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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, guys, I'm really new to welding etc, but thing is .. after having my car waiting since spring 2001 I now finally have the chance to work on it.

I have a few questions about welding. I'm on a really tight budget *lol* Uncle Sam aint paying us that much *lol*.

I guess I have two choices .. a cheap MIG welder .. or a cheap ARC welder (stick welder .. correct ?).

What I need to do is the following:

1) Chassis work, may have to fabricate something for another rear end, or for coilovers if I decide to go that way.

2) Sheet metal work, since I don't believe in making wider rear fenders by adding tons of fiberglass and attach it with screws or adhesive to the body.

3) Roll cage ... chassis/body strengthening .. in order to stiffen things up and also reduce body flex (got problems just behind the top with metal cracking due to body flex).


Can I use an ARC welder .. a real cheap one hmmm say .. what amperage... 80 amp .. good enough ? Or should I go for 140 amp ? .. Talking about a stick welder .. .since having problems finding real real cheap MIG welders .. plus I want to be able to not only spot weld but to make real real strong beads when doing chassis and cage work.

I know stick is usually not good for sheet metal .. but I've seen attachments out there .. nowadays.. where one can supposedly weld 22 gauge metal.


Any thoughts ?
 

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I will tell you to get a MIG... Much more versatile, better welds, easier to operate, and it will weld your sheet metal without an "attachment". Take the cost of any "bandaid" stick welder stuff you need to buy and throw it at the MIG.
There are plenty of low cost units out there that will do the kind of work you need to do. Check out Daytona Mig, Harbour Freight, Northern Tool Supply etc.
Mark
 

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*ditto* MIG by all means- I had a cheapo ARC and the 'attachment' toy (that's all it really is...) for sheet... don't waste your time and money. A good MIG will do all you need and as astroracer says, you can get them without breaking your budget- think of it as an investment and.... no need for 'attachments'!!! Practice a lot- I've read your other posts and it seems as though you are serious-(that's the first big hurdle)- you've made the commitment to do good work- invest in good tools and the end product, as well as others to come, will be worth it!! Good Luck!
 

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Just a word of caution.....

From my limited experience I would agree that mig is the best all around welder for the money BUT there are some clear drawbacks to the small, 110 volt, wire feed welders especially when you get into the chassis type welding you mentioned. For a while the only welder I had was a little Century wire feed and the problem was, due to my lack of experience, I couldn't really tell the quality of my welds as I was doing them. They appeared to be fine but when I put the chassis (in this case the steering box bracket) under a severe load one of the welds cracked. And your steering or suspension is NOT somewhere you want a weld to let go. Luckily I did this under "test" conditions right in my driveway - but it sure taught me a lesson.

I'm sure there are dozens of folks on this list who are very experienced and can weld chassis components safely with a 110 wire feed. But for those of us more on the novice end of the spectrum, the right machine (and for me that is a Lincoln 225 Buzz Box) is the only way to go for heavy duty, high stress, chassis components. You'll sleep a lot better at night knowning that weld of yours has penetrated as deep as it needs to be. I am fortunate enough to now be able to afford a Miller 175 Mig as well, so I have a machine for virtually every job in my garage.

But for those on a tighter budge there is another option. Get the inexpensive, 110 wire feed and then use it to tack weld you chassis jobs. You can then take your project to a local pro to do the final welding (or if you have someone in the area who has a portable, they can come to your garage). I know a number of guys who do it this way and it sure provides them with some piece of mind when they are out on the road.

Dewey
 

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I agree with all the above and especially cboy. The MIG is a great all-round machine but NOT for critical welds like frames. I use my 110V, 100amp Lincoln wire feed in solid wire MIG mode for sheet metal and general welding in non-critical welding below 3/16" steel. However, for critical welding like frames and stock thicker than 3/16" I turn to my 220V, 220amp Lincoln buzz box. There is no substitute for the quality control available with the latter. You can choose from a great variety of welding rods (6011, 6013, 7014, etc.) to fine tune the properties of the final weld. Can't do that with wire feed. Power with the stick welders allows proper penetration of the weld which is the #1 criteria in good welding, again can't depend on that from wire feed. With practice, you may be able to lay down a good looking weld on thicker material with wire feed but you have zero control on the strrength and quality of the weldment.

