[Solved] Need advice for repairing/replacing welding cables

Thread Starter

ballsystemlord

Joined Nov 19, 2018
76
Hello,
I inherited a welder and the cabling's insulation is in poor repair. I'm asking for advice. I'll list some ideas I've had below.
Please note that I'm a student, so I'm looking for a more cost effective solution that will last.

1.Idea: Replace the whole thing.
1.Drawbacks: The new stick welding cables are AWG4 and mine are AWG2. I'd imagine that getting smaller cables is not the best idea in the world for a 225A 20% duty cycle welder, especially considering that AWG4 cables are rated at 95 Amps at best ( https://www.cerrowire.com/products/resources/tables-calculators/ampacity-charts/ ).

2.Idea: Make your own (Identical) cables.
2.Drawbacks: Expensive. I'd also need to figure out what the thing is that they crimped the wire onto that plugs into the welder.

3.Idea: Place rubber hose (Like this (it can be had for less money): https://www.homedepot.com/p/TekTube...lack-Ultra-Flexible-Pipe-2202012050/303455232 ) over the cracking insulation. Maybe slide a little (rubber like) glue into the length along with it.
3.Drawbacks: Would PVC be a good choice here? What about water resistance? Would it make the heat resistance worse due to the additional thermal resistance?

4.Idea: Replace the insulation. (Coolest idea yet!)
4.Notes: There are plenty of videos online showing real life Indians making their own wire using PVC pellets. I could "Mc Gyver something" to do this. Here are the types and their meanings:
THWN-2 Thermoplastic Heat and Water resistant Nylon-coated wire
XHHW-2 XLPE ((X)cross-Linked PolyEthylene) High Heat-resistant Water-resistant
USE-2/RHW Rubber Heat resistant Water resistant
4.Drawbacks: The types of insulation I'd want to use I can't find pellets for. I don't even know if the PVC pellets sold online are the ones with plasticizers.

What do you think?
Thanks!
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
2,058
Stretch-out the Cables and clean them as best as You can.

Get ~6 to ~8 Rolls of generic, Chinese, "cloth-type" Electrical-Tape,
overlap it in a spiral by ~50% for the entire length of the Cable.
Look for it at Harbor-Freight, or any Hardware Store.

Secure the ends of the wrap-job with genuine "3M" "Scotch-Brand" "Super-33" Electrical-Tape.
It's the best there is,
it's also very thin, tough, and stretchy.
( Home-Depot, Loews, or Electrical-Supply-Houses, ~$4 to ~$5.oo per roll, You only need one roll ).

Stretch the Super-33 Tape very tight when applying it,
and apply at least 4-layers over the first and last ~4" to ~6", of the Cable, or longer if You like.

This repair will last around ~2 to ~3 years with very light, weekly, hobbyist type usage.

Do not bend the Cable into a loop that is less than about ~18" in diameter, treat it with care.
.
.
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shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
9,375
If you want to just cover the cables I'd go with some of this stuff - https://www.cableorganizer.com/cate...nt/cable-sleeving/braided/abrasion-resistant/ Checking around you may find it cheaper. It expands to get it over the cable.

But If I was doing it I'd buy new cable here - https://www.wireandcableyourway.com/2-awg-welding-cable-class-k Most of the ends on welding cables that are unpluged from the machine can be found too and usually aren't crimped but held by a set screw under the cover. The same way the electrode holder is.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
29,825
I would go with you flexible pipe idea or with shortbus's suggestion to add the cable organizer cover, since it's easier than taping the whole cable.
Welding voltages are relatively low, so the cover is mainly to protect against a direct short between the cables, and doesn't need a lot of insulation.
The main caveat is, don't work where the cables can get wet.

A new cable is the best fix, but covering the old cable should be fine if you're on a budget and use the welder only infrequently.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
4,213
FWIW Depending on how damaged they are, for repairing the normal nicks and scrapes, I like this product and use it for many different things. Patching, watertight sealing, etc. It also comes in white but my goto standard is black.
1649371993964.png
Dries fairly quickly. Apply multiple coats as needed. It is somewhat tacky so it coats well and stays pretty much in place when wet. It comes in several brands, containers, and sizes but I prefer the cans and they have a brush on the lid. When it gets too tacky add some acetone and shake well. Just don't make it too runny. It is basically liquid rubber.
 

Thread Starter

ballsystemlord

Joined Nov 19, 2018
76
The terminal is crimped on these. Here's a picture.
I tried to get a photograph of the cracking insulation to show you, but the camera wouldn't focus. I might try again later.
 

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shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
9,375
That is better than I was expecting it to be. Have you tried it to make sure it works? If it still is in working condition, if it was me I'd spend the $2.18 a foot and make up new cables - https://www.wireandcableyourway.com/2-awg-welding-cable-class-k

Adding any type of covering other than the braided sleeve I linked to, is going to make your cables stiffer than normal cables and harder to weld with. Or at least make a compromise, get a new cable for the stinger and cover the ground cable, because the ground doesn't get moved around as your welding.

I buy many things from these guys(they're on Ebay too) - https://www.weldingcity.com/stick-welding/
Over time all of what I have got has been good quality at hard to beat prices. I'm not at all affiliated with them, just a very satisfied customer.
 

