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View Full Version : Which first? - O/A torch or 110v MIG



Tol
01-15-2004, 09:11 PM
I would like to learn to weld. I don't have any one project in mind, just general repairs and building stuff around the shop. My girlfriend works on a farm and I'm often doing projects for her of various shapes and sizes. (horse farm, no 220 there either)

I have access to both torch and Millermatic 210 if I need them, but it'd be asking a favor and I don't feel comfortable using them to learn.

The project supervisor of the home, my girlfriend, has limited me to one welding process/year. We are renting and only have 110.
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Should I buy an O/A torch or a 110v MIG welder?
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Welding with a torch is slow and will take longer to learn, but applicable in a wider range of situations. I'll also be able to cut steel. O/A welding appeals to me as I'll be better prepared for TIG in the future. .I can always wait and buy a 220v MIG later.

Welding with MIG is easier to learn but a 110v MIG is limited, and I can't cut. But everybody's got one. I can always save for a plasma cutter in the future

I'll be putting in plenty of practice time on whatever I buy. Cost differential isn't a concern. The difference in speed isn't an issue as I'm never in a hurry.

What should I do?
Thank you in advance for any ideas you might have, I'm open to anything.
Tol

Franz
01-15-2004, 09:35 PM
1, find a place to take lessons
2, Buy an O/A torch
3, learn to use the torch
4, move on to stick and NOT 120 volt
5, Get 220 volt power
6, buy 220 volt MIG

OK, all you 135 machine guys can jump in now

Scott S
01-15-2004, 10:59 PM
Tol,
You do have 220 available where you are, you just need to harness it. Take adavantage of the 210 mig. Have an electrician wire you an outlet for it if you are not familiar or confident enough to wire it yourself. At the same time follow Franz's 1-6

Tol
01-15-2004, 11:16 PM
Great ideas guys!

No welding classes within a reasonable distance will work with my schedule. In the absence of lessons, will I be lost trying to learn to weld with O/A? I know folks who MIG weld, but all they do is cut with O/A, so they won't be much help.

I'd happily wire in 220 if we weren't renting. As soon as we buy, I'll have 220 immediately.

What is the advantage to learning to stick weld before MIG?

Thank you, this is really helpful :)

Scott S
01-15-2004, 11:19 PM
It will make you a better mig weldor. Harder process to learn, thus increase your skill level as you master it.

Franz
01-15-2004, 11:52 PM
Stick is a lot harder process to master than MIG, we say we can teach a monkey to MIG in 15 minutes. I can teach you everything you need to know to stick weld in 10 minutes; but it will take you 10 years to be a stick welder. The skills you learn with stick will transferr to MIG, but only 10% of what you learn on MIG will transferr to stick.
I sort of favor teachin people in the same progression I learned, witch is also pretty much the same progression welding came along in.
There is WAY too much selling of the concept anybody can weld going around since all the box stores started selling these Mini Mig machines, and way too much ignoring of how dangerous improperly made MIG welds are.
MIG is inherently deceptive in that a weld can look good and not really be stuck to anything. Stick doesn't exhibit the same problem.

Markopolo
01-15-2004, 11:56 PM
OK, I'll throw in my two-cents.....Listen to Franz !
Oxy-Acetylene FIRST ! Learn to watch that puddle !...
Then Stick.....
While I'm at it....let me tell you a little story:
Regarding stick welding.....I practiced & practiced & practiced
when I got my equiptment....mostly with 6011 rod, because I
read in a book (Welder's Handbook, by Richard Finch) that
"6011 is the easiest rod to use for all-purpose arc-welding".
I practiced flat, vertical, horizontal, overhead, right-side up,
wrong-side down....every kind-a-which-a-way !....and got good
at it ! I was told that 6011 is an a.c. rod, so, naturally I set
the box for a.c. (90 amps), and practiced with 1/8" rod.
This was all before I had the good fortune of finding the
"brand X" welding site, and now, this site.
Franz posted a response to another new weldor wherein
he admonished the lad to "Learn how to weld on a.c. in
any position, and you can weld anything" (hope i got that
quote fairly accurate, Franz). Anyway, when it dawned on me that I was, indeed practicing with a.c. "in all positions"....
and doing good....Well, that really made my spirits soar ! ! :)

stovepoker
01-16-2004, 11:48 PM
Do O/A first. With patience you can do anything with O/A. Then go with a stick. Same thing, no limitations. Then sooner or later you will want to play with mig, tig etc. But, one process/year?
I dunno if that's fair.......I've been at it for 40+ years, and I still dont know nothin'.........

Franz
01-17-2004, 12:39 AM
Bout time you wandered in Pete.

1grnlwn
01-17-2004, 11:01 PM
IMO I would buy a super sawzall and a mig. I still don't own an Oa and probably won't. Gas welding? Who the heck does that? My guess is you don't want to spend a year practicing, you want to make stuff. 220 is nice but if you don't have it, you don't have it. Would recomend a class or tutor to help you get started. Heck our Quarter midger frame was welded with a Clarke 110 V. Of course it was welded by a union welding instructor. Big gun is nice but you still have to aim it!

