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Technical Welder Recommendation

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by chris101_ny, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. chris101_ny
    Joined: Aug 3, 2011
    Posts: 98


    I am looking for recommendations as to what mig welder to buy. I am building my first hot rod and need a mig for boxing the frame, sheet metal, and whatever other brackets I'll need to make. If I can get a welder that will be strong enough for motor/tranny mounts, etc, that would be great, but I have access to a professional welder I can use for bigger stuff if need be. I need to be able to plug it into the wall bc I do not have a 220v set up. I know I can spend a fortune on an awesome Miller or something, but I'm trying to keep it as inexpensive as possible and still work. This is definitely a build on a budget.!

    Thank you gentleman!
  2. chris101_ny
    Joined: Aug 3, 2011
    Posts: 98


    I am considering the Hobart 140 Mig and Forney 309 140-Amp Mig
  3. Bmac40Ply
    Joined: Nov 28, 2011
    Posts: 47


    I have the Hobart 140 and I am very happy with it.
  4. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 2,179

    from kansas

    Buy used to save money, buy dual voltage that way IF you get access to 220 you can use it.

    Buy as big as you can afford as you will find out as time goes on its never quit big enough.

    I bought a used Lincoln 175sp dual voltage and love it. It's been 8 yrs and still works great. I prefer Lincoln myself.

  5. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 3,119


    There are certain tools that one buys and they can provide service for a lifetime. As such, its worth spending a little more money and getting something reliable and easy to use. What you will find when you purchase something like a Hobart is that its basically a decent welder with a good name........but the difference in cost is reflected in things you don't notice at first, but later wish you had. Things like lighter duty smaller clamps and cables and maybe a little shorter cables. Other things like digital dials don't seem important, so you may be limited to a "step" type of range adjustment instead of an infinite adjustment. Trust me that infinite adjustment becomes valuable on thin stuff. The rollers that guide your wire may not be as robust and may wear out sooner. Lots of little things make the difference in cost.
    Then there are the myriad number of asian brands. Lots of really good prices and often lots of features. The problems with them are that there is no one to fix them locally.....or at all. Everlast has made a pretty good name, but they import in California and if you have a problem, you have to ship it to California. Lots of things look good but later you regret it. Years ago a friend of mine bought a "Clarke" welder and had it shipped. Real disappointment. Everything about the machine was undersize, but you couldn't tell it in the picture. He shipped it back and bought a Hobart because it was a little cheaper. Thats when he found out about the "step" settings instead of infinite adjustability. Its impossible to know all the features available on so many different welders. I have a Miller and my son has one too. I like Lincolns and had them for many years, but found that I just liked the Millers better. Also they are blue and I'm a Kentucky fan. Anyway, I decided to buy a second mig to use for thin sheetmetal and .023 wire because I'm too lazy to change the rollers,liner,tip, and wire back and forth from .030/.035 wire. Found a great deal on an Esab that someone used once and returned. Well,Esab is a good name. After 5 minutes it quit. Called tech and have to admit they were very helpful. Tried the suggested tests and nothing worked. They sent me a brand new replacement and so far it has worked fine. I like the way it welds thin stuff. I also have to say that the small gun and hose are easier to manuever on the thin weld stuff. I have to wonder how they would do with heavier long welds though. So for what I want it to do, it is fine. I still have my Miller for the bigger stuff.

    So where is all this leading to? When my son got his first welder he was stationed 1800 miles away. He got a Miller 212 which rolls around and has a bottle on a cart. This is one thing many people don't think about, but its important. When you get the small ones with no cart, you have to buy some kind of cart to sit them on......and the bottle. Carts cost money, so put that money in a welder that comes with a cart. Check with the local gas refillers and ask them what kind of "proof" of ownership is needed for used tanks. I'll address that later. Back to buying a welder.

    Miller makes a 212 that is a nice size machine. New welders often have trouble deciding on what setting to use. The 212 has settings where instead of picking a wire speed and an amp range that are just set the dials to the wire size, and thickness of the metal you are welding and start striking an arc. Its that simple. It also allows you to pick your own speed/amps like a normal machine, so you have the best of both worlds. It will get you up and welding in no time. They aren't cheap, but they are reliable and maintain their worth for a long time. 10 years after you buy a Miller, it will still retain 75% of its value if you keep it clean. My son paid less than $2k for his about 8 years ago. They have gone up in price since then, but include a digital helmet now.
    This is who I order from and they ship to your door. Never had a problem. So if you look at this logically, my son could probably sell his welder for as much as he paid for it. Thats what I mean about the value of buying a great welder. He absolutely loves his welder. Buy a cheap one and whats it worth 10 years later?

