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FishSticks 04-16-2012 12:04 PM

The Basics of Welding Equipment
 
Hello,

I know nothing about welding and I need some information before I go out and make the investment to start learning. I've searched the forum but I either don't understand the techno-jargon or the subjects don't seem to match up with what I'm looking for.

Basically, I want something that I can use to fabricate a wide range of projects. Anything from small workbench items to larger things like utility trailers, go karts, and eventually a street legal vehicle. It needs to be something that can handle both thin gauge and thick material.

I would rather not start with TIG welding because it is my understanding that TIG requires a very clean surface area to make a strong weld. Some of the material I'll be using is old pipe that has been laying out in a field and is covered in rust. I can grind and clean a little but I don't want to have to worry about cleanliness so much.

That leaves MIG and Stick welding. Are there obvious limitations with either of these that could pose a problem with any particular project? With whichever type of welding process suggested, are there any specifications on the equipment that would be a "Must Have"? It would also be helpful to have links to examples of recommended equipment.

Thank you for your replies.
~Fish

Axis_of_Evil 04-16-2012 12:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FishSticks
Hello,

I know nothing about welding and I need some information before I go out and make the investment to start learning. I've searched the forum but I either don't understand the techno-jargon or the subjects don't seem to match up with what I'm looking for.

Basically, I want something that I can use to fabricate a wide range of projects. Anything from small workbench items to larger things like utility trailers, go karts, and eventually a street legal vehicle. It needs to be something that can handle both thin gauge and thick material.

I would rather not start with TIG welding because it is my understanding that TIG requires a very clean surface area to make a strong weld. Some of the material I'll be using is old pipe that has been laying out in a field and is covered in rust. I can grind and clean a little but I don't want to have to worry about cleanliness so much.

That leaves MIG and Stick welding. Are there obvious limitations with either of these that could pose a problem with any particular project? With whichever type of welding process suggested, are there any specifications on the equipment that would be a "Must Have"? It would also be helpful to have links to examples of recommended equipment.

Thank you for your replies.
~Fish

-------------------------

Several possible ways to go here...

I suggest you buy a used 110v wire-feed mig with regulator and bottle (for Argon/CO2) locally or on CraigsList. You should be able find someting for a few hundred dollars to get started. Get a good auto-darkening helmet, some gloves and you're pretty much ready. You can read up and or go to a community college if you want. This will get you started on your small and medium projects.... say welding up to 1/4" steel.

After you have figured out the basics and developed some skills, at some point you may want to move up to a 220v unit to tackle the larger projects. This may require that you re-wire your garage for 220v and purchase a more expensive 220v welder. In any event going with 220v can cost considerably more.

Good Luck,
Axis

OneMoreTime 04-16-2012 01:19 PM

You will not achieve good welds in cruddy dirty material so lets not go there shall we..I use MIG for 90% of my fabrication and the one I have is a 110 unit..Get a good machine as the good machines will last you many years and give a good service..I have had mine so long I would need to look it up to see just how much I paid for it..

Sam

hp246 04-16-2012 02:37 PM

Consider taking a welding class at your local community college. You don't have to take a grade, but can usually monitor a class. You pay the fees, but don't need to worry about tests.

I was in the same boat you are in. I ended up taking an introduction class that gave me the basics for OA, Stick, Mig and Tig. I took some more advanced classes after that. I found the instructors to be very helpful with a lot of questions. You may even be able to work on some of your projects in class, where you may have access to equipment you wouldn't normally have available.

By the way, you left out OA, which is probably the most versatile of all the welding techniques.

FishSticks 04-16-2012 02:56 PM

Thank you all for your replies. From the research I've been doing today, welding doesn't seem to be near as simple as what others have described it to me as. I'm sure that it is an easy process once the know-how is there to back it. I think I'm going to take a class as some have suggested to "pull back the curtain" on welding. One thing I can't seem to find on the net are the details about the basics, a good resource for someone who knows absolutely nothing about the subject.

I'm the type of person who really soaks up information by writing about the subject. I'll do more research and hopefully find a class starting soon. I'll post what information I find so this thread can be of more use to others in the future.

Thanks,
~fish

OneMoreTime 04-16-2012 03:03 PM

Would take me about an hour to give you the basics in person and have you making practice welds in mig..Mig is the easiest to learn..Saying that I have taught several who have gone on to surpass anything I have done..

Sam

nine4gmc 04-16-2012 03:13 PM

clean joints are vital for any weld, tig is just more finicky(?) I guess you could say. always weld bare metal to bare metal, do not weld over rust, grease or paint please. also, what looks like NEW bare metal from a metal supplier usually has a factory primer on it so prep it as you would if you saw pink paint on it.

