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help me pick a welder

Posted by Paddy1337 
Paddy1337
Tim Patrick
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help me pick a welder
December 20, 2015 08:15AM
So I've been holding off on getting a welder for a few years, because I've always been surrounded by people who TIG - and since people like to say you need a TIG if you're doing lots of aluminum.

I started researching MIG welders and it sounds like they bring FAR more to the table than I need right now, and can in fact do aluminum. What's the saying? "a good MIG today is better than a great TIG tomorrow", I think that's what he said...

My situation:
I have a 240v outlet in my garage. I'm not looking for a welder to use even after I go professional and fabricate 10hrs/day 6 days/week, but I want it to have the power for the big shit I may need/want to fab on my rally car, and at least be capable (if not good) at sheet-metal as well. I want to be able to do aluminum to some degree. Lastly, I'm a welding noob. The only welding I've ever done was almost 15 years ago, and it was TIG.

I've looked at the various brands, and I honestly think Hobart is up my alley. The price point is significantly lower than the Miller units, and for the lower price I can only see that I'm losing features that don't matter to a hobbyist (lower duty cycles, smaller wire spools, etc.) that doesn't care about speed/convenience as much.

Not that I'm buying form Amazon, but here's the two I'm feeling will meet my needs-

http://www.amazon.com/Hobart-500553-Handler-210-SpoolRunner/dp/B004USV5UC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450619464&sr=8-1&keywords=hobart+210

http://www.amazon.com/Hobart-Handler-500554001-190-SpoolRunner/dp/B005CGZNMM/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1450619464&sr=8-6&keywords=hobart+210

The 210 is the more powerful machine. The 190 is less powerful, and cheaper, but if you notice the specific one I linked even comes with the gun that you need to do aluminum.

Anyway, please let me know if these look decent, if I'll be hugely disapointed, if I'm wasting money, etc. etc. etc. I have looked on craigslist, and had no luck.

Almost forgot, here is Hobart's spec's ont heir MIG welders: http://www.hobartwelders.com/products/wirefeed/
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Paul Buck
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 20, 2015 12:07PM
I am on much the same boat as you and have asked many welder friends these same questions.

According to most everyone I ask, "Hobart 190 or 210."

I'm going 190.
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 20, 2015 02:49PM
We use a Miller unit and they've been great.
The new 220 one we have has an autoset mode for wire speed that works pretty damn good if you are a less experienced welder or lazy.



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ElectroTech
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 20, 2015 10:26PM
Duty cycle is the standard of measure once you decide what capability you need. The higher the duty cycle the better the unit in general. Not that most people would ever run into issues of out welding the machine but it helps immensely in terms of longevity.



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Re: help me pick a welder
December 20, 2015 10:40PM
This is what I want, great prices out there and you can get it with a spool gun for aluminum. Lincoln 3in1



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naterkane
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 20, 2015 11:16PM
The Eastwood branded units are actually a great bang for the buck. I worked the hell out of my mig180 and it did everything I needed it to. Replaced a valve once, Eastwood sent two just in case (for free). And when someone decided to crush the whip, I had a free replacement the next morning via UPS.



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Re: help me pick a welder
December 20, 2015 11:19PM
I'd looked into an Eastwood tig welder a few months ago, just to skimp through on a couple of side projects. For what they are, I've heard decent things about them. Same goes for the small Hobart wire machines.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/20/2015 11:20PM by deaner.
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Paddy1337
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 20, 2015 11:48PM
Quote
naterkane
The Eastwood branded units are actually a great bang for the buck. I worked the hell out of my mig180 and it did everything I needed it to. Replaced a valve once, Eastwood sent two just in case (for free). And when someone decided to crush the whip, I had a free replacement the next morning via UPS.

Any back story on eastwood, like bargain brand of a big name company? I hadn't heard of them, but a Google search just made them look too inexpensive to be true. Like really really cheap.

I'm going to start reading reviews. I spent hours and could not find a single negative, or even mediocre review on the hobart I listed.
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Paddy1337
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 21, 2015 12:48AM
So apparently, it's actually the eastwood I know. Had no idea they make welders; in 2010 they designed their own, and have them made in China. I hear their customer service is amazing.

But, customer reviews are not overwhelmingly positive like hobart. And though cheap, not that much compared to hobart, I think I'm still leaning to hobart.
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Perry
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 21, 2015 11:34AM
OK, hardly anyone actually welds aluminum as much as they think they will. By the time you get a mig and spool gun, and a second gas bottle etc.. you are well into TIG welder money range. Also, the time to swap the machine back and forth will prevent it's use on Aluminum much. and a couple hundred amps on aluminum with a MIG isn't much power.

Practically speaking for your average DIY guy in his garage, a basic MIG will do nearly everything you ever need it to. a 140 amp welder is plenty, but the 230 V ones that are a little larger weld much nicer. If you need to weld 3/4 plate for your jeep buddy one day, just do a couple slow passes and it works great. on the other hand, a MIG that's too big can be difficult on thin stuff. rally cars are made pretty much entirely of thin metal in welding speak. so are lawn mowers etc. that you end up welding on around the house. get a spool of 0.030 L56 wire from home depot, and run the 25/75 CO2 argon weld mix. with that you can pretty much weld anything you'll encounter.

