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  1. #1
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    Default Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    I am getting a bonus this year, about $1000, so that is about my budget. I have an O/A setup I have been using for the last 30 years, self taught, I get the job done but it is not pretty. I tried stick welding about 35 years ago with an old gas powered Lincoln, mid-60's vintage, and didn't have much luck with it. Most of what I will be doing with it is body/exhaust work with an occasional repair to some of my tractor implements, which are generally about 1/4" thick steel or less. If I get good at it, there maybe some .030 steel tubing for art work down the road. Most of what I will be doing is steel, but I think I might want the option to do aluminum, if it doesn't break the bank to get there. I don't see any stainless steel work in my future. I like the way a good TIG weld looks, so that is the direction I am leaning. I understand it will take me more work with TIG than MIG to learn to make a good weld and from quick looking around.. the TIG machine will also cost more. I have a shot at a Miller Syncrowave 300 with all accessories, no bottle, for $800.00, but I only have 60 amp service to my shop and no plans, $$$, to upgrade in near future. I am leaning towards a new inverter machine but I am thinking there are some good used 'old school' machines that would suit my needs for less money, I just need to be educated about them. This will strictly be for personal, occasional, 1-2 times per month use, I am open to new or used, what would you recommend and why. I am also going to need a gas bottle, face shield and most all the accessories that go with arc welding as well, so I need to keep them in mind when spending $$$. I am trying to find a local place to get some arc weld training, but not having much luck. The nearest good welding supply place is about 45 miles from me. I might try what I saw somebody else do, post an add on Craigslist for instruction wanted. Guess I need to decide on MIG or TIG before I get too deep in training. From what I remember reading, with MIG you need different gases for alum and steel, is that true for TIG as well?

    TIA
    Jim

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    Many on here will be Stick Welding advocates and that's an inexpensive way to weld. For a Grand, You would be looking at a small mig unit with spoolgun for aluminum. The problem with a spoolgun is welding thin aluminum. If you opt for a transformer tig unit you could use the Sync.300 and just not turn it up over 200 amps. Problem with that is you are back to old tig technology with balling the pure tungsten and a large heat affected area. You have a tough research project to find steel and aluminum capabillity for 1K. Good Luck .

  3. #3
    Advertiser Mark @ Everlast's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    I think it really depends upon the amount of aluminum welding you plan to do. Yes, TIG uses one gas. MIG two, but it really is going to depend upon how much you plan to weld with steel vs. aluminum. TIG is a slower process. MIG is much faster. For MIG, a small bottle of argon is likely all you will need to keep around, and an 80 cuft. bottle is all you need for that. The rest will likely be steel, unless you plan on fabricating a bunch of specialty equipment. For steel I suggest a minimum of a 125, if not larger. TIG is great, but it's a process that many seasoned stick and mig welders fear...and not everyone can do it, and do it well.
    Mark Lugo
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  4. #4
    Super Star Member IslandTractor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    Quote Originally Posted by IXLR8 View Post
    I am getting a bonus this year, about $1000, so that is about my budget. I have an O/A setup I have been using for the last 30 years, self taught, I get the job done but it is not pretty. I tried stick welding about 35 years ago with an old gas powered Lincoln, mid-60's vintage, and didn't have much luck with it. Most of what I will be doing with it is body/exhaust work with an occasional repair to some of my tractor implements, which are generally about 1/4" thick steel or less. If I get good at it, there maybe some .030 steel tubing for art work down the road. Most of what I will be doing is steel, but I think I might want the option to do aluminum, if it doesn't break the bank to get there. I don't see any stainless steel work in my future. I like the way a good TIG weld looks, so that is the direction I am leaning. I understand it will take me more work with TIG than MIG to learn to make a good weld and from quick looking around.. the TIG machine will also cost more. I have a shot at a Miller Syncrowave 300 with all accessories, no bottle, for $800.00, but I only have 60 amp service to my shop and no plans, $$$, to upgrade in near future. I am leaning towards a new inverter machine but I am thinking there are some good used 'old school' machines that would suit my needs for less money, I just need to be educated about them. This will strictly be for personal, occasional, 1-2 times per month use, I am open to new or used, what would you recommend and why. I am also going to need a gas bottle, face shield and most all the accessories that go with arc welding as well, so I need to keep them in mind when spending $$$. I am trying to find a local place to get some arc weld training, but not having much luck. The nearest good welding supply place is about 45 miles from me. I might try what I saw somebody else do, post an add on Craigslist for instruction wanted. Guess I need to decide on MIG or TIG before I get too deep in training. From what I remember reading, with MIG you need different gases for alum and steel, is that true for TIG as well?

