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xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
3/16/16 8:35 a.m.

Looking into picking up a MIG welder this year for home/hobby use.

I don't plan heavy fab work in the suburbs where I live, but I'd like to be able to build motor mounts at home, melt exhaust pipes together, sheetmetal work, maybe a frame notch, etc.

I have taken welding classes before, and can run a bead reasonably well, but I've never owned my own setup. I have 220V available on the other side of the attached garage wall (panel is right next/below the garage on the basement wall).

I'm young enough that I'd prefer to buy a quality unit and keep it for the next 30+ years and have it when I need it. If I buy used what should I look for? It seems the barrier of entry for a 220V Lincoln/Miller with a tank even used is $1,000+. Help me get arcin' and sparkin'!

How much do I need to spend to be satisfied with a competent welder?
What do you have and do you like it?
If you were to buy again today what would you buy?
etc.


914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/16/16 8:54 a.m.

I have a Hobart 140 and use Tri-Gas which does all the welding I'm ever going to need. I used to have a flux core Chicago Electric, save your money. Tips and about anything you may need for the CE welder can only be had on line. The Hobart has 8 or 10 ft. long cables, a big plus. Something like fish plating a frame, I would take somewhere only because of my limited skill, the machine may be capable.

The crappy Chicago was ~$300, the Hobart was about $500.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
3/16/16 9:10 a.m.

I have a Miller 140 that has done all I've needed from roll cages to suspension components and everything in-between. It has never broken or even hiccuped in the 8yrs it's been here and I've run a LOT of wire thru it. It maxes out at 1/4" single pass - but I've welded more than that by going slow. It plays bigger than it advertises. Would buy again.

The only time I've wished for more heat was when trying to fabricate some hitch parts with .565 hot roll plate. I bought a 220v TIG unit since then - so now I can do that, as well as aluminum, and any other "pretty parts" work like fuel rail bungs, etc on the bench without all the smoke and sparks. I still do 90% of everything with the 140 MIG because it's quick, easy and I'm more comfortable with my own skill in getting results. Especially anything that involves being upside down, backwards or difficult to clean to perfection.

xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
3/16/16 9:12 a.m.

A pro welder friend is recommending a new Lincoln Power Mig 210. They're currently on sale for $999. Just need to add a tank, and there's options should i want to play with aluminum or TIG in the future. Basically saying it's hard to beat it for the $$$ vs. screwing around with used stuff. That said, he uses this stuff to make a living. I realize dollars spent here just means less dollars for race car stuff.

http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us/company/newsroom/Pages/pm210-offer.aspx?utm_source=powermig210&utm_medium=banner-product&utm_campaign=210mp-offer

I'm walking right back into that $1K + tank + helmet though, and I guess the cheap part of me struggles with that. Trying to decide if it's worth it.

ggarrard
ggarrard GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/16/16 9:36 a.m.

I have the smaller Lincoln Mig140 that runs 120v. It does a great job for light and medium work. I purchased mine thru Canadian Tire for around $500 (plus the argon tank) several years ago.

You could do a weekend trip to Sarnia or Windsor and take advantage of the current exchange rate of the US dollar....

java230
java230 HalfDork
3/16/16 9:43 a.m.

I use a Miller 211, great machine that is 120/240 which is very handy at times.

HunterBenz
HunterBenz New Reader
3/16/16 9:49 a.m.

I have the little Lincoln that could mentioned above (pro 140). I am not a pro, but my little buddy has done everything I have asked and then some.

That said, if you have access to 220 I would get the next step up just because then you have the extra umph.

The most reasonable welder advice I got was the red (Lincoln) and blue (Miller) are basically the same quality. But die hards for either side will swear up and down theirs is bigger and better. Kinda like Ford v Chevy.

fasted58
fasted58 UltimaDork
3/16/16 9:58 a.m.

Northern Tool has that Hobart Handler 140 for $529 w/ free shipping. While I haven't used it myself they're rated 5 star w/ over 600 reviews on site. Sounds like a winner for what you wanna do. Only question is are you gonna want to do more down the road.

