View Full Version : Need recommendation on a welder.
August 02, 2001, 12:36
I'm looking in the $500 to $700 range, something that will do spot welds and small duty stuff, like some gun kits that need welding.
Tig, Mig, Arc?
August 02, 2001, 12:56
best welding machine for the type welding you want to do is a tig process machine, they are not cheap. however you can check out the air cooled torch types, they are a bit more reasonable, next question? what type welding experience do you have? tig is alittle harder to do. most community colleges have good welding courses.i am a professional welder by trade,glad to help with any other questions. Rick G.
August 02, 2001, 13:26
I have had a Lincon MIG for 8 years. MIG is almost idiot proof. Comes in handy around the house. TIG requires a lot of prep work and absolutely clean and neat working conditions, neither of which I have the patience for.
Skip the flux core wire and get a gas shield kit. Bright, shiney welds.
I've been told by a pro welder that oxy/acet welding make the best, highest quality welds but you have to do it every day to get good.
Bottom line- get a quality machine. Lincon, Miller, green one-Linsey I think. I used a Century machine once and didn't care for it. Take a class at the local VoTech and learn all the methods from a pro, then buy.
August 02, 2001, 13:47
Lincoln SP 125 was the most bang for the buck when I was shopping and has given me great service. I would like to buy a tig too, but for the 4-5 times a year I need it for stuff too small/thin to MIG< I just borrow one.
I'm sure there is a newer model than the 125, in the same class. I think I paid $700 with a half-tank anr regulator
August 02, 2001, 15:05
I have a Buzz-box welder. :(
I recommend you get something else! :D
I'd go TIG if ya can afford it.
August 02, 2001, 15:15
StimpsonJcat is right on the money if you can afford the TIG by all means buy it,but for the money the MIG or wire feeder as it is sometimes called is a good deal but do not go fluxcore buy the gas attachments its a much cleaner weld and theres no flux to deal with,also get a machine with a minumum of 150amps its better to have more amps than you need you can always turn the amps down on thin material.HTH
August 02, 2001, 15:31
Go take a look at what northern hydrulics has to offer they have both lincoln and I think century or hobart 's that have the optional sheilding gas hookup kits avialable for around 5-600 dollars + plus the gas kit which you can add later if you want. Only one or two offer the fully variable amperage or voltage settings with the others having a few switched dedicated settings to choose from
I would take the advice above tace a course at a local vo-tech school or CC learn the ins and outs from apro and burn up their steel while honing your skills It will also give you insight into what to buy without getting ripped off . BTW a friend of mine started out in HS taking a welding course and as soon as he could bought one of the portable Lincoln MIG units that was like ten yrs ago Just by default he now has two brand new super dutys outfitted to weld --and his phone never stops ringing ... You think FAL's are an addiction wait till you can form or join steel together almost at will........
August 02, 2001, 15:46
Miller, Lincoln or Hobart, and get a MIG! If you have never welded before, and won't be using it all the time, a TIG is really not worth it. The learning curve is pretty steep with the TIG, but the MIG is almost like using a hot glue gun. The only snag is that the shield tube blocks your view of the work at times. Don't even bother with the flux core stuff, unless you don't care about what it looks like. BTW, I have a 220volt Miller MIG that goes from 40-170amps......It was around $700 with a small Stargon bottle, regulator and hose. I also made up a 25' extension for it out of 3-10 cable.
I love that thing more every time I use it. I use it primarily for auto body/frame stuff, but I've fixed tools, bikes, toys etc. and made a few cool semi only selecters for my FAL's!
August 02, 2001, 16:07
Sounds like the others have given good advice. I've only got a few things to add. Miller and Hobart are owned by the same company with Miller being a little more durable/heavy duty, according to their rep I talked to. I'd look at the Miller, Hobart, and Lincoln sites and read all you can. Miller has a pretty informative site and should answer a lot of questions. Probably the best thing to do is consult with a welding supply company and be very specific about what you need, the ones I've talked to are very helpful and their prices are better than the "Home" centers and retail stores in my area.
August 02, 2001, 17:34
All good advise, mig is the easiest process to master, but for welding on gun parts,recievers,barrels etc. tig makes higher strength welds with less heat effected zones ie. loss of material strengh &little to no warpage on thinner material. my final test on tig was putting two alluminum coke cans rim to rim & welding them together without blowing a hole in cans. Respectfully Rick G.
August 02, 2001, 17:59
TIG is an ideal process for small stuff like gunsmithing because of its versatility and control over the weld process. You can run a TIG torch off a DC buzz box using scratch start. Put a piece of copper next to the weld to scratch off of so that your electrode won't get as contaminated as scratching on steel. You can also use a TIG electrode on a MIG welder. Just drill out the wire tip contact and put a set screw in it to hold the TIG electrode. Used TIG boxes aren't that expensive. I got one for under $200 without the torch and argon bottle. The torch is about $80 and add another 100-200 for the argon tank.
