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Harbor Freight Horror Story (MIG Wire)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by adjustablejohnsons, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. Ran out of wire last weekend. No problem...had a spool of Harbor Freight MIG wire I picked up just for this contingency. Put it in, and away we go. Result was spitting, sputtering, and stuttering. Every time the wire contacted the work, the feed motor stalled and the workshop lights dimmed (even though the welder is on a dedicated circuit). Ran to Lowes and bought a spool of Lincoln wire and everything returned to normal.
  2. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,060

    from California

    harbor freight is chinese for don't work.
  3. Ask me if I'm surprised.
  4. 392_hemi
    Joined: Jun 16, 2004
    Posts: 1,737


    Well, you can always list what's left of the spool in the for sale section. A lot of guys on here seem to like HF crap.

  5. bigaadams
    Joined: Jun 8, 2004
    Posts: 160

    from Georgia

    actually you can use it to wire things together or for hanging small items while painting...
  6. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,825

    from PNW

    after all these helpful answers I'll ask some questions. What color was the wire? Did you keep it dry? Is it the right kind?
  7. The wire is copper colored.
    The wire was shrink wrapped and kept in a closed steel box.
    The wire was 30 thou, MIG wire. The tip I used was 30 thou and the machine was set for MIG. So, yes right kind.

    I have to add, I'm not trying to solve a mystery. I'm satisfied that the wire is crap and I won't be using any HF products...ever.
  8. Chris Casny
    Joined: Mar 13, 2006
    Posts: 4,872

    Chris Casny

    Everybody is always HF this HF that, I don't get it, this chinese shit is so bad, nobody should ever buy anything from them.
  9. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,825

    from PNW

    Sorry. Didn't realize you weren't concerned with an answer. Good rant tho.
  10. Bugman
    Joined: Nov 17, 2001
    Posts: 3,483


    he's not concerned with answers, but I am(just out of curiosity). What would cause wire with proper shielding gas to behave like that? I've wended with slightly rusty wire and not had problems like you describe.
  11. Bear Metal Kustoms
    Joined: Jul 31, 2004
    Posts: 1,856

    Bear Metal Kustoms
    Alliance Vendor

    Flux core instead of solid? EVILT
  12. Dale Fairfax
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,585

    Dale Fairfax
    Member Emeritus

    I'm having the same problem with a spool I bought at Tractor Supply. I've used their wire in the past with no problem and like this time I ran out on Saturday (or Sunday) after the "Real" welding supply shop was closed. I've played with voltage and wire speed til I'm blue in the fae and it still ain't right.
  13. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,248


    The wire caused a dead short in the circuit?
    How could wire possibly cause those symptoms!?!?
  14. Everything was working fine when I ran out of wire. I was using ER70S-6 MIG wire (not flux core). Put in the HF wire. It was MIG wire not flux. Gas was 75/25 Argon/CO2 with pressure set correctly. Had the problems. Cussed a lot. Wire was the only thing we changed, so we replaced it with the Lincoln wire. Back in business.
  15. tinmann
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 1,588


    A welding supplier looked at the cheapy .030 wire that I had in the Mig at work. He turned his nose up at it saying what cheap crap it was compared to the brand name stuff he sold. Smelling a self-serving rat, I asked what possible difference could there be in simple ol' mig wire? He said the cheap offshore stuff has huge variance in terms of diameter and purity all within one roll. When we ran out of cheap wire a couple weeks later, I decided to pay him a visit and buy some of the good stuff. He was right. The welder (Miller 250) is behaving itself much better,
  16. Mozes
    Joined: Nov 16, 2006
    Posts: 155


    Im Glad To Hear That This Is Shit. I Just Sold My 220v Lincoln Mig And Had To Use A 110v Machine That I Had Never Used Before, I Put In Some Hf Flux Core .35 Wire And I Had The Worst Time With That Fucking Thing Man. I Didnt Think Wire Could Be That Fucked Up. Glad It Wasnt The Welder.
  17. I bought one of the little 110/220 hobby arc welders from them and have had pretty good service with it. But I am running it on the 220 setting and with decent rod. So far been doing what I want,so far. Its been a mixed bag from h.f. for me. cutting discs and some stuff are okay. But, I am glad I dont have to earn my living with them!:D
  18. Chad s
    Joined: Oct 6, 2005
    Posts: 1,718

    Chad s

    haha. I dont think there is anything at HF worth the cost of gas to drive to the store. The one and only time I went there was to get some welding magnets, figured Id check it out, and how bad could a magnet be. Well, I think a refrigerator magnet would work about the same.

    Home Depot and Lowes both sell Lincoln wire if you run out on a weekend.
  19. I looked at the 19 dollar 030 wire at H.F. last weekend...
    If you are a regular welder ,it is obvious what the problem is....I was interested at the $10.00 reduction in per roll price-until I saw the wire itself...
    It was so poorly rolled onto the spool that I immediately saw that it would not run on ANY machine.

