Advice on buying a welder

Hi,
I am looking at buying a welder and would appreciate some advice on which type to get.
My budget is limited to around the 50 mark, and it will be used for mostly artistic work & small repairs, nothing requiring any perfect seams.
I used to weld years ago with an Oxy and Mig, although I found the plasma cutter to be the most fun, this was at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshops so I had access to all of their equipment.
I have seen an 185 Amp Oxford Arc Welder locally. Would this suit my needs?
Thank you for your help.
/Heds
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on 03/04/2005, Heds supposed :

If you needs are to weld 3mm and above thick steel, then an ordinary electric welder (using rods) would do fine. Mig types are essential for steel much thinner than this though.
--

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Harry (M1BYT) (L)
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On Sun, 03 Apr 2005 23:33:48 +0100, Heds
That's just not enough. You need the angle grinder, the box of disks, the automatic hat, the gas bottle hire/disposable and all the rest of it. You _can_ get a S/H MIG for 50 quid, but they're less than wonderful. IMHO a decent MIG is 250 and a real one is 500.
On a budget limited to 50, I'd get a S/H natural draught gas torch from eBay, some tinsnips, hammers and mallets, a half-empty propane cylinder (2,50 from the council dump) and an immersion heater (tenner) from the same place. Then take up coppersmithing, which is just as much fun as welding steel and a lot less demanding on tooling.

MIG rather than stick. Stick is certainly cheaper to pick a machine up for, but it's just not a practical tool to use for almost anything.

Yes, well it would be 8-)

So go back there, or local equivalent. Whereabouts are you ?

It would eat up your budget and leave you with something that's useless on anything less than 1/8" plate and only really useful for over 1/4". Neither sort of metal being the sort of stuff you can cut witht the tools budget you'd have left over.
--
Socialism: Eric, not Tony

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wrote:

Agreed - even many MIGs around 250 ish are pretty poor, and you have to pay 500 ish to get a good, reliable machine with decent power, a wire feed which works all the time and a "EuroTorch" connector to allow easy replacement of the torch when you break the one which comes with it. I battled with a cheap machine for years and hired a pro machine for bigger work. Eventually I gave up with this arrangement and bought a decent pro machine and have never looked back. Also factor in hire of "Argonshield" from BOC - the disposable cylinders are a waste of time as expensive and only hold a tiny amount of gas.

Yup - MIG will weld thin plate, ARC (stick) won't.
Alan.
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Heds wrote:

Thanks for all your advice.
So I should look for a MIG rather than an ARC. Next question is: Gas or Gas less? I don't really fancy the trouble of bottles and the associated space they would take up so I think gas less would be best.
I already have an angle grinder, disks, snips etc so that is not part of my budget. I only need the welder, flip down mask and gloves.
Re going back to the workshops, I live in Surrey now and have not found anything similar. Also I don't have the time to make full use of the membership so it would be a bit of a waste.
thanks,
/Heds
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On Mon, 04 Apr 2005 19:24:43 +0100, Heds

Hi,
Get a gas MIG, look at the prices of normal vs flux core wire and bear in mind you'll need more of the flux cored stuff:
<http://www.johndavies.co.uk/nminiwire.htm
The budget gas MIGs are set up to take small disposable cylinders, but can use full size ones with the right adapter. I would have thought a gas MIG can use flux cored wire too with no problems.
Would be well worth getting some scrap or spare metal to practice with, and some course notes or a decent book on welding.
BTW How thick is the metal you're welding?
cheers, Pete.
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Pete C wrote:

MigTigArc Portsmouth are useful, inside I'd use gas, outside gasless, most will handle gasless fluxed wire, with the right sized tip!
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Only if you can reverse the polarity of the torch. Easy on some models, next to impossible on others.
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Pete C wrote:

<snip>
Only a few millimeters, maybe some scaffolding poles/foot plates, bits of scrap I pick up from skips.
I used to mainly just use 2-3mm steel plate.
/Heds
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On Tue, 05 Apr 2005 22:58:09 +0100, Heds
Don't waste your time on scaff pipe. It's galvanised, which means lousy welds and a headache afterwards. You can scrounge better materials.
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Add an angle grinder for some 6 quid, and the galvanising just goes away.
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On Tue, 05 Apr 2005 22:58:09 +0100, Heds

Hi,
In that case an arc welder should do, especially for overlapping 'lap' joints. Maybe worth hiring or borrowing one first and practising on some scrap to see how it goes.
Well worth reading up on how to weld, if welding galvanised or rusty steel it needs to be ground back to clean steel first. Also keep the welding rods dry, dry them out in an oven if necessary.
A local welding supplier should be a cheaper place to buy rods than somewhere like Halfords or a tool hire place, plus be a good source of advice.
cheers, Pete.
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Advice from a newbie welder...
It's a lot more expensive to run than a gas one - even using the small bottles. If you get larger bottles, even more so.

Another tip is to get an auto mask. They've come down a lot in price - and IMHO are essential for one with little experience. ;-)

--
Is the hardness of the butter proportional to the softness of the bread?*

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Heds wrote:

or
Youve only got 50 notes, and you wont get anything but arc for that.
Arc is cheap to buy and dead cheap on electrodes (from 25p). The downsides are 2: the weld is a mess and needs a cleanup it takes a bit of practice to get the stick waggling right. Expect problems for the first 1/2 to 1 hour with arcs going out, and workpiece not heated enough.
Gasless wire is very nice to use, but you wont get anything for 50, and the wire is expensive too. 9 a reel isnt huge but it adds up with reel after reel, theres not much on one reel. Advantages: easy, 5 minutes practice is enough welds are clean, no need to bash the crap off them afterwards.
Since youve got 50, its arc. Dont touch the 185A one, it'll vapourise anything you work on instantly.
The one issue I always notice with budget welders is current control that doesnt go low enough. You need one that goes down to 15A at the most, I dont think Ive ever needed to use as much as 40A. The brochures promote huge currents, but thats just not whats needed, especially for lightweight work. You could probably build a house structure with 40A.
NT
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hedleyDOTphillips@SPAMcomsaDOTcoDOTuk says... <snip>

I bought a dual gas/gasless MIG a while ago, having had a conventional gas MIG before. I still haven't tried it with gas because gasless has been good enough for the stuff that I do, and less hassle. Some stuff will still need gas, so keep your options open - it probably only makes a small difference to the price.
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