In general, you will use the wire feed more than the stick welder so go wire wire feed for now and farm out the frame/critical work until you can afford the buzz box.
 

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I'll agree with cboy and Willys on their statements but I'll still stand by my first reply. Willys points are well taken also but I'll disagree with his statements about having no control over weld quality or penetration with a MIG... properly prepared joints AND machine settings, with either welder, will result in quality welds with full penetration. The welding procedure, whether ARC or MIG, is essentially the same. Creating a puddle and feeding material into it while "controlling" the puddles' width, height and speed... Plus, a solid core wire welder just makes a much cleaner, slagless weld.
The other thing to think about is material. I am building the frame for my Astro project and the main rails are going to be 11ga. steel. (.120) thick. Most of the brackets will be 3/16ths. Nowhere on this chassis will there be anything thicker then 3/16ths... That being said I will not have any qualms about using my MIG to weld this frame together.
Most O.E. rails are thinner then 1/8th". It's not recommended to weld anything thicker then 1.5 times the parent material to it unless you know what you are doing. Welding thicker material to thin results in "cold" welds because the thicker material sucks the heat out of the thinner stock which usually results in burn thoughs, bubblegum looking weld beads and no penetration in either material because you've cranked the amps down to prevent the burn through...
Stick welding does have it's place and I'll use mine for anything over 3/8ths of an inch but, unless you are building a dumptruck, MOST of your chassis work is going to be with material under 3/16ths so a good MIG welder will do the job just fine...
Mark
 

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astroracer,

You have a good point and the higher the quality (and the higher the amperage) of the Mig welder...the more I can agree with your position. If we are talking about a good quality 220 Mig welder then yes, the less experienced welder can achieve similar results in terms of "strength of weld" as the 220 stick on 1/8th and up stock.

My own difficulty has been with the cheaper, lower end, 110 mig/wire feeds. I can't disagree that a highly skilled, highly experienced welder can achieve decent results with one of these welders on 1/8 stock and up...it's just that I'm not one of those highly skilled or highly experienced operators. If my choice for welding a chassis is between 110 Mig and 220 stick, I'm using my stick every time because I am confident about penetration and strength.

Now if you throw a higher cost, 220 Mig into the picture then the debate tilts much more in your favor...that the Mig can provide equal or better results than the stick. In this case it becomes pretty much a matter of personal preference.

But I think vorgath's question ruled out the higher quality 220 Mig and, if I'm not wrong, also ruled out the "highly experienced highly skilled operator" part of the equation. Given that scenario I would be hesitant to use the 110 Mig on high stress chassis components that could easily put me in harms way if a weld failed.

My observations are not regarding all migs vs all sticks. My point is limited only to 110 Mig vs. 220 stick on integral chassis parts. This does not mean that vorgaths welding choice ought to be a 220 stick. The 110 mig might still be the better choice given the other metal work he wants to do. The vital chassis stuff can simply be farmed out to a pro after he gets it all tacked in place with the little mig.
 

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Only TIG will cover all your requirements, it's slow in comparison to the others but it can weld everything including heavy chassis work.

If you can use a torch you can TIG.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
hmmm

Well can't afford a TIG, will even have problems affording anything really *lol*, so I'll probably have to go with a 110 MIG, because I also need to get this:

Set of forged pistons
Lighter connecting rods
Centrifugal supercharger
Wheels
Tires
Differential
Transmission
Balancing of the crankshaft

and a few other things too
 

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There are a number of really cheap 110 Mig units out there but do yourself a big favor and look at the better ones from Lincoln. You'll be up in the $500 range but you will end up with a welder you can keep for a long time and will have better capabilities.
It is possible to get a cheap TIG used but you really need to know what you are doing so that is not the best option for a beginner. I've got about $500 in my 300 amp TIG but it didn't happen overnight.
 

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Hi All

This thread came just in time. I was also checking into buying a welder.

