View Full Version : Help choosing welder Please.

Dave I
01-12-2004, 01:02 AM
Since there hasnt really been a thread of this kind here yet I thought id ask....

I currently own a Lincoln weld-pak 100. I didnt really know much about duty cycle or amps when I bought it...I just needed something that would weld floor pans in my car and some other misc. things and could run off 110v outlet. It has served its purpose and still works great but Im ready for something larger. I am still quite the rookie when it comes to welding and hope to get in a welding class for fall of 2004 in my local college.

Anyway, after everything happening on the other site Im wondering if Blue loses some of its qaulity and reputation by having non USA parts in it... Would I be better off looking at Red or Yellow since they are pretty much on the same level as Blue now that foreign parts have been found?

I am just a hobby welder and would like to get into making misc things for cars and my jeep.. steps, roll bars, chassis stuff, welding table, and other random stuff...My problem is for a roll cage for my car it would be chrome moly and would have to be tig welded..I dont feel comfortable welding a roll cage at my skill level anyway and would have to farm it out...

....MIG or STICK..TIG???
I have been looking at the MM251 for a mig since it seems to be the last welder id really ever need for what I like to do..$1700 is a lot of cash to layout but im willing to do it, just for the fact that I wont have to purchase another welder again for the rest of my life hopefully....Or is MM251 too much welder for the things ive described?

I have also been looking at the Thunderbolt XL 300-200 AC/DC. I like the price of this machine a lot more, but I have never stick welded before..I dont really like the idea of chipping slag all of the time but I do like be able to weld outside, inside, or whever needed. I dont think chipping the slag would be that bad as little welding as ill be doing...I would really like to learn how to stick weld just to see how it is and if I like it...From what ive seen and heard about stick I really seem to like the idea behind it better...

So.....Do I keep my little wire welder and possibly get the gas kit for it and keep it for the thin stuff. Buy a stick welder and learn how to stick for the thick stuff and after ive got stick down well, spend the money on a nice Tig and be able to do everything? For the price of a nice mig and not being able to do everything I want I figure a stick would better suit me and a TIG down the road right now..

Hope this isnt too long, and makes sense. Thanks for your time and help guys. I appreciate it.

Dave I.

Planet X
01-12-2004, 01:36 AM
Dave I , get this book

It was/is the best welding TOOL I have ever purchased "I bull**** you not" quote from a movie called "the Rock"...

Still I have been giving props/credit to Craigs works since I started posting on welding subjects and in that whole time I have recieved 1 e-mail asking about them:( this is too bad, but you know what they say "when the student is ready the teacher will come"

Have a good day.

Ps. I am partial to the Powermig 255, she has served me well with not one single issue, warranty did expire last November though....


01-12-2004, 08:26 AM
Best advice I can give: Find a local shop that willl demo different brands and types of machines (GOOD LUCK, The dist. in the AUGUSTA GA. area SUCK in this regard).

The 110v units are not all they are cracked up to be. I just sold my HH135 and got a HH175

01-12-2004, 01:14 PM
i was in the same situation last fall i was fixing up grain wagons to sell and needed a little more power. i found an old century 295 stick with a dc converter at an auction and for 50 bucks i had to pick it up. this combination of a small wire feed and a big stick welder has served me well, but only you know if it is what you need. personally if i had the money i would have gone the big mig route but you know how the money thing goes. best of luck in your decision

Planet X
01-12-2004, 06:33 PM
Dave I , If your primary goal is to build stuff out've steel than you need to buy the biggest Mig machine you can afford. Tig not only costs alot of money equipment wise the consumables like Argon costs will eat you up. I use the Tig machine for special purpose things only-like repairing windshield wiper blades or where bead appearance must be **** . The actual welding is the easiest part of the fabrication process, Yes Tig processes can weld a wide range of stuff, but so can Mig if one understands the PROCESS, and the Mig will do it alot faster.
Nothing you have stated you would like to work on is out've the range of Mig,but you need to get the most current (biggest) machine you can afford.
Mig provides two completely different welding methods w/one machine- Short circuit (for thin stuff) & Spray transfer (for thicker stuff).
You would do well to buy a $25 tig book from the Miller site and the book I already mentioned- so you can learn for yourself what you will be getting into.

