Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Barre Town, VT
    Posts
    872

    Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    I really like reading reviews of tools before I buy them but I couldn't find much on the Chicago Electric Mig 170 other than the capacitor mods. I thought I would share my experience with this welder and hopefully other owners will share theirs so people can see what these things can and can't do. First a little background on the welder. I bought it back in October because I wanted something that I could MIG weld steel less than 3/16th inch. While I haven't hooked up the gas for it yet I have run over 20lbs of flux core wire through it without doing any mods to it.

    So here are my thoughts:

    It is a good welder. Not a great welder, not a bad welder but a good welder.

    The ground clamp looks like the clamp on my battery charger. It works fine for everything less than the welder's max settings. When the welder is maxed out the ground clamp spot welds itself to whatever it's attached to.

    It will weld 1/4 inch steel, but it won't like it. Everything gets hot including the ground lead (4awg), the torch lead (it has a 10awg wire in it), the torch, and the welder.

    It doesn't have a gas solenoid so the valve is in the torch making the trigger harder to push than other welders.

    I can weld 1/8th inch as long as I want with out it over heating. 1/4 inch not so much.

    The verdict: It is cheap and it welds. I've put a ton of hours on it so far and it hasn't burst into flames. I would buy it again if this one died. I plan on changing the ground clamp to a real ground clamp. As far as the capacitor mods, unless you are doing them for fun I don't think it is worth it. It's arc is fine and this welder can barely hold it together at 170 amps.

    Here are some pictures of it after being put through it's paces.
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    Do you have a Mig 170? What are your thoughts on it?
    My "collection":

    Homemade Stick Welder
    Victor O/A Torch
    AC 225
    Ideal Arc 250

    HF 90 Amp Flux Core
    HF Mig 170
    Solar 2020 Plasma Cutter
    Power i-Mig 140E
    Harris O/A torch
    HF Dual Mig 131
    140ST
    Alpha Tig 200x

  2. #2

    Re: Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    This is an older thread, but I feel is still valid. It's helpful and as such, I feel it should be near the top.
    I'm trying to decide whether to get a Mig 170, or keep scouring craigslist for a used piece of better machinery. There isn't much to choose from on CL right now and I'm getting antsy.
    As a beginner, I think this model will do well for me until or unless I need to upgrade.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Barre Town, VT
    Posts
    872

    Re: Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    Since my first post I've installed a solenoid valve and a new ground clamp and a longer ground cable. I put a euro style mig gun connector on it and set it up to weld aluminum. And then I continued to pile the hours on to it mig welding. However this past Saturday one of the diodes shorted out on it. I found a new 200 amp bridge rectifier on eBay for $25 so as soon as that arives it will be back up and running. With all the $ I've put into it for the spool gun mod, lead upgrade and now the rectafier repacement it still costs half of what a Hobart Handler 190 would cost.
    My "collection":

    Homemade Stick Welder
    Victor O/A Torch
    AC 225
    Ideal Arc 250

    HF 90 Amp Flux Core
    HF Mig 170
    Solar 2020 Plasma Cutter
    Power i-Mig 140E
    Harris O/A torch
    HF Dual Mig 131
    140ST
    Alpha Tig 200x

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Sparks, NV
    Posts
    9,590

    Re: Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    it only has 2 voltage settings?? Love the Wire cleaner BTW.
    Tiger Sales: AHP Distributor www.tigersalesco.com
    AHP200x; AHP 160ST; MM350P, Spoolmatic 30A; Everlast PowerTig 185; Thermal Dynamics 60i plasma.
    For Sale: Cobra Mig 250 w/ Push-pull gun. Lincoln Wirematic 250

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Barre Town, VT
    Posts
    872

    Re: Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by soutthpaw View Post
    it only has 2 voltage settings?? Love the Wire cleaner BTW.
    No, it has 4, it just uses dual rocker switches for some reason. One switch is labeled min/max and the other is labeled 1/2 so you have min 1, min 2, max 1, max 2. The Mig 180 has 5 heat settings and uses a rotary switch like a regular tapped output welder has.
    My "collection":

    Homemade Stick Welder
    Victor O/A Torch
    AC 225
    Ideal Arc 250

    HF 90 Amp Flux Core
    HF Mig 170
    Solar 2020 Plasma Cutter
    Power i-Mig 140E
    Harris O/A torch
    HF Dual Mig 131
    140ST
    Alpha Tig 200x

  6. #6

    Re: Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    Iain P - do you have any pics of the euro style mig connector installed? Thanks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Western New York State, USA
    Posts
    1,913

