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  #1  
Old 04-26-2020, 02:46 PM
rang-a-stang's Avatar
rang-a-stang rang-a-stang is offline
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Welding helmet advice?

I need a decent welding helmet. I have been doing a lot of reading and trying to figure out why I suck so bad at welding and the first issue I need to throw money at is my helmet/hood/mask.

Background: I use flux core MIG right now. I have a crappy HF welder but a friend of mine came over and was able to draw some decent beads on scrap metal with it so the issue is not really the welder or my wire: it's me. I can barely see when I am welding.

I have been watching videos and doing some reading and pretty much everything comes back to the Lincoln Viking 3350 series. I have read very little bad about it, other than the price, and it seems like the gold standard right now that everything is compared to. I see it in various places for ~$250. I know that is a lot but I am a firm believer in "Buy the best, cry once" in this situation. I would like to eventually get a TIG welder so this one should be able to cover both. I don't want to ever buy another helmet so hopefully this one will last for me. I definitely want auto darkening.

What do you guys think (other than it is way too much money)?
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2020, 03:02 PM
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Full Size Jeeper Full Size Jeeper is offline
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Do you already have an auto dark shield. This is the one I have.Works fine for me. This is from harbor freight.


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  #3  
Old 04-26-2020, 05:37 PM
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Tripwire Tripwire is offline
hey,does anyone here know how to.......
 
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got mine from eastwood - less than a hundred bucks shipped
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  #4  
Old 04-26-2020, 11:40 PM
SJTD SJTD is offline
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Join Date: Apr 26, 2012
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I have a cheapo HF too.

I don't use it enough to justify the money on a real one so I figured if this didn't work it'd be back to the tip up helmet. So far it seems ok.

It was hard to get out of the habit of nodding my head before lighting the arc but the real problem will be if I have to go back to the old helmet. I wonder how many times I'll flash myself before relearning.
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Old 04-27-2020, 12:01 AM
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Crankyolman Crankyolman is offline
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I was using a nice auto darkening helmet at work to TIG weld and liked it a lot but then it disappeared and I needed to be able to weld at home anyway so I took a chance on the Harbor Freight auto darkening helmet and think it works just as well as the one I was using at work. I think it's really nice that you can adjust it to be lighter or darker as needed and have used it quite a bit with no problems. Auto darkening rocks!
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Old 04-27-2020, 10:17 AM
Dave Jeeper Dave Jeeper is offline
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I have been teaching myself to weld over the last 5 years. I started with a Harbor Freight mig flux core welder and helmet. I had trouble seeing what I was doing, so I try to weld in bright sunlight or use a spotlight on the welded items and I keep my auto-darkening helmet adjusted to the minimum (9).



I discovered a few things that made a huge difference in my ability to get a good weld: First is to have a grinder with a flap sanding disk to clean the areas to be welded and most importantly the spot that the ground clamp attaches to. Without a proper ground you can't get a good weld. Second, I was storing my helmet on top of the welder over the handle. The handle scratched off a coating on the inside of the lens that provides some of the shading for your eyes. This really affected my ability to see through the helmet. By the time that I had realized this, I had purchased a plasma cutter which needs even less darkening than a mig welder. I ordered a mask off of Amazon that goes down to (4). I also installed a clear protector shield on both the inside of the lens and the outside to protect it from scratches in case I forgot and put it on the handle of the welder again.



I also upgraded to a better mig welder that has a full wave bridge to provide DC welding current instead of what the Harbor F. welder has. More money but works a lot better.
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Old 04-28-2020, 08:00 AM
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Simo Simo is offline
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I have a miller elite (~$260) and like it, it had one of the biggest viewing areas at the time i got it several years ago but there are a lot of others now with even larger windows. The elite has adjustments for shade and sensitivity which is helpful for multi-purpose reasons between welding, plasma cutting, and grinding modes. There's also a feature to electromagnetically detect the arc being turned on even if the light sensors are blocked.

A quick search for several hood reviews nowadays suggest some other options at the top of each list: Lincoln 3350 ($240), Hobart 770756 ($100), ESAB A50 ($290), Antra AH6-260-000 ($40), 3M Speedglass 9100 ($425) so that's pretty widely varying from hobbyist to pro.

I'd pick the nicest one with all the features you like against how much you want to spend. With a clean lens and good lighting I think you'll enjoy whatever you decide to go with.

Last edited by Simo : 04-28-2020 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 05-05-2020, 09:47 AM
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rang-a-stang rang-a-stang is offline
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These are all fantastic bits of feedback and I appreciate every single one of them! I am continuing to research and hope to buy something by mid June.
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  #9  
Old 05-07-2020, 01:15 AM
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DarkMonohue DarkMonohue is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simo
I have a miller elite (~$260) and like it...
Same here. I do like the grinding mode. It wasn't cheap but it's a nice lid. I went with the plain finish since the paint jobs usually consist of the following choices:
Ricky Racer #99
An artsy, vaguely tribal theme that appears to celebrate the serene majesty of children's temporary tattoos
Some kind of unsettlingly camp Village People meets Captain Morgan pirate motif
An apparently constipated, often slightly cross-eyed eagle apparently choking down between five and eight start-spangled banners while making a very hot landing approach with a massive wad of freedoms clutched in its equally massive talons (scream sound effect sold separately)
None of those are for me, so I saved ten bucks and got the plain black plastic. But the unfinished matte plastic surface seems a little porous and tends to pick up spatter spray, greasy fingerprints, spilled queso dip, etc. Caveat emptor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Simo
I'd pick the nicest one with all the features you like against how much you want to spend. With a clean lens and good lighting I think you'll enjoy whatever you decide to go with.
Agreed. And I'd also suggest that you try them on and see what fits your head best (though the headgear can usually be adjusted all kinds of ways), and consider local availability of consumables like lenses. I got mine at the local Airgas shop and chose it partly because of the fact that they carried lenses for it. They were happy to match online pricing to get the sale. Being a regular customer probably helped.
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  #10  
Old 05-09-2020, 10:07 PM
Dave Jeeper Dave Jeeper is offline
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I bought this one on Amazon. It is currently $33 and the shade goes as low as 3 for plasma cutting. I recommend it. It is not the fanciest, but it will do a great job until you can afford a better one. The headstrap support is very adjustable.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


TACKLIFE Welding Helmet Solar Power Auto Darkening, Full Shade Range 3/4-8/9-13, UV/IR Protection DIN 16, 6Pcs Replacement Lenses, Protecting Bag, Grinding Feature for TIG MIG MMA Plasma - PAH04D
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  #11  
Old 05-10-2020, 11:46 PM
FleetFox FleetFox is offline
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The Eastwood one is very good quality, and the price is right when on sale (less than $100). The HFT one is just fine for the weekend welder. Auto darken is an absolute must. Price is a function of the number of light sensors and size of viewing area.

Fleet Fox
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