    TIA
    Hi Jim, long time no see.

    I went through this exact process a few years ago. I can tell you what I ended up with. First, I got an oxyfuel set up. Easy and useful in many ways as you know. I then got an inverter based MIG (Miller Passport). That is probably more machine than I need in terms of toughness etc but it is portable and seemed a good idea at the time as I got it used. I do use it and it is an excellent 110/220 MIG that handles 1/4" easily on 220 and barely on 110. I next talked myself into a Miller Maxstar 150STH, again used, because I had enjoyed TIG in a welding class and that seemed the cheapest non HF entry point. The little Maxstar is also an excellent very portable 110/220 stick machine that tends to be the first thing I reach for when doing field repairs. Sadly I never have used the TIG function but it has a reputation as a very good basic DC TIG unit too (steel only). The STL is the same machine but with lift start only while the STH has HF too. If you want to do aluminum with TIG, prepare yourself for sticker shock. AC TIG machines (from Lincoln or Miller) with even limited capability (less than 1/4" Al) will cost about $2000 ready to weld.

    If I were buying something new today I would take a serious look at the new Miller portable multiprocess machine, the Multimatic 200. It is a bit pricier than you are considering but it does have MIG, TIG (DC) and stick. It is essentially the combination of my Passport and my Maxstar STH in a single package that weighs considerably less than the Passport alone. It is also 110/220 so would be very handy. Not designed for heavy duty fabrication but it should be a brilliant one stop shopping solution for general tractor repairs etc. Again, it is pricey at about $1700+ but try to come up with a solid 110/220 MIG, TIG and stick for that budget and it puts things in perspective.

  5. #5
    Super Star Member IslandTractor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    Just a comment on TIG v MIG: as you already are familiar with oxyacetylene, I would guess that the TIG learning curve would be easier than the MIG learning curve. MIG has a reputation of being easy but that reputation is based on pulling a trigger and seeing metal deposited. Making a good weld with MIG takes some time to learn. TIG may look harder because of the need to introduce filler independently from the torch but you are already familiar with that sort of welding as it is virtually identical to oxyacetylene hand/eye coordination. Much better control over the weld with TIG than MIG too (at least for less experienced weldors IMO).

    Also, think hard about whether you want or need aluminum welding capability. To weld Al properly takes a lot of heat/power and ends up being pretty expensive. Cheap spool guns added to a $1000 MIG machine are not going to allow you to weld 1/4" aluminum if I recall correctly. To do serious aluminum welding means investing a few thousand bucks if you stick with the US manufacturers machines. Everlast and Longevity can get you into Al for maybe half.

  6. #6
    Veteran Member deereman75's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    I think that if your good at gas welding, tig would be the way to go. I haven't done tig, but I hear it is a lot like gas, and I am fairly good at that. If I was buying a tig, I would look for an old idealarc tig, or Miller 330, dialarc hf, or syncrowave. There are also some nice old hobart units out there. Never ran a hobart tig, but I have used a nice old 300 amp hobart stick, and it was great. If your going to buy new, then I would take a good look at longevity, they have some new tigs that look real good. But really for ac/dc tig, I really do think your best bang for your buck is an old miller, Lincoln, hobart, or possibly an old linde heliarc (also sold as union carbide) I have heard some of the old airco machines are orange painted millers, so that is another option.
    Never carry gasoline in your car trunk. If you do, atleast use some sort of container.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    For MIG, a small bottle of argon is likely all you will need to keep around,
    TIG=straight argon, MIG=argon/mix usually C02.
    IMHO I'd go with a multi-process machine, adding AC TIG with HF is going to add a fair amount of dollars to the price so unless you're really stuck on it I'd do without.
    A few months ago I bought a TA 181i, Thermal Arc it's stick, MIG and DC lift TIG, good working machine fro under $1K. An aluminum gun is available as well, not a real heavy duty gun by any stretch but for a home user it works great...Mike

  8. #8
    Super Star Member k0ua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    if you are interested in just doing steel TIG welding and have a cheap DC Stick welder you are half way there to a Scratch start TIG machine. That is what I am doing for small thin steel on my Everlast PA160.. Or you can buy the newer PA160sth with hf start and provision for a foot pedal.. i think they are 469 list. See Mark at Everlast, I think he gives a discount for TNB members. I comes with everything but the argon bottle. I am able to weld about anything I have needed to so far with the stick side for heavy steel and the TIG for light work. Your needs may vary, but works for me. As others have said if you can gas weld, I know you can TIG weld.