August 02, 2001, 19:22
can you explain the scratch start? I can get a scratch start unit for half of a regular one. Whats the deal?
August 02, 2001, 19:48
Wow ! that was weird I get home and theres abrandy new circular fom Northern in the mailbox ! cool anyway one of this months specials is a Hobart "handler" 135 for $479.00 includes the gas valve regulator and hose for sheilding gas and a 1lb spool of wire for instant gratification till the welding gas place opens and includes a free cart last mont they were charging $40 bucks for the cart--dang ! should of held off on the AR purcahses couldve talked the wifey into this no problemo !
Its only got the 4 output voltage settings instead of the infintely variable but it runs on 115v hosehold instead of 220.
but for the less serious they have a Century wire feed welder for $219
(why is the name century comming to mean cheap and probably defective ??)
August 02, 2001, 19:55
Originally posted by gunplumber:
<STRONG>can you explain the scratch start? I can get a scratch start unit for half of a regular one. Whats the deal?</STRONG>
instead of stepping on a peddle to get your arc you basically use it like a stick welder and drag it across the metal to start the arc and from then on use it like a tig welder a friend of mine has one on the job and it works great.
August 02, 2001, 20:02
Originally posted by RICK G.:
<STRONG>my final test on tig was putting two alluminum coke cans rim to rim & welding them together without blowing a hole in cans. Respectfully Rick G.</STRONG>
Ooph! Top rim or bottom? The bottoms are a really wierd alloy that's a real whore.
I learned to weld with 5/32 - 1/4 rods on a Miller Big Blue replacing deck plates on barges. So Mig was a piece of cake when I got into it.
I use the flux core in a 7 year Lincoln SP100 a lot to weld non-beauty items on everything from locomotive and car sheet metal to roll cages on race cars. The flux core is nice for portability, but makes not as clean a weld. Mig is as easy as it gets. Plus all those years with the Lincoln mig, I never had it cut off despite the relatively weak duty cycle that it is rated at.
All in all, I wouldn't recommend a mig for anything like welding up HKs or CETMEs. You'd want to go tig, and unless you plan to do quite a bit of welding, it's tough to make it economical to obtain a good one.
The big thing to watch out for when you get started: The more fair skinned you are, the bigger beating the UVs will give you when you weld. You'll get 'sunburn' in wierd places, like under your arms, under your chin, etc., if you do not cover up. I'm a blonde/blue eyed guy, and I typically weld with my Ray Bans on under my helmet with a #10 shade. Flashburn sucks.
August 02, 2001, 20:02
I tried welding but the only thing I could ever consistently weld was sheet metal floorboards in all of my buddies cars, go figure.
But, since I work for a xxxxxx xxxxxxxx I would definitely recommend the vo-tech approach. We have mig, tig, buzzboxes, heli-arc, plasma, and oxygen-acetaline. Adult evening classes are the way to go to find out what is out there and what you can do.
Surprisingly, the boss is always asking why we don't have more adult participation.
I would suggest calling around and asking local high schools. Food for thought-When we buy new welders the old ones are sold off,hmmmm.
August 02, 2001, 21:13
A lot of good information, but my head is going Mig,Tig,Mig,Tig,Mig,Tig,Mig. But anyway I got it down to three choices, The Lincoln SP-125 plus or the Hobart 135 or maybe the Daytona Tig BiWelder 250 for $650. link below
This will be my first welder to learn on so what do you guys think?
Tig Welder (http://www.daytonamig.com/tig.htm)
August 02, 2001, 22:05
>>This will be my first welder to learn on so what do you guys think?<<
It depends....Do you want to learn the art of welding, or just weld stuff? If you want to learn the ART of welding, then get a buzzbox and a lot of scrap steel and practice!
TIG is much more difficult to do well than MIG........My humble suggestion, since you asked, is to get a MIG, if you just want to weld stuff......It is not as accurate as a TIG, but the TIG is only as accurate as the guy doing the welding. MIG was made for idiots like me who just want to fuse floor panels etc. into my old cars......
Oh, and make sure you get a 4.5" angle grinder and a stack of metal wheels.........You'lll need 'em!
And the advice about the arc burn is good too.......I wear long pants, sleeves and gloves when I am welding, especially high amperage stuff.
Also, re: 220 vs. 110. I have been told that 220 provides for a more stable arc, but I've never had a 110 to compare too.......Maybe thats at the higher amp setings? Anyone?
