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seeker589
seeker589 New Reader
8/7/09 9:39 p.m.

Greetings fellow car geeks!

I'm hoping to get a 110V MIG welder. I like the Lincoln 140HD but not the price. I'm a bit leary about buying used - I want new.

Welders seem to go from $250 in price to over $450 in price with nothing in between with the cheap welders being, well CHEAP.

What is your recommendation for a hobby welder for use in building a few chassis and cages and suspension bits and, well all the neat stuff you can do with your own welder?

jimbbski
jimbbski New Reader
8/7/09 9:56 p.m.

Buy a used "Brand Name" welder rather then a "cheap" one if you don't want to spend what a new brand name one costs. If you can "test drive" it before you buy it and it welds fine then it should be safe to buy. Plus if something does go wrong parts will be easier to get to fix it.

I bought a used 110V 140A MIG welder over 15 years ago. I bought it from a distributer of HTP welders but it was not a HTP. It was a German brand "Huth". Since I bought it I only had to replace the "gun" part. That is the gas hose, wire liner, & handle as a unit. It cost less then $100 and I got one that was 2 ft longer then I had. I found most on-line welding supply stores had parts for my welder. A Lincoln, Miller, or Hobart welder should be even easier to find parts for.

oldtin
oldtin New Reader
8/7/09 10:27 p.m.

I've got a little lincoln - did the gas conversion. The flux wire spatters too much and doesn't handle thin sheet very well. the unit can handle up to 1/4" plate - barely. That covers pretty much anything I need for a car. The .025 wire is notorious for jamming - so I stick with the .030. Did have to run a higher amp circuit to the electrical box.

cb
cb Reader
8/7/09 11:14 p.m.

hobart 135.. no probs with it after about 6 years of use.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar Dork
8/7/09 11:47 p.m.

hobart 130.

zero issues in 9 years.

countless exhaust systems, quarter panels, you name it. I love my welder. Love.

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro HalfDork
8/7/09 11:48 p.m.

Older version of the millermatic 140. Like this one but without the Auto Set feature.

http://www.millerwelds.com/products/mig/millermatic_140_autoset/

We have a 140 auto set in our rental fleet at work and it's a great welder for people who've never used a MIG before.

Shawn

seeker589
seeker589 New Reader
8/7/09 11:59 p.m.

Thanks!

I'll checkout the Hobart and Miller units you suggested.

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
8/8/09 1:39 a.m.

I've got a Snap-On MIG/TIG combo unit that operates on 110 that I stole from my dad. I will say there are better 110 units out there these days for much less money than this Snap-On unit cost, but I HIGHLY recommend a 110 welder if it's your first/only welder. It's horribly convenient to use the 110, especially with today's smaller, more portable units. You can take it to the track, to your friend's place, to Grandpa's barn, etc. and you're sure to have easy access to power. It's extremely rare that the typical hobbiest needs to weld thick stuff, so the 110 gets the job done quite well.

I think with Miller, Lincoln, and Hobart, you're taking pretty safe bets, they all make quality products and will have only minor advantages over each other.

Bryce

fiat22turbo
fiat22turbo GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/8/09 1:41 a.m.

We have the Harbor Freight Miller knock off and have had no issues with it so far, once we ditched the flux core wire and added a tank of argon to it. It has welded everything we've asked of it so far without issues. The operator may have had problems, but that isn't the welder's fault ;)

Junkyard_Dog
Junkyard_Dog Reader
8/8/09 5:13 a.m.

Millermatic 130. +1 on name brands. Finding parts is MUCH easier. Buy an extra liner when you buy the welder and keep it on hand. Even if you're very careful you're going to need it eventually. Its nice to not have to wait for the store to open to finish up a project. Buy the gas and installation kit when you get the welder. Flux core just doesn't do as nice a job.

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/8/09 5:27 a.m.

Lincoln SP-135 Plus, and I love it.

I went to a huge local welding supply store, explained to the guy what a Locost is, and he pointed me to this unit.

Whatever welder you buy, get an auto-dimming helmet.

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
8/8/09 7:25 a.m.

I have a Lincoln Weld Pac 100, it's no longer available and has been replaced by the 125 which goes for around $400 new. Regardless, it's been a great unit. I have been using flux core wire which spatters but otherwise makes great welds, I've done cages with it. It can be converted to gas and to weld aluminum, the kit is ~$125.00 not including the bottle. I have had very little reason to weld aluminum and I hate the idea of running out of gas halfway through a project on a Sunday afternoon. The one drawback to flux core is slag, it can get pretty thick and require a chipping hammer to knock it off.

