I got the Chicago Electric 125 welder at the last Garage Sale and finally pulled it out of the box last night. The reason for this post is, if you have never used a wire welder like this, you should hear my story so you can get it right, unlike me.
I set it up just like the manual says. Wire installed, tensioned the way they say, and ready to go. I have a bunch of old mower blades (with zero turn, it's just easier to replace than sharpen, they get worn down to nothing in no time) so I started by trying to lay a bead on one. I had cleaned to weld area off with a wire brush on an angle grinder.
Here's what happened. It would strike an arc for a second then stop. I'd get little fits of arc. So little my darkening helmet wouldn't actually darken. Thought the helmet was crap too at this point. I tried this for about 10-fifteen minutes. Tried it on sheet metal too. Eventually it just stopped. It took me a minute to figure out why, because I had been using the welder supplied shield since the auto darkening wasn't working and I couldn't see the wire tip very well. I was about to box the welder and helmet and take them back. Strange that both were bad and I thought, this is the famous HF welder? WHAT is wrong?
What WAS wrong: I hadn't realized at first, but the wire spool was snagged somewhere in the winds. I opened the case to mess with the tension, and pulled on the wire between the spool and tensioner. I appear to have pulled the wire free of it's snag and it started rolling freely. My wire was not coming out fast enough to keep an arc without melting off all of the wire and losing contact. Now I was good. And turns out the helmet works fine too.
Here's a pic of my first beads with a welder ever:
Not pretty and probably some bad stuff but it's welding. That thing on the right was a nut i tried to tack weld to the blade but I just melted it down accidentally.
So, if you're a newb like me, SAFETY FIRST. Then unplug and make sure your spool is moving freely. It's needs a little resistance, but not enough to stop the machine itself. If you have a problem like i did above, make sure to check the spool.