How to get a Miller Thunderbolt 225 up and running? (5 Viewers)

yotadude520

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Hey guys!

For my 23rd birthday my dad gave me my grandfather's old welder. It's an old school Miller Thunderbolt 225 A/C only stick welder.

I've done some research online and found out that it's a pretty good machine and I'd like to learn how to weld on it. I've done some welding in the past using a MIG welder and did okay. I'd really like to learn how to arc weld and I think it would be really cool to use papou's old machine.

It's been sitting in a barn for god knows how long, but it seems to be in decent shape. I'd like for someone to give me some input on what steps I should take to get this old thing going again and safe enough to use. I've got the leads for it and they seem to be okay. It was all stored in the tack room of our family barn.

Look forward to the insight!

Here's the welder the day I got it:

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e9999

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Yup, even my DC buzz box is remarkably simple. No diodes in yours, probably, so just check the connections everywhere, the cables for fraying, look for shorts or open circuits, make sure the few moving parts move, and you should be good to go I imagine. May not be as easy to get nice beads as with MIG though, but good for you to tackle a new challenge, fun!
 
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Besides watching the videos on stick welding on Jody’s welding tips and tricks, a couple of things I find useful is to mount the rod in the stinger at the 45 degree notch so that the rod tip is closer to your hand on the stinger and then use your off hand with the pinky finger on the work piece and the thumb on the middle of the rod to steady it as you are running stringer beads.
Practice maintaining a short 1/8 inch arc as the rod is being steadily consumed and look for the molten puddle under the slag cover. The puddle lags behind the rod tip and you can see waves of molten metal dancing around in the puddle. You will need to see the edges of the puddle to make proper welds when you are joining pieces to avoid under cut and lack of fusion. For steel greater than 1/4 inch, I would still rather pull out an 1/8 inch 7018 rod than my MIG gun, but that may be because I actually learned stick welding in community college and have done a lot more of it.
 

yotadude520

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Thanks for the advice guys! @Pin_Head people online have been telling me to grease the shunt box. I read the manual and can't seem to figure out where that is.

I'm hoping to have the welder up and running this Sunday so I can start laying down some welds!
 
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Greasing the shunt is a good idea on that particular Buzz Box. That is the crank on top that moves the vertical slider that sets the current. I think you just put some grease on the screw. The shunt is an iron core that slides in and out of a coil.
 

yotadude520

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Well time for a little update. I spent last night taking the welder apart and cleaning out all the dust - and there was a lot! But the welder looks to be in remarkably good shape - almost new I would say. I was disappointing that the splatter on the front wasn't mud - it's actually paint

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But the inside is in great shape!

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All the grounding points looked really clean, no rust on the inside. It was stored in the family barn for probably 20 years so aside from the dust and dead spiders it was looking good.

Started cleaning the outside panel:

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Hammered out a few of the dents and had it looked over by my supervisor

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I greased the shunt block and it didn't seem to make the crank move any better so I backed off the noise adjustment screws and readjusted them to where they were tight but not too tight. The shunt glides up and down now. So I put it back together!

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It still has this manufacturer safety sticker on it too!

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She's all ready to go! My neighbor is a welder by trade and has volunteered to help teach me how to arc weld and use the Thunderbolt. I'll be laying down my first beads this Sunday and will keep you all updated!
 

yotadude520

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Spray a some WD40 of similar product on the paint splatters. It will likely soften the paint and allow removal. There are also commercial products for over spray removal.

Good luck on the welding.

Thanks for the advice!

Unfortunately came down with a cold this weekend so never got a chance to weld, but I'm going to be wiring a 220 outlet this week so I can atleast plug it in and see if the fan kicks on.
 

yotadude520

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So time for a little update. The plug on my welder is an older style 3 prong 220 plug. All of my welding buddies who said "oh yeah I got a 220 outlet" all had the 4 prong newer style outlet. So I hadn't been able to plug her in and see if she kicks on...until last Saturday.

On my way home I stopped by and saw a buddy of mine who lives in the neighborhood. I haven't seen him for a while and noticed a 220 outlet on the wall of his carport. I looked at it and it was the same! So I rushed home, threw the welder in the back of the truck with everything and hurried back. Plugged it in, nervously hit the switch and the fan kicked on and blew some remaining dirt and debris out of the welder.

IT WORKS! I struggled a lot with trying to start the arc. There were a lot of sticking moments for me but eventually I was able to start it and did a small one inch bead before it went out. The thing is silent though for the most part - which is a good thing. I was worried the noise adjustment screws on the shunt were too loose when I greased it and backed them off, so I guess I did something right!

Long story short - I have a working welder and I'm going to start practicing on it much more. I'm going to install my 220V outlet and then start practicing in the shop. A/C Arc welding is definitely not easy though, but my mom was really happy to hear her dad's old welder was getting put to use.

I'll post up some pictures of some beads when I can get a respectable one in. Thanks to everyone for the help!
 
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Some rods are easier to run than others. For starters, try 3/32 6013 at about 90 amps. It is a “drag” rod, meaning you can drag the edge of the flux coating along the surface without it sticking. This makes it easier to control the arc length. 7014 is also a drag rod that runs nice, but it takes a little more current and deposits more metal. 7018 is a really nice rod that runs almost the same, but make sure to get the “AC” special version. You want about 1/8 inch arc length. 6011 is great on rusty metal, but it takes a little more finesse to run well. I only use 7018 and 6011, but I run them on DC.
 

yotadude520

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Some rods are easier to run than others. For starters, try 3/32 6013 at about 90 amps. It is a “drag” rod, meaning you can drag the edge of the flux coating along the surface without it sticking. This makes it easier to control the arc length. 7014 is also a drag rod that runs nice, but it takes a little more current and deposits more metal. 7018 is a really nice rod that runs almost the same, but make sure to get the “AC” special version. You want about 1/8 inch arc length. 6011 is great on rusty metal, but it takes a little more finesse to run well. I only use 7018 and 6011, but I run them on DC.

Thanks for the advice pinhead! I was using 6011 rods the first time and I see what you mean. The metal was prepped before welding beads on but I will go out and get some 6013 rod so I can practice just making some beads and just get the whole process down. Once I get good with the 6013 I'll start working on the 6011 again to fine tune my skills.
 

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