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Technical The finer points of MiG welding machines.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 31Vicky with a hemi, Feb 18, 2024.

  1. After talking with 4 different LWS I’m not any further ahead. Those guys spend the majority of their time selling consumables. Don’t know much about the machines other than what’s on the brochures.
    None of them around here have a try it before you buy it setup. None have a friendly return policy either.
    I went to go look at used one, oh it works good he said. Get there and the thing has a fan that Fonzie starts ( smack it just right) then squeals like hell. I told the guy since I’m here I’d buy it for parts at lower price, you told me it worked good.
     
  2. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 4,258

    ekimneirbo

    So, this popped up on the local Facebook. Look at the range of materials it says it is capable of welding. Then look at the knob for adjusting your amps. It is a 5 position switch rather than one that is "infinite" and you see the amps as you rotate the a knob. I don't know how a switch like that can give decent control when you are welding thinner metal. I can't imagine any pro machine having one like that. I think Hobart is still made by Miller, but I think its things like this that let them sell cheaper.

    Hobart.jpg
    Hobart 2.jpg

    Guy wants $600 for a used one. Don't just look at the name, look at the specs.

    And while Snap On makes some good tools, their welders in the past were a mid-grade made by someone else with Snap On on the cover to jack up the price. I had one a friend swapped to me. Think it was a Marquette or something.
     
  3. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 2,857

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    I've never ever had a problem with a position switch style welder, used both select position and infinite and really never had enough of a problem that I actually would turn down one over the other.

    If the weld felt a little too hot I just move the gun back away from the puddle alittle bit. If a little to cold I just move closer.

    I will admit the infinite adjustment is nice but not nice enough for me to walk away from a good working machine.....

    ...
     
    Budget36, ERguitar and A 2 B like this.
  4. The Hobart has the 5-position switch because it has the old school transformer technology instead of inverter technology. There are pros and cons to either technology. The Hobart is an entry level machine for the hobbyist and has a low duty cycle. I have had no problem welding thin Sheetmetal with mine but will break out the TIG if it is really thin.
     
    A 2 B and AccurateMike like this.
  5. I bought one of the first 115v migs made, in 1985....a Miller Sidekick. It was pretty simple, only had 4 heat settings. Used that thing for 30+ years and ran miles of wire thru it. Very good machine for it's time.
    When I got my Miller 141 I could not believe how much nicer/cleaner welds I could make. No more boogers.
     
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  6. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 4,258

    ekimneirbo

    Yes, that works when doing thicker metal where you have an actual puddle to maintain, but the problem with thin sheetmetal is it keeps blowing holes in the metal if you can't get low enough. The OP is looking for a machine he can dedicate mostly to sheetmetal as he has another welder. I'm just pointing out that this is one feature he/others should look for when making a new purchase.
     
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  7. A 2 B
    Joined: Dec 2, 2015
    Posts: 496

    A 2 B
    Member
    from SW Ontario

    For sheet metal, I got by with a simple HI/LO heat range working with a 110V machine until I started restoring off topic Japanese 240Zs. That's when I bought the Miller specifically for thin metal, but found it quite capable as an all around set up/tack and fabrication machine. I do agree though that technique and skill level (which includes knowing your machine), will ultimately determine what can be done with a non-infinite machine.
    I would suggest calling all the welding suppliers and ask them about upcoming demonstration days where you can try them out firsthand.
     
    ekimneirbo likes this.
  8. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 2,857

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    Still use the same technique although you can fudge the wire speed there and helps quite a bit on sheet metal. My old Lincoln 175sp is a select switch and it's welded tons of sheet metal.

    I think a lot has to do to running what you got and learning how to use it.

    ...
     
  9. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,286

    finn
    Member

    I had a Millermatic 175 transformer machine with the infinitely adjustable potentiometer instead of the six or so position tap., so that’s not the differentiator between a transformer or inverter machine.

