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GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
10/2/19 2:53 p.m.

I've been using my stepdad's miller MIG welder for small jobs, but I need to get my own soon so I'm not constantly borrowing. I've used all kinds of angry pixie metal masticators but that was 10 years ago now- I'll be dead-novice tier with a new torch.

From what I've found, for doing small jobs (challenge car) and since they now can ALSO be TIG-capable guns I should be looking at stick welders- but I still wanted to get the opinions of the Hive since many of you work with these regularly and there's more than one kind. What kind would be best for a newbie? Are there any cheap machines you would suggest?

ALSO: I have few provisions for 220v. I'm pretty much at 110 house plug for these.

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
10/2/19 3:03 p.m.

I have the 89 dollar harbor freight flux core machine. It functions. Much better with lincoln wire and good tips. Sgill not a great machine, but decent.

Dad has a 110 Lincoln from lowes with a gas bottle. Lot better piece of equipment. It will do cage tubing with patience. The flux core wont.

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
10/2/19 3:13 p.m.

I welded the transmission shaft in the Lemons Datsun with a Harbor Freight flux box. It lasted 7 hours. 

This is the machine I currently use. It has been outstanding. It replaced a Hobart 140 that wasn't quite up to the job. 

Hitbox 200

RacetruckRon
RacetruckRon HalfDork
10/2/19 3:15 p.m.

The Harbor Freight Vulcan line is pretty good for the price.  Treat them like any chinese electronics, give them hell right out of the box and if it doesn't pop you are probably going to be fine.  I have had a Vulcan ProTIG 200 for a year and a half and it's been better than the Miller Diversion 165 that I used in SAE Baja.

The all in one/omniprocess welders are masters of none and normally lack AC (aluminum) capability, I would avoid those.

Saron81
Saron81 Reader
10/2/19 8:37 p.m.

I have the Eastwood mig140. 

It does a decent job on everything I’ve used it for in my garage that also only has 110, and a small breaker. It’s nice that the power and wire speed are infinitely adjustable, and you can use it as either a solid wire, or flux core setup. I’ve done sheet metal repair, and made motor mounts in my Fiesta with it. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltimaDork
10/2/19 9:15 p.m.

I have the 89 dollar Hammer Freight welder also.  Its a decent (but messy) exhaust welder.  For non-structural items like I wouldn't hesitate to use one, although I'd go one level up for adjustability.

The flux core is actaully kinda nice sometimes as there is no gas tank & refill nonsense to deal with.

ronholm
ronholm Dork
10/2/19 9:20 p.m.

This is one of those things you should save the pennies on and buy a nice piece of equipment, especially in 110volt.  

I have an OLD Hobart Beta Mig 200 (decades pre Hobart becoming a cheap Miller) it taps the transformer directly with a big dial on the front and a high/low selection under the cover. Without any electronic noise of any kind it welds smooth as butter all day long.  I picked it up years ago from CL dirt cheap. A new liner for the whip and a few things here and there, but I think that is to be expected, and there is very little that could ever go 'wrong' which isn't cheaply replaced on the machine.

I have all kinds of cheap tools.  I wouldn't dream of paying good money for a cheap welder.  Quality welders simply last and last and a good used one will basically not lose value.

 

 

 

2002maniac
2002maniac Dork
10/3/19 1:50 p.m.

The $350 (with coupon) Titanium 140 MIG from Harbor freight hits a real sweet spot for a hobby level automotive welding. Welding up to 1/4" steel is no problem.  The inverter power supply provides a really smooth, clean arc and makes the machine a lot lighter than transformer welders. Infinite adjustability on the dials and digital displays are really nice too!  

IMO, skip flux-core and get a bottle of C20 right off the bat. It is so much cleaner and nicer!

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
10/3/19 3:41 p.m.

I'm surprised how affordable machines that can do both MIG and TIG are, even if they do come with some caveats.  I haven't welded in years, and the last time was a college student in a single class, but twenty years ago TIG was not something considered affordable.  

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
10/4/19 12:12 p.m.
Saron81 said:

I have the Eastwood mig140. 

It does a decent job on everything I’ve used it for in my garage that also only has 110, and a small breaker. It’s nice that the power and wire speed are infinitely adjustable, and you can use it as either a solid wire, or flux core setup. I’ve done sheet metal repair, and made motor mounts in my Fiesta with it. 

I love my 135, which is apparently 5 not as good as the 140.

 

Infinite adjustability is key to good welds, rather than high/low speed or voltage.

Paul_VR6
Paul_VR6 Dork
10/4/19 12:35 p.m.
Knurled. said:
Saron81 said:

I have the Eastwood mig140. 

It does a decent job on everything I’ve used it for in my garage that also only has 110, and a small breaker. It’s nice that the power and wire speed are infinitely adjustable, and you can use it as either a solid wire, or flux core setup. I’ve done sheet metal repair, and made motor mounts in my Fiesta with it. 

I love my 135, which is apparently 5 not as good as the 140.

 

Infinite adjustability is key to good welds, rather than high/low speed or voltage.

I have the 135 as well, got it very inexpensively at an Eastwood open box sale a few years ago. Perfect for when I don't want to tig something, but a little underpowered to do anything truely structural.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
10/4/19 2:02 p.m.

