Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Winter in the Texas Hill Country
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    52

    Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    My very first welder I bought years ago was a used circa 1984 Miller 225 amp Thunderbolt AC stick welder (crank on the top) that I think might now be superfluous since I have my 250 amp Hobart IronMan mig. I really don't like stick welding even though I took a 12 week adult-ed welding class. I can weld with it, but I far prefer the mig. My welding is primarily for a hobby, but we do have a small ranch where I need to occasionally repair or build something.

    Is there any reason why I might need the old Thunderbolt? If I was going to have a stick welder, I really would want one that was DC. I know the Thunderbolt won't be worth much, so I was planning on donating it to our library's resale shop.

    Your comments are much appreciated...
    John
    Hobart IronMan 230, Miller Thunderbolt, Victor O/A,
    Hypertherm Powermax45, Milwaukee 14" chop saw, etc.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Austin TX
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    576

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    I keep my stick welder for jobs where I need to use rods that are not easily found in mig configuration. Anytime I need 7018 (low hydrogen) hardfacing or the nickle/iron rods to weld cast iron, THAT'S when it comes in handy to just put the correct rod in the stinger and go to town. Not so easy to do if all you have is a mig welder.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    I greatly prefer mig to stick, but for some things stick just works better. Emergency repairs on my plow for example. It's usually snowing/raining and getting all the rust and paint off in the wet usually isn't an option, and the repair can't wait. Also repairs on buckets and so on where it's difficult to get the old surfaces 100% clean. If I'm building from scratch I'll almost always grab the mig, but since I have to work outside often wind and weather don't always align when things need to get finished. Then it's time to grab the stick machine.

    As far as a DC machine, DC is nice, but I made do for a lot of years with only an old Craftsman AC buzzbox. There's probably very little I couldn't do with that compared to my DC machine today. You just have to choose the right rods. I'd keep the AC machine until you have a replacement.
    .



    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Soda springs,Id
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    2,748

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    I only have a 175 amp mig so the ol' AC/DC Thunderbolt sits over in the corner waiting to do the jobs I don't feel the mig has the amps for or a job outside the shop when the wind is blowing. IMO I'd keep it, it doesn't cost anything sitting there.
    Mike
    Ol' Stonebreaker
    "Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes"

    Miller 175 mig
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    western kentucky
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    4,401

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    convert it to a scratch tig setup. i guess it has to be ac/dc to do that though.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    North of Philly
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    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    Quote Originally Posted by brucer View Post
    convert it to a scratch tig setup.
    It's an AC machine so it's a but more complicated than that.
    .



    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

    Ronald Reagan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    western kentucky
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    4,401

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    yea i seen that when i reread your post..

    can you get one of those hf units for it?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Springtown Texas
    Posts
    56

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    I know they carry no bling factor but I dearly love my old AC arc welder.

    See, I build a lot of hay trailers. I like to assemble them outside on the front concrete apron of my shop. I drag my leads outside and use 3/32 6011 to do all my tacking during the initial stage. The welder just sits there and hums all day waiting for me to do the next tack weld.

    Then, when I get it all assembled and trued up, I fire up the Bobcat on my truck as sew all the joints and seams up with the DC and 6011.

    I could build them inside with my Millermatic mig welder but then I'd not be working outside in the nice weather. Stick has a lot of advantages, and anytime you need to weld outside in any kind of a breeze, you'll be glad you have it.
    Kevin- Springtown, Texas

    Truck:
    Chevy cab/ chassis 1 ton dually, big block and flatbed
    Miller Bobcat
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    Tool boxes crammed full of stuff

    Shop:
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    4,254

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    I could build them inside with my Millermatic mig welder but then I'd not be working outside in the nice weather.
    Being able to leave 'em outdoors saves shop space, and it's easier to "extend" copper cable than a MIG gun.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Sudbury, Ontario
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    742

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    It's a no brainer. Keep your AC stick welder unless you can upgrade to a DC or DC/tig machine. There are lots of reasons that a stick welder is worth keeping around, even if you do most of your welding with a MIG.