    My first welder was a Craftsman oxy acetylene rig that I bought in 1980 or so. I decided I wasn’t ever going to be skilled enough with that for sheet metal work so I bought a 120v HTP transformer machine. It was a prototype from when they were evaluating if there was a market for 120v machines. I still have it, and all I have ever run in it is .023 wire. It has a tapped control with seven positions and I liked it better than the 240v Miller 175 with the non tapped control that I bought for thicker material, set up with .030.

    Over the years I picked up a HTP Invertig 201, and later a Primeweld tig 225x.

    last summer I ditched the old Millermatic 175 and replaced it with a Miller Multimatic 235 that I found on Marketplace. I haven’t commissioned it yet since we’re doing the snowbird thing.

    I’ll keep my old HTP 120 v transformer machine set up with .023 for sheet metal work. It owes me nothing.
     
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  10. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 4,258

    ekimneirbo

    I agree with you that with persistence someone can make many tools work for a need by manipulating position and the settings that are available. I did the same thing for years with .030 wire for everything. Spot welding probably has less of a tendency for wire to burn away and sputter like it might with a continuous weld when you slow the wire speed from normal. I was doing exactly what you do while putting a section in the dash of a 56 Chevy truck. What happened was that I would get several welds ok then blow a hole where the new panel had a small gap or a thin spot.
    Then more spot welds to fill the hole. I decided that while I could change my wire/liner/rolls/tip to .023, and my machine could be adjusted infinitely..........it was a larger machine that had a bigger gun and a bigger lead and was kind of unwieldy for what I was doing. Being lazy, I don't like going back and forth with wire sizes as I move from welding thick to thin and back again. So I looked for a reasonably priced smaller machine. The machine I got was priced right and would be a good machine for someone who could only afford one machine. With the lighter duty machine, the gun and lead are lighter and shorter.......but it had the infinite adjustment that I prefer. I seldom blow a hole while welding thin stuff, and I can jump back and forth between thick and thin by just grabbing the other machine. Many if not most hobbyists have the same tendency I do. Start welding with whatever setting you have in the machine and adjust if you can't make it work. Thick or thin. Sometimes backing it down a little if you had it really dialed up........but I don't think most look at any chart and really adjust their machine each time. The OP wants a second machine and asked for recommendations for a machine for welding thinner stuff. Thats exactly what I wanted as well, and I'm happy with having that option. Not trying to knock anyone for having a different method that suits them just fine, just trying to offer info on how its worked out for me and why I made the choice I made.:)

    IMG_1566.JPG
    IMG_1577.JPG
    IMG_1591.JPG

    That was with the old welder. Yes, I agree that it can work, but now its easier for me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024
    A 2 B likes this.
  11. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 2,857

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    I need to get the old oxy acetylene setup out and do some gas welding. It's been over 20 to 25 yrs since I've done that!

    Probably gonna have to watch a few YouTube videos to get back into the mode !!

    ...
     
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  12. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 4,258

    ekimneirbo

    You might look for a site called "Airbum" and a how to thread on it called "Zen and the weld puddle". Nice info by Budd Davidson on airplane welding.:)
     
  13. Some of the finer points of welding machines are “slope” and “inductance”.
     
  14. banginona40
    Joined: Mar 5, 2007
    Posts: 773

    banginona40
    Member

    I have been using my Miller Challenger 172 for nearly 20 years. It has worked well for me for both sheet metal and up to 1/4" material. I also have a Cobra Torch and a Lincoln AC DC buzz box.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2024
  15. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 6,146

    57JoeFoMoPar
    Member

    I have an HTP MIG2400 that I bought several years ago. I bought an Invertig 221 and liked it so much I bought an HTP MIG. It's a big, heavy duty machine that is very well made, runs on 30A 220v power. It's a nice machine, still of the dinosaur transformer based machines. Everything now is inverter based, which I have no objection to, but I do like the simplicity of this machine.

