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Welding helmets and cheater lenses

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smfulle View Drop Down
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    Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 2:17pm
I mentioned in my post on the what dId you you do today thread that I feel like one of the reasons that I am a terrible welder is that I can’t see under the hood. Saw a good idea about a strap on head light and a couple mentioned “cheater lenses’ for the helmet.

I thought I would start up a new thread and ask for some more specific information.

What type of welding helmet do you use that you really like? And what is a cheater lens and where do you get them?

I don’t think I’ll ever be a great welder, but I might be able to save some money on grinding wheels if I could at least see what I’m welding instead of just stabbing in the dark. I do have a self darkening lens but where I really have trouble is before I light up the weld and the lens darkens. Even holding a flashlight I have trouble. 

All advise and experience welcome.
Stan
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Doodledad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 2:26pm
does your hood have a shade setting? Are the replaceable clear protectors (in and out) fresh? Try having a drop light at your weld area. Once you start to weld you should be able to see what your doing. BTW I LOVE “Grampa’s Jeep” and it’s journey thru life. Glad to see it back out after the accident. Hope your healed up. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ndnchf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 2:38pm
A cheater lense is just a magnification lense that slips in behind the main lense. They come in different magnification, just like reading glasses. Get them at any welding supply store. Bring your helmet to the welding store to try it out. I leave my glasses off when using the cheater lense.

Another tip is to use LED bulbs to light you welding table. I found that they do not trip the auto darkening lense like incandescent or flourescent bulbs, so things dont go dark until you strike an arc. I'm no great welder, but these things have helped me a lot.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mullen46cj2a Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 2:47pm
I had the same problem with a non adjustable self darkening helmet.  I finally bought an adjustable lens helmet (from Harbor Freight) and it works great.  I wear prescription eyeglasses so the cheater glass is not something I need.  You could try a pair of cheap reading glasses to see if magnification helps you with your welds.
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Lee (MN) View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lee (MN) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 3:45pm
Stan, the "Cheater Lens" is available at welding shops and Northern tool has them as well (less than $5). I'm an old school welder and do not care for the modern "Auto-Darkening" hood, I prefer a regular "Jackson" small window hood and they have a slot in them that the cheater lens slips into. I was having trouble seeing my puddle while welding and i purchased the cheater, they have 2-4 different magnifications available to choose from, anyway it was a wonderful improvement and can see again. I'm sure a light on the hood makes a difference, but the younger folks here who do not have bifocals yet have no idea the IPA welding becomes with them! . The drawback is when you flip up the dark lense to grind of chip, to really hozes up the view, LOL... A coworker who has an auto-darkening hood taped a cheater on the inside of his, seems to work for him.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lee (MN) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 3:51pm
Here is a link to Cyberweld, this is a Miller brand and over $5, I believe they are $2-$3 at Northern Tool


https://store.cyberweld.com/malemihe.html

Lee

Edited by Lee (MN) - 31 Dec. 2017 at 3:53pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Millennium falcon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 4:12pm
Ive been using a harbor freight auto darkening helmet for years. It is probably about 5-8 years old. It is beat up but still works. My wife just got me a new one... still a harbor freight but man have they come a long way! more adjustments, better reaction.....and way better visibility. Both, before and after the ark. It also has a grind setting which is nice It also works for some torch work. I would recommend it. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lee (MN) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 4:23pm
Originally posted by Millennium falcon Millennium falcon wrote:

Ive been using a harbor freight auto darkening helmet for years. It is probably about 5-8 years old. It is beat up but still works. My wife just got me a new one... still a harbor freight but man have they come a long way! more adjustments, better reaction.....and way better visibility. Both, before and after the ark. It also has a grind setting which is nice It also works for some torch work. I would recommend it. 


Does it magnify ?, if not it does me no good!. At work we have several auto-darkening hoods, nothing against them, but I've been doing the "Welders Nod" for 35+ years and end up lifting the hood anyway out of habit

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ol' Unreliable Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 10:29pm
Originally posted by Lee (MN) Lee (MN) wrote:

I've been doing the "Welders Nod" for 35+ years


I didn't know there was a name for that!  I sort of learned to weld 40 years ago and learned "the Welder's Nod" at that time. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lee (MN) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 10:34pm
Originally posted by Ol' Unreliable Ol' Unreliable wrote:

Originally posted by Lee (MN) Lee (MN) wrote:

I've been doing the "Welders Nod" for 35+ years


I didn't know there was a name for that!  I sort of learned to weld 40 years ago and learned "the Welder's Nod" at that time. 


