil and grease you can leave unattended overnight while it churns.Last thought would be to take the chain to a place that dips engine blocks for cleaning. Grease and oil shouldn't bother them at all since most blocks are super greasy to begin with. Radiator places used to also cook parts as well for cleaning.As far as your weld issue, I'm sure lack of skill/experience is the biggest issue. Lack of a pedal is probably not helping one bit. Tiny thin parts are just aggravating the situation. Here's some basic drills that might help. Get yourself some 16 ga stock, preferably cold rolled so you don't have the mill scale to deal with. I wouldn't go any thinner at this point, but it would help to know how thin the links you are working on actually are for later. Start off just trying to run beads with no filler on this plate. With most guys I don't recommend starting this thin, but for your application you might be able to get away with 16 ga to start with.1st drill set up the machine and set your amps to say 50-55 amps. With no pedal you will have to learn the "hard way" to control your heat. 1st is getting you amps pretty darn close to start with, and if anything being slightly low. Now get yourself comfortable on a nice smooth table. The idea is to allow your hand to slide on the table so you can maintain constant travel speed or arc length. Start a puddle and move it across the plate trying to maintain the exact same height off the plate at all times. Vary your travel speed and note how the puddle changes as you speed up and slow down. do this for say 15 minutes making sure you cool the plate frequently. You should be able to touch the plate with your bare hands between puddles. Try and keep the torch almost vertical when doing these drills. If you lean the torch over too far, you will have issue. After you get this drill down, go back and do it again, this time keeping travel speed the same and changing how high you are off the plate and note the puddle changes. Note that when you keep the tungsten in close, the puddle is smaller and cooler than when you hold it way up. Again do this for 15 minutes or so. Now combine the two drills and try to change both at the same time for a few minutes. Last drill will add filler. You want to start a puddle and move it over to the filler. Understand you melt the filler with the puddle NOT the arc! Play with this some. I'd use 1/16" or smaller filler. If you have to buy filler, go with .045 vs 1/16". If the filler is way larger than the base material is, it will be really tough to not blow holes in the base material while trying to melt filler. One other thing to try while playing with filler is what several people have suggested. Try and start the arc on your filler vs the base material. You can then use the filler as a heat sink to help avoid burning thru. in this case when you wash the puddle over onto the thin link, you will almost be reversing the process, using the puddle of filler to melt the base material.Once you get a good feel for how the basics work, try the same thing with material the same thickness as what you want to work with. I'd use 1 amp per .001" of thickness and back off 10-15% since you have no pedal to start and adjust from there.Good luck..No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth! Ronald Reagan
Reply:Most bike chain link plates are between 0.040" - 0.050" thick.
efinitely use an ultrasonic for the cleaning.But I wouldn't weld it. I'd use a penetrating adhesive. Either an extra thin CA, or perhaps something like Loctite green.
Reply:Originally Posted by DSWAfter you get this drill down, go back and do it again, this time keeping travel speed the same and changing how high you are off the plate and note the puddle changes. Note that when you keep the tungsten in close, the puddle is smaller and cooler than when you hold it way up.
Reply:You are spot on.
Reply:Originally Posted by KelvinDSW-Not to hijack the thread, but as a fairly new tigger, I had a question about your bolded statement above.Are you saying that for a given amperage setting, as arc length increases, overall heat input goes up? And that for a given amperage setting, as arc length decreases, overall heat input also decreases?If so, why? Is it because as the arc length increases, the arc voltage increases, thus increasing the wattage (VxA) being applied by the torch when the amperage is held constant?And if so, does that mean that when using scratch start or lift-arc (i.e., with no pedal to control amperage) for example, while pipe welding you can regulate heat input (at least to some degree) by changing the arc length? In other words shorter arc length if you're getting too hot, longer arc length if you need more heat momentarily?I have often wondered about this, but never thought to ask anyone about it.
Reply:How about starting an arc on a scrap piece of metal near the link (touching so it can share a ground) and jumping your arc over quick enough to just barely heat the metal to a melt and arc out,
Reply:Originally Posted by rlitmanDefinitely use an ultrasonic for the cleaning.But I wouldn't weld it. I'd use a penetrating adhesive. Either an extra thin CA, or perhaps something like Loctite green.