I picked up a HOBART 140 mig with cart, 10lb roll of wire and regulator for $400 new on craigslist, guy bought it and never plugged it in. I think it was another $100 or so for the bottle but refills are much cheaper after the initial purchase. It welds up to 1/4", about the most you will need for standard fabrication on anything up to the street legal vehicle you want to build. it will work on an extension cord, though quality will suffer over distance, as with any machine. It is made by the company that makes Miller, comes with a Miller whip and parts but it has four heat settings where the Miller is infinitely adjustable heat. I like my machine and have used it a good bit, I will upgrade to a Miller when I hit the lotto :mwink: but for now I am satisfied.

If you are looking to buy a machine and never have to buy another, just go ahead with the Miller 211 autoset, I think it is both 110/220 so its more versitile.

edited: I see you were posting while I was writing this. You may try youtube for some starter videos, I know they have videos teaching how to do EVERYTHING else, they should have some good info.

Axis_of_Evil 04-16-2012 03:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FishSticks
Thank you all for your replies. From the research I've been doing today, welding doesn't seem to be near as simple as what others have described it to me as. I'm sure that it is an easy process once the know-how is there to back it. I think I'm going to take a class as some have suggested to "pull back the curtain" on welding. One thing I can't seem to find on the net are the details about the basics, a good resource for someone who knows absolutely nothing about the subject.

I'm the type of person who really soaks up information by writing about the subject. I'll do more research and hopefully find a class starting soon. I'll post what information I find so this thread can be of more use to others in the future.

Thanks,
~fish

---------------------

Fishsticks,

We're not doing brain surgery here.... basic mig welding is pretty simple, you just have to jump in, get started and practice some. Learning how to adjust the settings and prep the metal for a basic weld is key.

It's seems a little complicated at first, but after you understand the basics, it's actually very simple. Does take some practice to get good... however not all of your welds need to be good/perfect.

Good Luck!
Axis

BigEd36 05-02-2012 09:17 PM

If you decide to buy a mig welder I would point out a few tips.

1) Stay away from the very low priced and no-name welders. They have very poor reputations for reliability, and getting service & repair parts is difficult if not impossible. You will be well served with welders from the "big 3" (Hobart, Miller, and Lincoln) as well as a few others like ESAB, Thermal Arc, and HTP. Campbell Hausfeld, Century Electric (Harbor Freight) and the like I would steer clear of like the plague. Buying a Hobart, Miller, or Lincoln you will have the best availability of supplies, consumables, and service as they all have large dealer/service networks.

2) Make sure what you buy is a true MIG welder (Metal Inert Gas). Some of the cheap "mig" models are "Wire Feed" flux core welders. A true mig welder is also a flux core welder (with a polarity change), but a flux core welder can't do mig welding, you have to have a regulator and shielding gas for mig welding. For welding on thin sheet metal like auto body work you'll need a MIG welder, not flux core.

3) Buy a welder in the 175-180 amp range or bigger if at all possible, they will handle pretty much anything a home hobbyist will want to do. The 110 volt household current models (with a few notable exceptions) are limited to 130-140 amps. While many will say they can weld up to 1/4" material they are really at their best with a max of 1/8" material on mig and 3/16" material with flux core, and the ratings from the manufacturers will show this. I recently made screen shots of welding settings charts from the portable models from the "big 3". If you're interested in seeing the factory recommended settings and limits you can view them in my Photobucket "portable mig welder weld charts" folder. It gives the charts, and some description of each welder.

Before I close this I will clear up a common misconception: Hobart welders are not made by Miller, nor are Miller welders made by Hobart. They are separate companies that are owned by the same parent company, ITW (Illinois Tool Works). They do share some parts. The Hobart branded welders do come with guns that are labeled Miller. That's a good thing because any supplier that sells Hobart or Miller will be able to supply your consumables. Miller welders are marketed more as professional models, while the Hobart market niche is geared more to the home handyman, but they are both excellent welders.

timothale 05-03-2012 06:33 AM

at least one of each
 
After a while I found I 'needed' one of each. 50 plus years ago My step dad decided we needed an arc welder in the blacksmith shop on the ranch, there were things he couldn't weld using the forge. With the arc welder we could repair farm machinery, turn up the amps and dip 6011 rod in water and burn away iron, and with a carbon arc torch heat and braze heavier pieces. Pro welders called 6011 farmer rod. clean off as much rust and paint as possible and patch the machine back together, not aircraft quality. The closest Tig welder was 40 miles away. Today we have a lincoln tig 255, lincoln SP 200 Mig, older Lincoln 225 ac buzz box, Lincoln gasoline powered portable trailer mounted ac-dc, the big Oxy -acety shop torch, a portable torch and a plasma. and the old Airco AC - DC with Hi frequency, will do heavy tig and arc. Different types of welders work best in different situations. Bill Hines still uses an oxy-acety to do most of his work.

boothboy 05-03-2012 09:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BigEd36
If you decide to buy a mig welder I would point out a few tips.