    Re: Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Iain P View Post
    Since my first post I've installed a solenoid valve and a new ground clamp and a longer ground cable. I put a euro style mig gun connector on it and set it up to weld aluminum. And then I continued to pile the hours on to it mig welding. However this past Saturday one of the diodes shorted out on it. I found a new 200 amp bridge rectifier on eBay for $25 so as soon as that arives it will be back up and running. With all the $ I've put into it for the spool gun mod, lead upgrade and now the rectafier repacement it still costs half of what a Hobart Handler 190 would cost.
    .
    when you overheat machine because you are exceeding recommended duty cycle does machine stop weld amps til it is cooled off ?? or does machine just over heats til something burns out ??
    .
    otherwise plug machine into a circuit with a 20 or 15 amp circuit breaker (240 volts) seems to me a circuit breaker than trips and can be reset is cheaper than burning out machine. if you weld too long pulling higher amps i would of course wait 5 or 10 minutes before resetting breaker.
    .
    the other alternative is plug into a magnetic contactor electric motor starter with adjustable overloads. overloads come in different amp ranges. i have used the type that you could set between 5 to 10 or 10 to 20 amps and it was as simple as a simple screw driver turn knob to max amperage you want it to trip at.
    .
    using any machine without adequate overload protection you are highly likely to burn stuff out. or you could add a fuse or circuit breaker to machine. they sell smaller size ones that you just drill a 3/8 to 1/2" hole in sheetmetal.
    .
    basically you got similar to using a electric motor with no overload protection. as long as not overloaded it works ok but as soon as you overload it something usually will burn out
    .
    in other parts of the world it is normal for 240 volt appliances to be on a 10 or 15 amp circuit breaker so they are protected from overloads. welding machines often come with a 50 amp plug but rarely is it a good ideal to run them on a 50 amp circuit breaker
    Last edited by WNY_TomB; 03-10-2016 at 12:01 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Barre Town, VT
    Posts
    872

    Re: Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by WNY_TomB View Post
    .
    when you overheat machine because you are exceeding recommended duty cycle does machine stop weld amps til it is cooled off ?? or does machine just over heats til something burns out ??
    .
    otherwise plug machine into a circuit with a 20 or 15 amp circuit breaker (240 volts) seems to me a circuit breaker than trips and can be reset is cheaper than burning out machine. if you weld too long pulling higher amps i would of course wait 5 or 10 minutes before resetting breaker.
    .
    the other alternative is plug into a magnetic contactor electric motor starter with adjustable overloads. overloads come in different amp ranges. i have used the type that you could set between 5 to 10 or 10 to 20 amps and it was as simple as a simple screw driver turn knob to max amperage you want it to trip at.
    .
    using any machine without adequate overload protection you are highly likely to burn stuff out. or you could add a fuse or circuit breaker to machine. they sell smaller size ones that you just drill a 3/8 to 1/2" hole in sheetmetal.
    .
    basically you got similar to using a electric motor with no overload protection. as long as not overloaded it works ok but as soon as you overload it something usually will burn out
    .
    in other parts of the world it is normal for 240 volt appliances to be on a 10 or 15 amp circuit breaker so they are protected from overloads. welding machines often come with a 50 amp plug but rarely is it a good ideal to run them on a 50 amp circuit breaker
    I've only exceeded duty cycle once and the machine did shut off the output until it cooled back down. I had only made about 3 tack welds that day when the diode shorted so I don't thing it was heat related.
    My "collection":

    Homemade Stick Welder
    Victor O/A Torch
    AC 225
    Ideal Arc 250

    HF 90 Amp Flux Core
    HF Mig 170
    Solar 2020 Plasma Cutter
    Power i-Mig 140E
    Harris O/A torch
    HF Dual Mig 131
    140ST
    Alpha Tig 200x

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Barre Town, VT
    Posts
    872

    Re: Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    Update time: The rectifier replacement was a success and I used it quite a bit yesterday with out the thing busting into flames so I'm happy. Here is a picture of it in it's current state.

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    I'm calling this welder the Chicago Electric Mig 170 version 2.1.
    My "collection":

    Homemade Stick Welder
    Victor O/A Torch
    AC 225
    Ideal Arc 250

    HF 90 Amp Flux Core
    HF Mig 170
    Solar 2020 Plasma Cutter
    Power i-Mig 140E
    Harris O/A torch
    HF Dual Mig 131
    140ST
    Alpha Tig 200x

  10. #10

    Re: Chicago Electric Mig 170 Review

    I know this is an old thread, but I can't find a ton of info on this rig. I'm planning on picking one up soon as I have a light duty job I need to work on and I figure this will work. I'm basically making this post just so I can be certain to have this thread marked in case I have to come back to it.
    In before "strong first post."

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