Ps. Lincoln really is better than Miller:D

Dave I
01-12-2004, 07:37 PM
Thanks for the replies....A lot of views but I guess only 3 of you had anything to say :)

PlanetX, After really thinking about what ill be doing, I dont see how I would ever need more than the 210 Amp machine...The mm251 looks to be a lot more than id need and cost around $600 more.....If I needed to do anything outside I could always switch to flux wire and be ok....Theres still something in me that wants to lean towards stick but with the savings on a 210 rather than a 251 I could always get both.... Tig sounds like a good idea but it really isnt practicle...Id much rather have a professional weld in a roll cage rather than trust my life with my experience....

Ill check out that book and see if I can get my hands on one. I think my best bet is to just take a class in the evenings when I get the chance and actually learn from someone that knows what they are doing already....

Now if I could just stick with a decision and stop changing my mind 5 times a day and thinking about it when I go to bed I will be alright...:D


Scott S
01-12-2004, 08:12 PM
I would definitly go with a mig. Either 210 or 251 woulfd be the way to go. JUst something to think about.- You said something like " The 251 is more than I'll ever need" That is from what you know now. As your skills increase, so might your welder needs. If you can swing the extra $500-$600 for the larger unit, I would. It is better to have it and not need it. I have found this out through experience, the hard way. Buy the best you can afford and you won't wish you did later.JMO...Happy shopping

01-12-2004, 08:42 PM
if you get a ac/dc stick machine ....when your ready for tig just buy a scratch start unit and run off the stick machine...kill 2 with one stone

Planet X
01-12-2004, 09:18 PM
Originally posted by Dave I
Thanks for the replies....A lot of views but I guess only 3 of you had anything to say :)

PlanetX, After really thinking about what ill be doing, I dont see how I would ever need more than the 210 Amp machine...The

The Lincoln Powermig 215 has more power and is cheaper :D Also check out how much Miller parts are such as drive rolls vs. Lincoln drive rolls, contact tips, gunliners etc. No contest....;)

Dave I
01-12-2004, 11:02 PM
Thanks Planet, ill look into the Lincoln 215. From what I gathered on weldtalk and the chaski site it seemed like the MM210 was "the" welder in that class....

As far as the 250 amp migs.....whats out there? I think ive spent too much time on weld talk and got biased opinions...any thoughts?


01-12-2004, 11:13 PM
Originally posted by Dave I
Thanks for the replies....A lot of views but I guess only 3 of you had anything to say :)

<big snip>

Now if I could just stick with a decision and stop changing my mind 5 times a day and thinking about it when I go to bed I will be alright...:D


But the agonizing is half the fun! :p Or not. But it does seem like a necessary part of the process no matter what you're trying to buy. All I was trying to do back in September was decide between a 135 or 175 and everybody told me something different for very good reasons, and suggestions also included the 210, 251, stick and "learn O/A first". lol Fortunately, I have a neighbor who has stick & I've had a torch for 30 years, so I could eliminate that much. I finally bought the HH135 because I wanted to be able to haul it around & plug it in most anywhere - garage, back yard, shop, kid's house, what ever. And I bought a Hobart because of the dealer having been good to me for 25 years (he owns a big tool store). A third of the $700 I spent was for gas bottle, helmet & stuff that will apply to any bigger
machine when & if I want to move up so it was really just a matter of deciding where to apply the other $450.

Now I know you already have a small wire welder so what I am really commenting on is the decision process. It is an interesting phenomenon. I think what I do is distill the advice down to what I can use to avoid the really obvious mistakes (imported welder = no support) and to be sure I am not buying something totally unsuited to my needs. Then I use the rest to justify doing what I really wanted to do in the first place. :D

01-12-2004, 11:34 PM
Cutter, I like your rationalisation.

Planet X
01-13-2004, 12:21 AM
Originally posted by Dave I
Thanks Planet, ill look into the Lincoln 215. From what I gathered on weldtalk and the chaski site it seemed like the MM210 was "the" welder in that class....

As far as the 250 amp migs.....whats out there? I think ive spent too much time on weld talk and got biased opinions...any thoughts?