    Back to welding bottles. New bottles aren't cheap. For some reason there seems to be different laws in different states. In Ky they swear that Federal law prohibits them from filling bottles OWNED by another gas company. The bottles have the company name cast into the tank. IF you find a bottle that DOES NOT have a company name cast into it, you can get it refilled most places. The problem with cast names is that companies sell out to other companies who have a different name and you may not know who is the correct company to refill your tank. IF YOU BUY A TANK FROM AN INDIVIDUAL or an AUCTION, YOU CAN"T USE THAT "Bill of Sale" as proof of ownership. You have to have a Bill of Sale from the company whose name is cast on the tank.
    Now for the most part the above applies to the larger tanks. Smaller tanks are almost always owned by individuals and as such you can usually get them refilled. Big tanks are more economical in the long run. You need to ask your local gas supplier what they accept before you buy a used tank.
    Next, a used tank will almost always be "out of certification". You can usually use that fact to negotiate a much lower price for a used tank. Check first to make sure your local gas supplier can/will recertify a tank and how much they charge. I have had a bunch of used tanks recertified and I think the cost is usually about $30 or so. They also refill the tank so what I pay has that added in, and I don't remember the exact cost....but it isn't bad. I clean and paint my tanks and put my name on them. Makes it easy to pick them out of a large group when I return to pick them up. Also, although the outside of tanks may look rough, they almost never go bad.

    Tank Sizes.jpg

    OK, now maybe I have wasted a whole lot of my Saturday morning, but if I didn't feel what I wrote was worth the time it took....I wouldn't have done it. Pay the money and get a Miller 212 and skimp on the bottle. You will be very happy with it......just like my son is.

    Edit: I just can't say this too strongly......don't skimp on your Mig welder as it will be one of the most important tools you own in your lifetime.....and you want it to last and be able to do all the things you build in that lifetime.;)
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
    jvo, alanp561, VANDENPLAS and 5 others like this.
  6. leon bee
    Joined: Mar 15, 2017
    Posts: 664

    leon bee

    Also it sometimes ain't that hard to get a 220 receptacle somewhere close. Depends on where the breaker box or the service entrance or the dryer receptacle, etc., etc. are.
    saltflats and Texas Webb like this.
  7. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 5,417

    Deuce Daddy Don

    Excellent response!-----I have been welding both gas & electric since 1951 when in the USN. All of your input is great & informative. I retired from my union as a steamfitter/welder in 1984, purchased a trailer mfg. business, then retired again in 2003. At age 87 I gave all my welding equipt. to my son who is now using it as I did back then.
    You might have also recommended using Victor cutting products, can't beat them.-----Don
  8. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 12,181

    jimmy six

    I have a Hobart. Bought with a cart from Northern. It has steps and I would prefer dial adjustability but have learned to live with. It is 220 and that is a must to me. At one time Lincoln made a 125/135 110vac unit which I heard was very good. It has built one circle track car and now is used to repair a better one.

    Duty cycle is important and what I’ve found most are 20%. That’s 20 minutes in every 100 minutes. These machines are not full of copper windinga like 40 years ago and can burn up. I stage my work. Good luck.
    ekimneirbo likes this.
  9. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 3,505

    rusty valley

    you gotta have gas, and you gotta have 220. forget the toy welders. i like the old stuff. miller 35, miller 200. built like a tank, mostly made from standard electrical components you can buy without having to buy from miller
    nochop, alanp561, VANDENPLAS and 2 others like this.
  10. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 3,119


    Those are both excellent points and things I missed pointing out. Definitely no flux core crap machine and 220 volts. Anything else and you will regret it.
  11. Aaron D.
    Joined: Oct 27, 2015
    Posts: 1,028

    Aaron D.

    I was in the same position as you, first hot rod build and first welder. I bought a used Lincoln 140 c 120V mig. It did everything I needed to do on my build. Like you, I had access to a professional welder for the critical really thick stuff.
    chevy3755 likes this.
  12. Mr cheater
    Joined: Aug 18, 2010
    Posts: 579

    Mr cheater

    Randall likes this.
  13. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 31,843


    Some good advice that Ekimneirbo gae in post 5.

