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I agree with Vince on this..Remember you get what you pay for.. :pain: I advise you to put out the extra to get something better.You will be much happier.

Cheap welder=harder to make better welds... :pain:

Good welder= easier to make better welds.. :D

Just my 2 cents.. :)
 

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Stangman196700 said:
i was wondering if anyone has tried a chicago electric mig welder? any complaints?
If you are on a budget you might want to check this out on Google: Clarke Mig Welders, they are made in Italy w/ 10 year warranty, some parts interchange with Lincolns'.I spent a lot of research time looking,and almost all the internet posts on Chicago Electric(Harbor Freight) welders come up negative,also the made in China flux wire was not good either, people had better results with the Lowes and Home Depot brands.Harbor Freights' self darkening helmets did get good grades.Put the model number of the unit you are looking at in Google search and check out the ratings before you buy no matter what brand.
 

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Stangman196700 said:
i was wondering if anyone has tried a chicago electric mig welder? any complaints?
If that's the Harbor Freight 220V "MIG 151", I have a "refurbished" one. It has worked well enough for my needs.

Complaints:

1. Not designed to hold the large (10 lb.) spools of wire.
(Can cobble a bushing from a 2 lb. spool).

2. Finicky control for wire feed speed -- small movement of the knob can make disproportionate changes in speed.

3. Leaky gas hose or valve. (Turn off the tank valve to conserve gas between setups).

4. Manual says nothing about the twin grooves in the wire feed wheel; one is for .035 in., 0.9 mm (typical flux core) and one is for .024 in., 0.6 mm wire.

None of these complaints are sufficient to make me regret saving about $400. I do not depend on this welder to make a living; it's for my hobby use only. The welder does not prevent making quality welds.
 

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grouch said:
If that's the Harbor Freight 220V "MIG 151", I have a "refurbished" one. It has worked well enough for my needs.

Complaints:

1. Not designed to hold the large (10 lb.) spools of wire.
(Can cobble a bushing from a 2 lb. spool).

2. Finicky control for wire feed speed -- small movement of the knob can make disproportionate changes in speed.

3. Leaky gas hose or valve. (Turn off the tank valve to conserve gas between setups).

4. Manual says nothing about the twin grooves in the wire feed wheel; one is for .035 in., 0.9 mm (typical flux core) and one is for .024 in., 0.6 mm wire.

None of these complaints are sufficient to make me regret saving about $400. I do not depend on this welder to make a living; it's for my hobby use only. The welder does not prevent making quality welds.
grouch..Didn't mean you couldn't make Quality welds..Sometimes I have a hard way of putting it into words.But what I was trying to say,Is it's like dial up vs high speed cable.They both work,But which is better,I guess if you don't use it alot,Its OK,But if your going to use it alot get a good one.I guess I'm gone by my use,I use mine everyday..Just my two cents.. :D
 

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NEW INTERIORS said:
grouch..Didn't mean you couldn't make Quality welds..Sometimes I have a hard way of putting it into words.But what I was trying to say,Is it's like dial up vs high speed cable.They both work,But which is better,I guess if you don't use it alot,Its OK,But if your going to use it alot get a good one.I guess I'm gone by my use,I use mine everyday..Just my two cents.. :D
It wasn't my intention to argue against the points you and Vince made -- only to describe the view from the other end of the scale. :)

Stangman196700 didn't specify what usage the welder was being considered for. The first reply could have been simply, "It depends", but that's no fun. Besides, he/she asked for complaints about the tool.

Complaints also depend upon the user and the usage, so I included that info as well. Someone like you or powerrodsmike would likely find the first two complaints I listed completely intolerable because of just the amount of welding you do. Those quirks of the tool are not so bad for someone spending a couple of days a month welding. (The 2 lb. spool that came with the welder was just enough for me to figure out how to use it and enough to convince me to get a tank of gas and stop using flux core. The 10 lb. spool that replaced it lasted a whole summer).

BTW, I learned to stick weld on a 100% duty cycle welder/generator powered by an air-cooled Onan engine. You could get plenty of penetration welding railroad rails together with that thing without bevelling the edges. It wouldn't be the first thing I'd recommend for a home shop, though.

