Quewtion: choosing a wire welder

I have the hankering to buy a welder, probably a wire feed type. I looked at one on sale at "The Tractor Store". It was 110V input which is what I want. 85 Amp output. Uses .030, 035, or 040 wire. Biggest problem I see is that the instruction book said for metal up to 3/16'th inch. Tha'ts not very thick, I'D prefer maybe up to 3/8'th inch, or more.
I'd really appreciate some of the features I need to look for in a wire welder.
BTW: I don't really have a need for one, it is just one of those things I want. I might be better off to forget it altogether.
Your thoughts please.
Bob
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I have welded 31 years.
Some simple observations:
1. Buy a quality machine no matter what brand. Miller or Lincoln are the best. You will be able to get it serviced, buy consumables, and they are just a better machine than the cheapos. Even if you are not going to use it much, buy a good one.
2. Anticipate your future needs. Already you are thinking about bigger materials. Once you get bitten by the welding bug (and your friends, relatives, inlaws, and neighbors find out), you will have all sorts of things to build. If you buy too small, you will be limited.
3. A lot depends on budget, but this is definitely a tool that you can make money with, even at a hobby level.
4. Your power supply has a lot to do with it, too. Some machines are 110, some 220. If you have a 110, you can plug it in most anywhere, or run it off a generator in the back of a truck in the middle of a cow pasture. A 220 takes more power, but will do thicker work.
5. BE AWARE OF THE DUTY CYCLE! Caps intentional. Duty cycle is what percent of the time you can actually weld before the machine has to cool down. You may start off fixing lawnmower handles, and not need a big duty cycle, like 20%. But if you start making gates or fence, you're going to drink a lot of coffee and smoke a lot of cigarettes while waiting, and you'll always have your machine heated to its max, and I don't think that's good.
6. Consider used. Buy a used Miller or Lincoln for half of what it costs new, and you will save a lot. If you got the cash, though, new is the way to go.
7. Buy only bottles that are owned by the user. They will NOT have a company name stamped on the thick collar. Otherwise, the first time you take it for a refill, they will thank you for bringing back their bottle, and that's all you get. Get a signed receipt and ID, or the price you will pay goes down.
8. Buy only a machine that is capable of using gas. That way you can weld thick and thin. Gas MIG welding for thin stuff, and gasless flux core for thicker stuff. You won't be limited, and mark my words, if you get into welding at all, you will hit your limitations if you buy a flux core only machine, or a light one with a light duty cycle.
9. What you want is about $700. I have a Lincoln 175SP+. Google it up. Beautiful machine. Reliable as a mule. A bottle will cost you under $100. To buy everything of good quality will cost you about a grand. But you will be buying a Cadillac that won't leave you broke down somewhere. If you decide to sell, the resale is better than Long Dong Chang brands.
10. Consider an autodark hood, if even a Harbor Freight cheapo. Shortens the learning curve. If you've got the money, the NexGen EQC is good. I have that one and love it.
11. Buy and use good safety equipment. Gloves are cheap, and cheap gloves can be good. Use good safety glasses, and they aren't expensive. Cover up your skin, as the rays can give you skin cancer VERY easily. I like Wrangler khaki shirts for their ease of putting on and off, and their thickness. If you are going to weld under cars and such, invest in a leather jacket. They can be had on ebay cheap. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS wear earplugs, as one red hot BB in the ear will ruin the next year of your life! I like the half circle spring clip ones that are easy to put on, and hang on your neck when you're not welding. I can't overstress the earplug thing, and have known a couple of welders who had very serious career ending incidents from one tiny red hot BB.
Lastly, take a welding class. For well spent bucks, they will let you use several different machines, you will get a lot of practice, and you will have hands on experience with which to make a decision.
HTH
Sorry for being long winded, but if you're going to part with a grand, get your money's worth, and don't be regretting it a month down the line because you didn't buy the deluxe model.
Steve
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the lincoln welders at home depot are pretty decent. your gonna have to spend alot to get a mig that welds heavy stuff , and go 220.
http://www.minibite.com/america/malone.htm
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You probably won't find one that will go 3/8" properly on 110V. What you do need to look for though is a. a copper wound transformer b. 80+% duty cycle.
what duty cycle means is how much you can use the welder in a 10 minute time frame. If it's 20%, then you weld for 2 minutes then wait 8. It DOES NOT mean weld 4 minutes and wait 16. Therefore, it's imperative if you plan any serious welding at all that the duty cycle be at least 80%. My Hobart is 100%. This means you can pull the trigger and weld for 27 hours or until the roll of wire or gas bottle runs out. Another thing to consider is the fact that you'll have to run that 85A unit wide open to do the 3/16" or possibly 1/4" steel. It's not going to last very long running wide open, they just won't take it. If you're really serious about MIG welding, then shell out a few bucks and get a 200-250A unit that runs on 220v. You'll love it. Check out the units from Hobart, Miller, and Esab. Even the Lincoln MIG unit is not bad. They had one the last place I worked.
--
Steve Barker