August 02, 2001, 22:36
Uncle Buck, I don't think you can TIG off a Mig power source. TIG is a CC (constant current) process whereas MIG is CV (constant voltage). Kind of like gas or diesel engines, both are internal combustion, but they go about it differently. If you want to tig off a DC (constant current stick machine) buzz box like the little red Lincoln
one, make a pigtail with a 230v female and a 110v male plug. This reduces all your amperage settings by half and gives you more control for the thin stuff. Lincoln will even provide a booklet on how to set it up if you ask your local welding supply place. Then all you need is an air cooled tig torch and some argon. Alum requires AC and high frequency.
August 03, 2001, 00:53
Go with the lincoln 125plus it is a great all around welder for the do it yourselfer and has alot of applications that you can use it on, a tig would be great but it also take training to use alot more than a mig will require a stick is nice but it wont let you weld on thin metals. I have a stick and a mig at home for personal projects and a tig at work if I want one but if I was to choose just one welder to have around it would the the mig.
[ August 03, 2001: Message edited by: lostone ]
August 03, 2001, 10:36
Have you shopped at your local welding supply place? They tend to have the better units and are about the same price as Northern. ARCET is a national company. They seem to be buying up all the local supply places. I got mine from Norfolk Welding(now ARCET). A real welder spent about 30 min with me and explained everything about the unit and the set up. The salesman at Northern probably doesn't know much about welders.
My Lincon has VARIABLE power. Everything at Northern seemes to have 4 or 5 power settings. While I don't move the power setting much, I do tend to move it up or down just a hair to match what I'm working on. Never have to worry about one setting being too cold and the next setting too hot.
Stay away from Century. They leave out features that you really. The hose is too short, the tip is always energized, the list goes on.
Key features to look for:1. Good brand 2. Long hose and ground lead. 3. AR/CO2 setup. Adjustable gas regulator. Mine is preset and fixed. I wish it was adjustable. Also a built in gas solenoid(expensive to add on)
[ August 03, 2001: Message edited by: 1006587 ]
August 03, 2001, 10:42
1006587 you can buy just the adjustable regulator. I have had both and like the adjustable better you will save on the amount of gas that you use.
August 03, 2001, 11:58
I'm just looking for an excuse. The fixed reg works fine, I've been using the same bottle of gas for 5 years. I'll just have to wait for an outside project on a windy day to justify a new reg.
August 04, 2001, 21:23
Another thing I forgot - the Lincoln SP series have reversible polarity - this is important for welding different materials and different wire (gas shield vs flux core, etc.).
And the Lincoln rheostat variable power setting is nice for thin materials compared to some other brands that have the switchable setting. This is really nitpicky, but makes a difference once in a blue moon.
My old clunker is an SP100 - runs only on 110 - and I have used it to weld up loco parts with an 8KV generator in a pinch. I never have had an arc problem with the 110v power supply.
Remember, the bigger the blob, the better the job ;)
August 04, 2001, 21:43
Can't add much to the equipment end except to say I have the Lincoln SP 100 and like it a lot. Got it cheap at Home Depot where I also got the mig conversion setup to replace the flux core. I grew up on the farm welding with a stick rig but when I got to the VoTec school they sat us in a booth with an gas torch and we practiced our puddle, first with no rod and then with. The skills I learned 25 years ago sitting in that booth have served me very well. Gas welding is a great lead into TIG as the same motions are used. You got to be able to walk and chew gum to operate a TIG. Torch in one hand, rod in other, foot operating the heat. A gas rig can also braze or do other stuff like high-temp solder on a muzzle brake.
August 04, 2001, 23:10
[ September 04, 2001: Message edited by: sixplusone ]
August 05, 2001, 11:48
While you are correct that MIG power sources are CV type and TIG (and stick are typically CC, you can indeed run a TIG electrode off of a CV machine for light duty work. You need set the polarity for DCEN, scratch start and use argon. I really don't think that TIG welding steel is difficult to learn. It is quite similar to gas welding in terms of control of the weld puddle and manual addition of filler. With a little proactice you can make beautiful looking and structurally sound welds. While MIG welding is definitely easier to start, it is also easier to make a bad weld with low pentration that looks OK.
August 05, 2001, 12:40
The test i was refering to was top rims placed together& yes it was a b***ch. my partner & i have 4 field trucks running mostly heavy equipment repair & fabrication. weuse the miller trailblasers as we can do stick,spoolgun mig & have standard mig box. covers most anything in the field,s/s,allum. t-1 steel. shop has 2 plasma rigs,tig&mig. Rick G.