Any thoughts on the Hobart Model 180, 220 volt 25 to 180 amp. It has just come on sale here and am seriously thinking about it. Hobart is made by Miller.

Ernst.
 

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Most any Hobart is pretty highly regarded on this as well as other forums. When I was buying it came down to three, the Hobart 180, Miller 175 and Lincoln 175. I picked the Miller because it had infinite amp and speed settings. The Hobart has only 4 or 5 amp settings as I recall along with infinite speed. The Lincoln came in at too high a price. However, I think the Hobart is the least expensive of the three if you shop them around and is a very good welder so I don't think you go wrong with it.

If you use the search feature on this site and enter terms like "best mig" or just "welder" you'll come up with lots of good opinion on the various brands and their features.
 

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....Hi Vorgath, Just wanted to put my 2 cents worth in. I was a welder for 20 or so years & I wouldn't even remotely concider using a cheap mig to do frame work. Certainly NOT on any welds that could mean the difference between life or death. I'd spend a little more money on the welding part of your budget if I were you. You mentioned that you were planning on getting "a supercharger, trans, rear end, forged pistons, balancing work & so on?". I didn't add this up but you've got to be looking at $10 to $15 grand worth of stuff if not a lot more..... I'd recommend taking a night class over at the college if possible, a welding book and LOTS of practice. You'll pick up more knowledge than you'll know what to do with! Plus that will give YOU a good idea as to what YOU prefer. As mentioned above, Tig would be your best bet for all around strength & looks. Thats out cuz of money though. Arc will do all the jobs you've mentioned but not without A LOT of practice. A GOOD Mig is probably your best bet {220 volt, shielded gas, 160, 175 amp}. Lowe's has some really good deals on Mig welders. The Home Depot in my area used to carry them but doesn't anymore {although special order might be possible}. I prefer dealing with Lowe's over Home Depot {am I starting a Lowe's/H.D debate here? ;). Use solid core wire with the 75/25 gas mix {it looks better than 100%}.... The cheaper alternative to this is the Arc welder, I haven't priced them lately but an A/C 220 Volt Lincoln Arc welder used to only be like $200 dollars or so. And now that I think about it when I pro-streeted out my '84 Camero I used a buzz box that I don't think cost any more than $75 bucks {I won it in a drawing at the local welding store years ago, thats why I don't remember what it cost}. I don't know what your going to do with the car but keep in mind that Arc welding ISN'T legal for NHRA or IHRA drag racing. I don't know why but am courious as to why. If anyone here knows please 'chime in' and let me know. May be cuz its harder to do??? ..... Anyway, enjoy your welding experiences..... Any questions please feel free to ask. Bill....
 

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....Vorgath, just as an example I went to the Lowe's web site {stuff is probably even cheaper on mail order web sites}. A Lincoln 175 amp Mig welder is $617 bucks. This didn't include the bottle & I believe no regulator. Plus don't forget the bottle filling... Also I see that the Lincoln 225 amp A/C arc welder is going for $247..... Oh, and not to confuse the issue but last month I priced a Lincoln 225 amp A/C / D/C arc welder from Lowe's {it was a special order}. It was going for $ 480 / $490, somewhere around there, don't remember exactly. The advantage to this is it would be a good base for a future 'built up' to a Tig set-up {you'll need a D/C source for some Tig welding}. It's been a long time since I Tig welded and in fact never did that much of it but from memory {and I grew up in the 60's so memory is questionable ;} , but anyway, I believe Aluminum is done on A/C, mild steel is D/C...... And again, please let me stress, REALLY, REALLY NOT a good idea to do frame, roll bar, etc. work with a flux core, low amp Mig welder.
Bill.....