not sure if that's the proper term, but if you've been welding for years that's pretty much what it is!, and it's Dam hard to break the habit!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wadoyado Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Dec. 2017 at 11:17pm
Originally posted by smfulle smfulle wrote:


I don’t think I’ll ever be a great welder, but I might be able to save some money on grinding wheels if I could at least see  

All advise and experience welcome.
I remember seeing one of your welds on the frame looked pretty darn good to me. Lee said the magic word "puddle" the molten spot directly below the arc, Get into the habit of looking at that spot clear and in focus this is where fusion takes place. It's more difficult to see a clear puddle with flux core mig wire, prefer just gas for that reason. Also make sure your helmet shade isn't too dark No.10 should be good for Mig sheetmetal, if you lose track of the weld seam while weld I've seen welders use soap stone to highlight the area. Hope this helps Joe
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jan. 2018 at 11:29pm
Stan, here is my $0.02 on the subject.  I grew up welding.  My Dad was a welder and he taught me, although I never got as good as he was.  My Grandfather was also a welder and he always used a “cheater”.  I couldn’t imagine ever having to use one of those handicap devices just to weld, lol.  There wasn’t any such thing as an autodarkening hood back then.  Anyway, I was a pretty fair welder when I was young, then I went off to college and got away from welding for a couple of decades.  Fast forward to Gus’ rebuild in 2012.  I bought a really nice Lincoln MIG machine and commenced to welding a little here and there on Gus.  MIG machines with gas will make anyone look like a good welder.  But whoaaaaa!  What happened in those 20 years????  My welds looked like a big pile of gorilla sh&# as my Dad would say.  What happened to my welding skills?  Sure I was a little rusty, but I soon realized I couldn’t see what I was welding.  

I had started wearing glasses, and then bifocals, and then trifocals or “no line progressive” lenses.  I was using one of those cheap HFT auto darkening hoods with the 2x3 lens.  With my “no lines” I couldn’t seem to ever get the weld in focus.  I quickly installed an appropriate cheater lens with the same magnification as my glasses and that helped a little bit.  I even tried that chalking the line trick or using a sharpie on lighter colored metals but still had a tough time seeing the puddle or even where I was supposed to put it.  I tried the lights too, but the auto darkening hoods don’t like those.

Serendipitously, I was welding something up at a buddy’s jeep shop on his rack and was using his equipment...no cheater or auto darkening hood and I welded effortlessly and beautifully again.  How could this be?  I realized I was using a hood with the big 4x5 glass and I was able to see just fine!  Previously, I didn’t like to weld with those type hoods, cuz they weren’t “cool”.  Now, I just don’t care how I look when I’m welding.  My welds are once again structurally sound and somewhat aesthetically pleasing from at least 7’ away.

I have noticed also that welding thin sheet metal on low amp settings, the #8 shade works very well.  The #10 shade is too dark for me using low settings, but is absolutely necessary for me when I crank up the heat.  All this to say, try a large glass hood (4x5) without the cheater first.  If you have bifocals like me, you just can’t ever get the proper perspective looking thru that tiny 2x3 window.  Next try changing your lens shade based upon what your welding and the machine setting.  Hope this helps.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smfulle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jan. 2018 at 9:52am
Thanks everyone for the tips. Pondering my next move. Replacement lenses and cheater lenses are pretty cheap for my harbor freight hood, and the new fancy ones are north of $100, but a bandaid on a gaping wound in not great medicine. Hmmm.....
Stan
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JohnB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jan. 2018 at 11:31am
Stan, My CJ gave me the reason to get welding equipment. Hobart on gas. Then got the HF auto darkening helmet. Seemed to work ok, but I always thought I couldn't see exactly what I was doing and welds would get off line or poor looking - lots of grinding. I wear glasses. A few years later, the batteries starting going in the helmet- you can tell when you get flashed! Found out the batteries are not meant to be replaced. They can, but not easy. I did some research on better helmets and found a Lincoln  Viking with 4C. Yes it was more money, but I can now see what I'm welding - yes there is a puddle - the helmet instantly made me a better welder. I never thought a better helmet would make that big a difference, but it did for me. I'm glad I got it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote leecarr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jan. 2018 at 11:43am
Buy the good helmet, you'll save the money back on grinding wheels. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jan. 2018 at 12:21pm
I had the same problem with my weld,I couldn't see what I was welding and I talk to my brother " he's a good welder"and he told me he was using reading glass and that's what I did what an improvement.  So now I'm using reading glasses and seem to be working really good I can see what I'm welding.
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