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Old 08-26-2010, 03:38 PM   #1
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new welder

I have been wanting to get a welder for a while and once I bought the Jeep I really want to be able to Fab stuff myself instead of relying on my buddy and his tools. I found a mig on sale at harbor freight for 109.99 said it will weld up to 3/16 material. Have any of you used any welders from there on your projects, do you think for the casual user to Fab up mounting brackets, build some light duty bumpers etc. that this would be a good one to start off with. Thanks in advance for the feedback.

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Old 08-26-2010, 03:43 PM   #2
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I'm a welder myself and 3/16 sounds a little light to me. Depends on what u wanna make if your making tubing I would get something with a little more umf to it. If your just doing sheet metal you should b fine

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Old 08-26-2010, 03:43 PM   #3
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I'd say that is best case scenerio for that welder....its prolly made for flux core wire and no shielding gas. If you have never welded before your gonna fight it like hell to get it to do what you want. I'd look on CL for a good used one that is a name brand one...that way you can get parts if and when you need some
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:12 PM   #4
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I'm a welder (well in MY eyes ) and that little HFT welder really isn't up to welding 3/16" steel. Heck I used to own a 140 amp Hobart MIG welder which has a much higher welding capacity and it ran out of steam welding on a big piece of 3/16". That little HFT MIG welder has nowhere the capacity that Hobart did.

At a MINIMUM to reliably weld 3/16" without any of them being big pieces of steel, I'd recommend a 140 amp 110v MIG welder like from Miller, Lincoln, or Hobart. I ended up with a 220v 180 amp Miller after giving up on the Hobart's ability to weld larger pieces of 3/16". I make the distinction between large and small pieces of steel because the large the piece of steel, the more heat it sinks (extracts) out of the weld which makes it harder to weld.

For small pieces up to 3/16", a 135-140 amp MIG 110v welder will be ok. But that little HFT MIG welder would be more frustrating than it would be useful and I wouldn't expect it to do well with even smaller 3/16" pieces.
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:34 PM   #5
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stay away from that HF junk. Get yourself a nice Miller, Hobart or Lincoln...or don't buy a welder at all.

if you only have 110V, then get a 140A unit. if you have access to 220V, definitely get a 220V 180A. i've got a Hobart Handler 140 and sometimes when working with 1/4", I need to take my work to a friends house who's got a 180A Lincoln. I can do it with my HH140, but I gotta bevel the heck out of the part and make multiple passes....assuming I don't trip the fuse...
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:45 PM   #6
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Good used welders are easy to find.
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Old 08-26-2010, 06:20 PM   #7
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Also if you look at the duty cycle on that little machine then you'll notice that it might weld for 15 seconds before it just dies off, and as IBUILDEMBIG stated, 3/16 is a best case scenario, way best.

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Old 08-26-2010, 08:16 PM   #8
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welder help

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate all the input. I really only plan on doing small stuff to start off with, I don't think I am up to building a cage for the Jeep......yet. I will check into other brands and something with a bit more umf. I didn't want to spend a crap load on a welder until I got used to one, I would hate ruining a more expensive machine.
It sounds like a 140 amp is what I should look for, thanks guys.
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:19 PM   #9
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:26 PM   #10
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I didn't want to spend a crap load on a welder until I got used to one, I would hate ruining a more expensive machine
It's much harder to learn on a cheap machine, you'd pick up MIG welding a lot faster if you stuck with a better unit like from Hobart, Miller (admittedly more expensive), or Lincoln. Bang-for-the-buck wise on the low-end, it's hard to beat Hobart or Lincoln.
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:11 PM   #11
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You don't want that to learn, there isn't any shield gas. Just get a decent 220 used lincolin and run it on co2. At least that way you can go up to .052 or at least .045, I don't run anything under 1/16th. It really let's you fill alot faster and you can actually weld a gap with out getting a bunch of slag pockets. If you really want to learn get an old ac/dv 195 amp arc box and some 6010 rod and learn to stick weld. Once you learn to stick weld everything is pretty easy from then on.
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:24 PM   #12
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I second that Flint if you can weld with 6010 everything else is a breeze
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:30 PM   #13
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Thanks again guys for all the helpful info, I will look at the Hobart those seem to be on everyone's list. This has to be the best forum I have been on....hands down.
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:13 PM   #14
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You don't want that to learn, there isn't any shield gas. Just get a decent 220 used lincolin and run it on co2.
Naw... just run 75%- 25% argon co2 unless you need lots of penetration as the welds will look much better and will penetrate plenty.

