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Considering a welder

nb11

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Well, I'm considering purchasing a welder. I don't need something worthy of opening a fab shop with, I just think it would be a cool/useful skill to have. I'd probably practice on stuff around the house, and maybe eventually do a bumper or something. But I have a couple questions:

1. Stick or mig? I'm considering a stick because a good stick can be had for considerably less than a mig. Also, I don't intend to do thin stuff, such as body work, so I think a stick would be good for general purpose stuff, and would have the power to tackle some heavier stuff if needed. Also, I like the idea of not having as many parts with a stick, such as wire spools, gas, etc.

2. If I went with a mig, I could get a cheap HF unit for, well, cheap, and just do flux core. But, from my understanding gas mig is the best way to go as far as wire fed machines. Would a cheaper welder be worth it, maybe one that offers the option to later add a gas setup?

I guess what I'm really asking is, would a stick welder be able to handle most general fab jobs? I could be mistaken, but aren't there a couple members on here who do everything with a stick? I'm thinking Bray D did a SAS/doubler/bumpers/welded diff etc. on a stick. With practice, could I get my stick welds to be strong and look half-way decent? Any input would be appreciated.
 


Captain Ledd

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Depending on how cheap the stick welder is, it's a good route. They do take considerably more practice than a MIG.

MIG is essentially point and click. There's some finesse stuff to getting a really GOOD weld, and certain positions and metals etc (that goes for all welding though). But really it's put the gun up to the metal, pull the trigger, and congrats, you're welding.

A gas MIG setup isn't really all that expensive, mine was maybe $30 for a huge ass spool, and another $100 for a 4.5'x7" tank (decent sized for a home shop). much better welds. It's not that bad.

I'd have to recommend the Hobart Handler 187. it may be a bit pricey for you, but it's great. It's done exhaust no problem, and can be cranked up to weld the thicker stuff, thick enough I'd probably never weld anything that thick. Even still, you can make multiple passes if you need to. It's the bottom end 220V model, I've used 110's before and they're junk.

Sticks are plenty good though. And are a good option if you have more time (to learn) than money.

With enough practice, you will get better at anything.
 

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?

How much are you lookin to spend?

Do you have a 220v outlet in your garage?

Arc welders are all 220, migs are available in 110v & 220v.

I bought my Lincoln 100HD Pak mig (110v) for less than $500 at Home Depot.
I've welded my frame, made crossmembers, narrowed my axle tubes, put new spring perches on my rearend, and all without any trouble.
 
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alwaysFlOoReD

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Probably the best money spent is to take a course first. That way you can try all the machines before you buy, and also LEARN something about welding. Captain Ledd and chvlfrk are both correct, and my personal input would be.... I need more input on your personal situation before I could make a recommendation.

Richard
 

nb11

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Well, I currently don't have a 220v outlet anywhere, but I'd be willing to have one installed.

I was originally considering a stick because of the simplicity of the machine. No wire or gas to worry about, just a stick. But after seeing what Capt. Ledd and Chvlfrk have to say, I think a MIG would be worth it simply because of how much easier the learning curve would be.

And as for how much I want to spend, I would want an entry-level unit, but not a crappy unit. Anybody have any input on a Hobart Handler 125? I know Miller 125's, 140's, and 180's are available at Lowe's. Are those any good? I know sometimes manufacturers will make cheaper products exclusively for Lowe's and such stores.

So now I'm leaning back towards MIG, lol.
 

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I don't have much direct experience other than a very old sears craftsman 295 amp stick and a lincoln 100 weldpac. I have used industrial capacity machines and they are the cats meow but what I have serves the purpose. I am self-taught and have taken night school courses in welding, which is why I recommend a course, it does speed up the learning curve greatly. That said, if I was to start over with the knowledge that I have now, I would buy a brand name, for the warranty, and choose a mig that is dual voltage [110 and 220], gas capable, and spool gun capable [for aluminum]. The flux core is much better at down and dirty welding where the material can't be cleaned properly and is better out in the wind, such as a repair to the exhaust in your driveway. The gas gives a much nicer looking weld with a lot less clean up, which you will definitely appreciate after cleaning up behind flux-core, but can be slightly less strong depending on your skills. I saw recently, on Kijiji, a used Miller 211 with all the above "necessities" for C$700.00.
Edit; if you don't know welding machines, bring somebody that does to test a used machine.
Hope that helps,

Richard
 
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Captain Ledd

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Hobart to Miller is like Ford to Mercury.

Hobarts are Miller machines with a little less expensive parts (yeah, you could say cheaper), but they work just as well, and if/when something wears out or breaks you can replace it with the higher end Miller parts. They're nice because the entry price is a little cheaper for a very nice machine. So if you're not doing this as a shop I'd get the Hobart, it'd still last a long time, the miller parts would be used more for a production shop with more use/abuse.

