Welding...What is the best "STARTER KIT"

Discussion in 'Tools and Fabrication' started by thedoughboy, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    595
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    US
    Kj, I am no expert welder for sure and weld little, basically for fun. I have played with big TIGs, some MIGs, stick a long time ago, but I have only a 120V machine at home, the HH140. It is more than powerful enough for body work and light structural work IMO. (To repeat, it can do 3/16" -being careful here- in one pass and 1/4" multiple.) (I have done 3 and 4 layers thick welds, sawed across them and I see only beautiful solid steel with not a hint of poor fusion, inclusion or what not.) And I think that it will be a long time if ever for me when I'd feel handicapped by it having only tapped voltage control. And I can't see myself needing to weld more than 1/4" for a very long time. At which point the welders will likely be much better than now and I'll buy a new one, or I will be dead of old age. When I was thinking about a welder I kinda thought everything strong shoudl be made of 1/4" steel on a truck, but look a bit carefully at some of the better bumpers etc out there and see how many are actually made of 1/4"... 1/4" is damn thick and heavy in actuality for most purposes.

    The pro welders guys know better than I do about equipment and welding subtleties for sure. However, I wonder sometimes if some of the advice out there (not here of course... :D) is not colored by folks used to working with big steel for a living, which would of course justify having very powerful and quite expensive equipment, but also perhaps way overkill for regular folks. Kinda like me advocating the armored locked 80 to somebody who's really only going to go on graded dirt roads that in actuality a Pilot can easily do. Sure the 80 is better etc, but is it really needed?

    I was tempted by the 210MVP or equivalent. I like the double voltage feature as that is potentially handy indeed and would take care of possible increased needs later on. However, I do not currently have 240V readily available in my garage. Also, I think that it is much easier to resell a 120V welder than a 240V one because many folks either don't have 240V or don't want to spend that kind of money for hobbyist type welding. I'm sure that I can sell my 140 for not a whole lot less than I paid for it if I keep it nice. And fast on CL. Altogether I'd much rather give up on 1/4" single pass with my 120 only, than not being able to take a 240V only welder to many places where I might want to do some welding, like a friend's house who does not have 240V, say. Frankly, I would not consider a 240V only machine for my uses / needs if I can only have one. But again, I'm no pro and have no pro needs.

    At this point, with what I now know, and for me, I think I made the right decision. One vague regret is that I think I might enjoy doing aluminum some time down the line which is not obvious with the HH140. But I can do without that capability for now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2015
  2. LFD2037

    LFD2037 TEXAS LEXUS!

    Messages:
    4,015
    Media:
    16
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,285
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Location:
    Wax., TEXAS
    If you can afford the 211, get the 211 by all means!!!!! I bought a HH140 a couple months ago & I already want a 220V machine but have no receptacle for it. I love the HH140 but I need to weld 1/4" for my bumper & a trailer I'm going to build. Tomorrow I have to pay someone $45 to weld the receiver hitch & recovery points into my 4x4Labs bumper, even though I have a welder, because I don't trust the 115V machine to do anything over 3/16". Lame.
     
  3. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    595
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    US
    well, if we're talking Millermatic 211, I saw it at $1,150 on the low side (without the spool I think). So about $650 more than the HH140. That's quite a few $45 pro intervention considering the rare 1/4" bits I'd need. Not that I think that a good welder could not do a perfectly safe weld on 1/4" with the 140 and several passes. Nothing wrong with that if done properly I believe. Plus I would probably have a pro do a critical weld like a hitch even if I had a more powerful welder anyway, just to be safe.

    Sure I'd rather have a 211 multivoltage over the 140 but not a $650 rather at this point. The 211 is beyond the starter kit that we are talking about here in my mind. Not to forget that I'm sure there are a lot of welders for sale out there because people buy them and then don't use them enough. Or can't see. Or aren't coordinated enough to use them properly. A progressive $ outlay into the field is not without merit I think. Again, YMMV.
     
  4. LFD2037

    LFD2037 TEXAS LEXUS!

    Messages:
    4,015
    Media:
    16
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,285
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Location:
    Wax., TEXAS
    @e9999 , I was qutoing this guy. Sorry for the confusion!

     
  5. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

    Messages:
    16,738
    Likes Received:
    595
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Location:
    US
    LF, From what (little) I know, I would not give up on your 140 for 1/4", really. Why not do multipass? I did some almost 1/2" thick multilayered beads while practicing with the 140 that looked beautiful in cross-section. (Outside not so much, sadly.) Not that I'm suggesting you should do it yourself if you're not comfortable, of course, I wouldn't do a hitch myself. But I think that welder is a sturdy little workhorse and fits nicely what I imagine a starter kit to be.
     
  6. pillguy

    pillguy

    Messages:
    1,876
    Media:
    2
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    155
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Location:
    behind enemy lines FEMA sector IV
    I went a different way, I bought a HH140 at first and realized I needed something extra for some 1/2" work. I got a ready welder and 2 batteries (costco) and a battery tender. Probably about $1000 in both systems. Only minor drawback on the ready welder is it is live so you hit it and go?
     