Reply:This is either a technique issue or an equipment issue. Since you don't have much experience, this is pretty difficult for you to sort out. I think that the fastest way to sort this out is to have an expert look over your shoulder. Do you have a local welding shop? One time I thought I had a problem with a welder, I set up my welder in their shop, he welded with it, I welded with it, we ended up deciding that the welder was fine, but I needed to change some technique. Can you weld together two pieces of steel the same thickness as chain?RichardSculptures in copper and other metalshttp://www.fergusonsculpture.comSyncrowave 200 Millermatic 211Readywelder spoolgunHypertherm 600 plasma cutterThermal Arc GMS300 Victor OA torchHomemade Blacksmith propane forge
Reply:Originally Posted by rideitOh, believe you me, I have tried every possible consumer adhesive available. They simply don't work. (The contamination issue is horrendous.) In addition, they are frightfully expensive (and harmful) to use in the amounts I am doing (hundreds of feet of chain)
Reply:Hmmm. Am i the only mountain biker who uses dish detergent, water and a scrub brush to clean up my chains? Chains get way dirty here... I used to use kerosene but the soap and water works so much better. I do have to dry the chain carefully using an air compressor with blow off gun. I dont have to wear rubber gloves, nor do i worry about harmful effects of the cleaning solution. i do have to wear earplugs to use the blow off gun. I will say before i tried the soap and water technique, i was looking very closely at the harbor freight parts washer with automotive oil filter mod as my dirty chain solution. Tried the soap and water thing and its a win.. Cheap cost, no loss of garage storage space. (i use a plastic bucket) and no hazardous materials to store.Sometimes less is more...Last edited by zipzit; 03-27-2013 at 09:15 PM.
Reply:I get my chains from 10 different bike shops, and three garage door repair guys, so every chain has a different lube, basically. Soap will work on a few, but not most. Acetone does nothing. citrus degreasers on a few, but generally poorly. any single chain I can clean one link at a time, but i am talking about hundreds upon hundreds of chains. I can't charge for this prepwork, really, so I nead a good chemical method that i haven't found yet. No one closer than 300 miles from me will even try to do it commercially. do you guys have any idea how expensive an ultrasonic cleaner that can do more than a few pieces at a time? Or doesn't still require link by link cleaning? more than this guy can afford. Trust me on this, everything suggested up to this point has been tried, and for my intended volume, not satisfactorily. it's the biggest bitch of my entire product line.Motorboating...in the Cleavage of the Tetons
Reply:Originally Posted by zipzitHmmm. Am i the only mountain biker who uses dish detergent, water and a scrub brush to clean up my chains? Chains get way dirty here... I used to use kerosene but the soap and water works so much better. I do have to dry the chain carefully using an air compressor with blow off gun. I dont have to wear rubber gloves, nor do i worry about harmful effects of the cleaning solution. i do have to wear earplugs to use the blow off gun. I will say before i tried the soap and water technique, i was looking very closely at the harbor freight parts washer with automotive oil filter mod as my dirty chain solution. Tried the soap and water thing and its a win.. Cheap cost, no loss of garage storage space. (i use a plastic bucket) and no hazardous materials to store.Sometimes less is more...
Reply:get a bigass soldering iron
Reply:Originally Posted by zankI ride singlespeed so that I don't have to clean my chain
Reply:Thanks DSW and Zank
Reply:Rideit.. there is as lot of stuff out there on Parts washers, including those with high volume pumps and also with an air compressor driven bubbler... Check out the garage journal.. postings like: http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/s...ad.php?t=16427 orhttp://www.garagejournal.com/forum/s...d.php?t=122850there is a lot of stuff out there. Originally Posted by zankI ride singlespeed so that I don't have to clean my chain
Reply:Have you tried to MIG it with fluxcore? That would be worth a try, you said your machine does MIG. No sheilding gas worries, just need a tack weld to hold it basically.