Franz
01-17-2004, 11:47 PM
Originally posted by 1grnlwn
IMO I would buy a super sawzall and a mig. I still don't own an Oa and probably won't. Gas welding? Who the heck does that? My guess is you don't want to spend a year practicing, you want to make stuff. 220 is nice but if you don't have it, you don't have it. Would recomend a class or tutor to help you get started. Heck our Quarter midger frame was welded with a Clarke 110 V. Of course it was welded by a union welding instructor. Big gun is nice but you still have to aim it!

:p Spoken like a man who has never had the experience.
Until you've done it, you have no idea how much you will learn about welding.
Been doing it for more years than I want to remember, and I still can't do it as well as a salesman for Airco I saw back in the 50s who demonstrated torches by hanging a couple rods down from the celiling and writing his name across about 10 of them with a torch and filler rod, and I don't mean by bending the filler.
Trouble is, all you younguns are in too damn much of a hurry, and ya don't even see what's sittin right there for the pickin up.

Markopolo
01-17-2004, 11:57 PM
Thanks, Franz ! . . .You beat me to the reply.....and you said it
beautifully ! Anyone who fancy's himself a weldor, cannot
ignore O/A, anymore than someone who embalms
dead bodies for a living can ignore blood !

1grnlwn
01-18-2004, 12:45 PM
I'm sorry I should have mentioned I did some gas welding and brazing when I was in high school. Dad and I built this racing paddle boat via A/O. (circa 1979) Raced it two years and didn't drown. Sorry if I threatened your status but I believe there are people on this site that don't want to be career Welders or even (fancy) themselves as welders. They just want to make things. They may not have the space or money to get everything at once and they may not want to mess with explosive/flammable gas bottles. My point is I have created a lot of things that I am proud of and have never owned A/O. My other point is there are a lot of lurkers out there who might appreciate a different opinion. I don't use lurker as a derogative term. It's just people afraid to speak there mind or appear ignorant. I am afraid of neither. (cheap shot opportunity if you need it). Franz your answers are learned and frank. And I respect that. But there is always more than one way to do things. And when we post we think people should follow the way we did it, since we are taking our valuable time to tell them. I do however fail to see the importance of your minions countless posts telling you you are right. Obviously you know you are right! After about 4 of these posts in a row , who in there right mind would post an opposing or alternate view. Well there would be me. And maybe ..... no he wouldn't. Well you get my point. Sorry pic. is not too good . We only had a 110 v camera back then.:p

cutter
01-18-2004, 02:12 PM
Originally posted by 1grnlwn
After about 4 of these posts in a row , who in there right mind would post an opposing or alternate view. Well there would be me. And maybe ..... no he wouldn't. Well you get my point. Sorry pic. is not too good . We only had a 110 v camera back then.:p

LOL. Those 110 volt cameras did suck, didn't they?

I am not afraid to contradict Franz's comments either, but really see no need to as far as welding advice goes because I don't have any welding advice . ;) Or experience to base it on that amounts to anything. On the other hand, while I find most of the posts informative and interesting, they are unlikely to apply to me because I don't expect to remain on this earth long enough to apply them, nor do I expect to become a sho-nuff weldor before I run out of time. At my age, I just don't have 40 more years to practice unless all the stats are way off.

Nor do I expect to spend any big percentage of my time trying because learning to be a weldor is not my business; best I can hope for is to have a little fun and make/fix a few things to make life a little easier or more enjoyable. But that doesn't mean that the old heads should change a thing about their messages as far as I am concerned. Most of the members/lurkers of these boards are most likely younger & more ambitious than I am so the posts should be directed to them with the aim being to keep them safe and help them be the best they can be, IMO. If I want to ask something specific to my needs, well - I ain't shy.

As far as O/A is concerned, I bought my first rig maybe 35 years ago & still consider myself a rookie with it. However I did build an over-size luggage rack for a BMW motorcycle in about 1972 that I braized together for a 2 week trip into Old Mejico. At that time I had almost nothing to work with except a cheap hacksaw, a wobbly belt-driven bench grinder , a wire brush and a couple of files. I built it out of old bicycle handlebars and a few pieces of 3/4 x 1/8 steel strap. The point is that it survived a rear-end strike by a Mexican Greyhound down around Saltillo & still made the trip back home. The only joint that popped loose was one of the straps even though the platform collapsed to half its original length. I was pretty proud of that rack, even prouder to be able to ride away from there. So nearly all my experience with a torch has been with brass rod and I haven't done much of that for ten years or so. I have done enough experimenting with it to know what a puddle is but I can make a stronger joint with brass, and faster too. I have an old 12 inch Craftsman cast iron reciprocating hacksaw that had been dropped before I gave $6 for it a few years ago; the blade carriage (what do you call that thing?) was in 2 pieces & even though the saw is small, it is heavy. It took a good while to get the pieces hot enough & it ain't real purty but I got it stuck back together well enough to use on the rare occasion where it has been useful. I have also made 25 or 30 gate frames from 1 1/4 " thinwall square tubing over the years, all braized & they are all still hanging as far as I know. So who uses a torch anymore? Well, I guess that I do, once in a while. It is still an inexpensive way to get started and more useful than most folks seem to think it is.