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wrote:

I had the same feeling as you and when I had a broken lever on my clutch, I went to Sam's club and picked up the $180 110v wire welder I had been drooling over. It was fun welding that thing back together again and I got immediate satisfaction from my purchase.
That was 6 years ago and I've used it about 10 times. Last week I filled in the crack in my exhaust manifold with it.
It has always been way too small for the tasks I used it for, but if you weld smart, you can make it work.
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I had the same feeling as you did, and when the hinge on my car door was breking loose, I was so much in a hurry to get it fixed, before it broke the other one and the door fell off, I didn't even remember my plans to buy a welder.
I paid 85 dollars for a recommended guy to weld it back on. After making an appointment, he did it while I waited, and it took less than an hour. And he did a good job. He also had an air powered brush, (cup style?) with which he cleaned the work first.
I don't have air, but I could have, later did, buy a similar brush for my electric drill.
All in all I'm not sure if I should have bought something like the 180 one below or not.
I know how to cut with gas, but should I be learning to electric weld on something as important as a car door?
Would it matter that it was a fairly contrcted space? It didn't seem to bother the guy.
Would I have needed more power because the big hinge and car door and car frame would soak up so much heat, or is the advantage of electric that there isn't time for the heat to disburse?
I guess this doesn't help you much, even as questions for yourself, because your projects will probably be very different.
Oh, yeah. I also have a SolidOx "welder" which uses propane or mapp, and pellets that give off excess oxygen somehow when they burn. I used it to braise a chain permanently in place once, but it went through the pellets quickly. And another little gas welder that uses propane or mapp and a can of oxygen, both the size of a small hand torch.
For a little humor: My friend gave me a cutter/welder that is about 3 inches tall and uses two "tanks" 3/4" in diameter. He extolled it that it got 3000 degrees hot, but I haven't used it. Anything it would cut, I could probably cut better with scissors, and anything it would weld I could probably do better with glue. Do these things actually have a use? I just mention it for fun. The one you are considering is 1000 times as big as that.

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You guys provided some really good info to consider. Much appreciated.
Bob
I have the hankering to buy a welder, probably a wire feed type. I looked at one on sale at "The Tractor Store". It was 110V input which is what I want. 85 Amp output. Uses .030, 035, or 040 wire. Biggest problem I see is that the instruction book said for metal up to 3/16'th inch. Tha'ts not very thick, I'D prefer maybe up to 3/8'th inch, or more.
I'd really appreciate some of the features I need to look for in a wire welder.
BTW: I don't really have a need for one, it is just one of those things I want. I might be better off to forget it altogether.
Your thoughts please.
Bob
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WARNING! Welding is addictive.
Steve
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Well, while you're still in the quewtion stage, it's time to do some online research. Have you checked www.harborfreight.com and see if they have welders? They are Chinese made, and less expensive than most of what's out there. I doubt the sales clerks know much, even if you asked them quewtions. The online information is scanty at best. Not sure if they answer quewetions by email. Maybe....
My experience with Harbor Freight stuff, some is OK and much of it is real junk. their quality has improved over the years, I think. Wish I could buy American, but I quewtion if much is made here any more.
--

Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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If you want to learn about welding try sci.engr.joining.welding newsgroup. It's fun browsing.
Bob
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Please do try to keep up ..........................

