welder advice (miller)

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Having 3 phase available would open up all sorts of interesting tool options. Big old-school thickness planers for one.
$$ for welder, or $$ to finally make progress on boat project now that 80 is sorted for a bit? The age old question.
 

LINUS

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin
 
 
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Thanks for the reply. I'm definitely leaning away from harbor freight. The one ( MM175) that's about an hour from me does have a gas cylinder, cart, and a few other extras. Just from looking at photos online, I think it is the transformer generation. Case looks to be in really nice shape.
I guess that could be another excuse to head further south and visit a buddy of mine on the same trip.
If you’re not a production shop, I prefer transformers to inverters.

My 1st new Miller was a Challenger (172?) -bought in 1998 - fairly entry 220v welder & I flat loved it.
I think I only hit the duty cycle like 4 times in near 2 decades.

I sold it in ~2016 when I went 350p so I could run a push-pull for AL, but in hindsight I should have kept it for dedicated steel / SS & just got or leave the 350p set for AL (or bought the AL 350 version).

Transformers last & last, a inverter in anything of a humid climate is about a decade lifespan (so I’ve been told, IDK of any dead Millers here yet).

So I’d cherrypick a old transformer or buy a entry 220v inverter Miller.

You might check in your LWS - alot have bulletin boards with used welders of guys who upgraded. Or the counter guys can give you a point in the right direction.
 

Pin_Head

 
 
 
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The point is that you can run a CP-200 on single phase after you change the wiring and add two capacitors. You don’t need 3 phase.
 
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@Pin_Head Does the conversion happen in the welder or in my breaker box in the house? Scratch that, I just did some googling. I didn't fully grasp all that I read, but I got enough to do a preliminary parts search. it doesn't seem to be a super expensive conversion. It does however add up to another "project" just to work on projects.
Also, what is the potential resale value of a converted machine I wonder? None local right now.
 

e9999

You want to do what...?
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Curious. I wonder about this notion that the big 2 (or 3) have lifelong support. Is that really true? Sure, the support will be better than a no-name chinese brand. I can believe that for sure. But can I buy parts for a 50 years old Miller? Will I be able to in the future, and especially so if the technology is changing drastically and very fast? And if available, will they be affordable? Not to mention that would we even want to fix a completely beyond the times welder given new ones having a bunch of much more useful features? Seems rather unlikely that a big company would set themselves in the position of having to stock obsolete parts for a very long time just for marketing purposes. Think of the big car manufacturers. The impression I have is that they commit only to 10 years or so of full parts support.
 

hj 60

JT1W0HJ6000960839
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Netherlands Hengevelde
A cheap flux core welder with expensive fluxcore works fine for me, just experiment with the speed and power and use some scrap metal to test, 0.8-0.9 mm is fine to weld 1.25mm sheet metal.
My neighbor has all the machines, I can borrow them but the flux core is good enough for me.
We did use some hack to stop the hertz + and - switching to the tip: fluxcore hack bridge rectifier at DuckDuckGo

Just put this between the cables and start the art of melting metal: bridge rectifier 150 | eBay


Transforming my mig fluxcore welder from AC to DC, no more sputering
Using one 8 dollar MDS 150A 1600V Three-phase Diode Bridge Rectifier Module Board MDS150A
The clamp is plus +, the torch is minus -
Cut the fat wires from and to the transformator and slam them flat with two hammers , and insert the diode bridge, performs way better than before, no morte sputtering.








Drill two 6mm holes to attach rectifier to welder case, might need cooling but I think they can perform red hot.

 
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LINUS

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin
 
 
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Curious. I wonder about this notion that the big 2 (or 3) have lifelong support. Is that really true? Sure, the support will be better than a no-name chinese brand. I can believe that for sure. But can I buy parts for a 50 years old Miller? Will I be able to in the future, and especially so if the technology is changing drastically and very fast? And if available, will they be affordable? Not to mention that would we even want to fix a completely beyond the times welder with new ones having a bunch of much more useful features. Seems rather unlikely that a big company would set themselves in the position of having to stock obsolete parts for a very long time just for marketing purposes. Think of the big car manufacturers. The impression I have is that they commit only to 10 years or so of full parts support.
I can speak to Miller only.

-I bought a new/shipping damaged Econotig for $200 (2007-ish?- they had been out for 2+ yrs) that was literally dropped well over 30’ in the shipping carton & the baseplate was totalled, so much that the cooling fan was inoperable because the blades were bound on inner components. The flat base looked like a taco with ~2” rise on either end.

$75 for a new baseplate, a few hours of my time swapping over all the parts & pounding out the blue tin cover, I had a machine that MSRP’d for ~$1350-1500 then. Still have & use it.

-Fast forward to a few yrs back.
I wanted a Miller 350p, but my LWS shop said they were a problem child & commonly died & the control board was $250 from Miller & 15mins to swap. Some people were on 2nd & 3rd replaced boards.

Miller listened & fixed by the time I was buying mine, my serial # is out of the “problem child” range - but they fixed the issue as well as intro’d the AL-only version at the same time. Miller’s service line was the place I learned there was a revision & to get a serial # higher than _______ .

My Econotig works flawless still today (I figured with that machine a total loss, the Victor CFM regulator, torch, pedal, were $200/worst case scenario) - It’s no Dynasty, but for my home use it’s got plenty of amps & does AL too & parts were all available when I was fixing this one, and if I needed more parts/diagnostics the service techs were happy to help when I was ordering my baseplate.

So there’s 1st hand experience doing Miller & I called Miller when they had alot of 350p machines FS/refurb’d & they said themself that the revision was a couple months out, if I wanted to buy new & not have any control board issues - they aren’t out to fool anybody IME.

