View Full Version : Score - 2 dual MIG 151 welders
OK, so a deal sort of fell into my lap locally on Craigslist. Two (non working) Chicago Electric Dual Mig 151 welders for 20 bucks. I couldn't resist, as I figure at that price the scrap metal is worth probably nearly that much or more.
Anyway, supposedly one of them the power light comes on, so I figure maybe at least one of them can be made to work. I didn't ask for many details, but I've heard that there are a lot of feed problems on these units. Also heard that the torches aren't always the highest quality....
Any general advice about this model? I've read largely positive things about it, but would appreciate any feedback as to how to adjust and diagnose this welder. Your experiences are appreciated. :) Thanks!
Here is my update, some while later, after getting done with finals in college and finally getting time to sit down with my welders.
First, I bought both welders. One of them looks nearly new, looks like it has most of the original spool of Harbor Freight wire inside. The other one looks beat up, the torch was probably stepped on or driven over. The beat up one had a mostly used up spool of unknown wire inside. There were also a small pile of parts for the handles, wheels and axles, and other miscellaneous parts included (like the cheap chipping hammer/brush, a few extra tips and the tip wrench).
The new welder looked like the wire inside had bird nested pretty badly, so I unraveled much of it , clipped it off and threw the birds nest away. After just wiping out the inside with a small amount of penetrating oil and a rag, and buying the correct 220v plug, I rethreaded the wire and set the tension, and got it working like a charm.
The older of the two welders was missing its wire speed adjustment knob. Further inspection reveals that the little circuit board containing the wire speed adjuster and relay had broken free of its mounts and fallen down inside the unit, breaking the little potentiometer as it fell. I will investigate the cost of a new board (if it's even available). Also, the spindle for the wire spool is broken. It's a plastic part, so epoxy is a possibility, but I also plan on investigating how much the part will cost, if it is available.
At this point though, I got one good working welder with apparently few hours on it for the sum total of $36. ($20 for both units plus $16 for the plug).
I drew some beads with this unit today, and found it to be a surprisingly nice welder. Using the harbor freight wire and a fresh tip, I laid down some pretty decent beads at the lower amperage settings. I tested the 30 and 50 amp settings extensively with some thinner sheetmetal material, and then checked out the two higher levels (75 and 110 I think), although I didn't do much welding on either of the higher settings. I would be a little nervous about really trusting the reliability of this welder, but there is no doubt in my mind that it has the potential to put out some nice welds.
12-15-2007, 10:47 PM
I know most frown on the HF & other imported units from China, but there are some decent and even high quality machines & welders coming from there. You just gotta do some homework and research the equip. and ratings. I have an early Chicago Electric 151T-2 that was made in Italy prior to them going to China and a CEMIG160 also made in Italy. The 151T-2 is a full 120A output and the CEMIG160 will put out a full 160A. They were very well made and I have never had one problem with either. Since Chigago Elec. went to China, the earlier units were great as my friend has one and it works like mine with a full 120A output. The 2nd year of China production saw a reduction of output to 115A for the newer designated 151T1 and later production models starting having a few minor problems mainly with quality & a bit of sloppy assembly, especially with the drive roller system. The biggest issue was the liner being pinched where it is clamped in front of the roller causing erratic feed, but was easily fixed. I made a modification to the wire roll support on the T-2 so I could use 10lb. spools and it worked great. If you want a photo of the mod., let me know & I'll post a photo & description. I use the 151T-2 for aluminum only for AL up to .125" thick and resides in my mobile unit, and the CEMIG160 is set up also for AL for up to .500" and is in my shop. I run .035" 5356 95% of the time and have no feed problems with either unit. Anyway, check the unit inside & outside completely for loose connections, screws, or fittings and the wire feed assembly and I'm sure you will find that the welder will do a nice job on metal up to 1/4".
