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View Full Version : Okay folks.....which welder to buy?



JayinTexas
06-17-2009, 02:02 PM
I'm trying to make room in my budget for a welder so which one of these would be the better choice?


http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100596737&N=10000003+90401&D=welder

or

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100031840&N=10000003+90401&D=welder

GregLWB
06-17-2009, 02:55 PM
I'm trying to make room in my budget for a welder so which one of these would be the better choice?


Jay - I have the second one, the HD WeldPak. I got it on Craig's list for $140.

I really like it and as you can see even someone with no experience like me can start welding and in a very short time get strong welds, but you should know two things about it first.

1 - It is built in Poland and then Lincoln puts their name on it. It don't mention this to disparage people from Poland, but to let you know that it doesn't take all the same parts that their higher priced ones do (like the head and sleeve for the welding wire). But if you ever need to replace the sleeve it only cost me $9.

2 - You can't upgrade it to gas. You will only be able to use .035 flux core wire in it.

It has worked well for me and is well suited to the bike building even if not as clean as true Mig or Tig welding. If I have heavier stuff to weld I usually fire up my Miller Thunderbolt and Arc weld it. Hope that helps.:)

Greg

Odd Man Out
06-17-2009, 05:52 PM
My unsolicited choice for you would be the Miller 165 Diversion AC/DC TIG machine. It will open your horizons as to what can be done with a welder.

mkane53
06-17-2009, 06:41 PM
If you can swing the price of a MIG that you can upgrade to gas, you'll be glad you did. Flux-cored works and works well, but if you use the same welder with Argon or Argon/CO2 shielding gas you won't believe how clean the welds are.

And ... as OMO says ... if you can swing the price of an AC/DC TIG rig, you'll be astounded at what you can actually do. But you might have to take out a second mortgage on the house to pick one up.

TheKid
06-17-2009, 07:04 PM
Will you be able to weld indoors or in a wind free area? If not, then if you do buy a flux core welder that can be upgraded to MIG, don't buy the conversion kit. The slightest breeze will blow the gas away leaving you with ugly weak welds. There are spray products you could use with flux core that will prevent the spatter from sticking. Usually a wire brush is all you need to get the spatter off the project. Here's an example:

http://www.welders-direct.com/merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=WD&Product_Code=6225

GregLWB
06-17-2009, 07:23 PM
There are spray products you could use with flux core that will prevent the spatter from sticking.

I can't remember for sure but I think it was either rickairmed or RR that said that a can of cooking spray stolen from SWMBO kitchen worked as well and was cheaper than the commercial stuff.

Greg

TheKid
06-17-2009, 07:41 PM
Yes, now that you mention it, that sounds familiar. But how much product is in a can? The anti spatter spray I bought came in 20oz. cans for about 6 bucks. But you can get 16oz. cans for $3.40. And the commercial stuff is nonflammable.

https://weldingsupply.securesites.com/cgi-bin/einstein.pl?PNUM::1:UNDEF:OR:386-9185:

Patrike
06-17-2009, 09:04 PM
Lincoln MigPak 10 -- has served me well so far. No matter which you get, make sure the trigger on the handle not only activates the feed but the current. I used a cheaper one that the wire was live and the trigger was for the feed only -- made it a big hassle to set up for the weld.

mkane53
06-17-2009, 10:09 PM
Probably depends on whether you buy the standard "Butter Flavor" PAM or the more upscale and far tastier when you're welding "Simulated Olive Oil Flavor" PAM. Then again ... you get what you pay for ... by all means spring for the Olive Oil. :joker:

By the way, Kid, I didn't think about the wind issue you mentioned. I work in my garage so the shielding gas sticks around for me, but you're absolutely correct about welding outdoors.