fla jim
01-18-2004, 02:30 PM
1grnlwn;
I don't know if I'm one of Franz's minions or not. I'm not quite sure what a minoin is:confused:
But I sure respect knowlege gained by beaucoup years of hard knocks. Most of the time I agree with him, but some times I think he's full of it.
Saying that. I believe that if you going to venture into a hobby such as welding, you should do it right. I've seen people with the mini-migs from Lowes, HD and others go off on there own and stick things together like chewing gum, that fall apart under stress. Then don't know why their part failed. I would much rather someone start out with an O/A outfit, learn what their doing. Then move up to another process.
By your own statement you said that you learned on O/A in High School and with your dad. I'm sure that that helped you with better understanding how to use your mig outfit.
I also believe that if your short on money for a hobby, your better served with a "Buzzbox" stick welder. I got by for years with a Sears 235 Amp buzzbox using a dryer outlet. That gave me good service. The next thing I got was an A/O outfit.
Acetylene is less dangerous to have around then cans of gas. I have an A/O outfit in the Magic Garage, But gas for the Ranger, and lawn equipment etc. is in a flammable storage box out in the back yard.
A/O is also good for much more then welding. Since I got my Plasma cutter, I use the Torch mostly for heating to remove bearings, gears, and to bend stuff. I plan to use it to braze bandsaw blades when my blade stock comes in.
I hope nobody would get discouraged from posting a Question. The only dumb question is the one you don't ask. I know over the years I've asked my share.
Well thats my rant for a Sunday afternoon:blob2:

1grnlwn
01-18-2004, 04:06 PM
Originally posted by fla jim

A/O is also good for much more then welding. Since I got my Plasma cutter, I use the Torch mostly for heating to remove bearings, gears, and to bend stuff. I plan to use it to braze bandsaw blades when my blade stock comes in.


I hear ya on that! There are days when I could have used ole rosebud. And I would imagine some day I will get an O/A set. My GFather actually taught me to weld with stick first, he was welder at Allis Chalmers. I guess no matter what you start with you need a mentor to instruct and inspect.

fla jim
01-18-2004, 04:55 PM
My Dad was a carpenter. I had a neighbor who was a tool and die maker, and a tinkerer at home. He had a Lincoln tombstone, and a O/A torchand a bunch of machine tools. He had me learn to control a puddle with the torch. Then burn rod with the Lincoln. He's long since passed away, but I owe him a great debt for getting a 15 year old started. :drinkup:

lynxpilot
01-18-2004, 08:46 PM
Agree with just about everything posted. Oxy-fuel is actually very versatile. You can even do oddball stuff like stainless and aluminum if you use the right flux and know how to use it. It works in the field with no electricity and doesn't care so much about the wind and shielding gas. There are also some good videos around and certainly lots of books if classes are a no-go. A good torch rig will allow you to weld a huge variety of metal thicknesses and will probably come with a cutting torch as well. Just remember you have to buy the cylinders of fuel and oxygen, and they ain't cheap. I had never MIG'ed before and went straight for the PM300 push/pull because I didn't want to outgrow the machine. I think you would be doing yourself a disservice by buying a 110V unit and realizing in your first or second job that it didn't have the juice you need. Especially around the farm, because you'll be welding some thick stuff. There's very little you couldn't do with OFW and that could at least hold you until you were in a stable enough situation to buy a bigger machine. The bigger machines may also have stick capability too, and then you'd be covered. OFW is lots of fun too, sort of a dying art, and you'll be miles ahead learning it. It contributes to just about every other process.

Markopolo
01-18-2004, 11:05 PM
Good post, lynxpilot ! Here's my opinion (according to the
toys I have, which are a Hofart Handler 135,
a Thunderbolt XL ac/dc, and Victor o/a outfit):
o/a is an absolute must !...not only will you learn the very basics
of welding, it (as was pointed out in an earlier reply) is
very versatile. Stick, in my "humble opinion" is THEE welding
method ! It's been with us for a long time, and, I suppose if
you walk up to the average guy on the street, this is what he
would think of if you mentioned "arc welding"......I, personally,
love to stick weld. Now M.I.G.....my little "handler" may look like a toy to some of the "Older Farts" on this site, but it, too, has
a very useful place in the shop.
The way I look at it, you look at the job first....think of what you
want to do, and then choose from the welding options
you have available ! . . . .
(and if that doesn't work.....use J.B. Weld) :p