Oh, the MM210 used to be the cats meow, and if you do a search over there you will see some touting its greater amperage range compared to Lincolns pm200 version- now Lincoln has turned on the heat in that class w/the pm215- Miller fans don't talk amperage anymore:p
On the flipside Miller upgrade their 180sd Tig/stick and it looks to be spanking the Lincoln 175 tig/stick in both sales #'s & features- least according to my welding salesman.
You need to understand though Dave none of these machines are 'bad', its like anything else there is always somebody bigger,smarter,faster-whatever.
I took a couple semesters of Welding & found out I did not want to pay my dues stick welding- jumped to tig second semester. And I thought that process was the cats meow, but time rolled around for my third semester and I decided to throw the tuition $$ into a welder purchase- I ended up w/a inverter Tig. After building more stuff I finally gave in and went looking for a Mig Machine- Tig welding was just to damn slow, especially since most of the stuff I was building at the time was offroad 4x4 related things like sliders/bumpers seat mounts etc. None of this stuff really required tig's supreme bead control- hell it was going to get beat to crap anyway-it just needed to not fall apart when it tapped a rock..
I'm pretty sure I'm not going to live forever and if I ever wanted to get anything done I had to relax on the Tig stance- of bead beauty . If I could only use one process the rest of my fabricating life it would be Mig- There is more to building nice stuff than just the bead- the more you build the more you will understand this.. course if your beads are crud well no amount of fancy bends and materials will make much difference.
If you settle for poor bead appearance you will find yourself saying things to your buddys a when your checking out your latest creation like " yeah looks like goose turds, but it won't break"/ha ha don't bet on it the first is true enough and I would give odds that the last is a damn lie:D

Dave I
01-13-2004, 12:41 AM
Cutter, thanks for your insight. Im trying to keep everything as simple as possible, but as soon as I think I have it figured out ill get another angle on everything and it all goes to hell LOL..

Planet, Im still up in the air, more than likely ill end up with a 250Amp Mig. I thought about Tig and did some research on the 180SD and it seemed like everyone went to the T/A 185....welders seem a lot like computers, buy one and 2 weeks later someone has a newer better one and yours is old school. Ill just have to make a quick decision when I have the cash in hand and be happy with it. I like to find out as much info as possible before I buy something and sometimes end up stressing myself out about it. I can always buy the big mig now and buy a tig a couple years down the road when im ready for more head aches :D


01-13-2004, 12:46 AM
In a way, buyin a welder is a lot like buyin a truck to put the welder on. A bobcat will fit on the back of an S-10, and ride there all day long, but you wind up building a trailer to carry everything else you need, and then the S-10 can't really pull the trailer with all the stuf on it, so you buy a 3/4 ton. Then, well, it just keeps goin till yu have a class 8 truck with every damn toy possible on it.

Everybody figures when they buy the first machine they are either never conna weld anything thicker than 1/8 steel, or they figure they are gonna weld 2" steel and 3" aluminum, and do production, and what the hell, lets throw in arc gouging too.

After a few years, you wind up with 3 machines, TIG, MIG and Stick and a torch. By then you've pretty much figured out what you actually need, and you generally have it.
I started out way back with a purox torch and 80cf cylinders, and then I bought a toumbstone. A year later I bought the first SA 200. After that' I got a well used verticle Lincoln rotary and a TIG machine. That held me just fine for a while, but MIG really wasn't in the picture back then. It was probably 10 years before I got the first MIG, an Airco DipStick that also doubled as one sweet stick machine.
I see a lot of guys that appear to me getting way too concerned about doing aluminum right off the bat, and I can't say I understand that, unless they are just hopeing to have the capacity when they need it. I honestly don't think I've done 100# of aluminum in all these years, and I do know I can farm aluminum out to a guy who does it a lot better than I ever will, because he does 90% of his welding on aluminum.
For a guy just starting out, I still recommend an AC stick machine that will run 150 amps to learn on. Those machines will make a welder out of you, or make you find a new hobby. When you've learned to weld, you can do a hell of a lot with an AC stick machine. You can buy them cheap, and 2 years later, when you have mastered the skill, you have a lot better idea what you want to build, and what other machines you need.