View Full Version : Just bought this Northern Tool welder...anyone else?

05-22-2011, 10:37 PM
I've been looking around for an arc welder, and finally settled on this one:

Northern Industrial Arc 200, 230 volt, 200 Amp. Amps go from 65-200, has a knob for fine tuning instead of a low and hi setting. It has a boatload of good reviews on the Northern Tool website. Bought an extended warranty thingie. I haven't tried this welder yet, as I have to get the handyman come over and install an outlet first.

Has anyone tried a Northern Tool brand arc welder? If so, what was your general impression of it?

05-22-2011, 11:46 PM
Description is similar to Harbor Freight welders. The one I have from HF also has variable amp settings rather than high and low.

05-23-2011, 08:34 AM
Standard welding transformator. Nothing wrong with it.

01-15-2012, 07:33 PM
I am looking at the Harbor Freight 90 Amp Flux Core Wire Welder ($100 on sale) and the very similar Northern Industrial 125 Amp model ($130).

I realize from reading all the many posts that these are no good for CroMo tubing, but I am only planning to build Kyoto Style Trikes with 16G and 14G mild steel structural steel.

Does anyone have any experience using either of these to build AZ plans using .065 and .08 inch wall thickness (16 and 14 gauge) mild steel structural square tubing?

Joe P.

01-16-2012, 07:45 AM
Yes, I have the HF 90A model.

It works just fine on frame welding, not so great on close quarter fine welding.

Be aware though, that it outputs AC not DC.

If you have done welding before with either or both AC/DC you WILL notice the difference. Also, if you are like me, you will begin thinking about converting it to a full mig in short order. For one way to do it, check out this link (http://www.blinkenbyte.org/welder_conversion/welder_conversion.html). There are ways to add in the solenoid valve and associated hardware to put the gas to it as well.

Modern man
01-17-2012, 09:57 AM
yeah, great price. I do my welding with one of the ubiquitous tombstone welders from lincoln I got used for cheap.

charlie_r, I just got an HF 90A too, to do the finer welding so I'm interested in why you say it's not good for that? I also looked at that story on converting it to DC. Wouldn't you have to change the type of wire to get max benefit from DC?


01-18-2012, 08:16 AM
On wire type, look at the label. If you are using the recommended E71T-GS, you are using a DC wire on an AC machine. The label on mine says DC straight, DCEN (DC Electrode Negative).

My experience with the fine work with this welder boils down to two things.

First, using DC formulated wire/flux on an AC machine creates extra spatter. If you've ever welded with a true DC machine, you would note the lack of spatter as opposed to an AC machine. The flux also has a tendency to go places you don't want it to,leaving voids in your weld. I have found a bit of a workaround for this issue. Use gravity. By this I mean horizontal/vertical/overhead welding as opposed to flat, which brings in the second problem.

Second, the lack of fine control over your current/voltage and therefore your welding heat sets up a situation where you are either too hot or too cold for the specific weld/position you are trying to do. OK for flat work, but when you get into other positions, you need better control over your heat than this welder can provide.

On these next points, if someone wishes to correct any misconceptions I have, I would appreciate it.

There is a reason the higher quality welders cost a lot more. The full MIG and also TIG welders, while being DC machines, actually feed a high frequency pulsed DC to the welding process. On MIG welders, the wire feed is also connected to the control set that modifies the pulse frequency, giving you better control. On the HF/Northern welders like these, your wire speed control does only that. Adjusts the feed speed. On the midrange welders, it also controls the frequency of the pulses of your welding current. On the really high end machines these are separated, giving you full control over both. I don't know much about the TIG process, so can't comment on that.

There are also ways to add inert gas to your HF/Northern flux core, allowing you to use normal MIG wire for a better weld. However, most of these that I've seen are manually controlled, which wastes a lot of gas.

Basically, what we have bought with these lowest of the low welders is a welding transformer.

Before I build another trike, I am going to at least convert to full DC, with plans to fully mod into MIG later on, by building the control set for the pulsed DC and gas control.

The MIG welders I've used usually start the gas flowing about a second before starting the current, to give the gas time to begin flowing, then allow the gas to stay on for a couple of seconds after you release the trigger to protect the weld while it solidifies. Easily done with delay routines in microcontroller firmware. PWM (pulse width modulation) could be added to make the pulsed current used on the better machines.

I'd better stop now....methinks I've gone too far with an answer to a simple question.