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Buying my first welder-Input/advice

 
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fireman_pete
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04 11 8:33 am    Post subject: Buying my first welder-Input/advice Reply with quote

Hi All,

I am looking to buy a small welder for doing tweaks and mods to my smokers. I will be honest and right up front, do not have a lot of money to spend, looking at the different Harbor Freight models.

Looking for something to weld flat/angle iron stock, less than 1/4" thick and expanded metal.

What type/model would you suggest?

Would prefer a 110v model, but could do 220 if needed.

Thanks

Pete
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D.HUTCH



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04 11 10:44 am    Post subject: Re: Buying my first welder-Input/advice Reply with quote

[quote="fireman_pete"]Hi All,

I am looking to buy a small welder for doing tweaks and mods to my smokers. I will be honest and right up front, do not have a lot of money to spend, looking at the different Harbor Freight models.

Looking for something to weld flat/angle iron stock, less than 1/4" thick and expanded metal.

What type/model would you suggest?

Would prefer a 110v model, but could do 220 if needed.


I recently sold my Hobart 140 GMAW. It will do everything you require and more. If you can find a used unit it should run about three hundred dollars.
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TrailerBuilder
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04 11 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fireman_pete, Im sure that budget is the key to looking at the Harbor Freight welders and I understand. Man, they are not much, the old saying of you get what you pay for rings true with these machines. If it is the last draw and you have no other choice, make sure you buy the extended warrenty on the machine. Another thing to keep in mind is welding tips and such, make sure they are readily available and cheap. I have a friend who bought an off brand machine off of ebay for cheap but the tips and cones were twice the cost of Miller, Lincoln, and Hobart. Just something to keep in mind. Also, does the HF machine come with the regulator for gas welding? Thats another $75-$100 bucks you'll have to add on if you plan on welding with gas.

Grizzly tools, which is only a few miles from me handles some Hobart machines and run them on sale quite often. Im sure there are a lot of locations online where a decent machine could be bought for $200 to $300 more. If you can hold off until you can get a better machine, I think you will be happier in the long run with the quality of the machine and your welds!

Just my 2c worth

http://www.grizzly.com/products/category.aspx?key=36

http://cgi.ebay.com/MILLER-MILLERMATIC-140-AUTOSET-MIG-WELDER-907335-/390297541961?pt=BI_Welders&hash=item5adf8bdd49

http://cgi.ebay.com/HOBART-HANDLER-140-MIG-WELDER-115v-NEW-Free-ship-/270717376194?pt=BI_Welders&hash=item3f080356c2

http://cgi.ebay.com/Lincoln-Weld-Pak-MIG-135G-HD-Wire-Feed-Welder-220-Volt-/230601888050?pt=BI_Welders&hash=item35b0f19132
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fireman_pete
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04 11 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, budget is the main point.

So to show you how new I am at this, I do not even know what type of welder.

Looks like a wire feed mig welder with gas as an option would be the best bet?

Thanks

Pete
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Smokin Mike
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04 11 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pete,

A MIG welder is usually easier for the first timer to pick up and use vs. a stick welder. You'll find that some retail stores (Lowe's, HD, etc.) sell 120V Flux-Core units. Flux-Core is ok in regards that a shielding gas is not required but it is smokier and requires the chipping off of slag. Solid wire requires shielding gas but you don't have to deal with slag and smoke. If welding outside in breezy conditions then Flux-Core is the stuff to use. With that being said it is nice to have the option to choose the wire type for the conditions and material being welded so to answer your question, the gas option would be a good thing to have.

Now... I hear what you're saying about not spending a lot of money but there's a couple of things that you need to pay close attention to. The first is to make sure the welder can handle the material thickness that you will be dealing with. Most 120V units start losing the edge around 12 gauge metal and thicker and require multi-pass welding to complete the connection. The second thing to consider is cycle time. That means the number of minutes, out of ten minutes, that a welder can be engaged near full strength. For example a welder with a cycle time of 20% will allow you to weld continuously, near full output, for two minutes straight then it shuts down. You're going to be highly disappointed in your welder when you find out it won't handle the material thickness in a single pass and that the unit trips out after a couple of minutes. This is where the money part comes in. You have to spend more to get more.