    Miller, Lincoln or Hobart are the ones that you don't get laughed out of welding equipment repair shops if you need work done on them. The local shops won't even look at one of the mail order migs that guys get off the net. Word around here used to be that a Hobart was last years Lincoln painted tan.

    Hobart 140 is probably as good a 110 volt unit as you can find. One thing there is that 110 units don't like extension cords unless they are serous heavy duty extension cords and they don't like light weight house wiring. My buddy welded for years with a Miller Side kick 110 unit and if you could find one of those in good shape that might be worth picking up. I don't know about repairs now as there may be no internal parts for them anymore but he did a lot of subframe swaps with the one he had.

    For several years I hooked my 220 Forney stick welder to the stove plug in the kitchen with a 40 ft SO cord that was designed for 440 volts and lots of amps. The SO cord is still hooked up to the 220 plug my brother put in my garage so I can use the mig out at the front of the trailer I am welding on today. I picked up a very slightly used Lincoln 175 from a guy who upgraded to a bigger unit not long after he bought it a few years ago and it is a great little machine but is 220. It came used but my son thought it was brand new when he first saw it.
  14. pkhammer
    Joined: Jan 28, 2012
    Posts: 733


    I have a Hobart 190 which is a 220V welder. I have it set up on hard wire and gas and have no complaints. It does great on anything from body sheetmetal to frame boxing plates to motor mounts. I wouldn't want any less of machine that this. Highly recommend!
    alanp561 likes this.
  15. Fat47
    Joined: Nov 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,341


    I bought a Miller 211 about 8 years ago to replace my Lincoln 110. Couldn't be happier. Used a lot and, even for the novice, the auto set makes welding easy.
    Randall likes this.
  16. jaracer
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,746


    I bought a used Miller 200 about 10 years ago and have been very happy with it. I've welded everything from frame rails to sheet metal, it gets the job done. I did take a night class at the local CC because I had never used a MIG machine. When I had welding in tech school it was all stick and gas. The night class really helped.
  17. One thing I rarely see mentioned is adjustment on wire speed and heat. Most only have 'steps' on heat with infinite adjustment for speed. I've got a Century unit I bought probably 20 years ago that has infinite on both and I wouldn't settle for anything less after using it....
    49ratfink likes this.
  18. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 3,825


    How about an old stick welder? These are giveaway items these days and they do good welds on thicker material.

    Sent from my SM-T350 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  19. saltflats
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 11,482

    from Missouri

    I have been using a friends Millermatic 130 at his home shop running 110. This machine has surprised me for it's size and performance. We know it has it's limits and for that we pack the parts to a larger welder. Chassis bracket's, to body sheet metal it has been up to the task and we are still tasking it. I think he got it at a garage sale.
  20. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 2,576

    David Gersic
    from DeKalb, IL

    I have a Hobart 140 and am happy with it. If I outgrow it, I’ll buy something bigger. This is an intentional choice on my part. I’m nowhere near good enough at welding to have any business working on anything g that would need 220V.

    If you’re looking at Hobart, hit their web site and look at the factory refurb page. You get essentially new gear, and factory warranty, at a good discount.

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    59Apachegail likes this.
  21. The Hobart welds very well
    You are stretching it to do chassis work.
    My 175 Hobart can do 3/16 and 1/4
    I plan on looking for a 220-250 mig soon
    It’s worth every thing you can do to get some 220 in your shop.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
    ekimneirbo likes this.
  22. 59Apachegail
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,472

    from New York

    IMHO you can not beat a refurbished Hobart welder. I just picked one up for less than what they were advertised used on Craigslist and you get a great warranty.

    I have been burning blue demon flux-core and I liked it better than the one that came with the machine. Flux-core makes smoke and slag but it does the job. After you wire brush you have nice welds (provided your settings and technique are correct)
    alanp561 and David Gersic like this.
  23. WB69
    Joined: Dec 7, 2008
    Posts: 1,876


    I've used a Hobart 220v 185 forever it seems. Have had or used both Lincolns and Millers when I welded in a factory setting. Like the Hobart and Miller over the Lincoln. But, really nothing wrong with the Lincoln. Just preference I guess. Hell, my Hobart gun says Miller right on it.
  24. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 3,119