    The problem you describe is caused by your machine not feeding or moving when it locks up from twisted wire- and the trigger is pulled causing a dead load thus overloading the welders capacity in general....[DC -sort of like a dead short]

    It is a problem that many brands of wire suffer from.
    It is a combination of either a factory that has no quality control over the loading of their wire onto it's spool and OR the spool has been mishandled by either dropping it hard or even stacking and jarring the roll in shipment.

    Either way ,it is completely avoidable :If you just insist on seeing the wire BEFORE you buy it....
    I never buy any wire, before seeing how EVENLY and TIGHT it has been wound onto it's spool.
  20. FoMoCoPower
    Joined: Feb 2, 2007
    Posts: 2,490


    Certain things at HF are complete junk...and other things are actually WORTH BUYING! There MIG wire is complete shit,don`t ever buy it! I learned the hard way,I thought it was the welder too....but switched to good wire and haven`t had a problem since.

    Stay away from HF sockets,wrenches,and screw drivers if you plan to do anythin more than light-duty work.

    All of there hydraulic stuff actually works great from what I have found out.

    Same goes for 99.9% of the air tools.

    The power-tools are hit and miss,basically if it looks is cheap.If it looks decent,it probably is decent for the $$ you pay.

    There auto-darkening welding masks actually work very well,and so do there MIG gas regulator kits,haven`t had a single complaint with either.

    There speciality tools are a really good buy for the money,use them right and you wll have no problems.

    Basically it comes down to "You get what you pay for!",it is real easy to tell an item of inferior quality just by visually inspecting it.

    Not all of there tools are junk,alot of the hand-tools yes,and some of the consumables (mig wire) also are...but for the most part,it is a great alternative to high-[riced stuff that most of us do not use on a daily basis.
  21. FoMoCoPower
    Joined: Feb 2, 2007
    Posts: 2,490

    Member all honesty...i`ve had more problems with Craftsman than HF the last couple years.Went through 2 Craftsman 3-ton floor jacks in a row,while my buddy has had the same HF one for the past 3 years with no trouble.And my Craftsman MIG welder is giving me trouble after only 2 years of occasional use.
  22. Junkyard Jan
    Joined: Jan 7, 2005
    Posts: 739

    Junkyard Jan
    Member Emeritus

    As you say, it's a mixed bag. I bought an H/F auto-darkening welding helmet there for about $59 3 years ago and it works fine. I use their grinding discs also. But a lot of their stuff looks awful crappy to me just sitting on the shelf. I'm glad to know about the wire, as I'd thought of buying a backup roll there myself.

  23. Moparhead
    Joined: Dec 2, 2006
    Posts: 236


    A buddy of mine swears by HF wire in his Miller.Had me convinced to try it,but I sure as hell won't now.I really like their auto-darkening helmet,no problems.
  24. publicenemy1925
    Joined: Feb 4, 2007
    Posts: 3,187

    from OKC, OK

    U roll the dice in that place more than vegas.
  25. UnIOnViLLEHauNT
    Joined: Jun 22, 2004
    Posts: 4,824


    I LOVE the anti HF threads. If you dont like....dont buy. A few friends of mine have "Superwinch" or the like winches on thier big name trailers. Awesome....after reading a few threads here I bought a HF winch. Sucks. Poor thing can only pull a 4000+ lb vehicle sideways with all 4 wheels locked onto the trailer....must be cheap weak crap. Havent had anything that could test it any further than that lol.

    Try if you like. I saved a ton of dough with a 3 yr warranty. That thing has been straight aces in my book.
  26. The Craftsman welders I have seen were actually Century or Solar welders painted black....
    They were also the manufacturers of SnapOn's welders for years.....
    I say look at a Mig welder's wire drive motor, and if it is not bigger than your dick run like hell....:D That is the only key component viewable without tearin it down,and usually indicates the :rolleyes: tone for the rest of its quality!...

    I have saw some low priced ones that had what I swear were the same motors they used on those JC Whitney windshield washer pumps!
  27. Junkyard Jan
    Joined: Jan 7, 2005
    Posts: 739

    Junkyard Jan
    Member Emeritus

    Some of what's been mentioned is hit or miss. Last year, I bought a 2 ton aluminum racing jack from Sears. I've heard a TON of reports from dissatisfied buyers of these. Mine works fantastically and I couldn't be happier. Long before H/F had stores, a friend ordered a complete set of hand tools from them as his ex had sold his..:( The stuff that he got worked fine, nothing broke, and he did more work than the average hobbiest.

  28. personally, i wouldn't use any wire that wasn't aws accepted.
  29. hoof
    Joined: Jul 14, 2006
    Posts: 620


    I just work in the garage for shits and giggles. If I didn't buy HF tools I probably would go without. I am faced with not having the correct tool for the job or having a HF tool with its questionable quality. Am I better off with a low quality Chinese made gear puller, or a hammer and screwdriver? I know my tools would give me much better service and longevity if I bought them off the Snap On truck, but with the money I have to spend I would have like three screwdriver and a tack hammer so far. Plus I abuse my tools something fierce, but that is another story.
  30. Bumpstick
    Joined: Sep 10, 2002
    Posts: 1,372


    Just my luck. I picked up 2 rolls of the stuff this morning. Haven't opened it yet, think I'll take it back.

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