  7. Weber Sarge

    Weber Sarge

    Messages:
    3,783
    Media:
    1
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,350
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Location:
    Ohio, Illinois
    The whole idea of buying "what you need now" usually results in not having what you need later . There are too many folks that buy a small welder or compressor initially and find out later as their skills progress that they are short on equipment capabilities . The two biggest things in a shop , or even home garage are the welder and air compressor . I honestly prefer the newer inverter based welders as they can give a lot more detailed settings , use way less energy and produce the same results if not better than the old standby transformer machines . It's not all that hard to run 220v to a garage unless it's a very long distance from the house/source box . A lot make the mistake of trying to add the circuit against a 60 amp house supply - that should have already been upgraded . The new standards in construction almost always default to a 200 amp house feed/box . 100 amp feeds will work fine but you have to watch demand when running heavy appliances such as window air units and such - you can overload your breaker box's mains .

    Sure , 110v units have gotten a lot better and work great for bodywork , but later when the time comes to step up the skill level or take on heavier work you start to push the limits of a small welder too much and many get burned up from running at max duty cycle . A buddy has bought several of the Lincoln and Miller units for a song and repaired them by replacing the thermal breakers - they were simply worn out .

    Just fyi - cross section cutting/inspection is a great way to test for sure . Try using an acid etch such as Naval Jelly or oven cleaner to be able to see the exact nugget line ...

    Sarge
     
    firestopper likes this.
  8. Howard705

    Howard705 TLCA 5505 SILVER Star

    Messages:
    1,325
    Media:
    9
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    209
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2013
    Location:
    Central Illinois
    Can get a stick welder too for the heavy stuff/dirty/hard to access/ too-usually not priced too bad used for ac/dc home welder-if you already hve 120v mig.
     
  9. LFD2037

    LFD2037 TEXAS LEXUS!

    Messages:
    4,015
    Media:
    16
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,285
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Location:
    Wax., TEXAS
    Met this old fella in my town today. He's an ex pipe welder that's worked all over the world welding from the 70's to mid 90's. He welded my receiver & recovery points to my 4x4Labs bumper. He used an ESAB 250 & C10 gas. He also teaches welding out of his shop & luckily I brought along my hood & got to watch him work his magic. MAN WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT IS BETWEEN FLUX & SOLID WIRE W/GAS!!!!!!! It was soooooo much easier seeing the weld pool. Seriously like night & day! I've only used flux core up till now. I ordered an argon tank, that arrived today, & will be filling it Thursday to make a welder cart. I didn't want to do multiple passes w/mt 140 because the flux is so dirty. Now that I have more faith in actually being able to see the 'puddle' really well, I feel my welding skills will be where I want them to be. I'll post back Thursday on my results.
     
    Howard705 likes this.
  10. Tigerstripe40

    Tigerstripe40

    Messages:
    2,237
    Media:
    1
    Likes Received:
    147
    Joined:
    May 3, 2004
    Location:
    Utardia
    I did a MillerMatic 175 years ago, ran about 20lbs of flux core through it and have now run 20lbs of ER-70S .030 wire through it. I want a bigger welder, and something that can also TIG... So I've been SERIOUSLY considering the Tweco/ThermalArc Fabricator 252i.

    Many of the higher end Chinese machines (Everlast, and Longevity) are on par with the equivalent US made stuff (though, I noticed that the genuine Miller replacement parts I just bought for my MM175 are all Made in China).
    I'd like to get a multi process power source, TIG high frequency/lift arc module, water cooler, and suitcase MIG setup, but that is a crap-ton of money for something I am not earning a paycheck with.
     
  11. LINUS

    LINUS Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

    Messages:
    4,709
    Media:
    40
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    3,177
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Location:
    PNW - WA
    I'll 2nd the idea of taking a class at the local CC / night classes - you don't even have to show up much, but you can lay hands on a stick, MiG, and try TiG.

    I've had a entry 220v Miller Challenger 172 (bought 2000-2001)

    Sold last year for $500 welder only - I'd outgrew it so bought a Miller 350 multi-metal.

    I wanted a push-pull gun.

    I also have a TiG I bought as a shipping damage total for $150.
    It's. Miller Econotig that needed a new $75 frame, powered up/works great.

    Dad bought the 211 the last couple years - it's amazing what that 110 machine does - he also got a spool gun (aluminum) for $500-ish.

    If I had a 211 starting out, I may not have jumped all the way to a 350 - but 1/4" is a lot more simple with a push-pull.


    Take the class - if you like TiG, you may decide to skip a MiG - If I had only one machine I'd prob take a TiG, since we aren't talking production/productivity setting.

    Used TiG (if you like TiG welding) & you can make some beauty steel,stainless, aluminum - all on the same gas bottle. If you buy a bottle you need 2 or 3 to do all the 1 does on TiG.