Local CL stuff is as usual crack pipe. There's a well used looking 140 (not the dual voltage either) for $450. Top end stuff is crazy berkeleying priced w/ a lotta junk in between. As said on this forum before there are deals to be found but it's usually if ya snooze ya lose. Be lucky if you found a hobbyist moving up and not a beat on commercial machine.

That Lincoln does look pretty good and you'd expect to get what you pay for from red or blue. Plusses for spool gun and TIG w/ pedal add ons down the road. If I had to do it over again I'd prolly go dual voltage.

Bought a new closeout Millermatic 185 w/ all accessories was around $1200. 230V, 3/8" single pass, 60% duty cycle, not one problem, last machine I might ever need.

Good luck

DuctTape&Bondo
DuctTape&Bondo Dork
3/16/16 12:12 p.m.

I just finished putting my set up together, took awhile but I had other projects so I wasn't rushing. Good deals do pop up but they tend to go quickly. Missed some good package deals but I think I did ok :)

Miller Autoset 140 with wire $275 craigslist
80cuft Argon/CO2 $90 craigslist
HF cart $20 craigslist
mods for cart (super quick fist straps & risers) $25
HFT flowmeter Regulator $28 ebay
gas hose $14 ebay
helmet $43 harbor freight
welding jacket $28 amazon
gloves $18 amazon
pliers, gage, tip cleaner $35 amazon and lowes

NOHOME
NOHOME PowerDork
3/16/16 12:40 p.m.

The Millermatic would seem to be the top of the welding food-chain at the Moment, but you are going to pay almost $2,000 for the privilege.

I have a Lincoln 185 that seems to do anything that I ask of it. My first welder was an SIP out of Italy and convinced me to stay away from any welder that was not Red or Blue.

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
3/16/16 1:03 p.m.

Hobart 140. Would buy again.

pimpm3
pimpm3 Dork
3/16/16 1:23 p.m.

I have a Lincoln 140. Its been great.

For the tank I somehow acquired a large helium tank that was used for filling balloons. It was like 6 feet tall and completely overkill for what I was planning to do with it. I traded it to the local welding supply place straight up for a 4 foot tank of Stargon.

Rodan
Rodan New Reader
3/16/16 1:34 p.m.

I have a Lincoln Weld-Pak 155 that I bought at Home Depot... 19 years ago this May. It's 220V and I run gas, and it's run great for all that time. Most recent project was building bumpers for my Bronco. It's done everything I've ever asked of it.

I'm certainly no pro, but my recommendation would be to get something that runs on 220v and has gas. IMHO, used welders can be a bargain, but if you've ever looked at the price of Red/Blue brand parts, buying one out of warranty can be a crapshoot...

NGTD
NGTD UltraDork
3/16/16 2:41 p.m.

I grabbed a Millermatic 180 off Kijiji for $350 cash that has never been used. It came with a spool of wire and the regs but no gas.

Deals on Craigslist/Kijiji are out there but you need to jump on them. The guy had 6 other offers within 90 minutes of mine.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
3/16/16 3:30 p.m.
914Driver wrote: I have a Hobart 140 and use Tri-Gas which does all the welding I'm ever going to need. I used to have a flux core Chicago Electric, save your money. Tips and about anything you may need for the CE welder can only be had on line. The Hobart has 8 or 10 ft. long cables, a big plus. Something like fish plating a frame, I would take somewhere only because of my limited skill, the machine may be capable. The crappy Chicago was ~$300, the Hobart was about $500.

I have the same and it works great with flux or C25 gas. I built a rally cage with it, put heavy D-rings on the trailer, rebuilt a frame rail, and a ton of other things. Handles some pretty heavy metal for a 110v rig. Best bang for the buck, and easy to throw in the trunk of the car and take someplace if you need to.

jimbbski
jimbbski Dork
3/16/16 10:32 p.m.