It's rated to do 1/4" in a single pass, from personal experience if you get any of the smaller welders I recommend that you bevel and fill to get true full weld penetration. In fact, I fixed a 3/8" thick steering box mount plate on a tractor by beveling both sides of the broken parts, tack welding them together and then welding from both sides. That was 5 years ago and it hasn't busted yet. I have also shortened a steering rack which was ~1" in diameter, I cut the pieces to length, tapered the tips of the parts, butted and clamped them together, then welded it in layers removing slag and checking for alignment with each layer. So far, so good.

Add me to the 'name brand and auto dim helmet' chorus.

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro HalfDork
8/8/09 9:16 a.m.

plus infinity on the auto-dark helmet.

They're the best thing to happen to welding and easily under $100.00 now.

Shawn

fifty
fifty New Reader
8/8/09 9:17 a.m.

I've got a Lincoln 135T - I think that's right. I'll probably sell it to get a 220V Lincoln/Hobart/ESAB/Miller/brand name unit.

The 110V is good for thin sheet metal and light stuff (my experience has been great up to about 1/8") but for heavy fab work (like building an exhaust header or trailer) not so good. You can do multi-pass welds like Jensenman, but that's a PITA, it also increases your chances of having "voids" (air pockets) in the weld, which weaken it. I'd recommend a 220V unit for a cage.

I use gas, the flux stuff is okay, but it splatters a lot, puts down a ropey looking bead and you need a chipping hammer and wire brush to clean it up between passes.

EDIT: the auto-darkening helmets are great, with the caveat being that the viewing area is going to be about 1/4 the size of the non-darkening units. i picked one up on ebay for $25. If you are doing a lot of stop/start tack welds with an auto-darkening helmet, at the end of the day it feels like you have sand in your eyes - there's only about 1/1000 second latency before the helmet darkens, but it's enough to transmit a significant amount of UV light.

oldtin
oldtin New Reader
8/8/09 9:30 a.m.

Auto dark helmets rock - remember to blink when you pull the trigger and it'll be easier on the eyeballs

walterj
walterj Dork
8/8/09 10:08 a.m.

I have a Miller 140, bought new and it has been flawless for 2 years of increasing use. I use it almost every time I am inthe garage these days... need a tool, bzzzzz. Need a bracket... bzzzzz. I bought an 80lb bottle and 2 11lb spools to cut down on trips to the supply store. I highly recco the the big gas bottle - those little ones are gone in nothing flat.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy Dork
8/8/09 10:25 a.m.

Hobart handler 125, with the MIG upgrade. By the time you buy the upgrade you might as well by the 140, which has an arguably "better" Gun, but the 125 will let you start the process for a lower buy-in.

I'm pretty proficient with a Stick welder, a Lincoln 225 in my case as well as a smaller TIG/stick unit, so my wire feed sees the light duty stuff with the .024 wire and then if I need to weld bigger I break out the stick. I like the smaller wire for what I use it for, gives me more control on low heat settings. I have had the unit for a couple of years and haven't had to do a thing to it.

I wasn't a believer in the auto-darkening helmets until I got one, now I hate the idea of not having it.

JoeyM
JoeyM New Reader
8/8/09 10:39 a.m.
seeker589 wrote: Greetings fellow car geeks! I'm hoping to get a 110V MIG welder. I like the Lincoln 140HD but not the price. I'm a bit leary about buying used - I want new.

Don't be worry about buying used....worry about buying something you can't get parts and/or service for. That means you are better off buying a big name welder (i.e. Miller, Lincoln, HTP) than an off brand[+]. Even then, though, you need to do research on what you are buying. Here's a simple example:

I have a Lincoln PowerMIG. (It is not a 110V, but the example is still relevant.) I bought it from an AirGas (welding supply chain) shop. You can buy a Lincoln that is the same size - with the exact same specs - from Lowe's for a couple hundred dollars less.

Like many people here, I'm a cheapskate. Why, then, would I purchase my Lincoln welder from the welding supply company? What Lowe's sells are called "ProMIG" welders, and there's a reason why they are so cheap. When you see "PowerMIG" on a lincoln welder, that means it comes with metal wire guides and drive wheels. When a Lincoln welder says "ProMIG" you know four things about it:

1) It is a lower-cost unit specially built by Lincoln to be sold at Lowe's stores

2) The reason it is lower cost is that the wire guides and drive wheels are made of plastic and more prone to breakage

3) If there is a problem with the "ProMIG", a normal welding shop will not service it. The Pro

4) MIG parts are only available at ProMIG dealers; i.e. Lowe's. If something breaks, you will need to explain the problem to a Lowe's employee, convince them to order the replacement part for you, wait for it to arrive, and then (possibly) have them install it. Your project could be put on hold for weeks.