    James K0UA
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  9. #9
    Elite Member Shield Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    Quote Originally Posted by IXLR8 View Post
    I am getting a bonus this year, about $1000, so that is about my budget. I have an O/A setup I have been using for the last 30 years, self taught, I get the job done but it is not pretty. I tried stick welding about 35 years ago with an old gas powered Lincoln, mid-60's vintage, and didn't have much luck with it. Most of what I will be doing with it is body/exhaust work with an occasional repair to some of my tractor implements, which are generally about 1/4" thick steel or less. If I get good at it, there maybe some .030 steel tubing for art work down the road. Most of what I will be doing is steel, but I think I might want the option to do aluminum, if it doesn't break the bank to get there. I don't see any stainless steel work in my future. I like the way a good TIG weld looks, so that is the direction I am leaning. I understand it will take me more work with TIG than MIG to learn to make a good weld and from quick looking around.. the TIG machine will also cost more. I have a shot at a Miller Syncrowave 300 with all accessories, no bottle, for $800.00, but I only have 60 amp service to my shop and no plans, $$$, to upgrade in near future. I am leaning towards a new inverter machine but I am thinking there are some good used 'old school' machines that would suit my needs for less money, I just need to be educated about them. This will strictly be for personal, occasional, 1-2 times per month use, I am open to new or used, what would you recommend and why. I am also going to need a gas bottle, face shield and most all the accessories that go with arc welding as well, so I need to keep them in mind when spending $$$. I am trying to find a local place to get some arc weld training, but not having much luck. The nearest good welding supply place is about 45 miles from me. I might try what I saw somebody else do, post an add on Craigslist for instruction wanted. Guess I need to decide on MIG or TIG before I get too deep in training. From what I remember reading, with MIG you need different gases for alum and steel, is that true for TIG as well?

    TIA
    Boy I just don't see how you can get there from here. Too many limitations. Your budget, and your power.
    Aluminum Tig welding is the most expensive of all the processes.


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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Another looking for a welder guidance thread

    your location says midcoast maine, which is also where i fall. problem is, midcoast covers some decent area. i'm about half way between rockland and augusta, so i'm on the border of central and midcoast, but i have the same problem with a good distance to a welding shop. advantage gases / valley and maineoxy have the most loctions, but there is also lynox (outskirts of bangor) and there are some independent shops too - regulator service (augusta).

    in looking for instruction, mcst in rockland usually has classes for stick, mig, and tig welding in the evenings. they aren't cheap - probably $200-$300 for a 10~ish week class. if they aren't close then there may be another school that offers them too.

    i agree that tig is a great process, though it's the one i use the least, and ultimately the one that i am the least proficient in, since i get so little practice with it. my favorite thing about it is that i have much more control over how much filler metal i add, particularly compared to using wire feed. though i must say that it is my belief that limiting that to your primary / only welding choice for exhaust or body work is not the right choice. unless you are doing restorations on $100k vehicles, i think that using tig for body work and exhaust work is like putting lipstick on a pig. sure, it will work fine, and you will get good results, but it's a lot more tedious process for something that will be hidden under the vehicle, or sanded and covered with filler and paint.

    as others have said, the $1k mark is going to be a hard one to hit - even worse where you live. there aren't a lot of pieces of machinery sold used in this state, and many of the ones that are listed are pretty old and used up. my guess is that you will have more luck going to a new import to meet your wants before finding a used domestic unit in your price range. i paid either $800 or $900 (can't remember anymore) used for my miller econotig setup which will do stick and tig on all metals, though it is a very rudimentary machine with virtually no fine tuning control, but the thing that many forget when debating machines is that even a low end machine in your shop is better than not having one at all.

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