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Old 08-27-2010, 07:15 PM   #15
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Yep I would not run pure C02 for general MIG welding needs.
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Old 08-28-2010, 12:39 AM   #16
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I'm trying out the 3 gas mix that praxair just made....seems to work well....and you can turn the amperage down alot
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Old 08-28-2010, 01:19 AM   #17
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Hobart is owned by Miller - it's their cheapie line - mostly made in China. -- according to the tech at the warranty station.

Most mfgr's rate their welders as far as thickness goes at the very outer limit. When they say 3/16, that's pushing it. It will do a good job on 1/8. They simply don't have enough heat.

I bought the Hobart 135 - took it back, it was good for sheet metal but not much more. I ended up with a Miller 210 - love it - but the ads say it's good for 5/16" - 3/8 is about the max for one hot pass.

Remember - welding is not just dribbling metal on the joint, it's MELTING BOTH PIECES together. The filler material is just to fill in the gaps.

A welder is something you'll have and use the rest of your life - get the best you can.

Next after the welder - a good Plasma cutter - I should have done it years ago.
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Old 08-28-2010, 06:28 AM   #18
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Yep I would not run pure C02 for general MIG welding needs.
Why? I run it everyday. In all position even 6g and it works great. I use it with 1/16th fcaw esab wire. That's all we use in the shipyard. Argon does help a little when it's windy to not get porosity. But both welds still look good and no problem with pen.
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Old 08-28-2010, 10:58 AM   #19
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Hobart is owned by Miller - it's their cheapie line - mostly made in China. -- according to the tech at the warranty station..
That tech is wrong and many try to spread those rumors for some reason but they are wrong.

Miller does not own Hobart, they are both owned by Illinois Tool Works. And no, Hobart is not made in China. I had a brand-new Hobart until 3-4 years ago and it was made in the U.S. It is anything but a "cheapie" welder, mine was very well made. Their website still says "Made in the U.S.A." and every welder I looked at on their website says Made in the U.S.A. on its webpage. Since they are owned by the same parent company, Illinois Tool Works, they do share some of the same components like the welding wand. My present Miller and my last Hobart were very similar to each other inside and they did use the same wand.
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Old 08-28-2010, 12:27 PM   #20
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IMHO plasma cutters are a waste of cash....for the same amount you could get really nice torch outfit and a vertical bandsaw.
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Old 08-28-2010, 12:44 PM   #21
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The tech at the warranty station was talking about the difference between Miller and Hobart. The Millers are the "professional" or "industrial" machines. The Hobarts are the "consumer" or "hobby" machines. He said the Miller 135 had better regulation and better electronics than the Hobart. -- I never compared them myself, and don't really care.

If they are the same and same quality, and owned by the same parent company, then why would they have 2 different brands?

As far as being separate companies - Chevy and Cadillac are both owned by GM, they are the same company, GM, but different divisions. Different quality, different clientele.

He showed me an electronics board from the Hobart - stamped right on it said "Made in China." Full wave rectification vs. half wave, copper vs. aluminum windings, higher open circuit voltage, etc.

Things can made mostly in other countries, but assembled in the US - then they can get labeled "Made in the US." Look at all the car makers that do that. Jeep is about the only one that doesn't do that extensively, but even then, some parts are outsourced to other countries. Is it Brazil?

The reason I was talking to him in the first place was I'd bought the Hobart 135. It would not do a decent weld on 3/16 like advertised. You could make a decent looking weld - but it was too cold - the base metals barely melted together. A little strain and the weld would break. Acid treatment showed it barely penetrated. (Penetration - most think it's how far down the crack it gets, no, it's how far back into the base metal it melts - a direct function of heat.)

The 135 is a 110 volt welder. As you know, being an EE, the output power cannot exceed the input. It runs with a 15 amp breaker, normal house wiring.
It's input draws just a little more than your wife's hair dryer! It's understandable why it only produces cold welds. It's good for thin materials.

The dealer where I bought it in Yucca Valley said he thought it was defective - he even tried it himself at my house. He came by my house and tried it here (he lives not far away.) Then he thought it must be my wiring in my shop. So we took it back to his shop where we tried it again. Then he shipped it to Riverside to a warranty station - they sent it back - marked "OK."

He suggested I take it myself to a different warranty station in Hesperia, that's where the tech tried it and said it was "OK." Then we talked about the mfgr and China.