Yes, now that you mention it, that sounds familiar. But how much product is in a can? The anti spatter spray I bought came in 20oz. cans for about 6 bucks. But you can get 16oz. cans for $3.40. And the commercial stuff is nonflammable.

https://weldingsupply.securesites.com/cgi-bin/einstein.pl?PNUM::1:UNDEF:OR:386-9185:

TheKid
06-17-2009, 10:55 PM
By the way, Kid, I didn't think about the wind issue you mentioned. I work in my garage so the shielding gas sticks around for me, but you're absolutely correct about welding outdoors.

I discovered the wind issue when a buddy lent me his MIG welder. The welds looked fine in the shop, but when I took it home and started welding, the welds looked like crap and they didn't hold. I called my friend to ask what I was doing wrong. He didn't know, and came over to see what I was doing. As soon as he saw the welder outside he said he thought I was going to do my welding in the garage, then told me about "the slightest breeze." I was having problems with stick welding, and he suggested that I get a flux core wire welder if I could only weld outdoors.

GregLWB
06-17-2009, 10:59 PM
Lincoln MigPak 10 -- has served me well so far. No matter which you get, make sure the trigger on the handle not only activates the feed but the current. I used a cheaper one that the wire was live and the trigger was for the feed only -- made it a big hassle to set up for the weld.

Agreed. My WeldPak HD is the same way. Electrically cold till you pull the trigger. Makes it really easy to start exactly where you want and also not weld it to stuff accidentaly if you set it down to reposition something.

Greg

TheKid
06-17-2009, 11:34 PM
Makes it really easy to start exactly where you want and also not weld it to stuff accidentaly if you set it down to reposition something.


There are also safety and legal issues involved. You'll find many of the cheaper welders now have this feature. People were getting electrocuted, and lawsuits were filed.

fultondp
06-18-2009, 03:23 PM
Harbor freight has basically the same welder for $129. My local store had them on sale for $109 last week. Buy 2 for the price of one, so you have a spare when the first one dies.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=94056

Chinese or Polish made, pick your poison...

Darren

Greenhorn
06-18-2009, 03:41 PM
I like my hobart ez 125. But a word of caution. Make sure you have some fans going if you weld in any sort of closed area (like an open garage). The fumes will get you sick---(they got to me a couple of times)

Greenhorn
06-18-2009, 03:42 PM
Chinese or Polish made, pick your poison...

Darren

Well...there IS a difference. Chinese is cheap crap. Polish will be assembled backwards. (coming from the resident polack)

macka
06-19-2009, 10:54 AM
Well...there IS a difference. Chinese is cheap crap. Polish will be assembled backwards. (coming from the resident polack)

don't forget that the polish welder may also contain traces of potato and cabbage :jester:

honestly though, save a little longer and get a Mig/Flux welder. If you really can't wait get a stick welder (ARC)

Greenhorn
06-19-2009, 11:45 AM
don't forget that the polish welder may also contain traces of potato and cabbage :jester:

honestly though, save a little longer and get a Mig/Flux welder. If you really can't wait get a stick welder (ARC)

I wish I had gotten a mig :(

GregLWB
06-19-2009, 12:21 PM
I wish I had gotten a mig :(

GH - I thought yours was adaptable and all you needed was the bottle and hoses?

Greg

Greenhorn
06-19-2009, 12:29 PM
GH - I thought yours was adaptable and all you needed was the bottle and hoses?

Greg

Nope. Its straight flux-core.

JayinTexas
07-02-2009, 09:25 AM
Okay folks....I'm thinking about going with a stick welder for now. I'll have to wire my outside storage building for 220 but I've been down that road before in other parts of my house. I know....I know.....time to get started with the build.

Jay

mkane53
07-03-2009, 09:35 AM
Jay -

There are a lot of 110 Volt Stick Welders available that can produce the Amperages that WE use. Granted, a 220 will give you high enough amperage to weld thicker sections or, if you later decide to upgrade to a higher Amp Mig or a Tig. But when you're dealing with 1/16" and thinner tubing and occasional pieces of 1/8" plate there plenty of 110 Volt Units out there that can generate MORE than enough amperage to burn a hole through that!