When I shop for power equipment one of the criteria I set for myself is to make sure that local service and support is available. Trailer Builder mentioned this about securing supplies. It's always nice to be able to pop in to your LWS (local welding supply) and pick up whatever you need, whether it be shielding gas, tips, shields, wire, helmet lenses, etc. It's also nice to have knowledgeable individuals to give you guidance about your equipment and supplies... something (the advice) that you won't get at the big box stores.

I know I'm not telling you what you want to hear but if you can't afford to get a machine that can handle your requirements then buying cheap will not work out. My advice is to start saving money until you can find a nice 220V machine that can weld at least 1/4" material in a single pass and has a nice cycle time. You're probably looking at $800+ new for that class of machine. Sometimes you can pick up a deal on Craig's list or wherever for a used unit.

If you were close by I would put you on my neighbor's 120V HF machine then let you use mine.There's a world of difference. BTW, my neighbor is usually in my driveway using my equipment. Wink

Good luck and I hope you can find a good machine.

Mike
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Wreckless
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06 11 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smokin Mike wrote:
Pete,

If you were close by I would put you on my neighbor's 120V HF machine then let you use mine.There's a world of difference. BTW, my neighbor is usually in my driveway using my equipment. Wink
Mike

+ 1. Having been an on again off again stick welder for close to 30 yrs, they were my tried and true. I only meant for it to be 25 yrs, hoping to slide into the world of MIG. I found I could not weld with a MIG. On the cheap 110V units that is, 3 of them, hoping that one of them would turn me. A MIG is a MIG I figured and just not worth the hassle for inferior welds. I then stepped into a 220V gas shield Miller. Life is great and the stick unit is reserved for heavy work only these days. That was just my experience, some folks make the smaller units work, they were a waste on me.
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Daddeo
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06 11 11:34 pm    Post subject: Hey Pete Reply with quote

Pete, all I weld on for the most part are smoker parts and its usually 1/8th and sometimes 1/4th. I have a Hobart 140, a 110 machine, and I almost always use shielding gas. Duty cycle hasn't been a problem for me because I never run a bead straight for more than a minute or so. I have to be careful welding 1/4" and bevel the peices and do whatever I can in the setup to help. My machine is a refurbished that I bought online....Northern Tool or one of those places. More expensive than a HF but a much better machine....much easier to use....better welds. With budget being an issue, you could use it as a flux core welder for a while saving up for a bottle of C25. I'm strictly a hobby welder so I prefer easier. I'm not going to be welding a trailer or something that needs as much strength as possible to be safe. The little 110 volt machine works well for me. You might watch craigs list or want ads for a good deal on a used machine. Try Hobart's Weld Talk forum for advice. I think that you go with a Hobart or a Lincoln you'll be happier. HF is a good place to get your first auto darkening hood and some consumables, Good luck.
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fireman_pete
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 07 11 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the replies, I really appreciate it.

I am on the hunt for a used/refurb Hobart 140 now!

Pete
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uhmgood
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08 11 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i have a miller 130 , 110 v , had it for years great unit , when i got it it came with a dvd and even tho i've been welding gas , mig , tig and arc welding for 40 years i popped it in just for the hell of it . i can say this , if i was new to welding it would have been very helpful to watch . the whole deal with welding is PRACTICE,PRACTICE,PRACTICE . if you have any coodination at all you'll get a decent bead fairly quickly , its kinda like bbq , slow and steady
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fireman_pete
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22 11 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi All,

Just got a lead on a Lincoln 135 Plus with a tank and cart for $275.
Have not seen it yet, but not familiar with the model.

Good deal, work for what I want?