.....hummm, just re-read this whole post and I see that everyone {MYSELF INCLUDED} really didn't answer your ORIGINAL QUESTION!!! I also used to sell cars so its pretty easy for me to upgrade people to more than they can afford ;) Anyway, 1. What should you use between a cheap mig welder & a cheap arc welder? Use a cheap Arc Welder & yes arc is referred to as 'stick' welding.... {remember that arc welding requires A LOT more practice than Mig welding} 2. Is an 80 amp arc welder good enough or should I go for the 140 amp one? Go for the 140 amp. one..... 3. What about the 'attachments' that allow you to weld sheet metal with an Arc Welder? I don't know as I didn't even know that they made such a thing until I read this post {see, I'm not a 'know it all' after all ;). Dragon J mentioned that he had one and he didn't speak very highly of it...... If you go the 140 Arc welder route? Use small rod, like size 3/32" as its easier to control {it'll look better for a beginners welds ;) & runs at a lower heat. I think they make a 1/16" rod but I've never used it and to me 3/32" rod already seems small. This is probably against most peoples advice but I'd use a #9 lens as you can see a lot better and at low amps its more than ample {ask the manufacture if in doubt. hummm, did I ever ask the manufacture? No, but if your in doubt, do so ;). I've never even tried one of those helmets that you can see thru until you strike your arc but I'll bet they are REALLY NEAT ;). In fact, if anyone on this site knows if the cheap Harbor Freight ones work good please let me know cuz I was considering getting one. Other wise I guess I have to just 'step up to the plate' and spend the big bucks for a Lincoln......Start out practicing in the flat position, then go to horz, on to vert, then overhead & pipe. Good Luck Vorgath and when you get your welder check back and I'll give you some tips if ya want...... Bill....
{here again all this advice is just my opinion}.
 

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I've got 2 el cheapo auto-dark helmets. One from Harbor Freight and one I bought off eBay. The HF is a little nicer unit and can be adjusted from 9 to 12 or 13. Great general purpose setup. The eBay one is actually a lesser helmet- it takes batteries and has an On/Off switch but it will adjust down to shade 7 which is a must for me with one of the little MIG welders. I would really hate to go back to flipping a lens or hood. It took me 1 welding session to fall in love with the new helmets.
 

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Thank You Julmer, I think I'll go with the Harbor Freight 'cheapo'.... Oh, so the actual lens in the helmet adjusts to different shades, you don't have to change it. Cool, when I started welding you only saw auto darkening helmets like that in Science Fiction movies ;)..... Thanks again, Bill....
 

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Yeah, most of the helmets have a knob on the side so you can dial in the shade you want. The higher priced ones do it automatically now - you do get something extra for you money in that case.
 

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MIG and TIG are more a cleaner weld than ARC and
GAS.I welded my entire Rail Buggy frame with Arc and
Gas,and it still holds strong 5 years later.You can actually
build a Chassis with tubuler steel,and just a Arc or Gas
welder.

Gas and high BTU flames where only used in the Auto
Industry untill the late 40's.Then came MIG then TIG.

Chances are if you cant weld a perfomance weld with
Arc or Gas you are ether useing a crappy setup,or your
just useing a crappy filler.It can also be because un
clean joints.If you cant use a Gas welder to weld strong
engine mounts or Chassis Extensions;then i would suggest
you get a book and learn more about welding.

My first year of welding i Gas welded some new fabricated
steel engine mounts on my uncles 71 Chevelle.He still
drives it today on those same welds.If Gas and Arc didnt
work for Performance welding the automotive Industry
would of crashed way back,cause MIG and TIG setups
even the crap ones cost about the same as a used
domestic car.

Gas welding held fighter planes togethor in WW2! thats
many times Force applyed than a top fuel dragster.


Your Arc Setup should be atleast 220V and atleast 180 Amps.

Sorry if i come off as a know it all! i just though i would
de demonize the myth that Arc and Gas arent dependable.
A more expensive welding rig isnt gonna make you weld
better.

Gas and Arc can actually be used on Alloids like Aluminum
despite what "Experts" say.Arc is just highly corrosive
on it.Gas can be used to weld two coke cans togethor.

Stress testing is also a must for performance welding.Read
up on it.

The 307 outta a 79 Cutlass is 496lbs! so that is a goal
for your welds strength.
 

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go as big as you can. cos size does matter.

back in the day, everything was gas welded.

tig and mig are more economical, but cost more to get started in initially.

if arc is the only acceptable weld in structural housing code*, I wonder why it wouldn't be sufficient for nhra?


* that reference to structural housing code come from an episode of monster house, the nautical home....
 
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