I use a Mig, so I'm not the best source of info for you, but there are plenty of folks here who use 110 Volt welders and can give you ideas of welders you can use without having to re-wire. If you DO add a 220 outlet you'll have a lot more options in what you use but strictly speaking it's not necessary.

You can save a little money and get started on that project sooner!



Okay folks....I'm thinking about going with a stick welder for now. I'll have to wire my outside storage building for 220 but I've been down that road before in other parts of my house. I know....I know.....time to get started with the build.

Jay

JayinTexas
07-03-2009, 11:47 PM
Hey Everyone, thanks for the continued feedback. I'm probably driving everbody here nuts with my inability to make my mind up. I read a book on the use of different welders today and went to HomeDepot and spent a good hour examining the welders and reading up on each type. I also read some welding resources from here too. The dust has settled and yes, I've once again changed my mind a little and will buy on of the following two welders this weekend.

It either this:
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100670933

or this.....

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100031840

the question: is it worth the extra $150 for the first one? I can use it with or without gas. The second one can't be used with gas but for now, which ever one I buy, I would not be using it with gas.

Both are 110v

ewhitticar
07-04-2009, 02:43 AM
Harbor freight has basically the same welder for $129. My local store had them on sale for $109 last week.
Darren

Hi, Darren. How's that 90 amp Harbor Freight MIG welder working for you? I bought one about the same time, and I'm not having much luck with my welds. Today I tried to weld a seat rest post (like on the StreetFox) to the main tube for a LWB recumbent. I let it cool for a few minutes and tugged on it with less than 100 lb force, and it came right off. :( It's very frustrating. I'm using the Harbor Freight 25-foot, 10-guage extension cord in a 20-amp outlet, and clamping the ground to the far end of a 7-foot long, 14 guage 1.5" square tube. Should the clamp be closer to the weld? I'm not sure how to open it up to grab a 1.5" square tube, which is why it was on the open end of the tube. Have you found the amp and wire speed settings in the manual to work well for you?

P.S. - My tubing came covered with an oil film, and I've just been wiping that off with paper towel and degreaser. Would it help to buff or sand the surface before welding?

ewhitticar
07-04-2009, 11:55 PM
Well after a good night's sleep and further trial and error, I'll try to answer some of my own questions about the 90 amp MIG welder from HF. I had better luck with it today -- the problems seemed to be the nut behind the torch (me), not the welder.
Today I plugged it directly into the outlet, and put the ground clamp on a large clamp closer to the joint. I also hung a shop light over the vise, put my reading glasses on under the helmet, turned the helmet shade down to "9," and got up close where I could see the work better. For the first time I could actually see the weld puddle as I was drawing it along, and the welds were much stronger. The seat post was crooked at first, so I ground it off and got to practice one more time. The third time was the charm! I'll try to post some pics in the LWB or Trikes and Quads forum once it's more presentable (I'm trying to build two side-by-side Meridian-like bikes as a quad).

mkane53
07-05-2009, 03:19 PM
There's no easy answer to that question.

If you'll be welding in a garage or in a sheltered area where you can control/eliminate the breeze the difference between fluxcore and gas shielded is truly stunning. Fluxcore will weld any steel that plain wire with gas shielding will weld, but it won't look as pretty ... well it doesn't when I weld it anyway, and you'll get a fair amount of spatter with fluxcore. If you think you'll EVER want/need to weld Aluminum or Stainless, you probably want to go with the one that will allow you to use shielding gas. It's pretty much essential for welding aluminum and stainless.

BUT, to make the conversion you'll have to either buy the conversion kit (which normally consists of an Argon/CO2 regulator/flow gauge, a 10' length of 1/4" tubing and a roll of plain wire) or get the same things at Harbor Freight for about 1/2 the cost of the packaged conversion kit.