Reply:Might have been mentioned as I haven't read the whole thread yet, but I would clean with a sonic cleaner. Gun shops have small ones for under $300 and it can clean crevices 100% of contaminationDynasty 200DXPassport plus w/ spoolmate 100victor 315c oxy/(act and prop)Miller digital elitemilwaukee power tools
Reply:I am going to be cynical and impolite here, and suggest two things:1. Since Zank can weld chain, and rideit cannot, and since rideit claims that he has tried many approaches to cleaning chain, I think that the cleaning issue is a red herring, and it has little or nothing to do with it.2. Rideit is not actually serious about solving his problem, or we would have obtained local help. There are thousands of welders in Wyoming, but he has not sought them out. We cannot solve his problem by remote control. I am willing to bet that half the people on this forum could figure out the problem in five minutes, it they were standing with rideit in his shop, or with his welder in their shop. The other half could solve the problem, but it would probably take more than five minutes.If I had to guess, I would guess that the welder is defective. No way should he burn through with 6 amps.From rideit's original post: I have a Thermal Arc 181I, I currently use lift tig, 6-12 amps, with 1.6mm tungsten, and to tell the truth, it is a B!TCH to make clean welds that dont burn through the chain. Rideit claims to have a business, but he apparently is unwilling to hire somebody to look at his broken process and tell him what is wrong. Fails the common sense test, in my view.Most likely this is something very simple, but rideit does not have the experience to figure it out, and he is unwilling to seek local help. We can't help a man who will not get help. Maybe I am giving rideit too hard a time, but it is amazing to me that somebody has a big problem and won't hire some help/expertise. On the other hand, I had to walk 200 miles to figure out that I should ask for help when I needed it, so maybe he isn't that different than I am, or was. ;-)RichardLast edited by raferguson; 03-28-2013 at 07:55 PM.Sculptures in copper and other metalshttp://www.fergusonsculpture.comSyncrowave 200 Millermatic 211Readywelder spoolgunHypertherm 600 plasma cutterThermal Arc GMS300 Victor OA torchHomemade Blacksmith propane forge
Reply:well, gee, you are so helpful!I practiced all day, and got the welds down on chain...only to conclude, as I did two years ago, that welding isn't the solution. Too damn time consuming for what a customer will bear to pay, and too much labor and fussery when I am looking to produce hundreds of small pieces (for wholesale distribution)I am working on two other solutions, one that might involve a patent application. Just to be clear, this is hardly a big problem, in reality, it is a very small hiccup in an expanding product line, the entire chain thing accounts for maybe 10-15% of all products, so it ain't no thing, really. As to asking for help, what do you think I am doing here? I got the answers I needed, (outside of the ones that don't have good answers, like cleaning hundreds of pounds of multi-contaminated metals cheaply and efficiently). Your comment about thousands of welders in Wy, is hilarious, BTW, there are only 2-3 local operations, and only one does Tig..and he agreed that welding chain is really difficult. The local welding guys in Idaho Falls at Norco couldn't do it at all..out of five of them. as to the welding, It isn't all that hard, now that I figured out what tungsten to use, (.040) contamination is the biggest issue. My beads are getting good, (I started right off with Tig, never did any other welding ever) and I am ready to build a bike frame fairly soon. Pretty fun stuff, all told. Thanks to the helpful for the help!As to Richard, well...you read WAAY to much into a simple thread about a PITA process. Lighten up!Last edited by rideit; 03-28-2013 at 10:17 PM.Motorboating...in the Cleavage of the Tetons
Reply:I still think I could sweat the two plates together w/ brass and small O/A tip w/ no cleaning. MikeOl' Stonebreaker "Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes"Hobart G-213 portableMiller 175 migMiller thunderbolt ac/dc stick Victor O/A setupMakita chop saw
Reply:would you be into giving it a go?It still doesn't get around the time/acceptable price issue, but it would be great to know!Motorboating...in the Cleavage of the Tetons
Reply:I'm beginning to think you're putting too high a price on your time. You charge what you think the buying public will bear. If they don't buy it, then it's back to the drawing board and calculator. MikeOl' Stonebreaker "Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes"Hobart G-213 portableMiller 175 migMiller thunderbolt ac/dc stick Victor O/A setupMakita chop saw