    My one complaint about it is that it doesn't weld quite as nicely as a Millermatic 211 my father-in-law has, but seems on par with the Millermatic 252 a friend has. I'm not sure what the reason for that is. To be very honest, I think my issue with the HTP are more related to me not MIG welding much and not having the machine settings dialed in properly. There is a coarse and fine adjustment of power, instead of a simple dial for total power like some of the other machines have, and it seems sensitive to small adjustments in power. But when you get it dialed in, it's as good as any of the others. But it does seem less forgiving of settings than the Millers. Of course, it's also about half the price of the Miller too.
     
  16. I'll second that. I've got a 25+ year-old 120V Century MIG unit that's a small one with two switchable max amp ratings of 90/110. No 'steps' on wire speed or voltage (that's actually what you're adjusting, not amps. Remember, it's really WATTS that are doing the work). The ability to 'fine tune' both is something I wouldn't willingly give up. All it's used for is thinner material (1/8" or less) and works great for that. For thicker stuff I use a Miller AC/DC arc and stick rod. These two machines have covered all my welding needs for about $1K at the time of purchase, I've never seen any reason to 'upgrade' either one or spring for the expense of a TIG. I weld stainless with stick rod.

    I'm sure if you're running a commercial shop the needs are different.
     
  17. Here’s what I gathered from this.
    Hopefully you got your welded 15-20 years ago because those seem to make people happier welding sheet metal, and don’t wear it out because you’re going to be hunting an old one that hasn’t been abused. Then you’ll be looking at neglected junk that someone wants nearly new prices for.
     
  18. Yes, as a general rule, most things(not only welders) made 15-20 years ago are better quality. Nowadays it comes down to who has the best warranty/return policy!
    Asking here you will also get many opinions, some from folks that don't use their welders everyday. Maybe only once a month....or less. Those machines are not going too wear out for a long time.
    Have you tried asking on a welding forum/group?
     
  19. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 2,857

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    I think a lot has to do with quality, something that's declined greatly in the last 15 to 20 yrs.

    Older machines have better quality components, instead of copper now its aluminum. Smaller diameter wiring, windings etc.

    And let's not forget built obsolescence, things aren't designed and built to last 20 or 30 yrs anymore. Another factor is a lot are now computer boards, soldered boards etc and these things don't take to extreme temperature variations. Here in Kansas it can be 70° today and 30° tomorrow and add computer circuits onto that in an unheated shop and things start breaking down.

    Another 20 yrs and just about everything will be short lived and disposable, probably not cheap but still disposable.... it's called "progress" I call it cheap... and as we send more building overseas it will only get worse....

    ..
     
  20. Welders made 20 years ago mostly used transformer technology as Inverters were just coming into play. IIRC, PowCon patented the Inverter technology for welders in the mid 90s. The "experts" claim the shelf life of the circuitry with inverters is about 12 years, which I assume is because of using electrolytic capacitors. I know I have to replace them in my tube guitar amps about every 10 years or so.
    I think it just comes down to features of each brand of new welders and what you can accept.
     
  21. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 4,258

    ekimneirbo

    While I don't disagree that some quality has changed, I'd also like to point out that many things have improved as well. Look at cars of today vs the cars of yesteryear. How many older cars ever approached going 200,000 miles or even 300,000 miles before overhaul? Lots of technological improvements account for that. I can still remember having to pull a welding lead out of a plug in connection and move it to another plug in connection to change the output. Knobs sure make that a lot more doable. Also, they are using this new technology in industrial work, so its proven to be pretty reliable. Not knocking anyone who has an older welder that just keeps on plugging along, but a decent new one isn't junk either. I think the problem is that a lot of people want a Cadillac for a mini-scooter cost and then want to label all the technology as being cheap/bad/short lived when they don't hold up. If you buy a new Wong Far Yu welder for $200, don't expect the same quality as a decent $1500 Miller/Lincoln. And don't expect to sell it for what you paid for it 10 years later like the Miller/Lincoln.
     
    Just Gary likes this.
  22. This sums up the problem.