AND you'll need the actual shielding gas so you'll have to buy (or rent) a gas cylinder. At my local Welding supply it costs something like $19 to fill a 20 Cu/Ft tank (a small tank); $23 to fill an 80 Cu/Ft Tank and $26 to Fill 120 Cu/Ft tank (which is what I use). But the 120 Cu/Ft tank itself cost me something like $200 so that's another hit. For steel you can use a 75/25 mix of Argon/CO2 or you can use straight Argon. At the place I get my gas they cost the same so I use straight Argon; I think that frequently the mix is a bit cheaper. An 80 Cu/Ft tank is probably the most common for hobbyists; it's a bit larger than a scuba tank, is easy to handle and will last for probably 2 or 3 hours of actual WELDING time depending on how you set your flow. Building bicycles isn't like working in a shipyard. We make short welds and then stop, admire our work, snap a picture or two for posterity, rotate the tubing to the other side and do it all over again. A medium-sized tank will last a LONG time.

There's no question that the one that allows you to convert to gas shielding is more versatile, but it's a pretty hard hit to actually make the conversion and if all you're going to be welding is bicycle frames and/or mild steel, the fluxcore only is perfectly functional.

If you're going to be welding in your garage or your shop, it's certainly worth thinking about getting the convertible unit; if you're going to be welding out in your yard, a breeze will blow away the shielding gas so you're going to end up using fluxcore anyway.

... and that's probably more than you ever really wanted to know about it ... without really getting your question answered. Sorry about the ramble. :rolleyes4:



Hey Everyone, thanks for the continued feedback. I'm probably driving everbody here nuts with my inability to make my mind up. I read a book on the use of different welders today and went to HomeDepot and spent a good hour examining the welders and reading up on each type. I also read some welding resources from here too. The dust has settled and yes, I've once again changed my mind a little and will buy on of the following two welders this weekend.

It either this:
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100670933

or this.....

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100031840

the question: is it worth the extra $150 for the first one? I can use it with or without gas. The second one can't be used with gas but for now, which ever one I buy, I would not be using it with gas.

Both are 110v

mkane53
07-05-2009, 03:27 PM
I think most welders (both professionals and pikers like us) would tell you that seeing the puddle is the key to getting good, strong, clean welds. A lot of "seeing" the puddle is just practice ... so you know what you're looking for.

By the way, you probably don't want your face right down there in the fire. There can be some nasty fumes down there ... especially if you're welding something like gavlanized steel and haven't ground away the layer of galvinizing. That's definitely not something you want to breathe.


For the first time I could actually see the weld puddle as I was drawing it along, and the welds were much stronger.

JayinTexas
07-08-2009, 01:10 PM
Well I just did it. I bought the Lincoln wire feed that runs on 110 and welds up to 1/8". Also picked up some gloves, gel, clamps and a grinder.

All set....

Jay

**Thanks again for everyone taking the time to post info and feedback. I really do appreaciate it.

Patrike
07-08-2009, 01:24 PM
Congrates! My 1st trike I used 1/8" 2by1 tubing(what a tank) - my 110V Lincoln did an excellent job on it once I learned how to use it. Infact it is rated for 1/4". One thing I do is leave it on for a while once I finished welding -- this is to let the powerchips cool properly, I think it helps to extend their life IMHO.

mkane53
07-09-2009, 11:32 PM
Congrats Dude. You're going to have some fun. It takes a little practice but just stick with it and you'll be joining like a pro in no time.

Like Patrike, I usually don't shut my welder down the moment I finish welding. I usually let it run for 5 minutes or so while the fan pulls some air through it.

Get some scrap and just start playing. It helps to have a little notebook nearby so that you can record the settings - Voltage (usually and A B C D or 1 2 3 4, etc setting) and wire feed rate (amps) for a particular combination. When you get a particularly good weld, note your settings. It'll make it easier next time your starting from scratch and want a reference point.

Play with different settings and just watch what happens at different angles, try pushing and pulling the weld along - pulling is easier. Try to start "SEEING" the puddles molten metal and keep it consistent while moving the gun along. Use both hands ... especially at first.

You're playing with Jupiter's thunderbolts at Vulcan's forge ... so have fun.