If you look at the photo, just below the Mod. # you can see the "Made In Italy". Hope this helps you a bit & good luck......Denny
Denny, thanks for the great response - very enlightening response there. I don't know much about Harbor Freight tools or welders, and I agree that most people here frown on them. Normally I'm one of them, but I'm inclined to stick up for my little 151 at this point because it has thus far proven to be a nice little machine. It might be bold of me to say, but I'd say it welds as nicely as any 110v welder from Lincoln or Miller, although the duty cycle may be a bit off (still 17% at maximum power). I hate to see that the welders are made in China, but since I only paid 36 bucks total for mine, I'll take it without complaining too much. I intend to use this machine for light duty patchwork on the fences around my dad's house. It's a pretty handy size, and not as heavy as some units. Great duty cycle at 50-75 amps too. I hope it lasts a long time, although if it doesn't, it's not like I invested my retirement savings into this machine. :)
Thus far, no erratic feed issues with mine, and I laid down a fair bit of bead. I'm using .30 flux core wire right now, but I forget the number. Honestly I didn't expect the darn thing to work so easily so I didn't look very closely. I'm going to buy a small assortment of flux core wire next time I'm down at the welding shop.
I'd love to see your 10 lb spool mod. Not sure if I really need it, but since I have two of these units, it might give me somewhere to go with the other one that needs substantially more work anyway.
Again, thanks for the great response, and please post your 10 lb spool mod. By the way, you can call me Craig (that's my name, don't wear it out). :laugh:
Denny ... would also be very interested in the mod ... as a rank ameteur, this is the unit i bought ...still haven't tried it as i want to use it the first few times with an experienced welder around ...no sense frying myself over it...anyway, not knowing better i bought 10lb spools of wire...so the mod would be a big help - thanks, ed!
12-20-2007, 03:04 PM
Hey CDG & edl,
And to anyone else who has one of these HF 151 MIG welders and possibly the 131 if it is the same size & configuration. There are 7 photos and I will try to explain how I made the spool support bracket for 8" spools. Since there are 7 photos, please allow me to post both groups since only 5 photos are allowed per post.
To intro., the 8" support tube is simply a piece of 2" OD steel tube, a 2" OD washer(4 holes drilled) with a 1/2" bolt with the head cutoff, welded to the washer, & then welded to the tube. I recommend using a 2 1/4" washer instead of a 2" because you need a lip to be a spacer from the inside wall of the welder. I didn't have a 2 1/4" washer, so I used a 2" & welded a lip on the OD and then turned a lip on the weld on my lathe....it worked the same. Also, you need an empty 8" spool to be able to locate the tube & spool in the proper location for clearance....and believe me, you got to be close so it will slide directly on to the tube without hitting the lip on the welder cover.
Photo 1: MY 151T/2 with an 8" spool of 5356 AL. You can see the 2 lb. spool bracket sitting on the lip if the cover as I keep it inside the welder so I don't misplace it.
2: 8" spool mount tube in place. Notice the location shift to the lower position from the original 2 lb. spool bracket holes.
3: Hole locations of 8" spool tube.
4: You can see the 8" spool outline on the inner wall.
5: 8" spool mount is a piece of 2" OD steel tube, 2" long with a 2"(use a 2 1/4") washer that has a 3 1/4"L X 1/2" bolt welded to it. Also, pre-drill the holes prior to welding the 1/2" bolt to the washer....makes it easier.
Going to next post for 2 pics & finish.....please wait till both posts are complete...thanks...Denny
12-20-2007, 03:12 PM
Photo 6: The bottom of the tube shows the holes & bolt welded to washer.
7: Looking inside the tube at bolt & holes.
NOTES: In the 1st photo, I used a large fender washer(3") with 1/2" hole and (2) 1/2" nuts, one for pressure & one for locking, so the spool will stop immediately after the gun trigger is released. That way you will not have a birdnest issue. Anyway, I hope this may help any of you who want to use the larger spools on these HF C.E. MIG welders(151 & perhaps the 131). If you have any questions, just ask......Denny
12-22-2007, 12:36 PM
That's a great idea! But if you don't want to go with a mod on your welder, I was told that there is a Lincoln spool adapter trhat will fit. I can't remeber the Lincoln part number, but when I checked a Lowe's, they said they could order it for me. The parts was only like $5.00, but shipping was like $18.00-$19.00. So I didn't order it. I only have the 2 lb. spools right now and I have a couple of them so I didn't want to put out the extra cash until I needed to!
Thanks for the great idea. One of the two welders I got the parts I needed for, except Harbor Freight mistakenly shipped a wrong part to me, so I still don't have the wirefeed spindle. I'm planning on making a spindle using the washer idea and some square tubing.
05-02-2008, 02:29 PM
Thats an awesome idea, Will be doing that soon...
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