1) Stay away from the very low priced and no-name welders. They have very poor reputations for reliability, and getting service & repair parts is difficult if not impossible. You will be well served with welders from the "big 3" (Hobart, Miller, and Lincoln) as well as a few others like ESAB, Thermal Arc, and HTP. Campbell Hausfeld, Century Electric (Harbor Freight) and the like I would steer clear of like the plague. Buying a Hobart, Miller, or Lincoln you will have the best availability of supplies, consumables, and service as they all have large dealer/service networks.

2) Make sure what you buy is a true MIG welder (Metal Inert Gas). Some of the cheap "mig" models are "Wire Feed" flux core welders. A true mig welder is also a flux core welder (with a polarity change), but a flux core welder can't do mig welding, you have to have a regulator and shielding gas for mig welding. For welding on thin sheet metal like auto body work you'll need a MIG welder, not flux core.

3) Buy a welder in the 175-180 amp range or bigger if at all possible, they will handle pretty much anything a home hobbyist will want to do. The 110 volt household current models (with a few notable exceptions) are limited to 130-140 amps. While many will say they can weld up to 1/4" material they are really at their best with a max of 1/8" material on mig and 3/16" material with flux core, and the ratings from the manufacturers will show this. I recently made screen shots of welding settings charts from the portable models from the "big 3". If you're interested in seeing the factory recommended settings and limits you can view them in my Photobucket "portable mig welder weld charts" folder. It gives the charts, and some description of each welder.

Before I close this I will clear up a common misconception: Hobart welders are not made by Miller, nor are Miller welders made by Hobart. They are separate companies that are owned by the same parent company, ITW (Illinois Tool Works). They do share some parts. The Hobart branded welders do come with guns that are labeled Miller. That's a good thing because any supplier that sells Hobart or Miller will be able to supply your consumables. Miller welders are marketed more as professional models, while the Hobart market niche is geared more to the home handyman, but they are both excellent welders.

This is good advise. The only thing that was left out is buy as big a gas bottle that you can afford. The bigger the bottle, the cheaper the gas. It make a difference.

BigEd36 05-03-2012 10:40 AM

VERY good tip, Boothboy.

Another tip I'll add: Something to consider when deciding which brand to buy is what your nearby "big box" stores handle. Close to me I have TSC (Tractor Supply Co.) and Rural King stores that handle Hobart welders. I also have Home Depot which handles Lincoln welders. Most dedicated welding supply shops aren't open evening and weekend hours, which is when most of us work on our projects. It's very handy to have a place to get supplies/consumables when we actually need them. TSC even has exchange tanks for shielding gases. My big C25 tank is from a local welding shop but I've considered buying one from TSC. After the initial purchase of the tank, you just pay for the refill and exchange tanks with them, just like at most welding suppliers. I have 3 TSC stores within about 1/2 hour drive from home, and one is only a couple minutes out of the way on my way home from work.

One more thing, if you want to buy a low-priced mig to try, the lowest priced mig welder I would recommend is the Auto Arc 130. It's available at TSC, Rural King, and online at Amazon, as well as others. Auto Arc is the brand, but it is made by Hobart. You get Hobart quality, and a Hobart warranty and service for a very reasonable price. You can buy the Auto Arc 130 in a package deal with a regulator and hose, welding helmet, and cart. I've read reviews, seems everybody raves about the welder itself, but give poor reviews to the very basic, but functional, helmet and, especially, the cart. An auto darkening helmet can be purchased very reasonably, and you're gonna want one anyway. The problem with the cart is it has small screws that don't hold very well. Bigger screws won't cost much and solve the problem.......but........(hint) Some tack welds would hold wayyy better!

Here's the Auto Arc 130 kit:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41eM6NczQhL.jpg

Here's a couple of links for the Auto Arc 130 with more information:
Auto Arc 130 package at Tractor Supply Co.
Auto Arc 130 at Amazon.com

ogre 05-03-2012 11:10 AM

home depot has a good deal on a lincoln 110v mig for $286
harbor freight has an auto dark helmet that is usually on sale for $39

i use the weldpac100 version of that welder to do everything
the weldpac is flux core only, regardless of what people say flux core is a good welding process
oem uses mostly flux core for welding on rear ends, shock bracket, spring pad, backing plate flange and caliper mounts are all welded with flux core.

47extcab 05-03-2012 02:50 PM

Welding truck
 
Look at my welding truck in the photo galleries under member 47extcab, me back in the day, still have truck and 1947 Lincoln stubby welder , pic is a 1975 SA 200 mobile and cool LOL

boothboy 05-03-2012 06:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ogre
home depot has a good deal on a lincoln 110v mig for $286
harbor freight has an auto dark helmet that is usually on sale for $39

i use the weldpac100 version of that welder to do everything
the weldpac is flux core only, regardless of what people say flux core is a good welding process
oem uses mostly flux core for welding on rear ends, shock bracket, spring pad, backing plate flange and caliper mounts are all welded with flux core.

Having previously bought a Harbor Freight Auto Dark Helmet, I'm now using it for a flower pot. Go to a welding supply and buy a decent helmet. Your welding will be better.


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