TCCoA Forums banner
21 - 23 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,967 Posts
Probably opening a can of worms here...

I'd like to learn how to weld and don't have time to take a class. Basically trial and error learn as I go, on both thick metal and sheet.

What's a good beginner model and type of welder? Something I can watch for sale groups for...
1) get a mig welder and spend the extra bucks for a gas setup.

2) I would recommend looking for a used 110v Lincoln or other reputable brand from someone upgrading. You'll get a higher quality setup vs something from harbor freight or similar. I traded a $150 tokarev for it and the guy even paid the ffl transfer fee (because California). New it would have been $500ish.

3) one of the best initial projects is your exhaust system. Mock it up, tack the pieces in place and then weld it off the car. Simple welds and if they are boogery, well it's under the car and if it doesn't leak who cares?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
For the price of a new imported one you can find a used Miller/Lincoln etc. The added benefit to the brand name ones is not just the better quality but also the ability to get replacement parts for it easily. If you can get gas, do it. Personally I like using Argon/CO2 mix such as Blueshield or Stargold C25. One caveat with gas welding is that if you are going to do it outside you will need to shield the welding area if it's windy out as it will blow the gas away, same goes if you have a fan beside you to keep you cool. It's constantly windy where I live and as I don't have a garage I'm stuck using Flux-Core wire when welding at home.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
12,018 Posts
For automotive welding, MIG with gas is generally the way to go, unless you plan to weld aluminum and/or Stainless steel. Then you really have to open up your checkbook/CC.

IMO, small 110V MIG welders are the worst to learn on because of the limited adjustability. Can't tell you how many times I've read on forums of people having sooo much trouble with those, and it's mostly due to not being able to adjust things to where they really need to be in combination with lack of experience & skill. An experienced welder, however, can properly utilize one, once the skillset has already been learned. I'm not saying one can't learn on one, just saying you're adding unnecessary difficulty if you choose to do so with a machine that has tapped settings/other limited adjustability.

To weld thick (assuming you mean ¼ " mild carbon steel), you need a (minimum) 200amp welder, with at least 20% duty cycle to ensure reliability. On the low-end, if it can go down to 30ish amps, then that is as low as you need; you'll hardly encounter a situation where you need less than 30 amps.

For the price of a new imported one you can find a used Miller/Lincoln etc.
I would typically agree, IF by "imported" you mean a super-cheap welder, typically of Chinese origin. But, I have to say, I put more faith in import welders from Europe, than the USA brands.

I bought a brand new Millermatic 211 inverter-based MIG in 2015. Worked great, for a while. Then the drive motor shaft started to wobble a little bit, which caused the drive roller to have enough run-out that the wire would slip unless I added a lot of pressure on the follower-roller. Miller email dismissed the issue so I bought a new drive motor assembly and that one too had a wobble. I made a video here, with the brand new drive motor assembly.



Doesn't seem like a lot, but when the wire is only 0.030-0.035" in diameter, it's quite a bit of run out. Caused a good amount of slipping of the wire unless I added a lot more down-pressure.

Here is the actual shaft on my lathe measuring the run-out, both without and with the drive roller installed.






So I said, fine, I'll just add more down-pressure to compensate, even though I knew I shouldn't have to if the shaft was straight. Then came the time when I was welding 3/8" steel (in June 2018) for a good long time (log-splitter wedge). The Miller has an indicator for over-temp, and I thought it would shut off the welder output if exceeded, but it didn't. It let me keep welding until the main board blew. The manual stated ...

"If unit overheats, thermostat(s) opens, output stops, and cooling fan runs. Wait fifteen minutes for unit to cool. Reduce amperage or duty cycle before welding."

Stupid me believed it, LOL. So much for that. Luckily it was under warranty and Miller fixed it, so I quickly sold it as soon as I got it back from the repair shop. I went straight to HTP MIGs and never looked back. They have a very sophisticated protection schemes: Over-temp AND over-current. They are very conservative as well, and are set-up to activate well, well before any critical component is stressed.

Miller says "NOTICE − Exceeding duty cycle can damage unit and void warranty.".

The HTP manual states "Just before temperatures venture outside the safe operating range, the machine displays a message to the operator, the cooling fan continues to run, and the welding output is shut down for four (4) minutes. This time allows the machine and internal components to cool down to a safe operating temperature. There is no harm to the machine when the message is displayed, and it does not matter how often this happens." I've actually tested it. Multiple times. Sure enough, it's the real deal!

If it wasn't for those issues, it's a great welder. I had my school buy one for the high school Solar Car Team, so I could teach a few kids to weld up some small parts if they needed to. That one works perfectly with regards to feeding. No issues that I had with the drive motor system. But for me, it left a sour taste in my mouth with what happened to mine.

The week after the Miller blew the main board, I picked this big momma up at the freight terminal...





Obviously hardly any hobbyist needs that kind of machine, so back to the main point. Get something with good warranty support and good reviews. Don't even look at Everlast IMO, the often desert their customers by sometimes blaming them for machine issues. I'd buy another Eastwood MIG before an Everlast! I used to have the Eastwood MIG 175, and it was a great MIG. Only the gas solenoid stopped working. Since it was under warranty, Eastwood sent me a shipping label to send the whole machine back to them, and they sent me a brand new one just because the gas solenoid stopped working! (I tried to sell it here, but no one bit, I don't think :D). I sold it to upgrade to a Miller. Go figure, LOL.
 
21 - 23 of 23 Posts
Top