I have welded 31 years.
Some simple observations:
1. Buy a quality machine no matter what brand. Miller or Lincoln are the best. You will be able to get it serviced, buy consumables, and they are just a better machine than the cheapos. Even if you are not going to use it much, buy a good one.
2. Anticipate your future needs. Already you are thinking about bigger materials. Once you get bitten by the welding bug (and your friends, relatives, inlaws, and neighbors find out), you will have all sorts of things to build. If you buy too small, you will be limited.
3. A lot depends on budget, but this is definitely a tool that you can make money with, even at a hobby level.
4. Your power supply has a lot to do with it, too. Some machines are 110, some 220. If you have a 110, you can plug it in most anywhere, or run it off a generator in the back of a truck in the middle of a cow pasture. A 220 takes more power, but will do thicker work.
5. BE AWARE OF THE DUTY CYCLE! Caps intentional. Duty cycle is what percent of the time you can actually weld before the machine has to cool down. You may start off fixing lawnmower handles, and not need a big duty cycle, like 20%. But if you start making gates or fence, you're going to drink a lot of coffee and smoke a lot of cigarettes while waiting, and you'll always have your machine heated to its max, and I don't think that's good.
6. Consider used. Buy a used Miller or Lincoln for half of what it costs new, and you will save a lot. If you got the cash, though, new is the way to go.
7. Buy only bottles that are owned by the user. They will NOT have a company name stamped on the thick collar. Otherwise, the first time you take it for a refill, they will thank you for bringing back their bottle, and that's all you get. Get a signed receipt and ID, or the price you will pay goes down.
8. Buy only a machine that is capable of using gas. That way you can weld thick and thin. Gas MIG welding for thin stuff, and gasless flux core for thicker stuff. You won't be limited, and mark my words, if you get into welding at all, you will hit your limitations if you buy a flux core only machine, or a light one with a light duty cycle.
9. What you want is about $700. I have a Lincoln 175SP+. Google it up. Beautiful machine. Reliable as a mule. A bottle will cost you under $100. To buy everything of good quality will cost you about a grand. But you will be buying a Cadillac that won't leave you broke down somewhere. If you decide to sell, the resale is better than Long Dong Chang brands.
10. Consider an autodark hood, if even a Harbor Freight cheapo. Shortens the learning curve. If you've got the money, the NexGen EQC is good. I have that one and love it.
11. Buy and use good safety equipment. Gloves are cheap, and cheap gloves can be good. Use good safety glasses, and they aren't expensive. Cover up your skin, as the rays can give you skin cancer VERY easily. I like Wrangler khaki shirts for their ease of putting on and off, and their thickness. If you are going to weld under cars and such, invest in a leather jacket. They can be had on ebay cheap. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS wear earplugs, as one red hot BB in the ear will ruin the next year of your life! I like the half circle spring clip ones that are easy to put on, and hang on your neck when you're not welding. I can't overstress the earplug thing, and have known a couple of welders who had very serious career ending incidents from one tiny red hot BB.
Lastly, take a welding class. For well spent bucks, they will let you use several different machines, you will get a lot of practice, and you will have hands on experience with which to make a decision.
HTH
Sorry for being long winded, but if you're going to part with a grand, get your money's worth, and don't be regretting it a month down the line because you didn't buy the deluxe model.
Steve
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Long winded nothing. Your post was very informative and answered many questions I had in mind. Thanks for taking the time
Claude

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