Amazon has a Hobart 140 with everything but a solid core wire spool and a tank for $500 (the equivalent Miller setup is $815), free shipping, 110v too.

http://www.amazon.com/Hobart-500500-Handler-115-Volt-Single-Phase/dp/B0002PS7SA/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1321207892&sr=8-10
 

nb11

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Ah cool. Thanks for the explanation, Captain. I know they offer a machine shop course at my school, and we have CNC machines, Miller welders, plasma cutters, etc. So I may take that class sometime. In the meantime, I may save up for that Hobart.
 

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Ummm..........

I would also recommend that you try out various units, as I've used Lincolns & Hobarts, don't remember ever usin a Miller, but you want to buy a unit that your comfortable with. For me, I welded best with a Lincoln, it seemed that the Hobarts weren't as "user friendly".

Just a suggestion, as I feel when ya spend that kinda money, ya wanta be happy.
 

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I thought the Hobarts were much more user friendly. When I used the Lincolns (at this point years ago), when I adjusted one setting it changed the other. So every adjustment I made I had to do it twice. The explanation at the time was "well yeah! when you up this setting you need more of the other!" Except that I was a noob and had the one setting correct and not the other (I can't remember for the life of me what it was). It became a hassle, but maybe they're different now. The Miller's never did that so that's why I bought my Hobart 187 Handler.

I learned a TON in my welding class, ask around the department and talk to the professors if they offer a basic welding class that touches a bit on everything. They should have one.

Lincolns seemed to be like all the Cummins people. Constantly talked up about how great they are and most of the time they speak based on hearing how great they are. But at least the people who speak highly of Lincolns can spell the name correctly, probably thanks to the president.

Chvlfrk does have a valid point though, a lot of the people I weld with very much support one or the other (myself included :icon_rofl: ). But I honestly believe at this stage in technology either will weld well.

:icon_welder:
 
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nb11

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I agree. I mean I'm sure you get what you pay for with welders, just like almost everything else. I'll try talking with somebody over in the machine shop and see if they would let me try out their welders on some scrap. Also, my school has a formula SAE race team that I've been meaning to get in on. They build a car (more like a go-kart with a gsxr engine) every year. That would be a good way to get my foot in the door of fabrication.
 

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Lincolns seemed to be like all the Cummins people. Constantly talked up about how great they are and most of the time they speak based on hearing how great they are.
Nope, actually its called reliability...you should try it some time:thefinger:



Anyway, I just purchased a Hobart 210mvp. It has a 110/220 option so you can use either. I haven't tried the 110 but I am impressed with it so far. Its easy to use...even for dummies. I have only welded with flux core wire but I will eventually be set up with shielding gas.

And honestly we're comparing apples to oranges. It isn't going to matter much if you go with Lincoln/Miller/Hobart. Just get one and be happy.
 

Captain Ledd

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Nope, actually its called reliability...you should try it some time:thefinger:.
Sorry, way too many people not only spell it CumminGs, but pronounce it CumminGs. It you want to pimp a product to someone at least get the name right. Everyone who's tried talking me into a Cummins except for a very select handful, can't get the name right. If you get that wrong how credible is the rest of the information? Have they ever seen one? even driven one? Worked on one and missed the bold company name on the valve cover?

Like the Lincolns, I wonder just how much they weld with them. Mostly because my experience with them was SO damned aggravating trying to adjust them. Yet supposedly they're more user friendly. I see the same thing over and over again, like someone is cut and pasting a response they've been told or seen over and over again. Including just "get a Lincoln", no basis, no story, just to get one. That's not enough in my book.

I've done my share of diesel searching, Cummins is comparable to every other manufacturer out there and reliability is dependent on maintenance from the owner. In other words, overrated.

End thread hijack :beer:
 
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The one thing to note about the handler 140 is that it requires a 20amp plug versus the standard 15amp that you will find on most 110v outlets. It will still work on a 15amp, but I don't think you'll be able to use the higher power features that make it cost more than a 125 welder. I ended up going with the Auto Arc 130, its the same thing as a hobart handler 125 but less expensive because it doesn't say hobart on it, even though they have it listed on the hobart website. Came in a kit for about $400 with a mask, the welder, 10lbs of flux core, a cart and a regulator. All you need to run gas through it is a bottle. Plus the cart makes a great first project, its pretty flimsy until you weld it.
 

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I'm going to an accredited welding test facility for school and we start out doing stick because it teaches many important fundamentals. Spend some money and get a good multi-process machine that can do both stick, and MIG.
 

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