Getting first welder: Help!

Discussion in '<a href=' started by Wayne Offiler, Dec 10, 2001.

  1. Wayne Offiler

    Wayne Offiler LawnSite Member
    Messages: 113

    Want to be able to do my own repairs on outdoor power equipment, and put my inventiveness to work (you know what I mean). No welder yet, and never welded, but sure I can learn. I guess I need a welder capable of doing 1/4" mild steel. Gasless, wire-feed type looks to be simplist set-up, will it serve my basic needs? Looked through catalogs, like Northern Tool; some units are even 120V, Should I forget that? Assuming I need a 220-240 input, how much output amperage can I get by with? (I don't have big bucks to spend).
    Thanks in adance for any help.
  2. 75

    75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 992

    Wayne: good to see someone with the "welding bug"!

    If 1/4" material is as big as you'll be working with, then a 120V machine CAN work for you. Check out a couple of threads over a Plowsite (there's a link to that site at the top right of the Lawnsite page, Plowsite used to be the snowplowing forum here until it go b-i-g enough to need it's own site! :D ) one called "Got a new toy" and the other, "Home Made Bed For An S-10". The deck that Alan built for his truck was done with a unit similar to what you describe (gasless wire-feed).

    120V will be fewer $$$ than a 220/240V machine, but will be a little "underpowered" with material over 1/4".
  3. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611

    If I could make a suggestion it would be to get a machine bigger then what you think you will need. I would go with something in the range of 200amp 240volt mig machine. Yes it is more money but it will be easy to use. Weld almost anything in one pass and will allow you to do heavier work such as trailer repairs and building racks and other stuff you will soon want to.
  4. justractors

    justractors LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    Buying a welder is sorta like building a storage building.
    Figure out the size you need and then double it.
    IMHO most of the 220-240 volt wire feed welders do a poor job when trying to use flux core wire.
    If money is a problem my suggestion would be to buy two welders.
    A small gasless 110 volt wire feed for the lighter sheet metal type stuff and then a Lincoln 225 (or similar) stick welder for the heavier welding chores.
    Sounds kinda funny buying two instead of one and saving money but the two welders would cost you around $500 to 600 where a good wire feed will be much closer to the $1500 to 2000 range.
    As with most things buy the best quality you can afford and you won't be disappointed as much.
  5. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611

    For a beginer a good gas welder will be easier to use. I have a 250 amp mig that can weld about anything I throw at it. My stick machine is used mostly when I am in the field. As a bonus a mig is often easier to use in tight spots (vehicles and equipment)where a stick would be striking an arc all over the place
  6. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    Well, I guess bigger is better, but for a beginner using a wire feed I don't buy into that.

    I keep hearing about 200 amp machines and heavy plate welds. Yeah,, maybe, if you're real good. Not that it can't be done, but it takes a pretty fair level of expertise to manage it. The implication is that you're going to do heavy plate in one pass. Yeah, it's doable, but it's a lot more likely that you'll get problems with poor fusion and cold lap. The better way to run heavy plate, for most users, is to run several passes instead of trying to burn it all in at once.

    For virtually anything up to 3/16 fillet a 110 machine will do the job. I ran hundreds of pounds of flux cored wire through a Millermatic 130, a 110 machine, and, while the machine was a disappointment, the process was ideal for fabricating trailer frames and general repair out in the wind.

    One really good point about the (physically) smaller 110 machines is the ability to take them almost anywhere and run them off a generator if needed. VERY handy if you need to crutch something up so you can get it back to the shop to do a real fix.

    If I get into real heavy stuff I have the option of running the buzz box with stick electrodes. Don't have to do it often but sometimes it's nice to be able to run a heavy bead with low hydrogen properties.

    Right now I'm in love with the new Snap-On wire feed machine. It's nice being able to run a decent heat level without worrying about overheating the machine and the detachable feeder is really nice for working around equipment, you can take it right up close and then have the full reach of the conduit.
  7. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611


    Great Point about the ability to work with a 110 machine. I love mine and use it often. However I am not afraid to pull out my big Lincoln, when working with heavy truck or trailer repairs. Like you said though Mig welding still takes practice to become competent especially with heavier work. I am no where near a pro like say you or Rob. I am basically self taught but have done a lot of work.
  8. 1grnlwn

    1grnlwn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,261

    Wayne, I purchased a Hobart (made by Miller) 210 MIG it has 240 Input and uses gas. (about $1000) Its a great welder and I rarely run at full setting. But you need to decide what is best for you. See if local trade school or comm. college has intro. class. That way you learn on several different kinds of welding, learn some basic skills and can make welder decision with cofidence. Sawzall is also a tool you may want to investigate. Best cheap way to cut with good BiMetal blades.
  9. Jimbo

    Jimbo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,093

    Hello Wayne,

    I work for a large Mig-Gun manufacturer, and my recommendation for someone just starting out would be to purchase a Hobart Handler 135 (115V) machine which comes with the welding lead and gas regulator. Since the gas regulator is included you can have the option of using flux core or solid wire with shielding gas.
    Many machines capable of running both wire types do not come with the regulator.

    Outdoors you will have to switch to flux core wire because the wind will carry away your shielding gas, but indoors you will be fine.

    One other benefit is the ability to easily weld aluminum using 100% Argon gas. I have made some nice aluminum welds with these machines.

    It is amazing how simple these are to use!

    The price will be in the $450.00 - $500.00 range

    Good Luck

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