     
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  23. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 13,225

    Budget36
    Member

    All three of my MiGs have either a tap, or selector 1-6. Wire speed infinitely adjustable.
    Say I use tap 4, I set wire speed to 40, tweak from there.
    Oh, MM35, Miller Vintage and an Airco DP160 3 in one.
     
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  24. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 13,225

    Budget36
    Member

    I have to think back when I bought the Vintage welder some 25 or so years ago.
    Sierra Air Gas had a “Miller day” was able to try many out.
    I was looking at the Miller 2-something, ran some beads and had a hard, fast spark to it. Not anything at all like my MM 35.
    The Miller rep told me it was “the way new welders were made, but maybe try this one” which was the Vintage.
    It had a nice soft and even arc like my MM35. He told me in amps the MM35 would be about a 150-160 “amp” welder, but the Vintage was like the older MM 200.
    Same thing as my MM35 but more power.
     
  25. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 2,857

    lostone
    Member
    from kansas

    I just noticed today that Home Depot now shows PrimeWeld welders in their inventory.

    Got to be an acknowledgement to their quality...

    ..
     
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  26. Dick Stevens
    Joined: Aug 7, 2012
    Posts: 3,714

    Dick Stevens
    Member

    You have to have a weld supply, such as Airgas, that has knowledgeable people in your area, I would make phonecalls to everyone in your area and work with the one that will supply what you want/need! We used mostly Miller welders, had a few Lincoln and ESAB and they all worked well. We used 40 pound spools as they were running 2 10 hour shiftsper day + 3 12 hour shifts over the weekend.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2024
    Budget36 and 31Vicky with a hemi like this.
  27. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,286

    finn
    Member

    They’ve been on the HD site for a while, but I think they’re actually drop shipped to the store or your house/business from Primeweld in New Jersey. They’re also on Amazon sometimes. The best price is usually ordering direct, as a $25 certificate usually pops up on their site (every little bit helps).

    Primeweld doesn’t have any stocking dealers, as far as I can tell, although they do have a distributor in Canada. Everything is drop shipped otherwise. But they’re fast! I ordered a tig225x on Black Friday a year and a half ago and it was on my doorstep in Tucson the next Tuesday ( shipped from NJ, no less).
     
  28. You really think I haven’t contacted those people? You know what they know well. ,,
    Where everything is in the store, they know lots of part numbers for consumables, they know what the brochure says. Some of them can roll 2 bottles, some can even make change for cash. None of anyplace has a try before you buy except Eastwood.

    I got the most information and answered questions from the big repair shop. For what I want my best option is to rebuild my old one or find another old one.
     
  29. Dick Stevens
    Joined: Aug 7, 2012
    Posts: 3,714

    Dick Stevens
    Member

    We had a Linweld dealer that serviced us that had people that were very knowledgeable and helpful if and when we would have any questions or issues, maybe we got more personal service since we would buy several new welders at a time when we bought them and maybe we were lucky to have customer service that wasn't provided to everyone. They sold both Lincoln and Miller.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2024
  30. stubbsrodandcustom
    Joined: Dec 28, 2010
    Posts: 2,287

    stubbsrodandcustom
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Spring tx

    For 15 years I ran a Hobart 180 with good success. The only thing it had issues with was big hot passes for thick stuff.

    Fast forward to today, I am not welding as much but wanted something that would do both tig and mig as the advances in these units have been great. So found a Lincoln MP180 Multi that does mig stick and tig. I am trying to dial it in but one thing I can tell is the welds are more consistent. I have tacked with great work and ran some great beads now with it.

    The trick to sheet metal is .023 or .025 wire from what I have found on most machines. If you drop down to 110v welders and smaller wire they get you alot better all around for sheet metal work for some reason. But I did 20 gauge the other day with my new machine with great results. I generally run higher wire speed to get a good pool for tack welding.

    I used to love my Miller machines but they are too proud of them these days. So I found a new in box Lincoln for 800 bucks that expands me up to being able to Tig now.
     
    ekimneirbo likes this.

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