    Take the class & practice TiG- see if it likes you/you like it - plus MiG will be cake dropping back to it after learning HeliArc/TiG. People will pay you to TiG too, if it matters.
     
  12. firestopper

    firestopper

    Messages:
    657
    Media:
    125
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    428
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2012
    Location:
    Tucson, Az
    Well said.......Buy once, cry once.
     
    LINUS and TRAIL TAILOR like this.
  13. Weber Sarge

    Weber Sarge

    Messages:
    3,783
    Media:
    1
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,350
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Location:
    Ohio, Illinois
    I'll second that - my first new welder was an '07 Dynasty 200DX tig/stick . Still run it pretty hard and it's never missed a beat yet . I prefer the tig and stick work - one for beauty and one for heavy work outside . Migs are great but can be a pain swapping bottles and getting everything set right to get a sound weld . Most that are learning are not learning how to determine a proper penetration instead of just the surface appearance - hence a lot of failed welds . A class would be the best bet , or a very willing local pro welder . Just about 50% of the welds I see on these boards when folks are building stuff are failures - bad lack of proper penetration from newbies that are learning . Problem is that some of those welds are on bumpers and suspension parts , not good .

    Sarge
     
  14. Howard705

    Howard705 TLCA 5505 SILVER Star

    Messages:
    1,325
    Media:
    9
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    209
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2013
    Location:
    Central Illinois
    Best bang for your buck is one of the 120v migs -USED -they're all over Craigslist. will do 95% of what you need to do for everyday work on vehicles at home-works anywhere-good to learn on-cheap wire etc- and IF you decide you need to go to all the fancy or big stuff like you can sell it and loose $0.0$!
     
  15. kikkup

    kikkup

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    Location:
    Lawrenceville
    Great little welder as long as you change out the wire to some better wire....Been welding about 35 years and I Love it for thin stuff
     
  16. cruiserpilot

    cruiserpilot

    Messages:
    6,531
    Likes Received:
    3,028
    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Location:
    Ladysmith
    So it's been since March. I'm curious as to what decision was made for a 'starter' like yourself?
    I just came across this thread, I'm not particularly good at recommending particular brand, but I would
    only suggest MIG with gas as a starter. I got a Lincoln Electric 175 Plus 20 yrs ago, it is still the welder I
    use. I've built a lot of stuff, and it is still enough for an enthusiastic amateur like me. I'm looking at
    TIG, cause alum and stainless are calling me.
     
  17. MichealFritz

    MichealFritz

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2019
    Location:
    1755 Comfort Court, Madison, WI 53704
    Try not to go modest in the event that you need to figure out how to weld like a master. All that I've utilized from Chicago Electric and Northstar is dogshit. Get yourself a Lincoln Hobart or a Miller. The least expensive sort of machine you can go for is a circular segment or stick welder, it's an adaptable procedure and likely the most broadly utilized for fieldwork. Lincoln makes an incredible "buzz box" which a rotating current just stick welding machine. Hobart/Miller make astonishing wire feeders yet their least expensive one is around 300-400 bucks. The expensive alternative is TIG or heliarc machines which is the most troublesome cleanest and most exact welding process. These machines frequently begin at 1500-2000 bucks. In case you're looking to genuinely learn and lift welding up as a calling, go for a shoddy Miller/Hobart machine. Likewise, on the off chance that you need to go medieval, you can get an oxy-acetylene setup to liquefy some steel together, Victor is the brand for oxygen-acetylene setups really expensive yet great too. Oxy fuel is perfect for steel yet you can likewise braze copper channels with it. I've seen aluminum welding with oxygen and propane however that is not actually hardware you can purchase out of the crate.

    On a side note obviously, Klutch Tools makes a wire feeder (MIG) that has incredible surveys however I've never utilized one so I couldn't tell about the quality.
     
  18. MichealFritz

    MichealFritz

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2019
    Location:
    1755 Comfort Court, Madison, WI 53704
    Just go for the harbor freight MIG welders and buy whichever suits you. I would highly suggest to watch more youtube videos and try hands on so that you learn from your experiences. Also, you should stay in touch with forums on the internet to be safe from the mistakes that other's made and learn from them. I found a buyer's guide Best MIG Welder for the Money (Jan. 2019) - Buyer's Guide you try this as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  19. LINUS

    LINUS Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

    Messages:
    4,709
    Media:
    40
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    3,177
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Location:
    PNW - WA
    I still think the entry - level 220v Miller when they run the “build with blue” -sales make the most sense.

    If you’re dead set on just buying & going at it, the 211 is under $1K new with all the autoset features, or if you ever want to TIG the newer 215 is big value.

    My Econotig would have been more than a 215 if I hadn’t gotten a new but shipping damaged one & fixed it.

    And Miller/Lincoln/Esab -always sells 1st if you need, and you recoupe better $$$ than a $hitty HF nobody recognizes.

    I like Miller because they sell support parts like a Warn winch. You can keep it running as long as you want if something breaks.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.