I hear nothing but good things about the Hobart stuff. Tractor supply runs sales often and are about the cheapest place to get them. I've used the 190 amp and loved the thing. I've been told by a Miller insider that the Hobart line is the last generation miller stuff. or at least it used to be about 10 years ago.

http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/hobart-handler-190-mig-welder-spool-gun-ready?cm_vc=-10005


IF you want a TIG, check these out:

http://www.amazon.com/AHP-AlphaTIG-200-Amp-Stick-Welder/dp/B00EL8UQH4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1450716947&sr=8-3&keywords=tig

A friend just bought one after researching it to death and likes it a lot. It has all the nicer home use features and appears to be good quality and gets good reviews. and it's a really good price.

TIG is nice because it is versatile, and it won't ruin glass in the car. Also if you are particular about appearance you will eventually learn to make stuff pretty. But, you are fully in control of the weld heat, so you want to study up on weld penetration and make some test welds here and there to ensure you get it right. with MIG you dial up the recommended recipe and if it looks ok it's usually good.

For me, I use a simple old 110 amp MIG for nearly everything because it's quick, easy, effective. For a roll cage, I plan borrow the Hobart 190 from my friend or buy myself one to finally replace the 110. I've had it for almost 20 years, it's an offbrand and has welded all sorts of things over the years... That being said I have welded roll cage sized tubing with it before and cut it open, it works fine. It just takes a bit more skill to do it right with the little guy.

I also have an old miller AC/DC TIG/Stick machine. 485 amps and 900 lbs... I only use it for aluminum, magnesium, stainless, cast iron (stick), or really pretty welds on steel. Most of the time it takes so long to setup and use that I just grab the little MIG and pull the trigger on it. I have used the TIG it a few times to stick weld aluminum castings, which is nice. A 250 amp TIG weld is not fun after a while. It's like a pickup truck in that it seems like I'm usually welding other people's stuff on that machine.

oh yeah, I was a welding equipment design engineer for a government lab for a while.. BUT, I'm no expert in using the things, just designing equipment and watching others use them to make sure it's done right.

Opinions will vary of course.

Summary- "I actually have piles of aluminum projects sitting here that need welded and no friends with TIG", or "I like welding everyone elses stuff" or "All welds must be perfect stacked nickles" = buy the cheap TIG.

"I'm definetly gonna need to weld aluminum because I have race car, I just don't know what I'll weld yet" or "I like fixing stuff in minutes instead of hours" or "I can't imagine upside down under the rally car dash with a foot pedal between my knees, two hands busy, and needing to actually see every bit of the weld to be successful" = buy the Hobart MIG and find a TIG at a buddies house.

I've got a big budget or like buying used = Buy one of each like I did...
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Robert Culbertson
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 21, 2015 03:09PM
Hobart MIGs are basically older Millers. The welding shop we use also services Millers and said the same thing. They use the same parts and consumables.

I have a Hobart 210 MVP, and I think it's a fantastic machine. It's more of a traditional old-school MIG machine, it doesn't have a spot feature and it doesn't have a hot-start feature either. Just plain old voltage and wire-speed. It's not as nice as a industrial machine that you can really dial in, but it's also 1/3 the price.

I've used an Alpha TIG a few times, and I was incredibly impressed with it. I would change out the torch to a better one (or add water cooling), and then figure out a way to swap a Miller foot control onto it (as the factory one is terrible, if you know what a better pedal is like).
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 21, 2015 09:23PM
Not sure if the service is any good but the prices seem really good!
Cyberweld



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Re: help me pick a welder
December 22, 2015 03:56PM
Welders often fall into that fun category of purchases that I hope to never really have to replace. So I often try to get one step down from the best within a still affordable range from a reputable company that hopefully won't disappear so I can repair it well into retirement age.

I WISH the 25 year old snow blower my in laws gave us was a Craftsman or John Deere or similar and not some knockoff brand. I also wish he hadn't used bolts instead of shear pins the last time they broke as now instead of a few bucks to replace sheer pins I'm looking at a new blower since the gearbox is very NLA and used ones are more than a new blower. I digress.



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Re: help me pick a welder
December 22, 2015 05:37PM
Quote
NoCoast
I WISH the 25 year old snow blower my in laws gave us was a Craftsman or John Deere or similar and not some knockoff brand. I also wish he hadn't used bolts instead of shear pins the last time they broke as now instead of a few bucks to replace sheer pins I'm looking at a new blower since the gearbox is very NLA and used ones are more than a new blower. I digress.

Ariens, Simplicity, Honda. Most all the rest are either MTD or AYP with a different paint job. You may find you can grab another blower with a blown engine and make one good from two bad ones.



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Ascona73
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Re: help me pick a welder
December 22, 2015 09:01PM
Quote
Robert Culbertson
Hobart MIGs are basically older Millers. The welding shop we use also services Millers and said the same thing. They use the same parts and consumables.

My understanding is that Hobarts are actually now manufactured by Miller. I've used a few of them and really liked their older 180 Handler on sheetmetal.

I have an older Airco MIG (made by ESAcool smiley and it's beast. Not great on thin stuff. But 60% duty cycle at 200 amps.

My current TIG is a Miller 250 DX but I started on a Miller 180 Econotig. The ECU fried on that so I traded it towards a one year old 250 DX (cost $5400 new with water tower). I got it for $2900 with my trade-in. Love it..

I used a friend's Eastwood MIG/TIG combo unit last year on both steel and aluminum and it welded fine, it just wasn't water cooled and the pedal tip-in is 'abrupt' compared to my Miller. But not a bad welder for the money.



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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/22/2015 09:02PM by Ascona73.
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