In reply to Paul_VR6 :

How structural do you want to get?  I welded the ends and mounting brackets on my Ford 9" with one.  (Two, technically... I used EvanB​​'s for a while, then bought my own.)

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
10/4/19 2:11 p.m.

I bought a Lotos MIG 140 welder last year. Looks like this:


I've done a few jobs with it, including floor pans and some light fab work, but to be honest, it kinda sucks. It has been acting up recently; it sort of "pulses" when you are trying to weld. You can work around it, but it's been annoying. It does use common consumables, and it was super cheap, but I wouldn't recommend it.

 

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
10/4/19 2:11 p.m.

I have yet to use it, still in the box for the past 2 yrs, but I bought a Hobart handler 140 from tractor supply one night for sub $400.

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
10/4/19 2:56 p.m.
Knurled. said:

In reply to Paul_VR6 :

How structural do you want to get?  I welded the ends and mounting brackets on my Ford 9" with one.  (Two, technically... I used EvanB​​'s for a while, then bought my own.)

I would like to do structural things with one. What do I have to look at for concerns about thickness of my welds?

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
10/4/19 3:39 p.m.

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

Penetration is key, and that does take oomph.  When I welded my axle ends on, I did it in three passes with regular MIG wire.  When I did the brackets, I used flux core because poor, and it turns out flux core is better for thicker stuff anyway, takes less current to pour heat into the weld.

 

That said, 99% of the welding you do on a car is 22 to 16 gauge sheet, with maybe some 1/8" thick brackets.

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
10/4/19 3:58 p.m.

I bought a Lincoln 135? 140? from a pawn shop a couple of years ago.  A few consumables to get it in good nick, and it is perfectly good for light work.  It will do heavier stuff, but you need to treat it with a certain amount of respect, so the windings don't melt and make a mess on the floor...

Jumper K Balls (Trent)
Jumper K Balls (Trent) PowerDork
10/4/19 4:03 p.m.

The general rule for MIG is 1 amp per 0.001" steel thickness.

This means a 140 amp Machine is good up to 3/16" thick steel. The ubiquitous Harbor Freight flux core can do 1/8" material max.

Sure preheat can help and flux core is a tiny bit hotter due to the shielding gas not cooling the weld puddle but these are the machines limits.

 

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
10/4/19 5:57 p.m.

In reply to Jumper K Balls (Trent) :

Interesting... I never considered the obvious factor of having cold gas being blown at the weld.

 

The inside lid of mt Eastwood welder has suggested settings for various steel thicknesses vs. different wires.  I thought it was rather interesting that it apparently can weld some amazingly thick steel if you use flux core.

 

From trying to weld sheetmetal with the stuff, it certainly does take a special touch to not be constantly blowing holes in your work.  Being unable to see the weld puddle through the smoke makes it pretty difficult too!

Saron81
Saron81 Reader
10/5/19 9:01 a.m.

In reply to Knurled. :

Turns out mines actually a 135 too cheeky

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
10/5/19 12:39 p.m.

Okay honest question- I've searched used welders and I keep finding old farmer's units like old Forney's and this monster here. I seriously doubt I should get one that weighs 300lbs and will survive heat death of the universe, but research yesterday says older AC stick welders still weld very well even compared to new stuff simply because their duty cycles are so wild. Am I just dumb and stuck on a cool thing? Or is this old P & H actually a decent option for a hobbyist, assuming it works?

 

https://lincoln.craigslist.org/for/d/lincoln-vintage-and-welder/6988057928.html

Jumper K Balls (Trent)
Jumper K Balls (Trent) PowerDork
10/5/19 1:53 p.m.

What kind of welding are you planning on doing? Stick welders on sheet metal are a disaster for all but the most skilled welders. 

 

If you were planning on converting it to a scratch start TIG that might be a better plan, steeper learning curve and you would need to source a torch setup for more dollars.

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
10/5/19 3:16 p.m.

At that point I'd be better off buying one of those combination Stick + TIG machines.

I was hoping to weld plate steel and other challenge-car level things, but what with your statement should I focus more on a Stick+TIG machine for ~$250 or go MIG and just get used to it? I was hoping to have a jack-of-all-trades machine, something that would cover a lot of bases.

Jumper K Balls (Trent)
Jumper K Balls (Trent) PowerDork
10/5/19 3:49 p.m.

The number of times I have used a stick welder in the last 8 years of auto restoration and chassis fabrication is exactly zero. 

At one time years ago I was certified for pressure vessel welding with stick welders. I am comfortable and proficient with them.  I just can't think of a single use for them on a car other than cast iron manifold crack repair with mg250 rods, but these days you can even get mg250 wire for the MIG.

I use TIG 90% of the time. That is just my personal preference though and I have the luxury of being able to do most work off the car. If I had a limited budget my only machine would be a MIG in the 200-250 amp range.  They are just so versatile.  

In my experience 120v MIG's are awesome as long as you know their limitations.  You can only convert 115v 15amp power into so many amps at the nozzle though. For car stuff you will rarely be welding anything over 1/8". If you are consider redesigning the part

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
10/5/19 7:47 p.m.

That is exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks Jumper! I'll poke around for TIG and MIG machines then.

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