current types and welding positions for the most common electrodes.
As a rule of thumb, you should never use an electrode that has a diameter larger than the thickness of the metal that you are welding. Some operators prefer larger electrodes because they permit faster travel, but this takes a lot of expedience to produce certified welds.
Position and the type of joint are also factors in determining the size of the electrode. For example, in a thick-metal section with a narrow vee, a small-diameter electrode is always used to run the frost weld or root pass. This is done to ensure full penetration at the root of the weld. Successive passes are then made with larger electrodes.
For vertical and overhead welding, 3/16 inch is the largest diameter electrode that you should use regardless of plate thickness. Larger electrodes make it too difficult to control the deposited metal. For economy, you should always use the largest electrode that is practical for the work It takes about one half of the time to deposit an equal quantity of weld metal from 1/4-inch electrodes as it does from 3/16-inch electrodes of the same type. The larger sizes not only allow the use of higher currents but also require fewer stops to change electrodes.
Deposit rate and joint preparation are also important in the selection of an electrode. Electrodes for welding mild steel can be classified as fast freeze, fill freeze, and fast fill. FAST-FREEZE electrodes produce a snappy, deep penetrating arc and fast-freezing deposits. They are commonly called reverse-polarity electrodes, even though some can be used on ac. These electrodes have little slag and produce flat beads. They are widely used for all-position welding for both fabrication and repair work
FILL-FREEZE electrodes have a moderately forceful arc and a deposit rate between those of the fast-freeze and fast-fill electrodes. They are commonly called the straight-polarity electrodes, even though they may be used on ac. These electrodes have complete slag coverage and weld deposits with distinct, even ripples. They are the general-purpose electrode for a production shop and are also widely used for repair work They can be used in all positions, but fast-freeze electrodes are still preferred for vertical and overhead welding.
Among the FAST-FILL electrodes are the heavy- coated, iron powder electrodes with a soft arc and fast deposit rate. These electrodes have a heavy slag and produce exceptionally smooth weld deposits. They are generally used for production welding where the work is positioned for flat welding.
Another group of electrodes are the low-hydrogen type that were developed for welding high-sulfur and high-carbon steel. These electrodes produce X-ray quality deposits by reducing the absorption of hydrogen that causes porosity and cracks under the weld bead.
Welding stainless steel requires an electrode containing chromium and nickel. All stainless steels have low-thermal conductivity that causes electrode over- heating and improper arc action when high currents are used. In the base metal, it causes large temperature differentials between the weld and the rest of the work, which warps the plate. A basic rule in welding stainless steel is to avoid high currents and high heat. Another reason for keeping the weld cool is to avoid carbon corrosion.
There are also many special-purpose electrodes for surfacing and welding copper and copper alloys, aluminum, cast iron, manganese, nickel alloys, and nickel- manganese steels. The composition of these electrodes is designed to match the base metal. The basic rule in selecting electrodes is to pick one that is similar in composition to the base metal.
Electrodes are expensive; therefore, the loss or deterioration through improper handling or storage can become very costly. Always store them in a dry place at room temperature with 50-percent maximum relative humidity. Moisture causes the coating on electrodes to disintegrate and fall off. Low-hydrogen rods are especially sensitive to moisture. After removing these rods from their original packaging, you should store them in a storage space maintained at a temperature between 250°F to 400°F. Portable or stationary drying ovens are used to store and preserve electrodes at specified temperatures. Care should be taken when handling electrodes because bumping or dropping them can cause the coatings to fall off, rendering the rod useless.
Earlier in this chapter, ac and dc current was briefly covered. With ac welding machines, polarity is not a problem. When using dc welding machines, you can weld with either straight polarity or reverse polarity.
Polarity is the direction of the current flow in a circuit, as shown in figure 7-9. In straight polarity, the electrode is negative and the workpiece positive; the electrons flow from the electrode to the workpiece. In reverse polarity, the electrode is positive and the work- piece negative; the electrons flow from the workpiece to the electrode. To help you remember the difference, think of straight polarity as a SENator and reverse polarity as a REPresentative. Use only the first three letters of each key word. SEN stands for Straight Electrode Negative; REP for Reverse Electrode Positive.Continue Reading