Maybe some others (I hear good about certain newer ESABs) - are as good as Miller, but to me they are an easy blanket answer to what will most likely have parts/consumables the longest - at one point (1990’s) Hobart and lower level Miller were the exact same consumables, maybe made in same manufacturing plant. Might still be.

Between service & parts, I just think Miller is the safest longterm bet.
But it’s also all I’ve ever tried to work on. Lincoln may be the same, IDK.
All the welders in the oil refineries were Miller. All I ever knew or saw.

The local community college has Lincolns for arc welding & they had a decent “soft start” feature for newbies, so you didn’t ground a fresh rod & make a sparkler out of one. But since we rarely smaw/stick’d SS in the field @ the acid plant (we build windbreaks & scratch-arc’d), we only had 2) 4pack Miller arc banks.

I’d bet on the Millers. Buy once, cry once. Prob will have parts for it still if you ever wear out something. Go 220v, unless all you do is autobody.

Ask your LWS if whatever you like the looks of if they had any issues, new or used machines (come armed with a serial number) - if you get some old & rude guy, all the better - they usually talk straight & if a particular machine has been a hooker to them & lots came back, they’ll say so.

If parts down the line are a concern, skip all the HF machines right now.
 

e9999

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Of course, it's all a matter of use and expectations. If one is a pro welder making money with the machine, then you can probably afford to (should?) buy a new-fangled machine every few years and long-term parts availability may be a moot point. But me, as a hobbyist, I want to keep mine for 20+ years. Heck, I just got an arcwelder that is already more than 20 years old. That one I'm pretty confident I could fix with generic parts cuz there is nothing in it but some wire and a few diodes. A machine with ICBs is a different beast altogether, I can't very well make my own ICB. So, if I'm sure that brand X will stock parts for it 20 years from now, that's a big plus for me. But if they charge double for the name, and carry parts only for 10 years anyway, vs 2 or 3 for the no-name, then it's a much less attractive proposition to buy the new expensive machine. So, is it a pretty sure thing that Miller and the like will have parts in 20 years for a machine you buy today? (Not picking up a fight with Miller etc, just curious to know...)
 

PAToyota

Keystone Cruisers
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I recently took a "beginner" welding class. The machines I got to use were both Miller, one older millermatic 175, and another similar Miller but newer (digital display, mvp plug options).
I really recommend doing this sort of thing. Way back when, I thought I was pretty good with welding using my 110V box-store MIG setup. Then I took a class and used some "big boy" Miller and Lincoln machines. You quickly realize the difference and have a much better understanding of what you're comparing. I ended up with second hand Millermatic 250X and Syncrowave 250DX machines. People are constantly telling me that they're overkill for a home shop, but for the stuff I do I never have to worry about duty cycle.
 
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These have served me well as a hack in his barn. Wish I'd spring for the bigger mig but this one forces me to use stick for the heavy stuff which is a skill I need to develop anyway.

2004559
 
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@Prairie Swamp That MM180? in your pic looks like the exact same generation as the one that is for sale near me. If I do pull the trigger on a used or new, I will be only doing wire feed for a bit until I can take another class.
@Pin_Head Yes, The Hobart 190 is a strong contender in my searching. It's really coming down to priorities at this point. There's nothing I "need" a welder for in the near term, I would be running a pretty good sized extension cord out to the yard from my dryer circuit, any welding table would have to be some sort of Frankenstein portable/foldable thing (another project), and I already have space issues around here. I'll probably cool my jets again on this for a bit. I'm going to pay more attention to the local class offerings, and keep my eyes on local classifieds so if a deal comes up I can jump on it.
Thanks to all of you for the 1st hand info and suggestions. I really appreciate it.
 

LINUS

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@MrMikeyG - IDK how big a machine you’re looking for, but I got a email from IOC :

If a Miller 141 is enough machine for you ( It takes .030 wire, same as I used in my Challenger 172 ) - It’s a 110v machine but it’s $875 & a $150 rebate thru 6/30.
Free shipping.

So a brand new, entry/110v Miller for $725 - buy a bottle & wire locally, done deal.
When you buy a bottle, your 1st fill is free - so a 8” spool of .030 & a bottle of 80/20 = prob < $125


If I thought I could manage on a 110v machine, I’d look at that deal.

At least if the cost is what’s keeping you out, this would be my pick for 110v boxes.
 

LINUS

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Here’s a MM175 I bet you could take home for $500, tank included.


I’d be more concerned with what a pic of the drive wheels / lid up —looks like than that white paint or birdcrap on the front.
It’s a semi-current Miller 220v on the cheap :meh:
 

Cruiserdrew

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Curious. I wonder about this notion that the big 2 (or 3) have lifelong support. Is that really true? Sure, the support will be better than a no-name chinese brand. I can believe that for sure. But can I buy parts for a 50 years old Miller? Will I be able to in the future, and especially so if the technology is changing drastically and very fast? And if available, will they be affordable? Not to mention that would we even want to fix a completely beyond the times welder given new ones having a bunch of much more useful features? Seems rather unlikely that a big company would set themselves in the position of having to stock obsolete parts for a very long time just for marketing purposes. Think of the big car manufacturers. The impression I have is that they commit only to 10 years or so of full parts support.
Miller uses all of the same parts on different welders. And they have used the same parts for a long time. So yes, those parts will be available forever unless Miller goes out of business, but even then, there is aftermarket support. And be realistic, even 20 more years of parts will be enough for most of us.

Another option is to buy a Tweeco mig gun and the Tweeco parts are generic and available everywhere.
 
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