    If you only had a MIG I am not suggesting to anyone they need to run out and buy a stick welding machine (unless they needed one), but since you already have one why not keep it?
    "The reason we are here is that we are not all there"

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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    123

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    I would keep the stick welder as well. I prefer mig as well but there ar times when a machine that needs repair will not fit in my shop door. The stick welder then comes in to save the day. Roll out 50 feet of cable and go.
    I also use my stick welder to do a far amount of hard facing in the fall on deep rippers. Welding out ofdoors save me from eating a pile of smoke.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    newfoundland
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    28

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    IMHO i would keep it for Quick fixes on the ranch when the metal is rusty and dirty and no time for cleanup you just wire brush,slap in a 6011 rod and whack in a bead then a 6013 on top and shes relatively good lookin and done

    Zeb
    Millermatic 200
    Miller Dialarc 250 ac/dc

    All people have the right to stupidity but some abuse the privilege

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Texas Near Dallas
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    989

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    Keep it. I can't see loosing capability when you aren't gaining anything by selling/giving it away. I might change my mind if you said "I have this really expensive nice welder I never use that I'll sell for loads of cash and buy tools that I really need" That seems like a step up. Getting rid of the thunderbolt seems like a step down.

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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Spicewood, TX
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    5

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    MIG welding is notably not as strong as stick DC.
    I'm struggling with a similar question with my '84
    Millermatic 200 MIG. Question is: "Do they still
    make 'em like they used to?" Then we get into
    how old are we? If you don't use it, lighten your
    load!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Orange, TX
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    11,592

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    John,
    Unless you replace it with an AC/DC machine of similar or larger size I too suggest you keep it for the reasons already stated.

    Tom,
    I vote you keep your '84 as it'll probably outlast both of us and many newer units. I have two caskets planned for my funeral - one for me and one for my '81 MM200 as well as a meter box on the headstone with a direct burial line running to it.
    MM200 w/Spoolmatic 1
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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    North of Philly
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    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    Quote Originally Posted by tjtorchart View Post
    MIG welding is notably not as strong as stick DC.


    I'll debate that. I've got a friend who welds on heavy cranes. In the shop it's all mig work, in the field it's split 50/50 mig and stick, even though he often has to take the time to build a tent around the machine to shield the work from the wind. The quality of the weld has to be the same regardless of the process, all welds tested and any issues reworked. Dragging a mig 200' up the ladder of a tower crane thats broken is a poor option, but the small inverter based stick machine is just the ticket. Doing a 1" flillet weld down both sides of a 30' long box boom is going to take forever with stick, not to mention all the starts and stops that have to be cleaned, but it's not that bad with a top end mig.
    .



    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

    Ronald Reagan

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Spicewood, TX
    Posts
    5

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    Most likely a welder who understands how welding works can weld with anything.
    I'll make no claim to that. Some folks just have the gift. MIG in the wind is funky,
    but you can crank up the gas pressure and shield with the empty hand like with a
    cigarette lighter. Keeps the hands warm, too.

    I'm curious about how long an extension Duane plans to run from his caskets.........

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    NW ON Canada
    Posts
    1,567

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    I have used my stick machine many times to pierce a hole or to cut off a piece of steel with 6010 or 6011. Now that I have my plasma cutter I have not used it as much for this but it's still there if I need it.
    Jason
    Lincoln Idealarc 250 stick/tig
    Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 52
    Miller Bluestar 2E
    Torchmate CNC table
    Ironworkers Local 720

    Owner/Operator Devlin Metal Works
    Custom CNC Plasma Cutting and Welding

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,308

    Re: Keep or sell my Thunderbolt?

    Another one here saying, keep it. i bet you would miss it trust me. You can never have to many welders
    Ya gotta spend money to make money!

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