5) You cannot purchase an extended warrantee on a ProMIGs to sell an extended warrantee

The only reason I knew this is because I asked around, and when I was told about the difference between the two, I called Lincoln's support # and asked some pointed questions.

Welders seem to go from $250 in price to over $450 in price with nothing in between with the cheap welders being, well CHEAP.

Yes, and you DO want the more expensive one. Welders are like fish tanks and digital cameras; buy more than you think you will need, because you WILL find a use for the extra capabilities later on.

What is your recommendation for a hobby welder for use in building a few chassis and cages and suspension bits and, well all the neat stuff you can do with your own welder?

1) Make sure you know that the internal parts are metal, not plastic

2) Make sure replacement parts are easy to obtain

3) Make sure that it can use gas....flux core wire causes more spatter and thus, is more of a pain to clean up

4) Try to get one where the control knobs are "continuous" and not "stepped". For example, a machine with five possible options for voltage or wire speed can be harder to use on very thin metal than one allowing intermediate adjustments.

5) Consider 220. You'll use less electricity and won't work the machine as hard. Later on you'll find a new project that will make you happy about the decision.

--

[+] - if you budget absolutely demands that you buy an offbrand welder, you MUST get the extended warrantee.

eastsidemav
eastsidemav New Reader
8/8/09 11:07 a.m.

I've had a Hobart Handler 140 for a few years, and have had no complaints. I've used it with both flux core wire and as a MIG with CO2/Ar, and it works fine for both.

shuttlepilot
shuttlepilot Reader
8/8/09 11:13 a.m.

I have a Miller Passport Plus and it is a incredible tool. It can take 110 or 220V, lay a beautiful bead and handle stuff much thicker than the $500 class welder. It is also pretty portable for what it is.

It is pretty expensive, but it is probably the last MIG you will ever need to buy for hobbyist work.

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
8/8/09 11:22 a.m.

My Home Depot sourced Lincoln has metal wire feed rollers.

JoeyM
JoeyM New Reader
8/8/09 3:34 p.m.
Jensenman wrote:
JoeyM wrote: 1) It is a lower-cost unit specially built by Lincoln to be sold at Lowe's stores 2) The reason it is lower cost is that the wire guides and drive wheels are made of plastic and more prone to breakage
My Home Depot sourced Lincoln has metal wire feed rollers.

Thanks Jensenman. Your post worried me, so I ran over to Lowe's to confirm what I had said above. I think that the ones at Home Depot may be better quality than the ones at Lowe's.

In Lowe's ProMIG 180, the toothed drive wheel is metal, the idle/tension wheel is plastic with a metal face. The rest of the housing and hinge are plastic. It doesn't have an outer wire-guide.

All those parts in my PowerMIG 180 are metal, and it has a metal outer wire guide.

vazbmw
vazbmw Reader
8/8/09 6:11 p.m.

Millermatic 250

Had a Harbor Freight welder. Worked for years but became a pain to keep it running. I would be at an end of a project and it would break or something. I was spending as much time fixing it as doing the project. If I had to do it over back then, I would do it the same way. Buy a cheap one to get through the project at hand, but recognize it was a throw-away. If I had to do it today, (avoid welders with plastic drive parts or associated drive parts, cheap switches, guns etc) and didn't need the welder right now, I would save and buy a name brand welder like Miller of Lincoln

Junkyard_Dog
Junkyard_Dog Reader
8/8/09 7:59 p.m.

BTW I bought my Miller online $200 cheaper than any local place would sell it. Coulda got the gas online too and wish I had considering what the local place cost. Oh and buy your tank. Rental fees add up and if you move you may be SOL depending on the place.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/8/09 8:36 p.m.

I have a Lincoln 3200 weld pack. Love it!!! I got it used for $200 or so with a auto darkening helmet. It had been used 2-3x and was in like new condition. The big selling point for me getting a Lincoln is that you can get supplies virtually anywhere including sears!!!!

The other reason for getting a 110v unit was its portability. I have taken it to the track on more than one occasion for 12 and 24 hour races. It is also much easier to take the welder to the car than to take the car to the welder if you dont have a garage.

I will weld 3/16 and 1/4 inch with out issue you just have to take your time and not rush things.

Dean

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