I used to have a 140 amp MIG by a German company that I bought used. The 140 amp/110V unit did 99% of what I needed to weld.

I now have a bigger MIG at 180 amp because I got a good deal on a new Lincoln Dual 180 and because it's half the weight of my old MIG so it's more portable.

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy PowerDork
3/16/16 11:21 p.m.

I have had a Lincoln 215 for 10 years or so, which is the smallest of the full size welders. I've used it a ton, and have never really climbed up beyond the first half of its output. I really like it. At home, I have a Lincoln 170, which was the biggest of the suitcase size welders. Its adequate until you start welding up a frame of 1/4 inch material.

Lincoln, Miller, Hobart- I don't think you can go too far wrong with any of those. Spend real money, and you will likely never have to replace it.

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo UltimaDork
3/16/16 11:59 p.m.

Since you have 240 handy, I'd go for a 240 volt machine. The 120 volt units can work quite well, but they really need a good dedicated 20 amp circuit for optimal performance.

JBasham
JBasham New Reader
3/17/16 11:31 a.m.

I love my Lincoln 180. I think I got it on sale for about $600. That is the big box store model ("HD" - Home Depot in my case). The wire drive mechanism has much more plastic in it than the $900 one (Power MIG 180C) you can buy at Airgas. Also, the power knob is stepped (taps on the winding) instead of continuous.

Handles everything from 20 gauge with light rust to motor mounts, no problem.

Airgas used to be pretty liberal about what they would take for tank exchanges. I got my first 20# CO2 tank from them in exchange for a converted fire extinguisher I bought off EBay for $30 in the mid 90's. I'm still running off that swap chain. Welding with CO2 is a little harder for the fine stuff, but it still works, and it actually helps on thick stuff. I've never thrown in the towel and bought another tank for mix gas.

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 SuperDork
3/17/16 12:52 p.m.
java230 wrote: I use a Miller 211, great machine that is 120/240 which is very handy at times.

I have a 211 as well, I've had it a little over 2 years, I'm admittedly a bit of a "blue Koolaid" fanboy, but I came close to picking up one of Eastwood's wire welders on a few occasions, especially when they were on sale. The 211 was the perfect welder for me, just right size, and features, and I'm glad I held out for it.

Any of the 140+ amp Lincolns or Miller/Hobarts that aren't from a Home Depot/Lowe's will be adequate for the vast majority of automotive uses.

Auto-Set will spoil you.

OldGray320i
OldGray320i HalfDork
3/17/16 2:27 p.m.
xflowgolf wrote:

Funny, I don't remember doing this, but those are DEFINITELY my welds...

I got the little flux core from home depot several years ago. I wish I'd gotten gas, but, as you'll note from my comment above, I don't have the requisite skill set to properly run it.

Lot of exhaust work (because tubing from Don's Hot Rod shop is cheap), custom made a floor lamp (my daughter still likes it, though it does look a little industrial...), a gate for the side yard. I love welding. I'm just not that good at it.

If you're going to keep it for 30 years, forget price (relatively) just get nice one and start enjoying it today.

turtl631
turtl631 Reader
3/17/16 4:29 p.m.
bigdaddylee82 wrote:
java230 wrote: I use a Miller 211, great machine that is 120/240 which is very handy at times.
I have a 211 as well, I've had it a little over 2 years, I'm admittedly a bit of a "blue Koolaid" fanboy

Miller 211 here too, wait for a Zoro tools sale and/or Miller promo to save a lot.

andrew2ds
andrew2ds
5/18/22 5:02 a.m.

I lik I-tig 160, but I like Hobart Handler 140 welder for exhaust work.

andrew2ds
andrew2ds New Reader
5/18/22 5:03 a.m.

Handler 140 seems a good choice because this piece is awesome and you will never regret once you use it. 

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
5/18/22 8:51 a.m.

I have the little Eastwood 135 and it does what I need with no drama and can't tell a difference between that and the name brands (other than the knobs are labeled differently and run a test piece no matter what). I would have bought the bigger one if I didn't have a tig already.

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