Thread Starter

ballsystemlord

Joined Nov 19, 2018
76
When trying to find you some nice places on the cables to take pictures, I noticed that some of the cracks are not just insulation deep as I had assumed. The copper is a bit corroded and there's some foreign matter in there. Maybe it's small rocks, or perhaps the cable already melted and fused once. I think I'm going to have to save up to make the purchase of new cables. It's a shame I'll have to send the old to the scrap yard.
 

Attachments

bassbindevil

Joined Jan 23, 2014
422
Corrosion on the outside doesn't matter, it's just important at the ends to get them clean before crimping or soldering. According to a Youtube show, soaking corroded copper in a mix of salt and vinegar will clean it (haven't tried that myself).

If you visit a big auto parts swap meet, you may find cables in better shape. There's usually all kinds of welding stuff and often very cheap.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
9,375
When trying to find you some nice places on the cables to take pictures, I noticed that some of the cracks are not just insulation deep as I had assumed
If that is the reason you think the cables need replacing, I think your wrong. The one showing the exposed wire could be covered with some good electrical tape, the "crazing" in the other picture, what your calling cracking, is a normal thing with old rubber, which is probably what the insulation is. any new cables you would buy will have a synthetic rubber insulation.

Do you understand what the voltage is in the welding machine output? Quote, " The MMA (Stick) welding process typically requires high current (50-350 Amps) at relatively low voltage (10-50 Volts) " from - https://www.jasic.co.uk/guide-to-mma-welding Your mains in put is NOT what is going through the welding cables, it is lowered in the transformer that makes up the welding machine. High input volts at low amps = low output volts at high amps, which makes an ARC/MMA welder.
 

jiggermole

Joined Jul 29, 2016
56
electrician here, Rubber tape is the way to go. If you don't have any, super 33 works just fine. Half lap double wrap good for 600v. Like cab said. And with welding cable its a little funky when you calculate your ampacity. It really depends on what you're doing. If you're welding for long stretches 4 awg would be closer to what you need. If you're doing hobby welding, a tack here a 1" stich there, than 2awg would be ok. Not ideal but ok. Just check your cable after welding if its warm but not hot its fine. If its uncomfortably hot than may need to bump it up. And from what I'm reading they're right. A perfect cable isn't really necessary. Repair the bad sections with electrical tape and call it a day. I'd look for some 4awg for you're 225A welder, its preferable, but its not necessary for the hobbyist. And to back up shortbus its low voltage, high current, not mains voltage you have at the stinger.

oh and based on those pictures, I tape them up and send them back out to the production floor if those cables came back to the shop. Based on the pictures you provided. Can't speak if theres worse damage elsewhere.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
9,375

Thread Starter

ballsystemlord

Joined Nov 19, 2018
76
If that is the reason you think the cables need replacing, I think your wrong. The one showing the exposed wire could be covered with some good electrical tape, the "crazing" in the other picture, what your calling cracking, is a normal thing with old rubber, which is probably what the insulation is. any new cables you would buy will have a synthetic rubber insulation.

Do you understand what the voltage is in the welding machine output? Quote, " The MMA (Stick) welding process typically requires high current (50-350 Amps) at relatively low voltage (10-50 Volts) " from - https://www.jasic.co.uk/guide-to-mma-welding Your mains in put is NOT what is going through the welding cables, it is lowered in the transformer that makes up the welding machine. High input volts at low amps = low output volts at high amps, which makes an ARC/MMA welder.
I'm very much aware of the voltage. That's not the concern here.
What I was thought was exactly this:
"It looks like I may have lost 1 whole braid between the 3 that are cut there...
I doubt that section of the cable will be able to handle the amperage....
It will probably heat up and melt the insulation...
I'd probably be safer to replace it. Sigh"

Granted, it's only like what, 1/8 inch? So it might be too small to make a difference.
Thanks again, guys.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
9,375
I doubt that section of the cable will be able to handle the amperage..
You don't seem to want to take advice from people who have been welding longer than you have been alive. The welding cables you talked about in post#1 were 4 guage and they were deemed by the manufacturer to be correct for you application. Do you really think the a few cut srandsin your 2 guage cables make it less than a 4 gauge wire? since none of my answers, from experience, or anyone else's answers seem to suit you, I'm begining to see you as a troll......
 

jiggermole

Joined Jul 29, 2016
56
yes self vulcanizing rubber tape is an electricians best friend. I would totally use that if I had it to patch up these perfectly usable cables.
Like I stated earlier, tape them up and put them back on the floor. Our plant doesn't have a ton but we have well over 100 mig welders and they weld just fine with worse cables than what I'm seeing in your pics.
 

Thread Starter

ballsystemlord

Joined Nov 19, 2018
76
You don't seem to want to take advice from people who have been welding longer than you have been alive. The welding cables you talked about in post#1 were 4 gauge and they were deemed by the manufacturer to be correct for you application. Do you really think the a few cut stands in your 2 guage cables make it less than a 4 gauge wire? since none of my answers, from experience, or anyone else's answers seem to suit you, I'm beginning to see you as a troll......
I cited the article where I got the information that 4 gauge was too small -- They are also a manufacturer. Please don't blame me for trusting the more cautious source.
Here: https://www.cerrowire.com/products/resources/tables-calculators/ampacity-charts/
 
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