The end result - The dealer in Yucca Valley gave me my money back, I bought the Miller 210 from Airgas in Hesperia.
But still even with the 210, what they advertise is really pushing the limits.

On things much thicker than 3/8" - especially if it's a critical weld, I still fire up my 50 year old Lincoln 225 stick - it always does the job. I just hate all the chipping!

I've found the Gold Gas - 25/75, Argon/C02 does great and is relatively inexpensive. Pure Argon is hotter but more pricey, I usually just use it for welding aluminum. I didn't know CO2 helps with the wind.

The acid test is easy to do - cut across the weld, dip it in Muriatic (pool) acid for a few minutes - you can see how the grain structure has changed where it was heated --- penetration!
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Old 08-28-2010, 12:51 PM   #22
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Rich, I did not say Miller and Hobart are the same quality welder, they are not. I simply said they are very similar in many ways. I've owned them both which I doubt you have.

And again, Hobart does not make their welders in China and again, Miller does not own Hobart.
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Old 08-28-2010, 01:00 PM   #23
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True - plasma cutters are pricey! I've used Oxy/Acet torches for years, but the PC has lots of advantages.

It does not get the surrounding area hot like the torch. It cuts so fast it doesn't have time to heat up. Warping of sheet metal is minimum.

You can use a wooden template or even cardboard to cut around!

It cuts equally well on steel, aluminum, copper, most anything conductive.

If done right, it leaves very little dros (slag) on the cut. Grinding is kept to a minimum.

Its much cuts faster than a torch.

And - you never run out of gas! (Always happens at the worst time - in the middle of a job, after the weld shop is closed, Sunday etc.)

The negatives - you cannot heat to make a bend. You need electricity, and an air source.


The similarity - the slag still hurts when it falls into your shoe!
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Old 08-28-2010, 01:03 PM   #24
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Jerry I guess you didn't read my last post before yours.

You can take issue with the tech in Hesperia - All I know is my experience with poor quality things has always been disappointing. My Hobart was a POS!
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Old 08-28-2010, 01:42 PM   #25
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True - plasma cutters are pricey! I've used Oxy/Acet torches for years, but the PC has lots of advantages.

It does not get the surrounding area hot like the torch. It cuts so fast it doesn't have time to heat up. Warping of sheet metal is minimum.

You can use a wooden template or even cardboard to cut around!

It cuts equally well on steel, aluminum, copper, most anything conductive.

If done right, it leaves very little dros (slag) on the cut. Grinding is kept to a minimum.

Its much cuts faster than a torch.

And - you never run out of gas! (Always happens at the worst time - in the middle of a job, after the weld shop is closed, Sunday etc.)

The negatives - you cannot heat to make a bend. You need electricity, and an air source.


The similarity - the slag still hurts when it falls into your shoe!
Yep, or when it pops and goes up the leg of your shorts

I had a PC for a few years and I found it just wasnt as useful as a bandsaw would be, so I got one of those and haven't looked back. But it really depends on what you do. I make more brackets and tabs and a saw is much faster and there is no grinding....and there are no expensive consumables to replace like a PC. And if your messing with rusty stuff, a PC is pretty much worthless
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Old 08-29-2010, 01:49 AM   #26
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Obviously there isn't a universal tool that works in all circumstances. My chop saw is great, sometimes, my bandsaw is very useful, sometimes, even my Airsaws and Sawsall comes in handy, sometimes. And - there are times when a hand held hacksaw does the trick. And sometimes the oxy/acet is best.

Today I used tin snips and a knife as my cutters!

To think many years ago all I had was a hacksaw.

Rust? What's that?
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Old 08-29-2010, 11:28 AM   #27
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Yeah we have rust...but you have smog, catyletic converters, and expensive gas
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:37 PM   #28
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I've got all 3 welders, my hobart is a big high amp unit that is too big for 12 ga. or less but kicks a$$ on everything else up to 1/2", and is definatly not made in china and has been a real good welder for many years, then the lincoln and miller are about the same as far as amperage and duty cycle, I prefer the lincoln over the miller but the miller is still a very good welder. I just don't think you could go wrong with any one of them. And when you can't get a big stainless tank that weighs many 100's of lbs to your band saw then the plasma cutter is the only way with no other choice.


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Old 08-29-2010, 12:54 PM   #29
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Yeah I'm sure lots of people have 100# SS tanks they are working on lol

Just playin with ya
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:58 PM   #30
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That was just one of the many ss pieces that would be too big to handle on a band saw, some are aluminum but just too awkward.

Donn

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