got it figured out! have never cut anything so thin before, set the amperage at 18 for the 22ga and it cut great and down to 14amps for the 26ga and it cut fine, feed rates were also moved up to 175ipm and there is NO slag, cuts are superbly clean and sharp.
one thing i did notice though on the 26ga, the air pressure going into the water table causes bubbles and waves, ripples whatever in the water and that vibrates the work piece when cutting. that "bouncing, vibration" creates a slightly visible ripple in the cut.
anythoughts on this? I may try lowering the water level some?