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  1. #1
    Silver Member RHughes's Avatar
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    Default Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    OK,
    My MIL gave me a cash gift for my birthday and it's about to burn a hole in my pocket.
    I'm considering buying one of those Chicago Electric (or what ever they are called) 115V flux core wire welders from Harbor Freight. I already have a Lincoln stick welder for big stuff and was thinking of buying one of those small welders for using on thin metal and light work.

    Anyone have experience and opinions one those things? I'd like to know if they are a completewaste of money or just a mild waste of money as compared to a Lincoln of Miller.

    Thanks!!!
    Ralph Hughes
    Prattville, AL

  2. #2
    Elite Member schmism's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    if your set on getting one save just a few more pennies and get a decent hobart handler 135 or simular.

    a FAR FAR superior unit for small welding jobs.
    Steve - TC33D 4x4 FEL, dual rear remotes with toys

  3. #3
    Banned HomeBrew2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    I have actual experience with the 90A model that you can usually find for $120. I had a 20% off coupon too so I got the 2 year ex warranty.

    I've had it for about 6 months and have only used the .035 wire.
    Overall it works good.
    Only 2 probs:
    1. I couldn't see the puddle, on the low power setting, till I got the HF AD helmet that goes down to shade 9.
    2. The roll of wire that came with it was very greasy and I didn't know any better. This just about killed the usefulness of the unit as it wouldn't keep a steady fire. Before returning it in disgust, I put a new roll of HF wire in it and checked that it was not greasy, cleaned the feed rollers etc, and tied two pieces of very thick string on the wire where it starts into the rollers so as to wipe the wire. Absolutely no prob since then.

    I have used an AC buzz box for the last 30 years and this is my first experience with a hot glue gun. It does all I need it to and has already paid for itself. Some day if I really have nothing else to do, I may get a "good" mig/wire welder.

    Cheers!

  4. #4
    Epic Contributor Soundguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    I'm not sure what the price is.. however.. last time I checked, walmart sells a 120v campbell hausfeld flux wire welder as well. I have their 120v stick welder, and that was my only welder for about 3-4 years.. I've burned many pounds of 1/16 and 5/64 rod with it.. even sheetmetal work too. They are cheap units.. but they work. I'd ahve to think the wallmart / CH warranty issue would have to be as good or better than HF.. (unless you get one of those 6/11$ 1 yr replacement policies.. IMHO.. etc.)

    While CH isn't an awesome brand name.. it may be better than CE ...

    Soundguy

    Quote Originally Posted by RHughes
    OK,
    My MIL gave me a cash gift for my birthday and it's about to burn a hole in my pocket.
    I'm considering buying one of those Chicago Electric (or what ever they are called) 115V flux core wire welders from Harbor Freight. I already have a Lincoln stick welder for big stuff and was thinking of buying one of those small welders for using on thin metal and light work.

    Anyone have experience and opinions one those things? I'd like to know if they are a completewaste of money or just a mild waste of money as compared to a Lincoln of Miller.

    Thanks!!!

  5. #5
    Silver Member RHughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    Thanks, Soundguy!
    I hadn't thought of WalMart. I don't recall seeing anything like that at our local store, but then I never actuallly *looked* for it either
    I priced Lincoln and Miller equipment from Lowe's and Northern Tool but decided I'd never get my money's worth out of them considering I don't do much "light" welding.
    Ralph Hughes
    Prattville, AL

  6. #6
    Elite Member
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    Default Re: Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    Ralph, I would save more money and get a Hobart handler 140 at TSC
    Much better etc. see link
    Hobart Handler® 140 MIG Welder
    Jim
    Last edited by MrJimi; 09-19-2006 at 06:32 PM. Reason: Added link to item
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  7. #7
    Gold Member OKnewguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    I agree 100 % with your reasoning to get a small mig. I have done the same myself. I got into welding about 8 years ago with a good ol lincoln buzz box. That thing is great, I had also used a friends Miller mig and liked the ability to work on thin sheet metal, so I pulled the trigger on HF's 151? mig welder. I will admit that my experience with other brands is VERY limited, but it has worked flawlessly for over 3 rolls now. This unit was something like $160 or so, is 220 and is plenty powerfull, it augments the lincoln well.
    Good luck, Dave

  8. #8
    Silver Member
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    Default Re: Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    eBay Store - Welding Supplies from IOC: EVERYTHING FOR WELDING, Tig Stick Welders, Mig Welders Spool Guns Feeder
    Check out this ebay store. I bought a small lincoln mig from them. Works real well for the price. You might consider something that you can use shielding gas with also.

  9. #9
    Bronze Member
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    Default Re: Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    I've used a cheap mig and a Miller. Guess which one I own now! Over the 20 to 30 years you will have it what is really the extra cost. Also, I have a Lincoln AC/DC stick and I go to the 220 miller almost every time unless it is over 1/4" and even then I think about it. My 175 Amp Miller will weld 1/4" great and is it ever easy to use. Hobart has newer one that I think is 180 Amps and a good choice as well. If you can, I would go 220, if you can only do 110 go Miller, Hobart, or Lincoln. All much better then HF. HF has thier place but not in welding. Look at the total cost of ownership, do you really think the HF will last 20 years, I am pretty sure the Miller will, as well as a Hobart or Lincoln.

    As a side note, I have also used the HF auto dark and a Miller Auto dark, Got flashed a couple of times by the HF. I put the HF helmet away as well, my eyesight is worth $90 extra. To date it is about $20 a year, falling in cost every year I use it.

  10. #10
    Elite Member RonMar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harbor Freight Flux Core welders

    There is a lot to be said for starting with a quality tool. I don't know what your welding experience is but your weld quality will be much better much quicker if you don't have to work a bunch of bugs out of the machine at first. Like Homebrew2 mentioned, he was pretty discusted with his till he got the bugs worked out. You might also consider that you don't forsee much use for it, but once you have it, you might find yourself welding things all the time. I have a Lincoln weld pac 100 welder I bought from Cosco about 11 years ago. That same basic model is still available from Home Depot and Lowes for around $350. They last a good long time and mine has given me excellent service and I have built many projects with it. They use a gun that is compatible with Tweeco components that are available at just about any weldshop that sells MIG welder parts although the only part I have had to replace on my gun are the tips and the shield cup. I weld mostly fluxcore but prefer the gas shield cup for positioning the wire using the cup rideing on/along the metal I am welding. You also need to beware that the tip on some of the less expensive welders is hot all the time. This can be anoying as you get the wire into position to begin a weld and accidently bring it into contact with the metal and start arcing before you get your shield down. You also have to be a little more carefull where you set the gun down. With a welder that has a cold tip untill you pull the trigger, you can stick the wire exactly where you want it and close your shield and start the weld exactly where you want to.
    Ron

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