Thanks

Pete
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Smokin Mike
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22 11 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pete, The 135 Plus is pretty much the same deal as with a lot of other 115 volt welders. It'll do up to 12 gauge single pass and anything thicker requires flux-core, multi pass, full output current and with a low duty cycle. I kinda/sorta layed all that out in your other thread; http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=49900

Here's a copy of the user's guide; http://www.lincolnelectric.com/assets/ServiceNavigator/LINCOLN3/IM789.pdf I couldn't find the model in the current lineup at Lincoln so it's either a special built unit for Lowe's Home Improv. or it's been obsoleted.

I know the price sounds good but you better figure out what it is you require of the machine... are you welding auto body panels or building a cooker with 3/16" steel or thicker?
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fireman_pete
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22 11 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be honest, I think most of my welding will be with light weight material, up to 12/13 guage and a lot of expanded metal.

Mainly looking to make a Santa Maria style pit out of some half 55 gallon drums, and maybe some extra cooking grates for my current smokers.

Right now, I do not see myself building an entire smoker.

I have access to some heavy duty equipment if I need it also.

thanks again.

pete


Smokin Mike wrote:
Pete, The 135 Plus is pretty much the same deal as with a lot of other 115 volt welders. It'll do up to 12 gauge single pass and anything thicker requires flux-core, multi pass, full output current and with a low duty cycle. I kinda/sorta layed all that out in your other thread; http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=49900

Here's a copy of the user's guide; http://www.lincolnelectric.com/assets/ServiceNavigator/LINCOLN3/IM789.pdf I couldn't find the model in the current lineup at Lincoln so it's either a special built unit for Lowe's Home Improv. or it's been obsoleted.

I know the price sounds good but you better figure out what it is you require of the machine... are you welding auto body panels or building a cooker with 3/16" steel or thicker?

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jcain



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23 11 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

safe yourself the self-kicking later and get a 220 unit. something like a lincoln 175+ and some 75/25 mix will do just about anything you'll conjure up in a garage. you'll thank yourself later.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25 11 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fireman... I just recently started learning to weld and I am no expert or even that good by any means. I bought the 90 Amp flux core wire fed MIG unit from Harbor Frieght and to be perfectly honest with you......it works great for learning and it will weld small stuff easily. HOWEVER, the guys are right on the money. After you invest the $125-$150 into this unit and start building and fixing you will want to do more.....And that means a bigger, stronger unit. I kicked myself in the a*% like jcain said. Id just search craigslist and the classifieds for a good deal and go with something better that will make you happy in the long run. just my .02. Good Luck and Happy Que'n!

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PostPosted: Tue May 10 11 7:26 am    Post subject: Craig's list.......... Reply with quote

It is an excellent resource. I found my Lincoln 175 there for 425 and it is a nice machine. It is doing the 1/4 plate-rusty at that-and the machine is fast and reliable so far.

Shop around as there are often several on sale.

GreenSmoker / Steve C.
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romex2121
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PostPosted: Wed May 11 11 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

take a look at the miller thunderbolt ( stick welder ) mine ran right about $500.00 so far its done everything ive asked of it with no problems what so ever,, welds 1/4'' with no fuss,,
i dont know what your budget is but if you can swing it id get more welder than just the minimum of what you need ,, trust me you,ll be glad you did
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fireman_pete
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PostPosted: Thu May 19 11 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I just got my first welder. It is a Lincoln SP-135 Plus. About 4 years old, paid $200 for it.

I am going to get a small bottle for it, as the previous owner said the gas really, really helped.

Only played with it a little, and it work great, but my welds are ugly. I am using .035 solid wire with no gas right now, just playing.

Will get some flux core wire to use until I get the as cylinder.

The first project will be a Santa Maria style grill out of a half'd 55 gallon drum.

Thanks for all the advice. I am sure I will have plenty more!
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PostPosted: Fri May 20 11 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

glad you found one Wink dont worry about the so called ugly welds youll get it soon,, you should have seen some of mine when i started Embarassed but know im kinda proud of um Laughing practice practice
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PostPosted: Wed May 25 11 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
dont worry about the so called ugly welds youll get it soon,


The good lord invented the welder, the common man invented the grinder to hide his embarrassment. I spend 20 minutes grinding for every 30 seconds of welding. Laughing

No shame here.
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