October 23, 2001, 10:15
I have a Miller Econotig outfit. They're a bit more money than you're talking about. I paid $1500 for mine. But TIG is the only way to go. Like anything, it takes a bit of practice to get it down, but it's not brain surgery. I use mine for everything from putting small spots on to building truck bumpers. TIG is like gas welding, except you're using an electric torch for your heat source. I could go on and on, but trust me, if you're going to be welding on small, intricate objects like gun parts, spend the money *once* and get a Miller Econotig. You'll love it.
October 23, 2001, 15:21
Originally posted by Templator:
<STRONG>I have a Miller Econotig outfit. They're a bit more money than you're talking about. I paid $1500 for mine. But TIG is the only way to go. Like anything, it takes a bit of practice to get it down, but it's not brain surgery. I use mine for everything from putting small spots on to building truck bumpers. TIG is like gas welding, except you're using an electric torch for your heat source. I could go on and on, but trust me, if you're going to be welding on small, intricate objects like gun parts, spend the money *once* and get a Miller Econotig. You'll love it.</STRONG>
I skipped the EconoTIG and went with the Miller SyncroWAVE 180. Off the top of my head it was a few hundred more and it it a bit more versitile. My MIG unit is a Miller 250X digital. Its a mean machine. Can't go wrong with Miller products.
As far as MIG vs. TIG, they do cross over but some things they do well. TIG is a much more difficult process to master. I need more practice
October 23, 2001, 16:32
Is anyone familiar with L-Tec products? I have an opportunity to trade for a Tig made by L-tec. I do not have the model number with me. I haven't been able to find anything out about them, I am wondering if they are still made. If looks almost new. I am trying to get a clue to its quality and approximate value. TIA, Brian
October 23, 2001, 18:21
You might consider a used TIG machine. I got an older (1987) Linde 300 amp HF TIG/stick machine for $400 with the torch, 300 cu ft. argon bottle and foot pedal. It is a single phase 220V, 100A unit, but be careful you don't get a 3 phase model for home use as you are unlikely to have 3 phase power in residential areas. Compared to the newer inverter type machines it is big and heavy, but there isn't much to go wrong with it. Look around. If it isn't a Miller, LIncoln or Hobart, they often sell cheaply.
October 23, 2001, 20:48
TIG's the machine for gunwork, but I can get quite a bit done with a MIG, along with all the household and auto stuff. The Lincoln rep was selling 170's at my dad's place just before he retired and we've been real happy with that one. It's a 220V unit with a 100% duty-cycle and it does a great job. Got into it for $320 including regulator and gas, but that was a special deal. The 170 normally goes for a bit more than twice that. We use it quite a bit; probably have gone thru over 100# of wire in 5 or 6 years. One recommendation I'd make if you're just starting out; spend the extra $150-200 for one of the auto-darkening welding hoods. It makes learning 100 times easier. Also, stay away from the $200 live tip home units like Century. You'll never be happy with one and will eventually move up to a decent machine anyway. Better to spend the money once.
October 24, 2001, 07:17
If you don't know how to weld (or don't have much experience) I wouldn't start with a TIG. MIG welding is by far the easiest to master once you figure out how to set up the voltage and wire speed. I learned how to weld by buying a Lincoln SP250. The SP250 is totally "idiot proof". It has a digital processor with a LCD readout. You simply punch in the metal thickness and the welder sets the perfect voltage and wire speed automatically. I paid $1500.00 for mine 10 years ago but it's worth every penney. My advice to you is to not limit yourself with a low power welder (100 amps or less). Always go big with a MIG welder (250 amps). You can weld sheetmetal with any size MIG welder by using a smaller wire size but you cannot weld 3/8 inch steel plate with a 100 amp MIG without making several passes. This can be done in one pass with a 250 amp welder. Happy welding! Skull!!
October 26, 2001, 20:53
If you're a cheap SOB, call the factory and ask if they have refurbished welders. They come with the same warrentee as the new ones. You can save quite a bit that way. I had $150 cut off on the Lincoln 155 by getting a refurbished one. If it craps out on you, send it back and they'll either repair it or send you a new one. :D Yeah, I be one cheap SOB! :cool:
October 27, 2001, 21:44
Hey Gaspipe, If I was you I,d put in at least a #12 lens in and leave the raybans at the beach. It'll save your eyes down the road for those long range shots. :cool:
October 27, 2001, 21:46
Hey Gaspipe, If I was you I,d put in at least a #12 lens in and leave the raybans at the beach. It'll save your eyes down the road for those long range shots. :cool:
October 28, 2001, 19:52
I bought a century wire welder it cost 350 plus a bottle for the shielding gas, it works great for most jobs, it is a 125 amp unit, no problems for the 2 years that i have had it, comes with a cart, regulator, and some wire, i use it daily in the auto buisness, works good for gun stuff too
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