That's a roundabout way of saying none of us can give blanket recommendations for or against a solution unless we're given enough details about the problem to be solved.
 

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For a budget welder the Clarke seems to be gaining a pretty good reputation and it only costs a few dollars more the HF machines. One of the members here was quite impressed with his Clarke and after trying one I can see why, darn good machine for the money.
 

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check used

I bought a used lincoln from a pro welder that was retiring.. an old sp200 that is about the size of a clother dryer and weighs so much that we moved it around outside with the backhoe when we had to build an 8 ft " sight obsecuring" fence when the farm got rezoned into the city.. I still like older Made in the USA tools over new import. Most major brands still have parts and tech support if you need it.
 

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I bought a mig from Harbor Freight (Chicago Electric) in 1993BC (Before China) and it was worse than all the things Grouch said plus it burned the circuit board with probably less than 15 hours of welding. Replacement parts? Who said replacement parts? I would have taken some replacement parts but there were no replacement parts. I scrapped it with malice and it will be Miller or other major brand time for me.

Trees
 

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As you all know, I am a HF junkie - buy most of my tools there. However, discretion is advised, there are some HF tools to steer clear of. Hack saw blades, recirpri-saws, sheet metal shears come to mind. I would put their wire-feed welders in that category. You can get a Lincoln 100 series welder for not much more than the HF house brand (I got my Lincoln at Harbor Freight!) and quality, ease of use, are all much superior to the Chinese unit.
 

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There are however a few good examples of the HF machines and the one example of the "Duel Mig" model that I have seen has been a good one. Sometime back I had a thread on the HF TIG that a buddy of mine bought and he also bought the "Duel Mig", both for a total of $400 and both of these things have held up just fine. I am not saying anyone is wrong about them and that they are all good machines but I am just saying that they are a crap shoot and one person may get a good one while the next one won't, of course the term "good" is used very loosely here. HF has several different models of both MIG and flux core welders and a couple of different TIG machines so it may be that some models are better than others which seems to be the case with a lot of things they sell. I would never recommend to anyone to go to HF to buy a welder of any kind but to be fair the "duel Mig" and that little DC only TIG machine that my buddy bought has held up just fine for several years now and he has done quite a bit with them although they are as "bare bones" as they can get, at $400 for both of them they have paid for themselves several times over.
 

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I got my Lincoln at Harbor Freight!


Sometimes name brands do pop up there but it seems to be on an occasional basis and I would guess that it is probably surplus merchandise they bought out. I have also seen genuine Victor torch outfits and Hobart 225 AMP gasoline powered welders at real bargains, and I mean cheap like $129 for that Victor torch set with regulators and 25 ft of hose! :eek:
 

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It's kind of funny how the opinions vary as too the quality of the HF tools. I have bought a fair amount of items from HF and find that every single thing they sell is hit or miss. I've bought 2 of the exact same tools, used them exactly the same and one lasts 2 months and the other lasted 2 years. Buying tools from a communist government subsidized industry is a gamble. Whats really a challenge is trying to return a defective product, they look at you with the "you were the dummy that bought a $300 dollar tool at HF" in their eyes as they tell you sorry and point you to the area to BUY a new one. I usually just stick to buying expendables there now such as sand paper, and abrasive blast media. Just my $.02
 

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There use to be a HF down the street from my old house. I bought several items from HF as well. It might just be me, but I feel tools are important. I found myself buying HF and then having to spend more money replacing the ones that were worthless or didn't work well. I've been buying Craftsman and Husky because of the guarantee, if it breaks they replace it. I'd buy Proto or Mac but they are expensive. I buy tools once, and hopefully pass them on to my kids. I still remember my dad would never spend a dime on China tools, and always bought top quality tools. I'm still using those tools today. (thanks Dad)
As for welders, I probably wouldn't go with HF and go with a well known brand. Even if your welding once in a while or decide you never need to weld again. A major brand like Lincoln, Hobart and the rest will hold their resale value, where the others, you may as well throw them away. Like someone stated before, "you get what you pay for" at least when it comes to tools.
 