    A company called Illinois Tool Works owns both Miller and Hobart brands. While they do not manufacture them at the same facility (last time I checked), it is well known that there is some interchangability between brands.....usually putting a Miller part on a Hobart. Most of the people who use Hobarts seem to have small units (often 110 volt) and seem to admit that they normally get someone with a bigger machine to weld heavier things. The main thing...which I mentioned before is that lesser parts are used to make less expensive welders. If they were the same, no one would buy the more expensive brand. When you are trying to weld thin stuff, you want adjustable (infinite) control of your heat. Thats important. Its also important that your welder has a sufficient range of amps to weld thicker stuff. Nobody with a 220 welder ever wants to go back to 110 volts. They may do so because they are too cheap to install a 220 plug.......but not because they like having a 110 better than a 220. Like the old saying goes "Hindsight is always 220":D

    Miller makes a 211 thats much smaller, has no cart to hold the machine or the bottle. The 212 has virtually everything a Hamb guy will need" Bite the bullet one time and reap the benefits forever........The thing is that people ALWAYS have to convince themselves to spend money for a better choice. When you buy a welder you should buy it with the idea that when you go back to your shop to work on something, the welder you purchased is going to do the job for you. You don't want to have to call some buddy and impose on him. You don't want to have to wait until he may be available. You don't want to haul your parts to his house where you can't hold them in reference to the assembly they fit on. You don't want to haul your buddies welding equipment to your shop because the part you want to weld can't be moved. Only thing I can tell you is that if you buy one, you will never regret it, and you will never be saying......I wish I had ??????

    Here is a good video. Notice the difference in the heavy duty construction of the gun and the cable. Thats what you need when welding a frame or some thick part.....and you will some time or another. Also notice what he said about problems with the offbrand "Eastwood". Notice near the end that the Lincoln has a fan that runs 100% of the time while the Miller fan never kicks on. The Esab I bought for welding thin stuff does the same thing. That should tell you that cooling is marginal and at the very least you probably will need to replace the fan someday. If you don't notice that the fan stopped working, you will also replace something more expensive. Thats what I'm trying to explain, if you buy a better more durable machine you will save in the long run. Notice how he kinda says that the Lincoln (because of its lighter duty not because its a Lincoln)just kinda "got by" on some thicker stuff. Your amatuer welds will not look as good as his professional welds when the machine is struggling. I know there are a million guys out there who got some thick metal pieces to stick to each other with a cheap welder. Yep, it can be done. But its a whole lot more fun to watch your cheapskate buddies oooh and aah than snicker at your welds.


    Hobart Ironman 230
    about $1700
  25. I have a 220v powercon mig /tug unit with aluminum spool WAYYYYY more welder then I need at work or home, bought it used for 400 bucks!!

    I have an antique Lincoln 600v 3phase ac dc arc welder works amazing !! Bought used for next to nothing with 100’ leads

    When we moved to the new shop we bought a miller knock off welder at a trade show, it’s green called northern welder or something like that.
    It’s a 220v welder that will work on 110v
    Perfect to load in the van and bring to customers sites.
    Welds good on 110 welds amazing on 220 !

    Guess what welder gets used the most ?!?
    The little guy as it easy to roll around and set up.

    I still have a Miller cricket 110 welder it’s perfect for sheet metal and can do up to 1/4” but she works real hard on the thicker stuff.

    I’m rambling here, my point is get a dual voltage unit soo much more versitile for the non pro no daily use welder.
    rusty valley and ekimneirbo like this.
  26. saltflats
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 11,482

    from Missouri

    Man if he doesn't like the noise the fan makes on that Lincoln, he dang sure won't like the fan on my Idealarc 300/300 Tig.
  27. chris101_ny
    Joined: Aug 3, 2011
    Posts: 98


    Thank you very much!! You guys put so much effort into letting me know what I need to!! My research has now just taken a whole new direction!!
    TrailerTrashToo likes this.
  28. mustangmike6996
    Joined: Apr 7, 2013
    Posts: 147

    from the D

    I've had the Lincoln 140 which I traded to someone for some work. I now have a Lincoln 180 ProMIG with the aluminum spool gun. This thing is a beast. I bought if tor about $500 used in 2014. It has handled everything I can throw at it. I've done a full build on my 1951 F1, small stuff around the shop and reconditioned my triple axle boat trailer.

    The 140 was very nice to use because it was a 110v but it was pretty light duty.
  29. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 2,925

    from norcal

  30. leon bee
    Joined: Mar 15, 2017
    Posts: 664

    leon bee

    Mustangmike brings up a good point for others who might read this. The spool gun for aluminum. We have a nice little 220v Miller which has worked well for years. A couple years ago when I decided to gear up for aluminum, just couldn't work it out- some necessary parts were no longer available. Had to buy another welder. Being able to weld AL is damn handy.

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