yet another "help me choose a welding machine" thread :P

Old 02-13-05, 09:19 AM
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yet another "help me choose a welding machine" thread :P

ok, ive read back through several pages of threads, and have gotten an idea of what i need in a welding machine. I am looking for comments, ideas, and reviews on a few machines that interest me. One thing i have learned in this life, is that specs only tell so much about a product. talking to people who have actually used it is extremely important.

my primary welding would be for lightweight, non structural decorative items in mild steel. secondary would be for constructing shelves, benches and other shop related items. I am pretty much set on getting a machine that does true Mig, since flux core is likely to make the decorative items more difficult to get looking nice. Its unlikely that i would spend more than a few hours a week welding.

about me:
I took a stick welding course about 10 years ago, and havent welded since. I did greatly enjoy it however. At work, i will begin training in Tig welding soon. kinda nice to have a master Tig welder interested in training an assistant
i have steady hands, lots of patience, and access to a decent amount of scrap...

From what I have read here, it seems a decent quality Mig setup will likely suit my needs, and should not be too difficult to learn.

my budget for a machine is $500 or less, preferably less so i have more money for other welding related equipment. I can wire for 220volt to my shop, but it would be alot of work, and cost me more money.

as far as going to my local welding supply place goes, its rather difficult for me as i cant get out much right now, which is why im asking you folks for input.
I would like to know what you guys like and dislike about the machines. things like ease of use are important too me.

from lincoln electric, im looking at
weldpak 3200 $450 or so at home depot
sp 135t (or maybe +, if the deal is good enough) $450 or so on ebay

handler 140 $450 or so on ebay

so far, I am partial to the hobart 140, mostly due to recomendations from here, and the faster wire feed it has over the lincoln 135t.
I have a few weeks to make the decision, so plenty of time for healthy discussion and research

also, would a mig machine be able to weld the ends of a 16 guage wire ring together? a friend of mine is getting into making chainmail armor, and was just asking me about it.
Old 02-13-05, 01:28 PM
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You will be far better off with a mig unit for what you want to do. I am looking for one too and have it narrowed down to not buying a cheap one (harbor freight, clarke, etc). I have a cheap stick welder, it serves its purpose but barely.
Old 02-18-05, 07:04 AM
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What welder?

Welders are, like everything else, a case of you gets what you pay for. If you only plan to make thin gauge metal projects, a 110 v quality(Lincoln, Miller,Hobart) mig welder should do what you want. If you think you'll want to weld 3/16" or thicker, Give thought to a 240 V machine. You can always turn a 240 V machine down, but can only turn a 110V up so high.
Mike A
Old 02-18-05, 09:49 AM
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Regarding the local welding supply place - yes, physical presence would be desirable, but a phone call could be a start. At least you will know what brands are available. Between internet access and local prices, you should be well informed.

Regarding power:
I started with a 110V MIG unit (and still use it). The next step is either 220V 50 amp service or an engine drive. I still use the Miller Bobcat. If I ever sell this house and move elsewhere, the Bobcat goes with me.
If you don't want to manage the needs of a gasoline or diesel engine, better plan on installing that 220V service in the future. If you don't want the expense of 2 welders, when the 110V unit is not enough, better plan on installing it now.

Have you considered purchasing used equipment? The local welding supply typically takes trade-ins so they can sell more new equipment. Ask them what they usually receive in trade and what shape it's in, as well as the asking price.
Old 02-21-05, 09:27 AM
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I've got the weldpak 3200 from home depot.. it's great for projects and I even built a trailer with it. Go ahead and buy the big roll of wire, you'll need it.
I haven't run into any issues with duty rating either.

Haven't tried the gas welding side of it, not much call for aluminum welding for me, and that's the only reason I'd 'need' the gas side. But I got it, just in case..
Old 02-21-05, 11:21 AM
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i am fairly sure i wont need anything larger than a 110v machine, since nearly all my welds will be on 1/8-3/16 mild steel. also, they will be short welds, so the lower duty cycle on a 110v machine should be ok.

guess what i am really looking for are opinions from folks who actually have used the Hobart 140, lincoln 135T, or lincoln 3200. I am looking at things like, how easy is it to switch from flux core to gas? how easy is it to change the wire roll? how reliable is the unit? etc.

its going to be a few weeks till i can get my shop set up, and get the cash for one, so i have time to decide

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