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DaSouthWon said:
It's kind of funny how the opinions vary as too the quality of the HF tools. I have bought a fair amount of items from HF and find that every single thing they sell is hit or miss. I've bought 2 of the exact same tools, used them exactly the same and one lasts 2 months and the other lasted 2 years. Buying tools from a communist government subsidized industry is a gamble. Whats really a challenge is trying to return a defective product, they look at you with the "you were the dummy that bought a $300 dollar tool at HF" in their eyes as they tell you sorry and point you to the area to BUY a new one. I usually just stick to buying expendables there now such as sand paper, and abrasive blast media. Just my $.02


HF has a 90 day warranty and they are well known for being easy to get replacements from so your return problem must be a local thing. After saying that though there's really not much to say about them other than a few things work pretty good and others are worse than junk. Their hand tools like sockets, ratchets, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc are a joke at best and are better left in the store but a few items are real bargains FOR HOBBY TYPE WORK!! The 4 1/2" grinder is a good example of a tool that is worth more than the small price, usually about $19 but sometimes on sale, and for small shop use these things will last a long time. I bought one about 4 years ago and I have worn out a bunch of discs with the thing but it is still hanging in there and there are several people here that also have had good luck with them, they are so cheap you can buy two or three and set them up with different wheels. There is one particular model of auto-dark welding helmet that works really well and it too has developed quite a following, don't want to forget the horizontal metal cutting bandsaw that is about $179 but on sale often for $159. I have one that is six years old and I have run the dickens out of that thing and it has not given one minutes worth of trouble the whole time I have used it, it's as accurate as any I have used. The bottom line is there are a few good buys at HF and a lot of junk, NEVER buy any tool where quality is important and NEVER buy any thing for professional work from them. The only things I will buy are things like that saw and grinder that have developed a good reputation and gadgets that are handy but will see only occasional use, an example would be a power steering pulley remover that cost 6 bucks and has been used about three times in the 2 or 3 years I have had it. That puller was $39.95 at the auto parts and the $6 outfit worked just as well and is still like new, same with my AC gauges and leak detector they work just fine for the occasional use they will see.
 

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Sometimes you luck out

You got lucky with the grinder,I was using one and it suddenly made a nasty racket and caught on fire :sweat:(warranty was up) the $29 brake bleeder that works off air is fantastic!I had a power washer hose rupture and smack me in the leg,OUCH!! went back for a replacement and they had a warranty rerturn in the back so they gave me that on the house,I was able to buy a full warranty on the year old unit for $9.95 so came out OK.
 

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Name brand MIG welders are so cheap, doesn't make sense to go HF. I did buy their plasma cutter because name brand ones are $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ - had a choice of no plasma cutter or an HF plasma cutter. Easy choice! The contact switch (brain of the thing) failed the first time I struck an arc (Westinghouse!!!) but they sent me a new one immediately on my word. Has worked fine for the past 4 or 5 years. No one is saying the tools are top-of-the-line quality. However for a weekend-warrior, they are the only way my type can afford them.

I must have an exceptional store 'cause they replace everything no questions asked. I bought two reciprisaws and both sheared the bull gear within a couple hours sawing ABS pipe. They took both back, no questions, and gave me full credit on a Dewalt. I bought a $100 Maikita "professional quality' die grinder from another store and it burned up in about half an hour grinding holes in sheet metal with a 1/2" carbide burr. Tried to take it back and they said I obviously abused it so they wouldn't replace it. I was desperate so bought another and it also fried almost immediately. I got a cheapie HF one and have been abusing it for years with no problems.

Another time I bought their cheapest 1/4" ratchet 'cause I rarely use it. The snap ring popped out of the head and it fell apart. I went back to the store and the store manager said, "You don't want to get another one of these, take this one", and handed me their best ratchet for the same price! It is polished chrome and I can't tell the difference between it and the Craftsman one I have, except for the name on the handle. Feels and works like a quality item.

I strongly disagree about the HF screwdrivers. I buy their 'top of the line' drivers (still dirt cheap) and they are every bit as good as my Craftsman ones.

No way do I recommend the stuff for pros (although there are select tools that perform just as well as the $$$ stuff) but for the hobbyist, can't be beat. I don't like supporting the Commies either but the way I look at it, I am giving them a few cents and adding American creative value which is worth gobs more than the little they are getting from me. No nasty responses from folks from other countries please. :nono:
 
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